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The Broken Compass: How British Politics lost its way [Hardcover]

Peter Hitchens
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 May 2009
The old rules of Left and Right no longer apply. Left-wingers keenly support the bombing of Belgrade and the invasion of Iraq. Tories warn against the threat to civil liberties. The 'progressive' BBC gives a fair hearing to the Conservative Party. Socialist journalists turn and rend Ken Livingstone. In democratic London, merely expressing your opinion can be seriously bad for your career, while in autocratic Moscow you can say pretty much what you like, provided you don't do anything about it. The tearing down of the old Iron Curtain may have allowed markets to sweep into the old Warsaw Pact lands - but it has also permitted revolutionary left-wing ideas to spread like a bacillus through the 'West'. Nobody really cares any more about the old shibboleths of state ownership. The British Labour Party - which opposed nuclear weapons, supposedly on principle, when they mattered - is quite happy to spend billions on the same weapons now that they are unnecessary. The supposed 'right' is as confused and nonsensical as the supposed 'left'. Neo-conservatives run vast budget deficits at home and engage in utopian adventures abroad. They are actively opposed to old conservative ideas such as national sovereignty, strong families and rigorous selective education, and happy to bend the knee to left-wing orthodoxies from man-made global warming to egalitarianism. The political compass is broken, its needle swinging wildly and meaninglessly. The existing political parties have converged, or perhaps simply retreated in confusion on to what looked like safe territory, the often tried and repeated failed policies of Fabian Social Democracy, now worsened by 1960s sexual and social radicalism. They are no longer adversaries, their personnel are interchangeable and they struggle to find ways to distinguish themselves from each other. They simply ignore - or deny - huge areas of human experience and concern from mass immigration to the collapse of marriage and the disappearance of order and rigour in the state education system. Yet conventional wisdom continues to insist that formal politics can and should continue as it did before - and that an exasperated and increasingly angry electorate should place its hopes in a mere change of personnel at the next election. Peter Hitchens argues for the re-establishment of proper adversary politics and the rediscovery of principle.

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Peter Hitches will be a guest on BBC Radio 4's ""Start the week"", promoting his book The bookseller, 8 May 2009,Reviewed in Standpoint, 1 May 2009,No plaudits can be too great for the predominant clear-sightedness, the historical sense, and the ethical force which Mr. Hitchens has brought to surveying what an earlier, and far inferior, scribe (now dead) called ""the anatomy of Britain"". The Broken Compass ... will be remembered with esteem long after the uncouth rants of Mr. Hitchens's odious elder sibling Christopher have ceased to hold any but neurological interest.,A controversial and fascinating book ... could not put it down, it gave me plenty of food for thought.  I enjoyed it tremendously and highly recommend it.,Review in Tribune,Mention, Private Eye. 1 - 14 May 2009.,Hitchens can be terrific.,This book has some passages of quite brilliant writing and it is at its best when Peter reflects on his own life and his disillusionment with the left-wing ideology of his youth. I long to see him take the next stage in his writer's journey and examine, with his unsparing honesty, the rich human reality of the division he believes is now more important than the split between Left and Right - the deeper gulf between the restless progressive and the Christian pessimist.,'Treated as a piece of satire ... The Broken Compass can be an entertaining read.' - Morning Star ,""Hitchens is an entertaining character, both on TV and in print, and this book is no exception"" - Morning Star,The Broken Compass, which has received less attention in the conservative press than it deserves, mixes Hitchens's analysis of modern British politics - and the lack of any small-c conservative party - with his own memoirs as an industrial and foreign correspondent. --Review in Tribune,Mention, Private Eye. 1 - 14 May 2009.

About the Author

Peter Hitchens is a British journalist, author and broadcaster. He witnessed most of the final scenes of the Cold War, and was a resident correspondent in the Soviet capital and in Washington DC. He frequently revisits both Russia and the USA. He currently writes for the Mail on Sunday, where he is a columnist and occasional foreign correspondent, reporting most recently from Iran, North Korea, Burma, The Congo and China.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Broken Compass is a disquieting book which I am not surprised to see ignored by the liberal left establishment which now encompasses most of the print and broadcast media, the legal system and the three main British political parties. Yes, there is such a thing as conspiracy-as experienced journalist and former Marxist Hitchens writes, given that a conspiracy is basically 2 or more people working quietly behind the scenes to achieve something they'd prefer not to openly tell the rest of us about, the astonishing thing would be if there were no conspiracies. This conspiracy is so big, and grew so gradually and with such sleight of hand, we don't ordinarily notice it.

