As Scotland prepares to vote on its membership of the United Kingdom, Scotland's Choicesby my colleague Guy Lodge and co-authors Iain McLean and Jim Gallagher is an indispensable read. It's now in its second, updated edition. For a radical history of Scotland from below, Chris Bambery'sA People's History of Scotland looks good. The Scotsman went so far as to say that it "offers a Scottish version of EP Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class", which is high praise indeed. I've written before that the best new book on Englishness is Michael Kenny's The Politics of English Nationhood. It's a brilliant synthesis of politics and cultural currents. Renewal magazine recently published a roundtable discussion on it.
I shall be doing more thinking on the issue of political leadership over the summer. Its becoming a fruitful and expanding area of academic research, and there is a excellent, voluminous new Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership just published. If that seems a bit big for the summer suitcase, Archie Brown's new book The Myth of the Strong Leader is available as an e-book. It is well reviewed here by Richard Reeves.
Talking of English culture, I shall be taking away England and Other Stories, by Graham Swift. According to the Guardian, "it is a sharp, beautiful collection: every story quick and readable but leaving in the memory a core, a residue, of thoughtfulness". Because I shall be spending a bit of time over the summer in Ireland, I will be re-reading Anthony Cronin's classic memoir of the literary scene in post-war Dublin, Dead as Doornails, and hopefully finding time to start on Roy Foster's Words Alone: Yeats and his Inheritances.
And yes, I have read Piketty properly. Here's an early review in the New Statesman to prove it.
Snakes and ladders: Tackling precarity in social security and employment supportAcross the country, people are trying to make ends meet, build financial security and pursue their aspirations. But, in a vicious cycle of snakes and ladders, many are being pulled down into poverty.
Making markets: The City's role in industrial strategyTo tackle climate change, we need a significant increase in public and private capital investment.
Broken hearted: A spotlight paper on cardiovascular diseaseProgress on cardiovascular disease was a significant driver of better health and prosperity in the latter half of the 20th century, however progress has recently stalled – with indications it may be in reverse.