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The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy

The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy [Kindle Edition]

Heather Brooke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"You won't know whether to laugh or rise up and overthrow absolutely everything." (CHARLIE BROOKER)

"She's a total ninja." (BEN GOLDACRE)

"A wonderful book... Heather Brooke puts every other British journalist to shame. She has changed British public culture and earned an essential place in our national history. She is an extraordinary figure who must be celebrated." (PETER OBORNE)

"Secrecy is one of the great British diseases. It's so secret that we don't even admit we suffer from it. Heather Brooke is part of the cure - challenging the routine concealment and distortion of important information. There should be more journalists doing the same." (NICK DAVIES)

"'passionate, eloquent and persuasive...We need the likes of Heather Brooke to challenge, to take up grievances and to campaign.'" (Peter Riddell,Times Book of the Week)

Book Description

A modern classic of journalism and an iconic investigation of power in C21st Britain, by one of the country's leading reporters.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 441 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (11 Jan 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099537621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099537625
  • ASIN: B004I8WLA2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,170 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Heather Brooke worked as a political and crime reporter in the US before moving to Britain where she is now a freelance journalist and Freedom of Information campaigner. Her investigation into the expense accounts of Members of Parliament led to the biggest clear-out of politicians that country had seen in decades and the first forced resignation of the Speaker of the House in 300 years. She writes for all of the main UK national papers and has published three books.

Heather Brooke has won numerous awards including the Judges' Prize at the 2010 British Press Awards, the FOI Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), and a Freedom of Expression Award from Index on Censorship. She is a visiting professor at London's prestigious Department of Journalism at City University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all UK voters 6 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book having heard of Heather Brooke through her instrumental role in breaking the MPs expenses scandal and I'm so very glad I did.

Heather lifts the lid on the rotten heart of British democracy and exposes just how little real information the electorate actually have to work with when judging the performance of their elected officials, police services and judiciary.

We pay for huge amounts of data to be gathered on our behalf and about us, and yet we are (in many cases explicitly) denied access to that data. Sometimes we get to pay for it many times over before being presented with a figure-fiddled, dumbed-down press release that bears little or no resemblance to the facts.

In many ways a lot of UK voters already suspect many of the issues raised in this book, but to see the hard facts is something of a smack-in-the-face. If you are suffering from voter apathy, this is one book that is guaranteed to stir you out of it.

Heather has a wonderfully fluid and accessible writing style that carries you through what could easily have been a dry subject with ease and humour. Her ability, and persistance, to get at the truth places her at the pinnacle of modern investigative journalism and, for me, the name Heather Brooke belongs amongst those of game-changes like Bob Woodward,Carl Bernstein and Amira Hass.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing and shocking 4 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have spent 30 odd years of teaching History, and attempting to answer questions from students such as "How could they do that", "How did they get away with that", "Why did people believe them" about various historical events of the last 2000 years. Any ideas I might have had that we now live in more democratic and enlightened times are blown away by this book. Some of the stories are not new, but collected together they are a dismal and depressing chronicle of present-day Britain. In many ways we have as little freedom as medieval peasants.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Live Freedom? 20 Aug 2010
This book is by the American (I think) lady journalist who blew open the UK Parliament's expenses scandal and one had to wonder where were all those highly-paid "political experts" on BBC, press etc, who seemed to be willing to cooncur with the freeloading and outright fraud of our so-called "democratic representatives". Heather Brooke is heroic and deserves more recognition.

This book goes into the extent to which the citizen has been gradually subdued and forced prone by the State, particularly (many might say) during the years from 1997 when The Party Formerly Known As Labour was in power. Not only in power at Westminster but in councils across the UK, which is where many of the worst abuses have happened. We have all learned about how ordinary local councils have (thanks to Blair-Brown) had the power to spy on people using methods previously used mainly by MI5 or special branches of the police: wiretaps, electronic bugging, tailing people for months...and often only to find out whether or not they should have put their children in a local school and not another one, etc.

