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Crap: A Guide to Politics by Terry Arthur

Terry Arthur: Crap

Note: I was sent this book to review by the publisher, and have reviewed it in compliance with the review policy of the site. Other companies are welcome to send me stuff to review – email me using the details on the right.

Crap: A Guide to Politics is a major update on Terry Arthur’s famous book from the 70s, 95% is Crap. It aims to deconstruct ‘political speak’, and expose it as ‘crap’ of one of twelve kinds, each of which is given a chapter in the book.

The book is certainly entertaining – it’s written with humour, and certainly made me smile. However, the clear anti-government stance of the author became wearing in parts, and there was often a strong feeling of him criticising every option without offering a solution.

That said, the book does highlight some quite startling U-turns by politicians, and some fairly worrying half-truths (and worse). It highlights the way in which the political process has become corrupt, and reliant on influencing the news cycle and assuming that the voter will forget last week’s news in favour of today’s.

However, the book itself has been published at an unfortunate time, which (thanks to the turbulent political times of late) makes it appear outdated as soon as it has hit the shelves. At the time of the book’s writing, Tony Blair is leading the Labour Party, much is made of Menzies Campbell’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats, and Cameron’s Conservatism is still seen as new and exciting. Clearly, things have moved on from there, but the central messages of the book hold true.

Arthur points out the core duality of any political process – the politican must represent both their constituents’ interests and their own, which are often disparous – and highlights some fascinating (and hilarious) episodes on which this has been clearly exposed to the public. But whilst maintaining a humour, there is a serious message underneath about the damage such approaches can have on the political process as a whole.

This book is both humorous, and also a serious deconstruction of the state of political play. That duality makes the book untidy and repetitive at times, and the humour sometimes comes across as juvenile, but it isn’t a bad book. It’s certainly accessible enough for the general reader, but perhaps not quite heavy enough for the political junkie. It’s worth a read.

Win My Review Copy

To comply with my self-imposed policy of not accepting payment for reviews, I held a competition to give away my review copy of Crap: A Guide to Politics. But it’s closed now – you’re too late.

Buy Your Own Copy

If you’re not feeling lucky, Crap: A Guide to Politics is now available to buy from sjhoward.co.uk/shop.

This 1,220th post was filed under: Politics, Prize Draws, Reviews.

Royal Mail strike: Quick fix

The ridiculous ongoing strike by Royal Mail workers which is risking lives and livelihoods is easy enough to fix: Simply change to paying the workers by cheque, sent in unmarked envelopes through the mail. I think the strike might end rather more quickly then.

I still don’t understand the aim of the strikes. Every day of disruption takes business away from Royal Mail, and increases the number of redundancies and level of pay-cuts which will be necessary to make the organisation competitive. The strikers are shooting themselves in the foot.

In the meantime, DHL must be celebrating the day they decided to offer their consumer courier service via Staples stores. It’s not cheap, but it works.

This 1,219th post was filed under: News and Comment.

A big Brown mess

A single sentence in Mr Brown’s conference speech could have saved him a huge humiliation today. But he tried to keep his options open for too long, and look where he’s ended up. A huge climbdown following an unnecessary build-up, in the face of a terrible poll.

The number of mistakes that have been made in the handling of this situation is staggering.

He’s announced this decision in the face of a poll showing a Conservative lead, meaning that the poll gets more attention that it otherwise would have.

He’s done it on a Saturday so he gets a bashing in the Sunday papers and the Monday papers.

He’s done it in an embargoed interview, so the only pictures to accompany the story for the first (almost) 24 hours are those of Mr Cameron criticising him.

He’s done it in a BBC exclusive interview, pissing off every other broadcaster and guaranteeing himself a rough ride.

In fact, I don’t think there’s anything right about the way he’s done this. Yet he’s supposed to be one of the greatest political strategists of our time. What’s gone wrong? Is the pressure of being PM taking his eye off the political ball? And if he makes this much mess of not having an election campaign, how will he manage the real thing in a couple of years’ time?

This 1,218th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.




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