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British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Hardcover]

Tony Wright
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (3 Feb 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0192854593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854599
  • ASIN: B008Y0641M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,608,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 17 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
The score here is perhaps a little harsh, as this is a good book, but there is a reason for it. For those that have read the 'Short Introduction To' series of books, you will know that these books are normally quite objective, and provide a good source of information for those who wish to learn about a subject, or are students of it.
Not so with this book. It makes a good stab at being objective and informative, especially at the beginning, but as the book goes on it becomes more and more of the author's view.
The author, Tony Wright, is a Labour politician, and this comes through very much in the writing. Here is someone who knows what really goes on, but for me I didn't want to know what really goes on, I wanted a dispassionate, informative account of what British Politics theoretically is. This is too one-sided, too involved in the subject.
It is certainly not a memoir, so does have use, and the writing is light and easy. If you don't want a 'textbook' on British Politics, it might be useful for you. If you have read other books, and want a more personal look at the subject, it will definitely be a good read. But as a starter book, which most of these 'Short Introductions' are, this isn't the best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Partisan account. 17 Oct 2013
By Jack Chakotay VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Why get a member of the Labour party to write this book?

All the axes come out. All the snide references couched in politicospeak that come across as propaganda. I didn't want Mr Wright's view after each facet.

And the worse thing is the actual facts come across quite well, but again and again, they become coloured. This happens especially after the recent 2013 update to include the coalition government.

I recall more balanced introductions to British politics circa 1900-2000. I cannot see why the publishers chose this approach. You have to sieve the facts from flavour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative and interesting 13 Sep 2013
By Darren Simons TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have read a number of books from the Very Short Introduction series and have been a bit disappointed - they tend to start nice and slow and then go into a level of detail beyond what is needed for a "very short introduction".

Written by a former MP, this book describes British politics and some of its nuances. It is interesting, thought provoking, easy to follow and overall an excellent book. There is some overlap with the British Constitution book, and having read them both, this one might be sufficient.

First published in 2013, this version is updated 2013 and includes a lot of reference to the Conservative/Liberal coalition government.

Overall this is the best VSI I have read so fa.r
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Tony Wright is a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Labour party, and this puts him in a good position to introduce British politics to the uninitiated. He writes from experience as well as from academic knowledge, and gives many interesting anecdotes from his own experience.

His position as an MP, however, also means that he has a few axes to grind, and keeps coming back to a small set of themes:
-Strong government is good, but needs better accountability (from Parliament, specifically).
-Parliament is a weak institution.
-The "first-past-the-post" election system does not reflect the true opinion of the electorate.
-The business of government has become the business of being re-elected.
As you read, you may get sick of seeing these same themes repeated again and again. However, they are important issues for discussion.

While giving excellent coverage of power from a political perspective, he virtually ignores the power of the media over politics, except to comment "Instead of the media feeding off Parliament, as was once the case, it is now more common for Parliament to feed off the media." This could use elaboration in order to properly explain the state of modern British politics.

I was recently listening to a discussion on BBC radio 4 about the centers of political power, commentators discussed the increasing concentration of power in the executive (as Wright does). Then one commentator said that the real power is now in the media, and the rest of them agreed unanimously. They had all been thinking in terms of official political positions, but the reality is that power does not always, or even primarily, lie in official places. However, Wright only deals with the politicians' part of this, which is to spin everything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good and the not so good 5 Sep 2013
By Amazon Customer TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As the blurb says these books are designed to be readable, a way to get ahead in a new topic rapidly. The narrative gives a good overview on most subjects that are covered. The book also does a decent job at trying to attract the reader into each topic field. This is the second edition of British Politics VSI and is quite up-to-date. The narrative talks about the current position of British Politics and the coalition government that we have at this time (as of 2013).

However, there is a problem here, in a book that should remain neutral in its delivery, and as other reviewers have commented the author's politics seem to influence his writing as it progresses. So here in is the `rub', so to speak and hence my rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. Stephen Redman VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The author Tony Wright was a labour MP for many years before becoming Professor at UCL in the political field. Whereas it is easy to tell which party he represented from what he has written, he is reasonable fair to his ex-opponents and offers a couple of perspectives on most issues. He does a very good job of engaging the reader and making you think about your own political leanings. Our unique and vibrant history is engaged with to help connect the reader to key points about the way politics works in this country.

Importantly this is an updated edition of the 'Very Short Edition'.

The author engages with the truth of the party system and its impact on the way politics works in the UK, he also talks about party funding and the development of the British Constitution. Adversarial politics is discussed and examples given from history of its development. In this second edition there are references to our current rule by coalition and the relative success that this has been. There is also a lot of reference to the centre of British Politics but probably not enough to its heart?

Like all the books in this series it is a light read, but a thought provoking one, I felt I got a lot out of it and would have given it 4 1/2 stars had the system allowed me!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good introduction to the subject starting from sceatch
Published 29 days ago by David J. Clifton
3.0 out of 5 stars Too repetitive
A slightly interesting and informative account of British politics, but it unfortunately becomes tiresome and repetitive about 2/3 of the way through. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Tay Eff
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased.
It took a while to get to me, but it's everything i wanted. perfect book. brand new, I'm very happy.
Published 12 months ago by Eric Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars British Politics
I am a big fan of the "Very Short..." series of books. They are well-researched and well edited pieces of accomplished academic text which allow the reader to dip in to and briefly... Read more
Published 12 months ago by southcoastreviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise intro to British politics
A sound introduction to British Politics with some interesting insights into it's often unpredictable nature. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Zipster Zeus
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to topic - it does what it says on the 'label'
I would have liked books like this when I was revising for my finals at university nearly forty years ago. This one provides a useful commentary on British politics. Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. P. Mankin
4.0 out of 5 stars the Wright stuff
This is a 2013 updated version which takes account of the coalition. Tony Wright is not a dispassionate academic, but he wears his political heart on his sleeve and so it is easy... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Don Panik
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, accessible introduction to British Politics
Tony Wright is a great choice as an authors on British Politics because he has been there and done that. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrew Dalby
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting little read.
Not the best in this series, but a worthwhile read. I found the book to be objective for the most part, but it's clear it's been written from the left. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction
TW is a former MP turned academic and is currently Professor at UCL and Birkbeck. His book has drawn plaudits and comparison with Bagehot, Tawney and Orwell. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe
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