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Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for 'The Global Race' Paperback – 8 Apr 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Reform Research Trust (8 April 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1849547319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849547314
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 598,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

This book is both timely and welcome... refreshingly radical. --City AM

His new book is a deliberately bracing read… The first sally in the war for the soul of the Liberal Democrats. --Spectator

[a] bracing book. --The Times

A cri de Coeur for free-market liberalism. --George Eaton, New Statesman

It is heartening … to see a politician be unashamedly ideological and to put forward big ideas, as Jeremy Browne MP does in Race Plan. --Total Politics

[a] bracing book. --The Times

About the Author

Jeremy Browne has been the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane since 2005. He was a Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 2010-12, where his specific responsibilities included Pacific Asia and Latin America. From 2012-13 he was a Minister of State in the Home Office. Jeremy lives in Taunton and London with his partner Rachel and their daughter Molly.


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Format: Paperback
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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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.
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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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"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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