Raworths Reviews by Jonathan Mortimer
Reviewing Ben Riley-Smith’s book The Right to Rule
I don’t know how it started and I regret it now.
I bought a couple of toby jugs of prime ministers in the 1990s and before you know where you are, you become a collector. I already had a shelf devoted to displaying these hideous objects but with events over the last few years, I have had to invest in another shelf such is the revolving door at Number 10.
And this is, in effect, the subject of Ben Riley-Smith’s book: “The Right to Rule”. How can it possibly be the case that the most successful political party in history have gone through five different prime ministers since 2010? And further, how has the British public still allowed the Conservatives to hold the keys to Number 10 despite everything that has happened?
As the political editor of The Telegraph, Ben knows what he is talking about and has met anyone of significance to give his take on what has been one of the most bizarre periods in our political history.
The background to the drama is the toxic combination of a party membership that should never be entrusted to vote for leaders and a parliamentary party that feeds off shifts in power within its own backstabbing ranks.
Just how self-confident was David Cameron, was Teresa May always hesitant by nature, is Boris Johnson in fact really shy, could Liz Truss have been any worse and what does Rishi Sunak’s taste in music tell us about his personality? All these questions and many more are answered.
But the book is more than just insights and gossip. It attempts to understand the characters involved, the impact on policies and the legacy created for this county. It refers understandably to the zig-zagging on policy and the one issue which may have been the underlying cause of the entire debacle, Brexit.
An important read for anyone attempting to understand how many shades of blue there really can be.
Ben Riley-Smith is appearing at Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival on Saturday 21 October 2023 at 4pm.