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Why We Get The Wrong Politicians

Narrated by: Isabel Hardman
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (225 ratings)

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Summary

Politicians are consistently voted the least trusted professional group by the UK public. They've recently become embroiled in scandals concerning sexual harassment and expenses. Every year, they introduce new legislation that doesn't do what it sets out to achieve - often with terrible financial and human costs. But, with some notable exceptions, they are decent, hardworking people doing a hugely difficult and demanding job.  

In this searching examination of our political class, award-winning journalist Isabel Hardman tries to square this circle. She lifts the lid on the strange world of Westminster and asks why we end up with representatives with whom we are so unhappy. Filled with forensic analysis and revealing reportage, this landmark and accessible book is a must-listen for anyone who wants to see a future with better government.

©2018 Isabel Hardman (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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Informative and timely

I bought this book because I have noticed Isabel Hardman as a balanced and sane voice on programs such as Andrew Marr and Question Time.

Hardman does not disappoint with this sane and balanced view of the weaknesses of our political system. Indeed, the flaws are so many and so deep it seems amazing that we have (so far) staggered on as well as we have. Hardman points out how the barriers to entry to elected office are so great that the majority of candidates come from a narrow self-selecting group that is not representative of the population and not particularly well-qualified or well-equipped for the powers they take on. Then MPs are given very little training, guidance or feedback on the job. Instead they are faced with distractions (acting as social workers for their constituents) and misaligned incentives (mostly to unthinkingly back the legislation proposed by their executive). They are relatively underpaid and frequently abused on social media. The House of Lords may not be ideal, but it currently serves as the only serious body scrutinising badly considered legislation that can be positively toxic in its effects. Abolish with care! Hardman has a few tentative suggestions for improvements, but it is clear that reform will be slow and hard, and may not happen at all. Another book without a happy ending.

Narration. Hardman is used to public speaking, but she does not quite have the skills of a professional audio-book narrator. She commits the sin of putting on an accent (often vaguely northern) for quotations. Character voices are fine for bedtime stories with the kids but, please, not in non-fiction.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Parliament Revealed

This is an excellent book by the journalist Isabel Hardman. She clearly knows what she is talking about and writes in a sympathetic, constructive and generally light-hearted manner about the lives of MPs, for better or worse. The implications of her book, if not its underlying thesis, is that MP's deserve a better time of it if we want to attract the very best people to help run the country, something that is not really happening at the moment. She also contributes ideas about making ministers more accountable for their actions after the event, believing that this would help concentrate their minds on what is really best for the country, rather than what is best for their party and their own advancement within it. The book is full of interesting anecdotes and sharp but affectionate sketches of the MPs and their constituents. Well read by the author herself who as a TV & radio reporter is used to speaking clearly & well. Only tiny criticism I have is that she refers to the book as an audiobook, whereas it was presumably written as an ordinary book first, as in for instance, "what I am saying in this audiobook is that". Somehow it doesn't sound right. But as I said, its a tiny criticism.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Some interesting points but generally a bit dry

I was expecting something slightly different from this book. I was expecting something with a bit more incite rather than just a list of facts and snippets from MPs. There were some interesting bits in there but, on the whole, it was long and generally dull to listen to.

The book details how people become MPs and then what their day-to-day job entails once they get into Parliament. If that sounds boring to you, don't listen. I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was after grand political visions and incites. This book just lists the facts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Practical remedies for a broken system.

Politics in my country is incredibly broken hence my country is incredibly broken, it taints everything. In this book Isabel Hardman points out the reasons why & some practical remedies. Whilst her remedies don't go quite far enough for me they're as good a place to start as any.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

This is an excellent book, well written and researched. It offers a unique view of how the British political system works and, more importantly, why it works this why.

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Interesting Analysis

A thoughtful well written book dispelling some myths about politicians and suggesting ways the system could be improved.




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Well-written, well-researched and thoughtful

I really enjoyed this book. It's well-written, well-researched and thoughtful.

Isabel speaks with a quiet and playful humour, that doesn't hit you over the head, but makes the whole book lighter and more enjoyable.

I certainly hope our politicians, and the others around parliament, are reading it. Despite the title it's mostly generous to individual MPs, and has some really solid ideas on improving the systems and culture they sit in.

The only regret I have from reading it is that Isabel makes so much sense - and this is so important - yet it's hard to see how things will change! It's a credit to the book that the question will stick with me.

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A compelling read for A Level students

I really enjoyed the clear and precise way that Hardman both narrates and writes. The book expertly explains all the problems with the culture and procedures of parliament. Probably a little weak on solutions - electoral reform is virtually non-existent. Yet I never thought bill committees could ever be such an interesting read/listen!

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An eye-opener

What a great listen - really engagingly and straightforwardly written and read. I'd recommend it to anyone at all interested in UK politics. The author is as empathetic and compassionate towards candidates and MPs as she is critical of their mistakes, and those of The System. It shines a light on lots of things I'd only the vaguest idea about - the cost of running for parliament, the dispiriting inability of the Commons to scrutinise legislation, the impact on MP's family life. The author never belabours her point, and gets the balance between clear analysis and pognient, humanising anecdotes just right - and quite moving in places, too.

The only potential criticism I have is that it is clearly written by someone who knows parliament and parliamentarians really well and so the book is about who gets in, why they might not be the best, and more often why they go wrong. This is a brilliant book - but you will have to go and find another engaging volume to find a thorough exposition about what lots of BME Britons think about parliament and why many minorities are underrepresented there.

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Very good read

Enjoyed this informative book. Gave fair opinions thorughout and was thorough. It was good to read from a semi-insider point of view.