WHY WE GET THE WRONG POLITICIANS
ISABEL HARDMAN Atlantic, 307pp, £18.99, Oldie price £12.54 inc p&p
‘You wouldn’t know it from the title of her book, which panders to the prejudice that the estate of Westminster is entirely rotten, but Isabel Hardman thinks that there is quite a lot to admire about our politicians.’ So wrote Andrew Rawnsley in his review for the
Observer. Hardman, assistant editor of the Spectator, ‘finds much to say in praise of MPS and is generally rather warm about them as human beings’, but she is scornful of the party machines that create them, the cripplingly expensive selection process, and the excessive burdens under which they labour.
‘The horrible irony is that a lot of MPS’ constituency casework involves trying to sort out personal crises for constituents that have been created by the impact of rubbish legislation. MPS have had to become good at casework because they are rotten lawmakers.’ Rawnsley was full of praise for her analysis. ‘This is a really good book. Well-structured and well-written, it marshals well-selected statistics and combines them with human stories to cast valuable illumination on how politicians really spend their, often frustrating and miserable, time. The author makes some useful suggestions about how we might get more effective MPS without pretending that she has a magic cure.’
The Daily Telegraph’s reviewer, Asa Bennett, thought ‘her ideas to put it right – like a national bursary scheme for parties to help their candidates afford “the most expensive and time-consuming job interview on earth” – deserve serious attention’ and welcomed her suggestion that ‘the job of scrutinising legislation should fall… to select committees’. She ‘could so easily have just given the political class a kicking, but the solutions she offers make this book a must-read for anyone who wants a better Parliament. Crammed with insight and gossip, it will hopefully provoke the Westminster bubble to clean itself up.’
Quite a lot to admire about our MPS