For the last three years, one of my favourite "jobs" has been to be a judge for "the political book of the year", a set of literary prizes masterminded by Iain Dale, who has been a good mate since we bumped into each other, from the opposite ends of the political spectrum, on a radio panel discussion a few years ago.
Anyway, last night was the presentation of the awards. Amazingly we met in my judging category -- which was the overall "political book of the year" -- over a week ago and there wasn't a leak at all, and the same went for all the other categories (polemic, practical politics, international affairs etc) so far as I could see. When I sat down in the IMAX in London last night, I hadn't a clue who had won what.
I had a particular interest in two of the many categories of prizes. First, was the one I'd been a judge for. There was a fantastic array of contenders here, including Andrew Roberts's Napoleon, Chris Bryant's History of Parliament, and Alan Johnson's Please Mister Postman. But the winner was (as they say) a great book by Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, Revolt on the Right.
This is a book about the rise of UKIP, and it is both unashamedly academic and very nicely written (not as rare a combination as people often assume). And it was written before UKIP's recent successes, and actually predicted those successes pretty accurately. I thought a fascinating and essential read.