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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Very Short Introduction series are written by professors of the subject and are aimed at provoking cross-discipline intrigue in the reader that may incite further investigation and reading - and boy, are they good at achieving exactly that; often they leave more questions than answers.

This is the second edition of this VSI, updated to include a critique of the bi-party government we currently have. This is obviously a pertinent point when considering politics of late. This 120 page A6 book spans the origin of the political system we have in Britain, it's history, major milestones and examples where it has served well and fallen short, this is all wrapped up in Tony Wright's excellent writing style which is often peppered with satirical cartoons that serve to emphasise the point being made. A nice touch that had me chuckling on more than one occasion despite subject material that can be considered rather dry.

The rejuvenation of this title could not be more apt and the assessment of the coalition government and it's short comings have created political malaise in Britain where voting is no longer seen as a civic duty. It apprises the value of the 2012 Olympics on British morale and attitude and is very relevant. Highly recommended for an insightful, occasionally funny but very informative look at British Politics.

P.s. Loved the Red/Blue cover, very fitting.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tony Wright was the Labour MP for Cannock Chase (and its predecessor) from 1992 to 2010 when the seat was won by the Tory candidate Aidan Burley. He has written a number of books on politics over the years and Oxford's" British Politics - A Very Short Introduction" was originally published in 2003. This latest version, published this year (2013,) has been updated to include changes that have occurred in the ten years since the first edition. The demise of New Labour, the coalition, the financial crisis and terrorism all get considered here.

Although Tony Wright is obviously a left-wing politician I did not find his overview of British Politics to be overly biased - but I would recommend it more to those who appreciate the author's background than to those who don't. Amazon has provided their useful Click to Look Inside feature for this book and that gives you the chance to have a flick through like in a book shop so you should get an idea of this books appeal to you.

Like the other Very Short Introductions I have read this one is not too short and provides a bit more than an introduction. Politics was very black and white when I was younger - I'm not sure I understand who represents who these days! I did find Tony Wright gave me an idea of how we got here though.
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on 3 September 2009
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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on 8 April 2009
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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on 20 March 2014
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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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a big fan of the "Very Short..." series of books. They are well-researched and well edited pieces of accomplished academic text which allow the reader to dip in to and briefly immerse themselves in a subject matter to a good and basically conversant level.

Whilst the subject matter in this tiny tome is drier than a hot day in the Sahara, it is well-structured, thoroughly researched and presented in a manner that doesn't confuse the layman reader. A useful addition to the library for all people interested in general politics, and particularly students embarking on Politics at GCSE or A Level.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a 2013 updated version which takes account of the coalition. Tony Wright is not a dispassionate academic, but he wears his political heart on his sleeve and so it is easy to see where he is coming from and take account of the fact that he has a certain perspective. For me this added to the strength of the book, and certainly it is a lively read. Not perhaps for the uninitiated, in the way that some of these short introduction books are, but if you are looking for a an insider take on British politics, this hits the mark.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICEon 22 September 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Not the best in this series, but a worthwhile read. I found the book to be objective for the most part, but it's clear it's been written from the left.
I'm no expert in the subject, but I found the book to be easy to understand, and it's taught me a few things.
Mostly enjoyable if you're interested in politics, but the writing style could have been more engaging.
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