Customer Review

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A substantive policy book rather than one to get the emotions going, 4 May 2013
This review is from: The Green Book: New directions for Liberals in government (Paperback)
The contents pages of this book are highly revealing. A quick flick through the chapter titles shows that, as indeed the blurb on the back promises, this is a book about how green policies can foster economic growth: "The Green Book argues cogently that a low-carbon economy and environmental investments are the best way to escape from sluggish growth, create new jobs and share prosperity".

That is a long way from from the sort of environmental debates which used to take place within the party and its predecessors over whether growth is a good thing. In part that is a pragmatic acceptance of the political landscape: the way to get green policies implemented is to give them a 'good for growth' tag. It is also a reflection of how even a collection of the keenest environmentalists in the Liberal Democrats are not at the 'deep green', anti-capitalist, zero growth end of the green spectrum. It is a case for green growth, not no growth.

Moreover, the little matter of green policies also being needed because of the scale and urgency of environmental challenges gets a secondary billing to the emphasis on growth. In other words, the books tries (and succeeds) in making a persuasive political case that a time of recession is not a time to neglect green policies. They are too important to the broad range of other policy areas to be shunted off on their own in a corner.

There is a touch of vision about a different form of capitalism in the references to working at regional and local levels, along with trying to get money circulating locally for longer in deprived areas. As with Jonathon Porritt's Capitalism as if the World Matters, it is a case for helping to fix rather than replace capitalism with only the occasional jibe at it, such as in picking advertising as the industry to be taxed in order to raise funds for a sustainable living promotional drive.

That pragmatic approach to trying to win support for environmental policies is further buttressed by the book's emphasis on the tactical political benefits for the party, with green policies offering a clear distinguishing issue from the Conservatives.

Sitting in contrast with that pragmatic strategy is a hint of a more hardline approach to the actual policy details. As the Green Alliance's Director, Matthew Spencer, has pointed out, David Howarth rather coyly talks in the book that, "the time might have come to reconsider what should count as liberal means" and others are rather less coy. For the contributors the state of our environment and its importance to such a broad sweep of policy justifies urgent action and one which involves a lot of new regulations alongside some use of financial incentives. This is a liberalism of more, rather than less, state action.

As the book's summary argues: "Markets are not good at factoring in costs to public welfare, such as the consequences of damaging the natural environment. So Green Liberals reject the false choice between free markets and regulation ... a sustainable market economy requires government intervention through setting standards, and providing fiscal signals".

Interestingly absent from the list of contributors is Vince Cable, and his department comes in for some criticism in the book for its attitude towards environmental policies. It is notably a low key presence for one of the few Liberal Democrat Cabinet Ministers and one of the most important departments for green growth.

The 368 pages do not quite fly by. This is a substantive policy book, broken up neatly into sections and written clearly, but it is not a book for a light read or one to move the emotions to fuel environmental campaigning zeal.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in

Review Details


4.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review)
5 star:    (0)
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
12.99 11.69
Add to basket Add to wishlist

Mark Pack

Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 792