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on 6 February 2008
Essential, compelling, sobering yet depressing reading for anyone genuinely interested in the UK politics. Wise up and get it now!
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on 1 April 2008
This is one of the best political books I've ever read. I was sceptical at first because I'm no fan of the Daily Mail, but Oborne won me over within a few pages. He writes with clarity and makes the subject both enjoyable and blood boiling at the same time.
I'm hospital consultant and can see parallels with how the political class are disempowering the medical profession in the same way as the other professions that he mentions in the book. The mechanisms and reasons are the same i.e empower a few apparatchiks (e.g Lord Darzi, the CMO) and disempower the rest (deprofessionalisation and loss of self regulation) with the overarching goal of enriching the private sector helath organisations in order to be handed plum jobs later on (e.g Patrica Hewitt now works as an advisor for Boots and Simon Stephens (former health advisor to Blair) is now CEO of United Healthcare Europe). Maybe, Peter Oborne can add a chapter on the "Attack on the medical profession" in the next edition!
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on 23 February 2009
In this book Peter Oborne outlines how the British system of democracy has become poisoned by a self-interested political class which has no regard for decency or integrity. Being re-elected and enjoying the perks of Parliament are now the primary motives for politicians he argues, ideologies and beliefs have been sidelined.

This is a very convincing and enjoyable read, I was unaware of the most of the events he writes about in this book and I found many of them frightening. Admittedly, it can seem rather dull at times, however this is simply because Oborne has great respect for clarity and factual accuracy which sometimes warrants long explanations.

It was a shame that Mr Oborne gave no account of the European Union's role in engorging the self-interested complacency of our political class - but perhaps that is a thesis sufficiently rich for a whole book in itself.

This book should act as a stark warning to anyone who is interested in preserving British democracy. If we don't act soon we'll probably find it's too late.
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on 1 October 2009
I have just finished this book and a fascinating read it is too.

Oborne's thesis is that career politicians have replaced the old establishment with a new order in which they carefully and deliberately tailor their policies and PR to the more venal demands and prejudices of the majority, ruling through a combination of techniques: the manipulation of the political process, blatant patronage, and a deeply unhealthy symbiotic relationship with the media. The driving force behind this, says Oborne, is pure greed and the lust for power and influence, as opposed to older values of duty and service to the nation.

I have a lot of sympathy with Oborne's analysis of why and how the political class gain and hold on to power. I think his insights into the way the media are used by those who currently "run" our country are sharp and intelligent (he is, after all, a journalist), but I would say that he possibly misses the opportunity to see how politics and the media conflate the idea of celebrity and have moved to exploit the public's obsession with entertainment and the lives of the entertaining.

I also rather like his exposition of the sea change that the Victorians brought to politics; reducing corruption, building up a dedicated and politically neutral civil service and empowering the great self-regulating professions of medicine and the law. He makes a persuasive case, but unfortunately looks at those achievements through rose-tinted spectacles. The old establishment fell to the new political class because it was ready to fall and the country wanted rid of its worst manifestations of old boy networks, amateurism, deference and snobbery as we hauled ourselves out of the post-war era and into a more exciting and outward-looking period. Neither does the monarchy have any intrinsic moral authority, as Oborne suggests. However, his explanation of some of the constitutional issues around the institution are worth reading and gave me food for thought.

He is best when he is incandescent with rage over the cynical way in which the current mob hold onto power and milk the electorate - and their expenses - with no regard for the truth, consistent values or anything other than the goal of feathering their own nests. The book was published in 2007, two years before the recent expenses scandal broke and it reads like a prophecy.

