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The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy Paperback – 6 Jan 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099537621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099537625
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"You won't know whether to laugh or rise up and overthrow absolutely everything." (CHARLIE BROOKER)

"She's a total ninja." (BEN GOLDACRE)

"A wonderful book... Heather Brooke puts every other British journalist to shame. She has changed British public culture and earned an essential place in our national history. She is an extraordinary figure who must be celebrated." (PETER OBORNE)

"Secrecy is one of the great British diseases. It's so secret that we don't even admit we suffer from it. Heather Brooke is part of the cure - challenging the routine concealment and distortion of important information. There should be more journalists doing the same." (NICK DAVIES)

"'passionate, eloquent and persuasive...We need the likes of Heather Brooke to challenge, to take up grievances and to campaign.'" (Peter Riddell,Times Book of the Week)

Book Description

A modern classic of journalism and an iconic investigation of power in C21st Britain, by one of the country's leading reporters.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I bought this book having heard of Heather Brooke through her instrumental role in breaking the MPs expenses scandal and I'm so very glad I did.

Heather lifts the lid on the rotten heart of British democracy and exposes just how little real information the electorate actually have to work with when judging the performance of their elected officials, police services and judiciary.

We pay for huge amounts of data to be gathered on our behalf and about us, and yet we are (in many cases explicitly) denied access to that data. Sometimes we get to pay for it many times over before being presented with a figure-fiddled, dumbed-down press release that bears little or no resemblance to the facts.

In many ways a lot of UK voters already suspect many of the issues raised in this book, but to see the hard facts is something of a smack-in-the-face. If you are suffering from voter apathy, this is one book that is guaranteed to stir you out of it.

Heather has a wonderfully fluid and accessible writing style that carries you through what could easily have been a dry subject with ease and humour. Her ability, and persistance, to get at the truth places her at the pinnacle of modern investigative journalism and, for me, the name Heather Brooke belongs amongst those of game-changes like Bob Woodward,Carl Bernstein and Amira Hass.
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I have spent 30 odd years of teaching History, and attempting to answer questions from students such as "How could they do that", "How did they get away with that", "Why did people believe them" about various historical events of the last 2000 years. Any ideas I might have had that we now live in more democratic and enlightened times are blown away by this book. Some of the stories are not new, but collected together they are a dismal and depressing chronicle of present-day Britain. In many ways we have as little freedom as medieval peasants.
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Format: Paperback
This book is by the American (I think) lady journalist who blew open the UK Parliament's expenses scandal and one had to wonder where were all those highly-paid "political experts" on BBC, press etc, who seemed to be willing to cooncur with the freeloading and outright fraud of our so-called "democratic representatives". Heather Brooke is heroic and deserves more recognition.

This book goes into the extent to which the citizen has been gradually subdued and forced prone by the State, particularly (many might say) during the years from 1997 when The Party Formerly Known As Labour was in power. Not only in power at Westminster but in councils across the UK, which is where many of the worst abuses have happened. We have all learned about how ordinary local councils have (thanks to Blair-Brown) had the power to spy on people using methods previously used mainly by MI5 or special branches of the police: wiretaps, electronic bugging, tailing people for months...and often only to find out whether or not they should have put their children in a local school and not another one, etc.

The idea that this will change under the government of David Scameron would be at least optimistic. He seems to want to give back some rights to affluent citizens, while using thhat as a cover to cut useful/necessary services to the public....meanwhile, thhe 16 million people on benefits (particularly the 10 million poorest, who are unemployed, disabled, or spouses thereof) are going to be subject to an even more East German Stasi type of regime of coontrol and surveillance (and interrogations etc disguised as "helping people back to ---usually non-existent-- work").
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Format: Paperback
Being someone who is very interested in the way our governments manipulate us to their own devices, I found this book extremely well informed and written in a palatable manner. It is highly thought provoking and enbables the reader to get a clearer picture of their 'liberty'.

I recommend this book highly, but be prepared to get angry!

I have Heather Brooke's previous book "your Right to Know" Which I bought at a conference about freedom in journalism, having heard her speak. She is a brave and exciting author and I recommend reading her work.
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Every one in Britain should read this book, it raises issues that many of us have thought about but not realised fully how undemocratic Britain is. From the legal system which only works for the rich or those endowed with public money, the all pervasive use of 'spin' often called PR, used by public bodies to con us into believing they are doing a good job, how we are charged to access data that has already been paid for by us (the taxpayers) and the state snooping on us using a multiplicity of databases which have largely been introduced furtively.

Heather Brooke was also largley responsible for bringing into the open the MPs expenses scandal, which eventually the Telegraph took a lot of the credit for.
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I used to work in the public sector so I have seen the other side. The book makes lots of good comments and is well worth reading. The general principles I agree with but implementation needs to be economic and practical. For example the recent government announcement that local authjorities will have to publish details of all items over £500 (all in line with the book) seems way over the top as a starting point and likely to increase costs. Why not start at - say £5000 - and then extend it from there?

The author - rightly - draws attention to the (existing) rights of public access to local authorities' financial transactions but makes no mention of the abuses that occur and public money wasted as a result of some 'questions and objections' from members of the public - all of which have to be responded to. It would have been useful if the author had pointed out that this (existing) provision applies only to local authorities - ?as will the new £500 requirement - what about the rest of the public sector - especially central government and quangos.

However these are relatively small gripes - still strongly recommended.
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