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This review is from: What Happens Next? (Paperback)
Vernon Coleman has long been a waspish, eccentric but incisive commentator on British (and, in this book, global) political, social and economic events. In "Gordon is a Moron", he effectively demolished the aura of success (if it still exists) which once surrounded Gordon Brown's record as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Here, he looks at broader trends, both nationally and globally. If he's right, what happens next will be very nasty indeed.
His thesis begins with the observation that a combination of inept government and greedy bankers is driving the UK into bankruptcy and obscurity. It would be hard to argue against this, with Britain teetering on the brink of a debt implosion.
His strictures on America are visceral, but contain elements of solid analysis larded with a fair degree of simple dislike for the US as a country embodying, in the author's opinion, corruption, arrogance, greed and aggression. This is, to put it mildly, rather a sweeping generalisation, but it's a well (if rather hysterically) argued point of view. He thinks that Mr Obama is another Tony Blair - great image, no substance - and one can see where Coleman is coming from here without necessarily agreeing with him.
And so on. Bankers get a bashing; the UK is heading for hyper-inflation (well, we are running the printing presses), and is heading also for an energy crisis (Mr Coleman is a strong believer in Peak Oil). Law and order will disintegrate as an arrogant, increasingly out-of-touch police force imposes draconian laws enacted by Labour (I certainly agree with his assessment of the rate at which individual liberties are being eroded; and the police seem to have evolved from "the long arm of the law" to "the mailed fist of the [Labour] state").
This has been a summary of his thesis, spiced with some personal comments. Where I really take issue with the author is in his demonisation of the EU - he waxes lyrical about the damage that the EU has supposedly inflicted on the UK, but at no point does he mention the very material damage that Britain has caused the UK. He displays no grasp of decentralisation or subsidiarity, and thinks that a closer EU would be a carbon-copy of Britain's severe over-centralisation. But I'm in danger of ranting too.........
Unlike "Gordon is a Moron" - a book with which I whole-heartedly concurred - I think that "What Happens Next?" has taken on an over-large canvas, and is less focussed (and less convincing) as a result. At times I find myself crying out for footnotes and sources.
Written in a more academic, reasoned and backed-up way, this could have been a very powerful book. I still think that it's an important and thought-provoking one, containing many valid and important arguments. But the book would have been far more persuasive if it had it been more calmly argued.