Their book, Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain lifted the main prize of the evening in the Political Book of the Year category.
Their scholarly and analytical book, which was also accessible and readable at the same time, was superbly timed: it explained the rise of UKIP yet it was published on the eve of the 2014 EU elections and before the defections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless.
I was on the judging panel for the category and, as the sponsor of the £10,000 prize, I presented the two academics with their award after the judges agreed unanimously that Revolt on the Right, which is published by Routledge,deserved to win the main prize.
The five judges concluded that their work is “a ground-breaking book which provides essential and enjoyable reading for anyone who wants to understand the shifts in modern politics”.
Last night’s glittering evening was hosted by Rory Bremner, the impressionist and comedian, and was staged at the BMI IMAX in central London. It was the third year of the awards that, justifiably, now have a firm place in the literary calendar. My congratulations go to Iain Dale, the publisher and broadcaster, as the founder of the awards that are committed to acclaiming the best in political writing.
Last night’s event was attended by an enthusiastic audience of more than 400 guests, including leading figures from the worlds of publishing, politics and the media.
I also sponsored a second prize, worth £3,000, for the Debut Political Award of the Year. This category was won by Ramita Navai for her book, City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search for Truth in Tehran (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). The author received her prize from Faisal Islam, the political editor of Sky News.
The Political Biography of the Year was won by John Campbell for his book Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life (Jonathan Cape). He was presented with his prize by Catherine Colloms, the Director of Corporate Affairs withheadline sponsor Paddy Power.
The Lifetime Achievement Award for Political Writing was presented to journalist, broadcaster and author Andrew Marr. His colleague on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, outgoing editor Barney Jones, presented him with the award.
They say that impressionists find it hard to “do” David Cameron, but, judged on the evidence of last night, Rory Bremner has certainly “nailed” the Prime Minister and his mannerisms. Former Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and US Presidents, including Barack Obama, were also not spared the impressionist’s sharp wit.
Rory Bremner unofficially gave “the best acceptance speech in a foreign language” to Martin Rowson whose work The Coalition Book (SelfMadeHero) won Political Humour and Satire Book of the Year. Rowson’s speech in French was as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the fact that his award was presented to him by the French Ambassador to the UK, Her Excellency Sylvie Bermann.
For the third year running, the calibre of entries was exceptionally high and the full list of award winners, nominees and prize givers in ten categories can be read here.
My congratulations go to all those authors who won awards last night or whose books were shortlisted. As the co-author (with Isabel Oakeshott) of a political book due to be published this year – a biography of David Cameron – I fully appreciate the hard work and dedication that these authors have displayed.
My gratitude goes to all those, including the judges, who made last night’s event such a success. Paddy Power, the leading bookmaker, was the main sponsor in association with Politicos.co.uk, the online political bookstore. Other sponsors included New UK, Diageo, iNHouse Communications and The Reading Agency.
In a general election year, in particular, it is reassuring to know that the standard of political writing in this country is at such a high level. Those penning political books in 2015 have a great deal to aspire to over the year ahead.