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Stand and Deliver: A Design for Successful Government [Kindle Edition]

Ed Straw
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

If you are ever angered by the standard of government we endure, you are not alone. A key issue for democratic politics, in the UK and many other nations, is what to do about voter disengagement.

The faith that electorates have in governments – of whatever party – to make their lives better is dramatically decreasing, while the incompetence of our political structure and of those elected to office becomes ever more apparent. This problem is now so acute that many believe we are in danger of losing an entire generation from the political process.

What is stopping government working as we would like? Many elements are blamed, and many sources propose a variety of solutions, such as better party politics, better democracy, better accountability. Ed Straw argues firstly that government doesn’t have to be this bad, and secondly that nothing will improve until we understand that the present system as a whole is itself what stands inthe way of successful government.

Taking as its premise the fact that governments are ‘organisations’ – bigger, more complex and more important than most, but organisations nonetheless – the author analyses the root causes of repeated, systemic failure, and proposes a radical yet practical solution: the Treaty for Government. Both timely and groundbreaking, this book sets out the design for an agreement between a society and those whose job it is to improve it, showing us how we can break the cycle and achieve the results we deserve but which the status quo can never deliver.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 557 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Treaty for Government (6 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #407,209 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A must-read for anyone concerned about the quality of our nation’s political life, Stand and Deliver is a passionate tirade against the way we currently do politics and a powerful argument for a radically different approach.

Ed Straw started the book in an attempt to understand why the exciting promise of New Labour in 1997 ended in disappointment for so many in 2010. His writing’s emotional energy, and occasional bursts of bad temper, come from his realisation that this was a failure not of individuals but of design. ‘The capability of the people who happen to occupy high office is secondary,’ he says, ‘to the quality of the system in which they work.'

Straw has spent much of his professional life consulting to policymakers as they ducked issues, bowed to vested interests and re-structured the public services they should have been improving. Political parties and the ideologies that gave rise to them, he concludes, have become largely irrelevant to the world we now inhabit. The ‘zigzag government’ that results from one set of ministers changing what the previous set did, just for the sake of it, is expensive and pointless.

Politicians rise to the top because they want power, not because they have the delivery skills needed to run the health service or improve educational performance. This leads them to shape policy around ideological prejudices rather than evidence, to be patsies in the hands of industry lobbyists and place excessive trust in an 'independent' civil service that is better at following procedures than achieving results. The shame is that they then avoid responsibility for the outcomes of the strategies they have set in motion.

Straw is at his best when laying out his ‘design for successful government’.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A populist moan - with a few good ideas 29 May 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most people will find his analysis of what’s wrong very acceptable….although the tone is a bit shrill and I personally am a bit disappointed that his book doesn’t make any reference to the voluminous “What’s Wrong with British Government” literature.
• Chris Foster (academic, government adviser and fellow PWC consultant) wrote in 2005 an important paper "Why we are so badly governed?" – an enlarged version of which can be found in his book of the same year "British Government in Crisis"
• others – such as John Seddon – have offered a more systemic approach over the same period
• most British Think Tanks at one time or another have written critiques containing fairly radical proposals for change in the government system
• in the last few years there has been quite a clutch of books like "How to Run a Government" and "The Blunders of our Governments"

Not a single reference to any of this in his (short) bibliography. I would like to know how Straw's approach differs from others. But all we get is a short sentence saying his approach is “unique”!
Apparently this is because his is an “an organizational perspective” (page 10) But what exactly does he mean by this?
He seems to mean the “contestability” brought by competition between commercial companies (when it is allowed to exist) thereby raising a couple of critical questions - the first being the hoary question which occupied some of us in the 1980s – the extent to which it was possible to apply the same management principles in public and commercial organisations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. 21 Oct. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent read if you have an interest in constitutional affairs. Even if you don't, it's a well written, witty breakdown of how government should work - you know: accountability, measurement of success, those sorts of things.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Let's Do It ! 12 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is marvellous as an expose of the weaknesses of our government, public services and poor quality delivery of all those things we pay for through local and national taxes. Straw cuts through and exposes the weaknesses of government in a methodical and inspiring way. He puts forward a very plausible set of proposals for a better way of governing and delivering. The job now is to get it implemented ASAP. The key question is whether our rather second rate politicians and civil service leaders will see the light? I sincerely hope so.
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