The Blunders of our Governments

Review for The Leeds Library, October 2013

I’m mightily relieved to realise that, even after fifty years in politics, I can still be enthused by a speaker or a book. This is one such. Those two Essex university veterans, Messrs King and Crewe, have produced a remarkable and wholly innovative book. If politicians are ever prepared to learn from great blunders and, particularly, from the analysis of their genesis and cause, then to have this book widely available to them on prescription could well transform government policy making.

The authors examine a number of policy “blunders” that were financially and politically expensive, including the poll tax, the Child Support Agency, the Assets Recovery Agency, tax credits and a number of other failures. With extremely well informed forensic skills, they set out how everything went wrong, with estimates of the financial consequences. They follow this dissection with chapters on the generic reasons for government blunders, with suggestions on how to avoid them in future. The book concludes with a chapter suggesting that the present coalition government is as disaster prone as its predecessors.

It is both highly entertaining and hugely instructive. There have been books before on the practicalities of being a Minister but never one like this which teaches through example!

The Blunders of our Governments, by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe, pub. Oneworld, 2013

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