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on 11 September 2016
Written by NeoCon politicians they outline a number of areas in the economy where UK is doing badly then cite a number of ways other countries have addressed the same issues - so far so good. Unfortunately they completely fail to address the incompetence of post-war governments (understandably perhaps) and the damage that an over-mighty and corrupting financial class have wrought nor do they suggest any ways these may be addressed.
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on 28 March 2016
Having read quite a bit of left-leaning material recently, I felt that I should read something written by ‘the other side’. I tried to approach this book with an open mind, fully expecting some of my opinions to be challenged. However, I found ‘Britannia Unchained’ to be little more than a collection of the authors’ prejudices, backed up by little or no evidence.

The authors set out their vision as to how we can ensure that Britain remains competitive in the globalised world of the twenty-first century, one of their key themes being that, despite the challenges we face, decline is not inevitable and we must remain optimistic. Among their main recommendations are that British students should be encouraged to study maths, the physical sciences and technical subjects such as computer science, that tax should be lowered, that regulation should be reduced, that welfare benefits must be diminished because not only are these unaffordable but they discourage people from standing on their own two feet, that businesses should be willing to take risks and, above all, that we must work much harder and for much longer than we currently do.

The authors seem to have a very poor opinion of the average British working person; chapter 4, which is all about work ethic, starts, ‘Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world’. The only ‘pockets of work ethic’ which the authors are able to locate in the British population are ‘among the industrious cab drivers or in the culture of the City of London’ (page 111-112). Shockingly, these MP authors seem to think that it’s a very good thing that a Polish worker (somewhere in Britain, they do not say where), after commuting two hours to work, puts in ten hours each day fruit-picking, for a meagre £7 per hour (page 64). Far from having anything to say about whether it is desirable to have an economy which relies on people working long hours for such low wages, the authors (who, at the time of writing, were on salaries of at least £65,000) go on to contrast the work ethic of the Polish worker with the fecklessness of the British, by quoting an interview with two jobseekers from a BBC documentary, an interview which is so stereotyped that it is almost beyond belief. These two jobseekers, one of whom ‘opens a can of beer’ at the end of the interview, represent no jobseeker, or any British person for that matter, other than themselves, but the authors hold them up as representatives of the whole British population (page 64).

Indeed, throughout, these authors assert opinions which are incredibly stereotyped and simplistic, and engage in little meaningful analysis of why what they are stating may be the case, if indeed it is so, resorting to blaming things like ‘indifferent parenting’ without explaining what they mean by this; I find this highly concerning given that they are all MPs and at least two of them are currently Government ministers. Just to provide a couple of examples, they write that, ‘Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music’, ‘… low-income students in Britain do not see study as a way out of poverty’ and ‘The British lack confidence in who they are, but arguably no other country has given so much to the world’.

I also find it very concerning that these authors appear to think that it is a bad thing that, in recent decades, informal and cheap childminders have been increasingly replaced by heavily regulated nurseries, and that those childminders which are left are faced with Ofsted requirements for ‘compulsory registration, mandatory staff-child ratios and a detailed curriculum’ (page 71). The authors bewail the fact that this has pushed up the cost of childcare to the point where this deters many parents on low and middle incomes from returning to work and thus contributing to the economy. I think I am right in saying that not once in the whole book do the authors consider that maybe, just maybe, low wages are contributing to some of these issues.

Moreover, the authors seem unable to even contemplate that everyone working long hours, at the expense of spending time with their children, or looking after ageing parents, or developing an interest outside paid employment, for example, while this may ‘grow the economy’ is not necessarily beneficial overall.

Few British people are safe from the censure of these authors: from lazy students choosing ‘easier’ subjects which are marked less rigorously than maths and the physical sciences, to tube drivers in their ‘cosseted and heavily unionised world’, to benefit claimants, to 15 year old ‘Tuggy Tug, standing on a rough street corner in Brixton waiting for people to mug’ and whose ‘attitude reflects poor primary school education’ (no further analysis of his attitude is engaged in), to baby boomers who not only don’t recognise their good luck (in having reached adulthood at a time when there were plenty of well-paid, highly skilled jobs available and when housing was affordable compared to today, and in now being able to look forward to a long retirement on a decent pension, particularly if they worked in the public sector, etc.) but now ‘seem actively hostile to helping the next generation’ (page 109); for some reason known only to the authors Joan Bakewell is singled out for particular opprobrium.

