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18 September 2013

Shedding light on political blunders

Front cover of The Blunders of Our Governments

Front cover of The Blunders of Our Governments

Leading politicians and political commentators have heaped praise on The Blunders of Our Governments by Professor Anthony King from the Department of Government and former Vice-Chancellor at Essex and now Master of University College, Oxford, Professor Sir Ivor Crewe.

The book looks at a vast range of policy cock-ups by our governments from the poll tax to the Millennium Dome and beyond. The list is longer than most of us realise and is growing, so Professor King and Sir Ivor set out to open our eyes to the worst government horror stories and explain why the British system of government is so prone to appalling and costly mistakes.

In an article for Political Insight, Professor King and Sir Ivor write: "The cases we study were all unforced errors – big, expensive, errors – which could have been avoided if the ministers and officials responsible had acted with less haste, listened to expert advice and tested their ideas before committing themselves. This is what most of us do before making a big decision. So why – increasingly - don’t British governments? That’s what we tried to find out."

Warm tributes to the book have come from leading political commentators including Andrew Marr and David Dimbleby and from senior figures in all three main parties including Alistair Darling, the former Labour chancellor of the exchequer, Lord Michael Heseltine and Baroness Shirley Williams.

In his review in The Guardian Peter Wilby wrote: "This book will make you gasp in disbelief and stamp your feet in rage, and quite frequently reduce you to helpless laughter. It will also make you tremble in terror at the realisation that the people in charge of our destinies are, in many respects, idiots. With clarity, elegance and wit, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe recall the most egregious blunders committed by British governments over the last three decades."

Reviews for The Blunders of Our Governments:

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