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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative and interesting
I have read a number of books from the Very Short Introduction series and have been a bit disappointed - they tend to start nice and slow and then go into a level of detail beyond what is needed for a "very short introduction".

Written by a former MP, this book describes British politics and some of its nuances. It is interesting, thought provoking, easy to...
Published 15 months ago by Darren Simons

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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
The score here is perhaps a little harsh, as this is a good book, but there is a reason for it. For those that have read the 'Short Introduction To' series of books, you will know that these books are normally quite objective, and provide a good source of information for those who wish to learn about a subject, or are students of it.
Not so with this book. It makes...
Published on 17 Feb 2004 by Ned Lowe


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, 17 Feb 2004
The score here is perhaps a little harsh, as this is a good book, but there is a reason for it. For those that have read the 'Short Introduction To' series of books, you will know that these books are normally quite objective, and provide a good source of information for those who wish to learn about a subject, or are students of it.
Not so with this book. It makes a good stab at being objective and informative, especially at the beginning, but as the book goes on it becomes more and more of the author's view.
The author, Tony Wright, is a Labour politician, and this comes through very much in the writing. Here is someone who knows what really goes on, but for me I didn't want to know what really goes on, I wanted a dispassionate, informative account of what British Politics theoretically is. This is too one-sided, too involved in the subject.
It is certainly not a memoir, so does have use, and the writing is light and easy. If you don't want a 'textbook' on British Politics, it might be useful for you. If you have read other books, and want a more personal look at the subject, it will definitely be a good read. But as a starter book, which most of these 'Short Introductions' are, this isn't the best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Partisan account., 17 Oct 2013
By 
Jack Chakotay "Ender Brazil" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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Why get a member of the Labour party to write this book?

All the axes come out. All the snide references couched in politicospeak that come across as propaganda. I didn't want Mr Wright's view after each facet.

And the worse thing is the actual facts come across quite well, but again and again, they become coloured. This happens especially after the recent 2013 update to include the coalition government.

I recall more balanced introductions to British politics circa 1900-2000. I cannot see why the publishers chose this approach. You have to sieve the facts from flavour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative and interesting, 13 Sep 2013
By 
Darren Simons (Middlesex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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I have read a number of books from the Very Short Introduction series and have been a bit disappointed - they tend to start nice and slow and then go into a level of detail beyond what is needed for a "very short introduction".

Written by a former MP, this book describes British politics and some of its nuances. It is interesting, thought provoking, easy to follow and overall an excellent book. There is some overlap with the British Constitution book, and having read them both, this one might be sufficient.

First published in 2013, this version is updated 2013 and includes a lot of reference to the Conservative/Liberal coalition government.

Overall this is the best VSI I have read so fa.r
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an excellent introduction, despite overlooking the power of media, 3 Sep 2009
By 
Jeffrey Lehman (Market Harborough, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Tony Wright is a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Labour party, and this puts him in a good position to introduce British politics to the uninitiated. He writes from experience as well as from academic knowledge, and gives many interesting anecdotes from his own experience.

His position as an MP, however, also means that he has a few axes to grind, and keeps coming back to a small set of themes:
-Strong government is good, but needs better accountability (from Parliament, specifically).
-Parliament is a weak institution.
-The "first-past-the-post" election system does not reflect the true opinion of the electorate.
-The business of government has become the business of being re-elected.
As you read, you may get sick of seeing these same themes repeated again and again. However, they are important issues for discussion.

While giving excellent coverage of power from a political perspective, he virtually ignores the power of the media over politics, except to comment "Instead of the media feeding off Parliament, as was once the case, it is now more common for Parliament to feed off the media." This could use elaboration in order to properly explain the state of modern British politics.

I was recently listening to a discussion on BBC radio 4 about the centers of political power, commentators discussed the increasing concentration of power in the executive (as Wright does). Then one commentator said that the real power is now in the media, and the rest of them agreed unanimously. They had all been thinking in terms of official political positions, but the reality is that power does not always, or even primarily, lie in official places. However, Wright only deals with the politicians' part of this, which is to spin everything.

Writing about spin and soundbites, Wright states, "Presentation is all. Spin blots out substance. Soundbites substitute for arguments. Repitition replaces originality." Said the kettle to the pot... I guess he misses the irony of writing about soundbites using a series of short, repetitive, sentences. In any case, he scarcely mentions why it is that politicians have gone in for spin: the media.

