Lib Dem Bloggers’ Christmas stocking fillers… Part IV

by Stephen Tall on November 30, 2011

What presents are you looking forward to giving or receiving this year? That’s the question LDV posed to a group of Lib Dem bloggers. All this week we’re revealing what they told us, with link-throughs to Amazon for your shopping convenience (and ‘cos the referral fees help support LibDemVoice: so get clicking and ordering). Part I is available here; Part II here; and Part III here. In part three, our fourth trio of bloggers – Jonathan Calder, Caron Lindsay, and Mark Pack – give us the low-down on their Xmas faves…

Jonathan Calder

It is impossible to dislike Michael Wood and The Story of England is his best work. The series, released on DVD this year, explores the history of the villages of Kibworth Harcourt, Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerby.

The Leicestershire countryside has never been better photographed, the involvement of the local people gives warmth to the project and in the final part there is even an interview with Zuffar Haq as he campaigns for the Lib Dems in the 2010 general election.

Having been disappointed by the film of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy this year, I took solace in the 1979 television adaptation. The cast is incomparable and the larger canvass allows Le Carre’s plot and characterisation to be fully realised. It is the best £4.87 you will ever spend.

Caron Lindsay

Another one from me: For history geeks interested in 19th century liberal politics, The Member for Scotland: a Life of Duncan McLaren tells of this complex character so pivotal to the development of liberalism in Scotland in the 19th century. It’s written by Willis Pickard, a prominent Edinburgh Liberal Democrat and former editor of the Times Educational Supplement (Scotland).

Mark Pack

War with the Newts by Karel Capek
Nominally it is a piece of science fiction from 1936, written by the man best known for introducing the word ‘robot’ to our language. However this is not a book of Death Stars and phasers. It is set in (then) contemporary times and is a satire on politics, society and humanity in general. Colonialism, racism, capitalism, Fascism, appeasement and more all get the satirical going over in a book that combines these serious themes with a fast moving and very readable plot. The book shows how you can be worthy without being dull, erudite without being turgid. So if you know someone interested in politics, chances are they’ll enjoy the book whether or not they are a science fiction fan themselves.

Talking to a brick wall by Deborah Mattinson
The book gives a good account of how and why focus groups became such a popular tool for Labour, enabling people – when done well – to understand the deeper and longer-term trends which lie behind headline figures. At times passionately, Mattinson regularly defends the importance of focus groups in helping understand what the public is thinking and the reasons for it. But even she warns against relying on them too heavily rather than talking to the public directly: “Focus group members should never be used to provide workaholic politicians with imaginary friends”.