It should be compulsory for study purposes in schools and at Universities. Almost every trick that he describes is currently being pulled to ensure that the three parties can shrug off the crisis they faced before the summer recess and get on with their normal activities of lying, manipulating and burying their snouts in the trough. The more people are educated to understand this, the sooner we will have a new form of politics in the country.
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on 11 February 2008
If you see the phrase "Political Class" in the media it comes from this book. It is the most influential political book of the past few years.
Read it and the scales will fall from your eyes and you will realise that most politics in this country is essentially a fraud committed by a small group of people who are more interested in their personal advancement and wealth than any ideals.
Should be read by anyone who is interested in politics. Highly recommended.
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on 29 June 2009
Mr Oborne analyses the way politicians in the UK, mainly since 1997, have dismantled or bypassed those rules, institutions and conventions that have been developed over decades, sometimes centuries, to provide checks on the executive and manage those vast bodies such as health, education and defence which are essential parts of our country. He argues they have done this to reinforce their personal power as people who are driven not by a sense of duty or honour but in the pursuit of careers and wealth. Parliament, the civil service, the royal family are amongst those victimised by those he shows to be unprincipled careerists. He also exposes how the media are complicit, for example he describes its willingness to go along with Blair's drive for war in Iraq. He is not as partisan as might be expected, so the Conservative Governments of Thatcher and Major are also criticised. But it is New Labour who come out of it the worst and stories of the Blairs, Brown, Campbell et al will make your hair stand on end.
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on 4 May 2014
As one who follows and broadly enjoys daily politics I was shocked by the sharp and pithy revelations brought out by this book. Not an easy read, I had to take it one chapter at a time. It left me with an uncomfortable feeling that the wool is being pulled over my eyes even more than I previously appreciated. To me, the most important view brought out in the book was that there is indeed, as vaguely suspected, little or no difference between the main uk political parties and that they pull together in refusing to properly tackle important areas of day to day concern (eg. high cost of living, rapid growth of uk population, unrestricted euro immigration, failing health and social services) and if caught out in something (eg. fiddling expenses, illegal acts) the main parties tend to close ranks to resist public accountability. I may stand accused of being old cynical but this book has added plenty of disturbing evidence that I may be on the right track after all.
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VINE VOICEon 16 November 2009
If you thought your faith in politics and by proxy politicians could get not get any lower be prepared to be disabused of that notion by reading Peter Oborne,s The Triumph of the Political Class.
The theory which dominates The Triumph of the Political Class is that the age of mass, participatory democracy rooted in political parties has decayed, like the oligarchy which preceded it. In its place has emerged a small cadre of professional politicians and their collaborators, a cheery self absorbed bunch .Greedy, cynical and out-of-touch with vast swathes of the population the Political Class runs this country much as the Whig elite did in the 18th century, chiefly in pursuit of self-enrichment and the retention of office. Party political divisions are merely an illusion as in fact the whole is a corrupt cabal interested only in maintaining their vested interest and preserving the status quo. If the duck ponds and flipping got your gander up then wait till you read this.
He is hugely scathing of New Labour laying into Gordon Brown for his stuffy dress sense ( apparently this is a preserve of the political class ) John Prescott ( his affair with his secretary caused much consternation in the upper echelons of big business as they couldn't understand how he wasn't sacked for cavorting with an employee in work time )and most obviously the Blair's with Mrs Blair getting as good a kicking as her warmongering husband. A woman , already very well paid ,who would use her husbands power and position to get discounts on things like football shirts deserves nothing less.
Oborne exposes the political class as destroying the House of Commons as an arena for political debate, colluding with the media ( New Labours toadying to Murdoch is especially repellent) , emasculating the civil service, it's "Profound hostility to individual freedom and the rule of law " and most worryingly of all the fact that most of our votes have ceased to matter and only 2% of voters in key marginal's are targeted ( taken from an American system called "Voter Vault " and first used by the Tories ) and that the political class has become an homogenised slurry of opinions and policies , disenfranchising voters and evaporating class politics .
Oborne however does undermine his own argument at times. He acknowledges that the rise of the political class began under Margaret Thatcher but pays very little attention to her tenure at Downing St , or indeed that of John Mayor. The party political divides are still clearly in play where he is concerned .His defence of the free market and the city is laughable given recent events and smacks of standing up for vested interests.Oborne notes that not one of Gordon Brown's Cabinet "possessed significant business experience" as if business experience is the be all and end all of judging competence. Surely a cross section of life & work experience would be more beneficial rather than some narrow corporate perspective? It's this mercantile obsession as much as what Oborne calls "Manipulative populism " that has hindered social reform and blurred the political divide.
Putting that gripe aside ,there is no doubt that our political system is in urgent need of a radical overhaul. Huge sections of the population are no longer properly represented at the ballot box which is a severe undermining of the democracy we all assume we have. Indeed Oborne calls our current system of government a "calamity for British Democracy "and he also wonders if David Cameron would lead an insurgency against the political class? Or will he become as Oborne puts it "another manifestation of its alluring ,corrupt and anti-democratic methodology ?" .I know which one my money is on.
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on 2 March 2009
Excellently written and very informative - it really does explain why most politicians and their opinions need to be treated with suspicion, if not utter contempt, for what they are doing to the system of governance of this country.
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on 8 October 2009
Oborne's concept of a new attitude, not a pleasant or responsible one, revolutionary in its way, among persons who have gained power and influence in the last 20-30 years seems valid and well documented, and is powerfully and passionately argued. Many of his criticisms are not new, but take on greater force from being seen as part of a single development. His book has transformed the way I fhink about public affairs, and that of other people I know.
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