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Ideas for the PM’s Christmas stocking

Last summer David Cameron issued his MPs with a reading list so they would be on message for the autumn. So we thought it might be fun to put together some seasonal reading for the Prime Minister, bearing in mind his penchant for self-improvement.

Our books offer a fresh perspective on some of Gordon Brown’s pet topics. For example, along with pop star Bono, Brown wants to save the world’s poor so we recommend The Bottom Billion: why the poorest countries are falling apart and what can be done about it.

Published by OUP and penned by Paul Collier, it is witty (sorry Gordon) and challenges conventional views on eradicating poverty. True, it might force the PM to change his thinking but if that helps the billion trapped in countries where GDP is shrinking while economies in the rest of the developing world are growing, that will be no bad thing.

We’d also like him to read George Soros’ The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: the credit crisis of 2008 and what it means. It offers some fascinating facts about the US mortgage market. For example, Soros quotes an Alan Greenspan study that states: “In the 2000s home equity withdrawals were financing 3% of personal consumption [and] by the first quarter of 2006, home equity extraction made up nearly 10% of disposable personal income.”

And along with an analysis of what went wrong with the US housing market and how the contagion spread, he explores the fallibility of our decision-making process and how our leaders manipulate reality in the pursuit of power and at the expense of truth. He cites the invasion of Iraq as an example of this, when dishonesty flowed from George Bush and Tony Blair.

And speaking of Teflon Tony brings us neatly to The Triumph of the Political Class, a paperback by political journalist Peter Oborne which shouldn’t hurt Brown’s wallet but might bruise his ego.

Oborne’s proposition is simple – when Clement Attlee was PM the likes of Bevin, Morrison, Bevan and Cripps all had experience of something practical before going into politics, but you can’t say the same of the current PM and his band of Brownies.

Oborne fears a leader will emerge from this class who will “adapt manipulative populism to his own purposes”. On second thoughts, Brown might enjoy the idea – we’re there already.

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