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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goes the extra step
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...
Published on 11 Mar. 2010 by Miles Saltiel

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lazy and naive
I read the synopsis of The Alternative Manifesto and was hoping to tuck into Fillet steak, but soon felt like I was chewing on warmed-up corned beef hash. Eamonn Butler freely quotes others (without the courtesy of referencing them in any sort of Index), and appears to be little more than an apologist for bankers (it was the politicians fault guv'nor), for which I would...
Published on 24 Nov. 2010 by F. G. Lelliott


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goes the extra step, 11 Mar. 2010
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Miles Saltiel "Miles Saltiel" (London England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
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!) Dr Butler wastes no paper, but finds space to take the extra step from defective policy, through the unintended consequences of political hyperactivity, to constitutional reform.

This is the elephant in the car park of British public life. Party leaders of every stripe are encouraging the electorate to sleep-walk toward the May election, as though the political class and the arrangements underpinning it were not utterly discredited. Perhaps they will pull it off. Dr Butler's book shows what they instead ought to be doing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, a truly alternative manifesto, 22 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
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.

Thus, as one might expect, there are chapters covering The Economy, Finance, Education, Healthcare, Welfare, Crime & Justice, and Taxation. (In several of these fields it would be more accurate to insert the words "Lack of" before the descriptor!) But Eamonn also examines Politicians (and their role) Bureaucracy, The Bully State, and Regulation. In each case there are the relevant facts and figures, presented crisply, aided by interviews with specialists in the various fields. There is no shortage of solutions either, all pointing to very substantial reductions in the government's role. The simple fact is that big government means huge areas left without market price signals and therefore open to pure whim as well as waste. It also means big taxes which destroy great swathes of the division of labour and thus of living standards. The UK government now spends more than 50% of GDP. Since 100% would mean the total absence of trade and exchange, internally as well as externally, it doesn't take a genius to realise that halfway to the obliteration of all exchange (i.e. to individual autarky) means a huge devastation of the aggregate living standards which would be available under low taxes.

Perhaps the most interesting chapter is that on Politicians; naturally the ongoing scandal of inflated expense claims is dealt with, but more important is a significant examination of constitutional issues. Both in the UK and the USA, Madison's claim has reverted to type. Thus the ultimate issue lies with immediate constitutional reform or an inevitable decline into dictatorship.

Thank you, Eamonn Butler for pointing this out so clearly and forcibly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too sensible to be taken seriously by politicians, 17 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A courageous alternative, 6 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Robust Challenge to the Tories, 10 Feb. 2010
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Tim Ambler (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
This is wake up call to Cameron. In his anxiety to be seen as nice to everyone, he seems to be avoiding the radical and tough medicine we all know Britain needs. He would be well advised to tear up the Blair II manifesto he seems to be working on and adopts the thinking here. Then the UK's chances of making a full recovery would be much enhanced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspired piece, 15 April 2010
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
Many clear, sensible ideas on how to turn the country around. A major shift towards greater individual responsibility as opposed to excessive state control. Strongly recommended for all those interested in practical policy reforms.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lazy and naive, 24 Nov. 2010
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F. G. Lelliott (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
I read the synopsis of The Alternative Manifesto and was hoping to tuck into Fillet steak, but soon felt like I was chewing on warmed-up corned beef hash. Eamonn Butler freely quotes others (without the courtesy of referencing them in any sort of Index), and appears to be little more than an apologist for bankers (it was the politicians fault guv'nor), for which I would suggest he try reading House of Cards by William D. Cohan and then see if he has a shred of sympathy for them, and his idea that small businesses don't need to conform to employment laws as the employer and employees are probably friends anyway is laughable. If you want to read a blueprint to improving Britain, spend your money on The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain by Douglas Carswell instead.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The mess were in., 3 Aug. 2010
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Ian Tolin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
Good book, more factual and realistic than Government policy. If it's correct and I think it will be you have to question the checks and balances in our system. Delivery service good, price fine.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Apple A Day, 24 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain (Paperback)
The Alternative Manifesto is a clear, crisp and concise read. Perhaps the apple on the front cover is the perfect analogy - a staple nourishment, leaving you with core knowledge and seeding further debate.
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The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain
The Alternative Manifesto: A 12-Step Programme to Remake Britain by Eamonn Butler (Paperback - 4 Mar. 2010)
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