The idea that this will change under the government of David Scameron would be at least optimistic. He seems to want to give back some rights to affluent citizens, while using thhat as a cover to cut useful/necessary services to the public....meanwhile, thhe 16 million people on benefits (particularly the 10 million poorest, who are unemployed, disabled, or spouses thereof) are going to be subject to an even more East German Stasi type of regime of coontrol and surveillance (and interrogations etc disguised as "helping people back to ---usually non-existent-- work").
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Investigative journalist Heather Brooke, who exposed Parliament's systemic corruption, has written a splendid broadside in defence of our liberties. Chapters cover the rise of surveillance, government public relations, government spin, power without responsibility, charging for information, secret justice, the presumption of guilt, and the story of her exposure of the expenses scandal.

She shows how surveillance is wrong in principle, is costly and doesn't work. In 2002, the EU at Lisbon backed government subsidies to the IT industry, after the bust.

Our 445 local authorities spent £430 million on self-publicity in 2008. The government's Central Office of Information spent £540 million in 2008-9, the Foreign Office spent £497 million, the MoD £44 million in 2007-8, and the Department of Health £107 million.

She argues that we need to register all those entering or leaving the country and where they settle, to help local and national government to plan services.

She writes, "It's easier to lie when no one knows your name. It's easier to do all sorts of unethical, if not criminal things when you are promised anonymity. Only by acting as a named individual and relating to others as such can there be justice and integrity in bureaucracies."

She praises two very useful websites, [...] and [...] which let us see how our MP votes. We also have a right to know what interests are seeking to influence MPs. The state is putting more curbs on court reporting and more often using secret evidence in closed hearings.

Democracy under capitalism remains restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, because capitalism does not trust the people.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could be improved
Overall this book is worth a read but it has clear anti-establishment/right wing populist slant. The big issue is the colloquial language often used which sometimes detracts from... Read more
Published 1 month ago by E. Longe
5.0 out of 5 stars good expose
Heather Brooke has done a good job by exposing the hypocrisy that stinks with the so called democracy. Read more
Published 4 months ago by vizer
5.0 out of 5 stars Big brother is watching you....
Not sure why I brought this really. I was probably feeling paranoid and wanted reassurances that big brother wasn't watching me. Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. Stanhope
5.0 out of 5 stars Deception by the State
A web of deception by the establishment based on the assumption the general public are no better than naughty children.
Published 8 months ago by Daniel Hermon
4.0 out of 5 stars The silent state
Excellent book. I would recommend it to every citizen. It is time we woke up to the fact that we have the power to make the state accountable. Read more
Published 11 months ago by William McLean
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book is written by journalist Heather Brooke, she is most famous for exposing the MPs' expenses scandal. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Charles
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading in all secondary schools
If you live in the allegedly "United" Kingdom and were under the impression that your elected representatives were working in yours and the country's interests, then... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Square Peg 4 Round Hole
5.0 out of 5 stars A REAL EYE OPENER!!!
This book will really open your eyes to all the double speak and PR rubbish you are bombarded with on a daily basis. Read more
Published 17 months ago by David J. Hayward
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Great book. Not for bed time reading because it will leave you quite angry. Heather Brooke actually exposed the MP expenses scandal before The Daily Telegraph got hold of it. Read more
Published on 4 May 2012 by Physioman
3.0 out of 5 stars good start - where's the rest of it?
It's like reading a big book where most of the juicy bits have been censored. Many of the people who read this book, will follow this sleazy stuff in the... Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2011 by Mr. J. Hudson
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Popular Highlights

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In the age of PR there is no such thing as failure. The underlying belief is that you can make shit smell like roses. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users
Increasingly, a class system based on wealth and privilege is being replaced by one based on information. &quote;
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the Audit Commission Act 1998. This law allows local taxpayers full rein to pile through all the council’s accounts and accompanying audit documents for twenty full working days. &quote;
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