Politicians Alan Johnson, Margaret Hodge, Melvyn Bragg and John Bew have been announced as the winners of the inaugural Parliamentary Book Awards, as voted for by MPs and members of the House of Lords.
Johnson won Best Memoir by a Parliamentarian for his autobiography The Long Winding Road (Transworld), charting his journey from the "slums" of West London to Westminster. Hodge was awarded Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian for Called to Account: How Corporate Bad Behaviour and Government Waste Combine to Cost us Millions (Little, Brown), reflecting on her time as chair of the Public Accounts Committee from 2010 to 2015, tasked with scrutinising the use of public money and holding the government to account for this use, which included grilling Amazon's head of public policy Andrew Cecil.
Bragg took home Best Fiction by a Parliamentarian for Now is the Time (Sceptre), which brought the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to life, and Bew won Best Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian for Citizen Clem (Quercus), his biography of Clement Attlee, who became Labour’s "unlikely post-war hero".
MP Gisela Stuart, editor of the House magazine and a former bookseller, presided over the award ceremony at the House of Commons. The winners were presented with their awards by The Times’s Red Box editor Matt Chorley.
Launched by the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association, the Parliamentary Book Awards celebrate political writing by parliamentarians across memoir, non-fiction and fiction, and best political book by a non-parliamentarian. The shortlist was voted for by UK bookshops, with parliamentarians voting on the winner in each category.
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said: “The winners of tonight’s awards showcase the writing talents that exist in politics, and demonstrate the close connection between publishing and the political world. All four writers were for the first time voted on by parliamentarians themselves, who better to determine the best of the best in political writing?”
Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, added: “Tonight’s winners represent the very pinnacle of political writing, curated by booksellers and voted for by MPs and peers. Now is a moment to reflect on the sheer quality of writing in evidence, and I am sure that on a hugely enjoyable evening, the importance of books and bookshops on the high street has been illustrated yet again, and I hope, will be to a wider audience this Christmas.”
The winners saw off competition from a strong shortlist that included Ken Clark’s Kind of Blue (Macmillan), Jeffrey Archer’s Cometh the Hour (Pan), Jeremy Paxman’s A Life in Questions (William Collins) and Yanis Varoufakis’ And the Weak Suffer What They Must? (Nation Books).