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Publisher's Summary

Politicians are consistently voted the least trusted professional group by the UK public. They've recently become embroiled in scandals concerning sexual harassment and expenses. Every year, they introduce new legislation that doesn't do what it sets out to achieve - often with terrible financial and human costs. But, with some notable exceptions, they are decent, hardworking people doing a hugely difficult and demanding job.  

In this searching examination of our political class, award-winning journalist Isabel Hardman tries to square this circle. She lifts the lid on the strange world of Westminster and asks why we end up with representatives with whom we are so unhappy. Filled with forensic analysis and revealing reportage, this landmark and accessible book is a must-listen for anyone who wants to see a future with better government.

©2018 Isabel Hardman (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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  • Judy Corstjens
  • 18-03-19

Informative and timely

I bought this book because I have noticed Isabel Hardman as a balanced and sane voice on programs such as Andrew Marr and Question Time.

Hardman does not disappoint with this sane and balanced view of the weaknesses of our political system. Indeed, the flaws are so many and so deep it seems amazing that we have (so far) staggered on as well as we have. Hardman points out how the barriers to entry to elected office are so great that the majority of candidates come from a narrow self-selecting group that is not representative of the population and not particularly well-qualified or well-equipped for the powers they take on. Then MPs are given very little training, guidance or feedback on the job. Instead they are faced with distractions (acting as social workers for their constituents) and misaligned incentives (mostly to unthinkingly back the legislation proposed by their executive). They are relatively underpaid and frequently abused on social media. The House of Lords may not be ideal, but it currently serves as the only serious body scrutinising badly considered legislation that can be positively toxic in its effects. Abolish with care! Hardman has a few tentative suggestions for improvements, but it is clear that reform will be slow and hard, and may not happen at all. Another book without a happy ending.

Narration. Hardman is used to public speaking, but she does not quite have the skills of a professional audio-book narrator. She commits the sin of putting on an accent (often vaguely northern) for quotations. Character voices are fine for bedtime stories with the kids but, please, not in non-fiction.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 12-02-19

Some interesting points but generally a bit dry

I was expecting something slightly different from this book. I was expecting something with a bit more incite rather than just a list of facts and snippets from MPs. There were some interesting bits in there but, on the whole, it was long and generally dull to listen to.

The book details how people become MPs and then what their day-to-day job entails once they get into Parliament. If that sounds boring to you, don't listen. I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was after grand political visions and incites. This book just lists the facts.

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  • tomomo
  • 27-09-19

Doesn't really do what it says on the cover

Much of this book is interesting and informative, and it's well-read by the author. However imo it doesn't really work as a book because there's insufficient thematic unity.

It reads (sounds) almost like a series of broadsheet-style comment articles strung together. And, oddly, despite the title, the book doesn't really try to establish that we *do* get the wrong politicians, let alone why this happens. What's wrong, in the author's view, is not so much the politicians as the culture and procedures of parliament, which mean that scrutiny of laws, wars, and policy orientations is often very inadequate.

Given that the ongoing Brexit saga has put our political class under a rather revealing and unflattering spotlight, it's strange that it's almost completely absent from a book published in September 2018. There's far more on Andrew Lansley's reform of the NHS in the first Cameron administration than on brexit. You'd think that someone interested in the failures and weaknesses of our parliamentary politics would find brexit a source of invaluable material; but perhaps brexit has exposed problems with our politics and our parliament which don't really fit in with the author's established views about what's wrong with parliamentary politics, so it has been hard for her to incorporate it.

I wish the author had used her extensive knowledge and obvious insight to write a shorter and more tightly focused book, with a clearer line of argument.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 25-02-19

Parliament Revealed

This is an excellent book by the journalist Isabel Hardman. She clearly knows what she is talking about and writes in a sympathetic, constructive and generally light-hearted manner about the lives of MPs, for better or worse. The implications of her book, if not its underlying thesis, is that MP's deserve a better time of it if we want to attract the very best people to help run the country, something that is not really happening at the moment. She also contributes ideas about making ministers more accountable for their actions after the event, believing that this would help concentrate their minds on what is really best for the country, rather than what is best for their party and their own advancement within it. The book is full of interesting anecdotes and sharp but affectionate sketches of the MPs and their constituents. Well read by the author herself who as a TV & radio reporter is used to speaking clearly & well. Only tiny criticism I have is that she refers to the book as an audiobook, whereas it was presumably written as an ordinary book first, as in for instance, "what I am saying in this audiobook is that". Somehow it doesn't sound right. But as I said, its a tiny criticism.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-12-19

excellent and highly recommended

very interesting listen, a must if you want a realistic overview of the workings (or not) of westminster

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  • NICK DE SOUZA
  • 11-06-19

A compelling read for A Level students

I really enjoyed the clear and precise way that Hardman both narrates and writes. The book expertly explains all the problems with the culture and procedures of parliament. Probably a little weak on solutions - electoral reform is virtually non-existent. Yet I never thought bill committees could ever be such an interesting read/listen!

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  • Paul Lillie
  • 26-09-18

Practical remedies for a broken system.

Politics in my country is incredibly broken hence my country is incredibly broken, it taints everything. In this book Isabel Hardman points out the reasons why & some practical remedies. Whilst her remedies don't go quite far enough for me they're as good a place to start as any.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bobby
  • 30-03-21

Really good overview of the systems of government

Really loved her style of writting. The book explains the various systematic problems with government and the various incentives that MPs face. The book is refreshingly non partisan, which is saying a lot in today's political climate.
It's really piqued my interest in system of government, I hope she writes more on this topic in futrue. You should read this book if you're interested in the how and why government works the way it does, and skip this book if you're looking for arguements about what your party is the best.

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  • Alex Edwards
  • 18-03-21

Illuminating

I started this as a layman, emerging better informed of the shambolic British political system.

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  • Tim
  • 18-03-21

Gets right heart last 10Yrs

Think of front bench member and your hear what you've always known. power v righting

1 person found this helpful