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The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? [Hardcover]

Polly Toynbee , David Walker
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Oct 2010
Did Labour policies worsen the recession? Why did social mobility slow down on Labour's watch? Has SureStart improved the prospects of tomorrow's children? Does politics ever actually change anything? In their new book, Polly Toynbee and David Walker investigate these questions and more, providing a telling analysis of Labour's longest term in office, and a fascinating account of the role of politics in public life. They compare election promises with government policy, and use real-world stories and incisive commentary to illustrate the impact of Labour's government on the lives of British people. At the heart of the book is the question: Would the changes of the past 12 years have happened anyway? From the gleeful consumerism of the boom times to the misery of the economic bust, Toynbee & Walker assess the era of Blair and Brown and ask What Have Labour Done?

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; 1st Edition edition (7 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847081487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847081483
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.9 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 488,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

POLLY TOYNBEE & DAVID WALKER have co-authored Unjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today and audits of Labour's first and second terms: Did Things Get Better? and Better or Worse, Did Labour Deliver? POLLY TOYNBEE is an author and a political and social commentator for the Guardian. DAVID WALKER edits Public and was formerly chief leader writer of the Independent.

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Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars
2.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Instant History 2 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The authors have now written three of these books - one for each term of the Labour government. This is the best; naturally, because it has the extra perspective of the fall of Labour. The book maintains the focus of the previous books, on what was done by government and on its effect on us, the voters; and is is all the better for that.

So, if you're looking for the answer to the two monster questions of the Labour in power (Why did TB, who was clearly so conscious of his place in history, squander all his political capital on a quixotic escapade in Iraq? And, why did GB, who fought so long and hard to get to Number 10, arrive there with no plan whatsoever?), you'll have to look elsewhere.

What do we get? An exhaustive catalogue of the scattershot initiatives addressing primary, secondary and tertiary education, poverty, the health service and other Labour red button items. The authors just about make sense of things in education, primary at least, and health, but coherence and focus are harder to discern in law & order, poverty and foreign policy.

Many good things happened between 1997 and 2010, but the authors are never certain whether they would have happened anyway. For example, the crime rate went down in all over the western world, not just in the UK. Nor are the authors clear whether most of the good was being done with borrowed money - borrowed by the government itself, on and off balance sheet, borrowed by the public on the back of a property bubble, or borrowed (or worse) by the City and then handed over to the government in the form of taxes.

The economy is the weakness of the book. The authors don't feel able to take a position on this. Perhaps it's just too early to do so. The other gap is Iraq.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very poor book 29 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the worst books I have read in a long time. It purpose it's to provide a verdict on Labours record in government but it delivers way off the mark. A complete lack of narrative (yes, even non-fiction should have one), contradicting points, poor editing, a complete lack of sources and incomparable data all contribute to this being a total waste of time and money. I really enjoy reading Polly Toynbee in the Guardian but this book was a complete let down.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A whitewash 25 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback
I was bought this. I read it and it was awful. It cherry-picked through the Labour years making everything rosy. The Labour politicians were the best we have ever had; the decisions they made were brave and crusading and shown later to be totally correct in every way etc etc. It gets very tiresome after a while.
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11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Helping Polly Stick to her Principals 8 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback
Do not buy this book - on BBC R4 Any Questions? on Fri 7th Dec Polly pointed out she was boycotting Amazon. Please help her in her quest for righteousness
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Verdict 9 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very interesting book with one or two controversial views expressed. Well worth reading if you like this sort of political book.
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