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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real challenge for liberals, and a great read
Jeremy Browne spent just over three years as a government minister following the formation of the coalition in 2010, first in the Foreign Office, where his responsibilities included Britain’s relations with countries in Pacific Asia and Latin America, and latterly in the Home Office. However, reading his new book it does not take long to discover which of these...
Published 3 months ago by Nick T

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3.0 out of 5 stars "Race Plan" was fine, well written and interesting enough to read on ...
"Race Plan" was fine, well written and interesting enough to read on holiday (which is not a given for an economics book). However, I find it hard to remember what the key points were, which suggests I didn't find them that compelling.
Published 16 days ago by Anne, London


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real challenge for liberals, and a great read, 9 April 2014
Jeremy Browne spent just over three years as a government minister following the formation of the coalition in 2010, first in the Foreign Office, where his responsibilities included Britain’s relations with countries in Pacific Asia and Latin America, and latterly in the Home Office. However, reading his new book it does not take long to discover which of these offices had the biggest influence on his political outlook.

Because while the detail of the book focusses primarily on domestic policy, the theme that pulls it together, which provides its context, is Britain’s role in a rapidly-changing, globalising world.

This internationalist outlook is in itself a welcome antidote to the parochialism that too often infects our politics.

Two things struck me immediately reading this book. The first was the internationalism of its outlook. Probably not since the leadership of Paddy Ashdown has a senior Liberal Democrat’s thinking been so informed by global events. Secondly was its radicalism and profound ambition. It is amusing to see the headlines marking the book’s publication focussing so heavily on Browne’s call for a reduction in the top rate of tax, because this strikes me as one of the least ambitious of the book’s proposals. But it exemplifies perfectly the inherent critique throughout the book that the real danger facing Britain is not being too radical, too restless for change, but continuing with the small-scale, complacent debate that dominates our day-to-day politics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought- provoking commentary on the global shift in power, 16 May 2014
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This book is really a personal manifesto by an up-and-coming liberal MP who is not well-known outside his own party. taking as his starting point the extraordinary changes taking place in China , it is a highly readable (for me four train journeys) account of what the gobal shift might mean for Britain. Like all good books on politics, setting out a standpoint it is concise, tightly argued and not overladen with statistics. it should achieve a wider audience. Too often politicians get caught up in the daily concerns of the news . here is someone who has taken time to reflect , with some interesting conclusions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced, informative and ... really interesting, 27 May 2014
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A. Sanders (london) - See all my reviews
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I'm not really a Lib-Dem fan, but Jeremy is a good writer and is very balanced in his presentation and opinion. My only criticism is that it could be a little more concise in some areas, but otherwise, a good read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Race Plan" was fine, well written and interesting enough to read on ..., 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for ‘The Global Race’ (Kindle Edition)
"Race Plan" was fine, well written and interesting enough to read on holiday (which is not a given for an economics book). However, I find it hard to remember what the key points were, which suggests I didn't find them that compelling.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Five star description of the problem but only two stars for practical solutions, 25 Jun 2014
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Why is our politics such a mess? I'm turning into a grumpy old man as the world spins down the tubes.
But I don't have the political memory or analytical skills to analyse why.

This book is a good summary of much that's wrong with English politics (not sure Welsh and Scottish are the same and we're certainly not one homogeneous country), but stating the problem is the easy part.

What to do? What Jeremy Browne calls his race plan is strong on common denominator principles (yes liberal democracy hooray) but an implementable plan to pick through the practical problems this isn't.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Traditional economic liberal ideas without any new answers as to why they would be popular, right or practical, 22 April 2014
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Is Jeremy Browne really a secret lover of state intervention and a sceptic of free markets, believing in big state spending, government economic planning and regular intervention in the market? For all of the veneer of free marketeering in his book Race Plan, not to mention his choice of Reform as the publisher, it's a question that comes to mind because in-between praising specific free market, small state policies, Browne regularly praises the results of governments such as the Chinese and the South Koreans, who are anything but.

