8 Artillery Row
Telephone : 0171 828 0010
Politico’s was opened in February 1997. Iain Dale, the Managing Director, says that he hopes his shop will become a leading venue for political animals of all persuasions, and a perfect venue for plotting over a steaming cappuccino….
The location is a good one, just four minutes walk from the Houses of Parliament. The bookshop is well stocked with think-tank publications, political art, memorabilia and ephemera as well as books (4,000 titles across 1,000 square feet). There is a good (though small) selection of magazines. Third Way is stocked alongside Socialist, Liberal and Labour magazines. The bookshop has a 14ft mural depicting 20th century figures over one wall; Lenin, Lloyd George, Gandhi, Gorbachev and De Gaulle gaze down upon those perusing its shelves.
Upstairs there is a small cafe area. Prices are reasonable for Central London – a cappuccino (bring your own plot) is £1.60. Ours, however, will all be over cafetierres, which are good value at £1.50, with a choice of which beans are used. Food is also available – to give an idea of its cost, a salad is £3.95.
There are two things which are particularly refreshing about Politico’s. Firstly, it is professional; it is a well-designed and well-branded shop. Secondly, it is not aligned to any faction or grouping, and as they explain :
We see no point in appealing to only one section of the electorate, and therefore stock books and political items across the whole political spectrum from Militant to the Salisbury Review.
It is these two factors which will cause Politico’s to thrive in a sector where many others fail. The “left” political bookshops’ are, sadly but inevitably, being finished-off by their own lack of professional approach, declining market, and partisan attitudes with all the libel-writs and aggro which these can attract.
The political bookshop is dead….. Long live the political bookshop!