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Dismembered: How the Conservative Attack on the State Harms Us All Paperback – 18 May 2017

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Guardian Faber Publishing; Main edition (18 May 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783351209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783351206
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


In a well-ordered society this book would not need to be written, but the society isn’t and it therefore does. Polly Toynbee and David Walker have long prowled the world of modern, dysfunctional, unequal Britain and have, on the whole, painted a disagreeable picture of it. Dismembered, despite its reasonable tone, also paints a disagreeable picture. The onslaught on the state over the last 30 years – the privatisations, outsourcings and dotty business school theorising – has done immense damage to British society, and shows little sign of weakening ... Toynbee and Walker present much damning evidence as to what has happened in Britain ... however, optimism keeps breaking in. To write a book of persuasion you have to believe that people can be persuaded – to hope that if voters only understood why they need an active state they would come to support it. (Guardian)

In an undisguised and unashamed “paean of praise” to the public services, Toynbee and Walker look behind the rhetoric calling for a smaller state to examine the often chaotic and confused ways in which the public sector has been pushed and pulled by successive governments over the last 30 years. They also examine how formerly cherished public institutions have lost the nation’s respect, not least as a result of politicians attacking the civil servants they were working with ... Their argument that “free enterprise only flourishes within a strong public realm” is a persuasive challenge to the prevailing dogma. (Sunday Herald)

Guardian columnist Toynbee, and her co-author Walker, make a powerful case for a powerful state. They’re not anti-capitalist, but they note that deliberate attacks on the NHS, our schools, our police and our military leave all of us more vulnerable. (Emerald Street)

Dismembered: How the Attack on the State Harms Us All warns of what could be lost, if government continues to hack away at the state. The writers expose the dangers of a government continuing to cut resources while a growing population requires ever more from public services. They call for greater articulation of the positive contribution that the public sector makes to the common good. (The Tablet)

[Toynbee & Walker] detail the scale of the assault on the state, and show how the language of right-wing ideology has come to prevail in the media and in public discourse. Their plea is for a restoration of trust in and respect for public service; for policies to be based on evidence rather than ideological assumptions; for public squalor to be addressed in preference to private affluence; for the proportion of GDP to be spent on public services to be increased from the current 39% back towards the 45–50% that most Western democracies aim for, rather than towards the 36% that is the target of the Conservative government. Their argument is backed by a series of journalistic reports from the frontline, based on interviews with often quietly heroic public servants doing their best … The extraordinary reversal in the fortunes of the two main parties at the election suggests that the pendulum might at last be swinging back in the direction that the authors desire. A wide readership of this book might give it a little extra impetus. (The British Journal of General Practice)

Dismembered provides a valuable overview of the changing face of public services. Written in a pacy and accessible style, it’s a book well worth reading for anyone with an interest in social history or public affairs. (Public Service Magazine)

This timely book chronicles the war on the state by successive governments over the past four decades as state functions are dismantled and much of its operations outsourced to the private sector … The book makes a powerful case in favour of the state … [and] provides a good analysis of the decimation that has gone on, while pointing toward ways that things could be improved in the future. (Morning Star)

Book Description

From the bestselling authors of Cameron's Coup comes a devastating critique of our current government. Read this before you vote.

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