It's his praise of South Korea that is the most intriguing, for China can simply be put to one side as dramatic but its own unique case. South Korea is, as Browne rightly points out, seen by many developing countries as the one to emulate, transforming itself from a poor dictatorship to a wealthy democracy with globally successful industries in less than half of one person's life time.

Yet South Korea is also the poster boy for the countries whose economic development path spurned a simple free market approach, with tariffs and market intervention a key part of their development. Back in the 1980s and 1990s this mix of market economy with regular state action made Asian Tigers such as South Korea of interest to many centre-left economists (on which see Robert Wade's classic Governing the Market). Plus all through this, South Korea did little to exert its influence on the wider world, relying heavily instead on the military protection and diplomatic patronage of the USA.

As policy mixes go, that makes South Korea's record all rather social democratic rather than economic liberal. Yet the book has Jeremy Browne praising its results - and the rest of the book isn't a repudiation of his previous free market views or an attempt to reconcile the difference between the policies implemented in the countries he praises and the policies he wishes to see in the UK. Instead, there's a huge leap: be awed by these countries, but don't do what they did and just don't ask why.

It all leaves rather weak intellectual foundations for the polices Browne goes on to praise - which are the traditional economic liberal mix of small state, lower taxes and reduced welfare spending along with big investment in infrastructure and major changes to education. This isn't a simple right wing collection of policies, but nor is it one that his examples of other countries supports.

The other weakness in Browne's case - aside from the ill-defined sideswipes at unnamed others by his use of the phrase "authentic liberalism" - is that the overall policy mix he proposes would have been imaginative, innovative and even politically exciting if made 35 years ago at the cusp of Britain trying to come out of the struggles of the 1970s.

Yet in the 35 years since then most of the policies he proposes have either been consistent political poison or notable by their failure. To take two examples: education vouchers have been controversial vote losers, whilst big and fast infrastructure investment is something politicians regularly call for and then, nearly as regularly, fail to deliver.

So how would Browne overcome that mix of policy failure and political disaster? I was hoping for an interesting answer to this, especially as Jeremy Browne is one of the leading proponents of how The Party Must Be Serious About Power, shedding what such people see as esoteric or unpopular policies.

Yet no real answers are provided in the book as to how Browne would make his policies effective or popular. Not even his experience of being a Liberal Democrat minster seems to have informed any new thought on how to resolve this question for the policies he promotes.

There are so few books published about what the Liberal Democrats should believe that the appearance of almost any is to be welcomed. Race Plan certainly passes that test, even if in choosing to break the normal publishing cycle of putting out policy books after the May election season, and instead taking a path only Lembit Opik amongst Lib Dems has recently taken by publishing before polling day, Jeremy inevitably generated a round of hostile press coverage for the party a few weeks before polling day.

But the more substantive problem with the book is that while it's a new book it simply presents old ideas without any new answers as to why they would be popular, right or practical.

And if Browne is right about South Korea, then following its policy successes means a Liberal Democrat party of the sort Vince Cable or Tim Farron prefers, not one of the David Laws or Jeremy Browne tendency.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Race Plan' is a Title that Evokes the Worst of the 20th Century, 8 May 2014
By 
S. McHugh "book addict" (Liverpool, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for ‘The Global Race’ (Kindle Edition)
Whoever told Jeremy Browne to entitle his book 'Race Plan' did him no favours. The 'Race' part evokes memories of the Holocaust and Hitler's Fascism; the 'Plan' part evokes echoes of Stalin's Five-Year Plans and the fall of central planning along with the USSR in 1989-93.

It is a customary thing for a politician deprived of office to write a book like this - analysis of what the problem is followed by a sequence of governmental moves that remedy the problems and restore the normality of wonderful happiness and riches all round. If that is what you look for you will find it all here.

But the whole structure is based on the notion that we understand as a civilization how economies work and how societies work. Alas, it ain't necessarily so. Economics at the macro level is clearly a busted flush. Nothing more than a hoax:a kind - as someone has said - of astrology for rich people.

A book that assumes economics is a true guide is no help to understanding the world in which we live.
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