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The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain Paperback – 4 Mar 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gibson Square Books Ltd (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906142696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906142698
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 719,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Eamonn Butler is Director of the Adam Smith Institute, one of the UK s leading policy think tanks. He holds a a doctorate from the University of St. Andrews. His expert opinion is sought by UK and international newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. He divides his time between London, Cambridge and Scotland, and is the author of several books - most recently The Rotten State of Britain (2009).

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With his characteristic fluency and good sense, Eamonn Butler sets out the issues facing Great Britain two months ahead of the election which--whatever it does for our government--will at last bring the "rotten parliament" of 2005-2010 to an inglorious conclusion. Dr Butler writes from the perspective of the libertarian Adam Smith Institute, but he does so without knee-jerk attitudes or remedies.

Instead he goes through the big issues of what have come in the lifetime of the baby-boom generation to be the principal concerns of national policy: education, healthcare and welfare, pointing out that we would do better without the withering hand of central government upon these services. He reminds us that the State has undermined its legitimacy by taking on responsibilities which it cannot discharge and that in consequence frustrated politicians have become acutely victim to their deformation professionelle for mindless (and invariably ineffective) regulation. Thus the bully and surveillance state, which all too often fails in the State's original objective of keeping the peace. Possibly in despair, Dr Butler is silent on defence.

He reminds us that the perpetrators of the financial crisis were governments and the cheap money they pressed upon unqualified borrowers, and touches on the politicians' squalid campaign to avoid their responsibility for the mess they have created.

This takes us to the distinguishing character of the book, by comparison for example with the Policy Exchange's otherwise excellent "Renewal of Government" (in a bad night for London's policy-wonks, their launch parties coincided on the evening of 10 March!
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This book is a must for anyone with an interest in the role of government itself and the extent to which it can, and does, detach itself from the purpose of serving the population over which it presides. James Madison, the USA's fourth President and the "Father of the Constitution" must be turning in his grave, having been able to say at the time "Hitherto charters have been written grants of privileges by Government to the people. Here they are written grants of power by the people to their Governments".

Today, all three of the UK's main political parties believe in the first template above as regards the size and reach of central government. Yes, one may prefer a little more of the Welfare State and a little fewer military exploits around the world; another may prefer to shave a penny or two off taxes and rely a little more on state regulation instead, while another may prefer to make a small move towards decriminalising drugs and prostitution and to spend more on greenery. The common thread is that the overall size and reach will not be significantly reduced, even though it has multiplied by a factor of at least ten in the past 100 years.

The unique qualities of The Alternative Manifesto (apart from Eamonn Butler's feat of putting it together in an incredibly short time-scale) are firstly that it is a genuine alternative, and secondly that it includes nearly all the major issues across the traditional (and bogus) Left versus Right spectrum. It shows that every single one can be downsized to a level well beyond anything that the politicians can begin to contemplate. The issue is Small versus Large and not Right versus Left; this is truly refreshing.
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The new intake of MPs should be made to sit down and read this as their second task as public servants (the first being to fill in their initial expenses claim, obviously). Butler has trawled through the best ideas of the current political classes and filtered out most (though, pleasingly, not all) of the looney tune gimmicks. The result is a thoughtful agenda for running the country that does not trip itself up by having to shoehorn ideology into the mix. The ideas are so sensible they have no chance of being adopted by the gurning sound-bite automatons who extraterrestrial powers have inserted into the festering carapaces of our elected representatives.
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Once again Eamonn Butler thinks outside the box. In fact, he throws the box away and offers a new way forward. The huge changes that have been endured by the UK and the advances in modern internet and information sharing systems have had a deep impact on our views on how we are governed or how believe that we can or ought to be governed. We are now very aware.
Present systems do not cope with the new political and technological age and a much leaner more flexible and up to date management system of government at all levels is badly needed in the UK.
The Alterenative Manifesto should be compulsory reading for all who seek high office in this country. Those who structure and plan our futures from London to the Regions should read this book.
It is a thought provoking and well argued offering that illustrates just what could be done if we abandon old and worn out dogmas.

The Alternative Manifesto. Send one to your MP.
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