on 5 August 2011
This is a fine text. I had been using the first edition that was a borrowed copy, and I purchased this second edition as soon as it was released. The book is very well organised and explained, and updated to include bits and bobs concerning the 2010 election, as well as events that have also occured since (AV referendum etc). One notable point is that there is a really good secion in the chapter concerning the Prime Minister and cabinet. It explains about the role, but with new angles that one must consider when analysing prime ministerial power in the context of a coalition government. This small section is very good, and explains the situation as good possible considering that this is a gereral text, and not a book dedicated to studying the intriacies of the coalition.
If I could critisise it, I would state that the later part of the book; concerning judges, then devolution, and then onto EU are weaker that the rest of the book, but still resonable enough. However, further critisism can be directed at annoying typos and own goals that occur. For instance, literally the first line of the book (the preface) says "This second edition of Essentials in UK Politics". Someone should remind the author that the book is called Essentials 'OF' UK Politics. Next, as early as page 4, it gives the expenses scandle a year out- says '08, when it should say '09 (yes, it was mentioned the prior year, but the leaks that the author is refering to happened in '09). Furthermore, as with the first edition, cross referencing in some of the 'what if' boxes contain annoying typos, such as the likes of " (see p. 00) ", when there isn't any page 00!! Similar story on p.85. Furthermore, and amusingly, another 'classic' occurs when the text focuses on Tony Blair. The book correctly gives his D.O.B of 6th May, 1953, but goes onto say that he became Britian's youngest PM at 42. Now, considering the '97 general election was held on the 1st May, that equates Blair being 43 years old at the time (and, indeed, less than a week away from his 44th birthday). Perhaps someone should recommend GCSE Maths to someone?? Want another? On page 62, it states that the AV proposal was defeated, 'with 68% of the electorate voting 'no'. ' However, this is misleading, as considering that the turnout of the electrote (the TOTAL amount of those eligible to vote that actually did) for this referendum was only 42%, the true 'total amount of the electrote voting no' was 68% of 42%, which turns out to be just under 29%. Hence, in reality, 29% of the electrote voted no to AV, not 68% of the electorate, as it says in the book. Perhaps a key word needs to be put in the book's sentence, something like '68% of THOSE THAT VOTED expressed no to AV' or something similar.
Amusingly, the publishers may have read this review, as, miraculously, corrections to the printing of the book appeared on the book's companion website lol.
Also, the companion website to the textbook doesn't seem to be frequented much by the author; update materials are few and not frequent (same for the Global Politics textbook's companion website). This needs to be addressed, especially in a fast paced topic such as politics. The author should perhaps also include a regular ongoing blog upon this companion website, perhaps to encourage him to frequent it more often.
One other point: I've noticed that a few other reviewers have commented concerning the book's 'thoroughness', meaning the content is a bit thin on the ground. Whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion, I strongly disagree. Admittedly there could be case with regard to the later part of the book (as discussed above), but it is in no way less complete than its equivalent/competing texts- Edexcel's AS politics and Lynch and Fairclough's AS UK Government and Politics. In any case, in gereraL, one needs more than just a single text to do very well on the AS/A2 course, as one requires current, up to date information to supplement the core contents presented in a text.
Overall, I'd say that is about equal to the 'AS UK Government and Politics' text by Lynch and Fairclough- both are excellent on the whole, both could be improved and used in conjunction, provide a great base.