He writes about the many deals done quietly between journalists and politicians over lunches, the deals which decide which stories are reported, which stories are killed, who rises, who falls. He has seen it at first hand.

He explains why the 'Conservative' party unexpectedly (and as I thought at the time, insanely) elected the wealthy, smooth-tongued Liberal David Cameron as leader over the much more popular centre-right David Davies. I remember where I was when I heard about this stunning decision. So does Peter Hitchens-he was at the conference where it happened. He explains why he believes that it was a done deal, with the BBC Guardianista opinion-formers, the people who decide which news is fit to feed us and how we shall interpret it, and their fellow travellers realising that the post-60s permissive revolution would be safe in the hands of David Cameron (Blair mark 2). You'll have to read the book for the details.

He writes a lot about the lies, selfishness and hypocrisy of socialists who have pulled the ladder up after themselves, especially as regards grammar schools.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb analysis 2 Jun 2009
Peter Hitchens has an unrivalled talent for reading the politial and social crosswinds that have led us to, and will eventually send us over the edge of, the abyss.

Given that in Broken Compass, he spares no criticism of lazy, pliant journalists, don't expect to see many glowing reviews of this book in the press, but do take the effort to read it. It gives plenty of food for thought for the free-thinker.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 30 Oct 2009
A very stimulating book...what is refreshing is how the author shows that much of the left's ideas of the 1960s and 1970s started off in the right way (eg on racialism,sexism etc) but ended up in the monstrous PC dogma of the modern era.What is more....most of the right seem to have adopted them too! The chapter on the railways is also very illuminating...something for modern Tories to think about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very insightful 13 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think this is a book everyone in Great Britain should read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and read it almost in one sitting. Peter Hitchens is not afraid to swim against the tide and I admire him greatly for speaking out about issues that really matter and give opinions which are not popular but which really need to be said.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinks just like me 5 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Refreshing to read a book that is both honest and balanced.
Peter is often criticised for his view of life or are people afraid of the truth?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great. 23 Nov 2010
Got the book yesterday and devoured it in a day. The print is rather large and the message brief and oft' repeated. (There's a gnat's hair between Labour and Conservatives, that's the message). Lots of examples to ram home the point, but it's still the same point.
Lists of journos and politicos who commit the cardinal sin of saying one thing when they mean another, (big surprise). Examples galore.
It's not a patch on Peter Oborne's 'The Triumph of the Political Class.' or his 'The Rise of Political Lying.' Martin Bell's 'The Truth That Sticks.' or Hitchens' own 'The Abolition of Liberty.' Kampfner's 'Blair's Wars.'
In short, good but not great. The others I've mentioned above, along with several more I've read would merit four or five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 23 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Another moving indictment of modern politics and the degeneration and social decay of modern Britain. I wish Hitch would get positively, practically involved.
God bless thee,
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A superbly written polemic on modern times
While not the most broad ranging of political analyses, The Broad Compass is written with a superb poetic prose which demonstrates Mr Hitchens's superb master of oratory, and... Read more
Published on 15 April 2012 by A. J. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Disillusioned Compass: A journalist who sidesteps too frequently
Hitchens is good enough to be published, but is this a book really worth buying?. Instore is a good deal of Peter Hitchens look at 'leftism', which he never defines, Britains... Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2010 by Issac
5.0 out of 5 stars An EYE OPENER
Written with great understanding, knowledge and an eye opener for anyone with a thought of how we have been manipulated
Published on 18 Dec 2009 by F. Murphy
2.0 out of 5 stars a mixture of good bits and fairly boring bits
The author believes that British politicians and presumably British politicians have broken their political compass. Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2009 by Mr. J. Hudson
3.0 out of 5 stars The Broken Compass
I have to agree with Peter Hitchens on some of his points, and he does make a good argument for the deterioration in the British Education System as a result of the demise of the... Read more
Published on 9 July 2009 by Steve
1.0 out of 5 stars The meaning of liberty
Sadly, I found this book to be deeply flawed. Hitchens is obsessed with the idea that there is a "liberal" consensus across the main political parties/ classes in Britain. Read more
Published on 27 May 2009 by A. Jordan
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