‘Britannia Unchained’ is one of the worst books I have ever read. Not only is the content appalling, it is also riddled with typing errors. I do urge others to read this before voting at the next general election, but if possible to borrow a copy from a library rather than buying it.
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on 22 September 2017
This is a book prepared to advance the political ambitions of the writers from their ivory towers. It shows a no understanding of the complexities of society and the problems of those less fortunate than they are. They ignore the complexities of the social and business world thinking everyone who succeeds has worked hard and success is the result and all the failures are a result of laziness and lack of enterprise.
Its purpose can only be to advance their political ambitions by the process of continually repeating the same untruths as evidenced by others with great ambitions..
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on 24 October 2014
A short, juvenile work

I am very glad that I bought this for £2 from the Highgate Oxfam shop.
Because that way these over-privileged authors cannot profit from their "work"
at my expense.

What I thought I would get was an intelligent, patriotic , prospective disquisition.
What I got was a breathless, naive, and very superficial fifth-form essay seemingly
cobbled together from articles and stats off the Internet.
If fifteen-year-olds had submitted this as a vocational assessment project my employer would have told me to reject it as plagiarism.
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on 25 June 2016
I have worked around the globe and I read this book with mounting. disquiet , amongst all the rhetoric about "hardwork and self reliance" was a core of the worst sort of libertarian the one that only wants Liberty for their own at the expense of their fellow citizens, this book has a recipe for an economy more redolent of a third world dictatorship or the eponymous "banana republic" Than the United Kingdom.

it is at best economically illiterate and at worst fascistic in its outlook with very little to say that is positive and gives a very bleak picture of the life they would offer in Britain under their demagogic regime.

it could be summed up as you sow your hardwork while they reap
worth a miss unless distopian fantasy economics is your thing
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on 24 September 2017
Down with this book and down with the Tories! Resist!
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on 14 September 2017
The only good thing about this book is that it exposes to the British working class and the left-wing brexiter (Lexiter) the confidence trick that is Brexit. The true motivation of the elite Brexiter (Kwarteng, Raab, Patel, Gove, Fox, Leadsome) is to deregulate the economy. They believe in absolute dog eat dog capitalism with practically no protection for the worker or the consumer, or, for that matter, the environment. If you know nothing of economics and know nothing of the drawbacks of trying to run complex systems from simplistic models, you might get taken in by this book. Hence the health warning: This book does not contain any useful information on how to run countries in the 21st century.
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on 16 July 2014
Failed book, if 0.25 of a star was possible.One of the authors was ceo of Tesco, now struggling and doomed by the rise of Lidl and Aldi.What kind of lesson can this be, crush the opposition so you can dominate and bully the farmers , cream off all the best sellers and let the specialist shops go to the wall.By telling us that we dont work hard enough this illustrates the disconnect.I have just done 8.5 hours on my feet with a 30 min break and now earn 30 % less than 10 years ago because the EU open borders mean theres more competition for my job.I have to do this until I am 67 to get a state pension that will pay me only a very basic living.
In the USA the natives were made to be indebted so they would sell the land and become enslaved.Thats what we have in store, if we survive the collapse in pollinaters,climate change and huge pollution that our governments have inflicted upon us in the name of progress.
I am scared to think these people are in charge , uncreative ,inhumane and using a now defunct argument to steer the ship that is the U.K to the rocks.
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on 16 January 2015
6th form, theoretical, neoCon gibberish. Really expected more from people who have had so much invested in their education. Read 'Harry's Last Stand' which shows you can't always buy 'being educated'
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on 7 April 2013
The political history in this book seems thoroughly researched and probably correct. There are copious references although over half of these are actually media articles. Beyond this the content is less robust. In chapter 1 Rolls Royce is cited as an example of industrial decline in the 1970s. Rolls did not fail by being backward looking but due to adopting an innovative aero engine technology which proved to be in advance of its time, just the kind of entrepreneurial risk taking advocated later in the book.
From this book Conservative philosophy seems principally to be work hard and make lots of money or if you can't make lots of money work hard anyway. Work is, indeed, part of our Christian heritage `The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat' but this is not the whole picture. Jesus said `A man's life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions'. Are people motivated by anything other than high pay and low taxes?
An example given (p62) is a hard working taxi driver is motivated to work 60 hrs per week to take home £10 per hour net. On the other hand, on p69 it appears to be de-motivating for an entrepreneur working (say) 80 hrs to take home £25 per hour up to £150,000 and £20 above that. Why is this? Given the number of words in this book the authors have missed an opportunity to develop their arguments in more depth.
There is little that is new, informative or practical in this book. It is not worth the 30mins I worked to pay for it, don't buy.
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