One more cavil is that there are a couple of typographic errors, which is really unacceptable from such a respected press as the OUP.

Other than missing out on the power of the media, this is a good summary of the political situation in Britian today, and of how it got there. If you need a readable overview of the British political system and its workings, this little book will serve your purposes well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good and the not so good, 5 Sep 2013
By 
Amazon Customer "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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As the blurb says these books are designed to be readable, a way to get ahead in a new topic rapidly. The narrative gives a good overview on most subjects that are covered. The book also does a decent job at trying to attract the reader into each topic field. This is the second edition of British Politics VSI and is quite up-to-date. The narrative talks about the current position of British Politics and the coalition government that we have at this time (as of 2013).

However, there is a problem here, in a book that should remain neutral in its delivery, and as other reviewers have commented the author's politics seem to influence his writing as it progresses. So here in is the `rub', so to speak and hence my rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent job of making a boring subject vaguely interesting!, 2 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. Stephen Redman (York England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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The author Tony Wright was a labour MP for many years before becoming Professor at UCL in the political field. Whereas it is easy to tell which party he represented from what he has written, he is reasonable fair to his ex-opponents and offers a couple of perspectives on most issues. He does a very good job of engaging the reader and making you think about your own political leanings. Our unique and vibrant history is engaged with to help connect the reader to key points about the way politics works in this country.

Importantly this is an updated edition of the 'Very Short Edition'.

The author engages with the truth of the party system and its impact on the way politics works in the UK, he also talks about party funding and the development of the British Constitution. Adversarial politics is discussed and examples given from history of its development. In this second edition there are references to our current rule by coalition and the relative success that this has been. There is also a lot of reference to the centre of British Politics but probably not enough to its heart?

Like all the books in this series it is a light read, but a thought provoking one, I felt I got a lot out of it and would have given it 4 1/2 stars had the system allowed me!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Introduction???, 8 April 2009
By 
M. L. R. Jones "leejones" (england) - See all my reviews
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As complete beginner of politics i found this book to be filled with terminology that was not explained or defined, therefore page after page could not be understood. The title should not include the word introductory since this book requires a prior knowledge, of at least a good number of terms used, of the subject. The for Dummies books are much better as an intro into politics, but, as of yet, they do not seem to have a specific british politics book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best sources to get up to speed quickly on current British Politics, 4 July 2013
By 
M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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Along with the `Teach Yourself' series, the `Very short introduction' books are the go-to series when you want to learn anything in a hurry. Politics is one of the few subjects where it is not a good idea to research via the web, as many of the online sources are either inaccurate or biased (medicine is the other big no-no to look up on the web, for similar reasons).

Tony Wright is not just your average rent-a-series-writer: he's actually been in party politics, has written a number of other political books, and is currently out of politics and working within academia. Sounds like one of the best people to lead you though the subject!

Given that the author is a labour MP, one thing I was watching out for was bias, and am glad to report that this is not an issue.

One of the biggest advantages of this book is that it was published this year, so is bang up to date with recent reforms and the changes in politics caused by the banking crisis. As the author was active in politics during the Blair years, New labour is also well covered.

With regard to the British Constitution and political history, the author clearly has a love and interest for this subject, something that comes though in the writing.

Given its subject matter, the book has significantly more illustrations than I expected. A small point perhaps, but one that makes the book much more enjoyable.

Overall, a current, thoughtful, knowledgeable and very readable account.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too repetitive, 20 Mar 2014
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A slightly interesting and informative account of British politics, but it unfortunately becomes tiresome and repetitive about 2/3 of the way through.

The bulk of the book appears to be the author arguing with himself over the fusion of executive with legislative - and just when you think the topic is changing, it's back to what feels like a messy internal dialogue disputing checks and balances.

With a good trim and a brutal edit, this would've been a fascinating read, but it claws its way back to the argument of accountability far too often, and fails to ever offer a definitive response. That said, given the relatively low price, I would recommend a purchase, just don't be surprised if getting through it starts to feel like a chore when the finish line is almost in sight
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased., 25 Oct 2013
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This review is from: British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
It took a while to get to me, but it's everything i wanted. perfect book. brand new, I'm very happy.
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