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The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval Reviews

The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval by Mark Garnett

The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval

Mark Garnett

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Polity Press
Publisher: Polity Press
Publication date: 18 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781509539352

In this timely book, Mark Garnett provides a bracing reassessment of the role of the British Prime Minister, from Margaret Thatcher's controversial tenure to Boris Johnson's attempt to confront a pandemic with a ministerial team created to face the very different challenge of Brexit.

4 stars out of 5
Andrew Rawnsley
4 Apr 2021

"make(s) us think about what it takes to be a successful prime minister, and why so few have been up to the job"

Mark Garnett focuses on an associated problem. From Thatcher onwards, prime ministers and their aides have been possessed by a strong impulse to centralise control of both power and ideas at Number 10. This has left the building and its primary occupant overstretched, while the capacity of Whitehall departments has been “hollowed out” and the status of ministers “diminished”. British prime ministers only loom so large over the landscape because the rest of the cabinet has become so small.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Vernon Bogdaner
21 Feb 2021

"Garnett makes a challenging and thought-provoking case, which it is difficult entirely to dismiss."

The trouble is, Garnett does not suggest improvements. He just says the job of prime minister has become impossible. The implication is that things would improve only if politicians suppressed the special advisers and the media – though Enoch Powell once said that for a politician to complain about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea. As for us poor benighted voters, perhaps he could adopt Bertolt Brecht’s solution to the workers’ uprising in East Germany in 1953: that the government should dissolve the people and elect another. The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval is an easy read, laced with wit and irony, though its sneering tone towards prime ministers is not to my taste. Still, Garnett makes a challenging and thought-provoking case, which it is difficult entirely to dismiss.