Monday, November 09, 2015

Taking Back Power by Simon Parker - book review in a lift

It just can't go on like this. Over centralised, inefficient and disengaged from the public. Not just the Labour Party, but government and politics. Simon Parker has created a lively and illuminating contribution to our understanding of how we are governed and how we may look to break out of this neck hold by Whitehall.

I've read more than my fill of policy pamphlets this summer as I've tried to digest Labour's defeat but the most upsetting one of all is the successful colonisation of the high ground on the devolution issue by the Conservatives. It's not like Labour never saw it coming. But instead of burying a good idea in a dense growth review - as Ed Miliband did to Andrew Adonis' important work - the Tories seized a moment, and made it plausible. That the excellent work of Labour local authorities is being made impossible through cuts to central grants is the difficult nettle to grasp, which this book attempts.

There's also more going on at a local level than Simon Parker has room to cover in this short and inspirational book - free schools, town teams and neighbourhood plans need more understanding.

I'm also not overly sold on the concept of a universal income - will have too high an inflationary effect - but loved the idea of a lottery for the second chamber. Just the kind of fresh thinking we have been lacking.

It's also really funny. Not something I expected from this neck of the woods, but one of the most enjoyable political reads in a long while.

This is a breezy book review in a lift, an idea started when I worked on the 8th floor and someone would point at the book and ask - what's that about then? 

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