Book review - The Blunders of our Governments

Modern governments of all stripes screw up too often.  A new study of their blunders suggests that ‘strong government’, traditionally the great strength of the governing system, is to blame.  Let’s hear it for deliberative democracy.

Book review: A Quiet Word

This book shines a bright light on the murky dealings surrounding politics, PR, big business and journalism, but the real issue it uncovers may not be lobbying but rather the dire state of our democracy.

Is devaluation of sterling the answer to Britain's economic woes?

In his new book John Mills makes a strong case for a British devaluation of sterling but we must start thinking about the socio-political foundations which shape our dysfunctional economy - you can't have a German economy sitting on the UK's political structures.

The double betrayal - review of NHS SOS

The left is forever being condemned for talking of ‘betrayal’.  But it is our responsibility to describe accurately the lies and strategy that lie behind the dismemberment of the NHS and the blatant disregard of the people’s wishes – it is a ‘double betrayal’.

In the thick of it - a review of '5 days in May: the Coalition and beyond'

Andrew Adonis’s insider account of the Lab-Lib coalition talks provides a vivid and vital, and often surprising, insight into the crucial politics of the day – and is also particularly relevant to the prospects for both parties after the 2015 general election.

The Great Tax Robbery - reviewed

Private Eye's Richard Brooks has released a new book, The Great Tax Robbery, reviewed here by a former colleague. How did HMRC come to be 'captured' by big money, and why is government doing so little to correct it?

The British Dream: a review, and the author's response

A new book on immigration and inclusion by the former Prospect Editor lays out a vision of a shared future Britain. Sunder Katwala, director of think-tank British Future, reviews the book, and the author David Goodhart responds.

Can we cooperate our way out of trouble? A review of ‘The Resilience Imperative’

Embrace local and co-operative models to build a decentralized, steady-state economy. So says a new book by Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty, but does it convince?

Cruel Britannia: a secret history of torture

The hidden story of Britain's torture record has been told for the first time, a hand grenade into the heart of the establishment.

Dial M for Murdoch: the book to sink an empire?

Rupert Murdoch has returned for his second day before the UK state inquiry into the British press. While we tune into his defence, a sharp counter-point is the book Dial M for Murdoch with its uncompromising, up-to-date account of the global media empire's poisonous inner workings.

Tommy Sheridan and the myth of Scotland’s compassionate society

In a revised extract from his introduction to a new biography of Tommy Sheridan, Gerry Hassan exposes the weaknesses of Scotland’s belief in its solid left-wing culture and raises questions for independence and the future.

‘Epic Win’ for Anonymous? Hacktivism and the 99%

The Anonymous 'V for Vendetta' mask is an icon of the Occupy movement. But how does this band of deviant web pirates fit with the Occupiers ethics of responsibility, transparency and democracy? Cole Stryker's new book goes some way to deconstruct the generalisations.

In Place of Austerity: Reconstructing the economy, state and public services

When even ex-Blairites are turning their back on the doctrine of New Public Management, why do such policies still guide reform? Dexter Whitfield's new book asks how we got here, and what practical alternatives there are for the future.

My Top Ten Political Books of 2011

It's been an extraordinary year in politics. In no particular order, here are ten books I enjoyed that can help make sense of what the hell is happening and what can be done.

The search for an alternative to trad Labour: the cul-de-sacs of Marxism Today and Tommy Sheridan

Two apparently very different books, The Tommy Sheridan Story and Pearmain's The Politics of New Labour, both recount the search for left alternatives in Britain.

Worlds apart: Fight Back! and The Purple Book compared

Two anthologies emanating from the broadly defined British left have wildly different conceptions of progress and democracy. One celebrates protest while the other refuses to stray from the narrow confines of existing political debate.

The Purple Book and the new age of rainbow coalitions

Urging a 'revising of New Labour', The Purple Book refuses to acknowledge the mistakes of the Blairite era. What it does show is that Britain is in a new age of 'colour politics', where flux and confusion reigns as we struggle to find an alternative to market fundamentalism.

Kettled Youth: the emergence of a new politics in Britain

A new polemic pamphlet reflects on the emergence of a new politics in Britain, through the lens of the police tactic of 'kettling' protesters

Book review: Parliamentarians, mavericks and trots

Bob Marshall-Andrews and Richard Wainwright were two MPs who, in very different ways, belonged to the honourable and increasingly rare breed of parliamentarians who brought integrity and a willingness to speak up to the House of Commons, the public and their parties.

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Owen Jones' new book documents the changes that have turned the working class into an object of fear and ridicule

An essential guide to electoral reform

Patrick Dunleavy finds essential reading for academics in the run up to the AV referendum in Alan Renwick’s recent book.

Empires Apart: America and Russia from the Vikings to Iraq

As events in North Africa and the Middle East are daily displaying, America’s global influence is rapidly waning. This is an apt time to return to Brian Landers’ Empires Apart, a hugely impressive comparative study of the imperial imperatives of America and Russia: one which stimulates reflective thoughts on other empires, not least our own here in Britain.

Tax havens and the men who stole the world

Stuart Weir, Associate Director of Democratic Audit, reflects on Nicholas Shaxson’s new book on the scale, depth and penetration of tax havens and tax avoidance across the globe.

A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain

The ‘new ruins’ – poorly designed and shoddy shopping malls and mass-produced housing – are ubiquitous throughout our cities. Ken Worpole finds that Owen Hatherley is a witty and erudite gazetteer of terrible mistakes, but wonders if the acerbic author is as fair as he could be

The Return of The Spirit Level: Why equality is better for everyone

The Spirit Level's message on income equality and its benefits is more relevant than ever in the Coalition era. David Beetham reviews the new edition of the book, in which the authors expand and update their analysis.
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