There are a handful of blunders that are remembered all too well by British citizens, from the poll tax to the Millennium Dome. With unrivaled political savvy and a keen sense of irony, distinguished political scientists Anthony King and Ivor Crewe open our eyes to the worst government horror stories and explain why the British political system is so prone to appalling mistakes. Readers will discover why the government wasted up to £20 billion pounds in a failed scheme to update the Londons Underground system; why tens of thousands of single mothers were left in poverty without financial support from absent fathers; why Tony Blair committed the NHS to the biggest civilian IT project the world has ever seen, despite knowing next to nothing about computing; and much more. Groupthink, constantly rotating ministers, and a weak parliament all contribute to wasted billions and illogical policy. But it doesnt have to be this way. Informed by years of research and interviews with senior cabinet ministers and civil servants, this razor-sharp diagnosis of flawed government also includes spirited prescriptions for more foolproof policymaking and will prove to be one of the most important political books of the decade.
'Perceptive and entertaining... chilling' THES 'If Britain's politicians are among the world's most honest, hardworking and well-meaning, why do they mess up so badly and so often? A trenchant book that will make you see red, even as you laugh.' -- Best Books of 2013 Economist 'This book will make you gasp in disbelief and stamp your feet in rage, and quite frequently reduce you to helpless laughter... it is hard to overpraise.' -- Peter Wilby Guardian 'Must be read by every incumbent and wannabe representative of the people.' -- Best Books of 2013 The Herald 'A notable indictment of modern British politics and administration... a splendid dipping-into volume to feed fashionable public disdain for the fragile art of politics.' -- Best Politics Books of 2013 Guardian 'In a refreshing break from the customary finger-pointing tribalism of British politics, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe lay bare the ways in which governments of all hues have wasted mountains of cash on titanically misconceived projects in the past few decades... astonishing.' Metro 'This is a very apposite book and should be read by ministers, shadow ministers, parliamentarians and civil servants.' Total Politics 'Fascinating and zeitgeisty.' -- David Aaronovitch The Times 'Compelling... David Cameron is said to have read about Winston Churchill's early warmongering during his summer holidays. It would have been much better for all of us if he had read this.' Independent on Sunday 'Grimly entertaining... This book should be a compulsory text for every would-be minister and permanent secretary.' Financial Times 'This is an astonishing achievement - that very rare thing, a genuinely original book and an immediately essential guide to the failures of British politics. King and Crewe go deep, without a shred of pomposity or a phrase of false rhetoric. From now on, every political journalist, civil servant and would-be minister needs to start here.' Andrew Marr, Journalist and author of 'My trade: A short history of Journalism' 'A powerful new book.' -- Dominic Sandbrook Daily Mail 'The closest politics gets to pornography.' -- Simon Jenkins Guardian 'From two of our most brilliant political analysts... [a] thoroughly entertaining and erudite history of great British debacles.' Observer 'Clever and absorbing.' The Times 'Entertaining.' Independent 'Timely and intelligent.' Prospect 'Rivetingly told... a feast of fiascos, a banquet of balls-ups.' -- Francis Wheen Literary Review 'Illuminating and disturbing.' Daily Telegraph 'One of the hottest books of the season.' Scotsman 'Excellent... This book is essential reading.' -- Alistair Darling 'Enthralling.' David Dimbleby