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Colin Barker

Middling Dull

(Winter 1964/5)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.19, Winter 1964/5, p.28.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

British Politics in Transition
Francis Boyd
Pall Mall, 27s. 6d.

This book is like a hundred others, no better and no worse. British politics take place only at the Top (and, a little, in the constituency parties); changes in the electorate, in terms of shifts of values, a changing class structure, etc, are not considered; there is no discussion of the relations between government and governed. Parliament is of course a splendid institution; the nagging question of the growth in executive power is mentioned, but not incorporated into such analysis as there is. Despite the title, the picture is static: changes can’t be ignored, but they are strings of unexplained events, rarely coherent processes. Class interests, class conflicts, these do not really exist; even the Tory policy of redistributing wealth to those who have leads Boyd to no stronger conclusion than that the parties sometimes disagree. He notices most of the central changes in the economic structure of Britain, but the relations between these and other changes are not discussed. Generally he gets his facts right – although his Hungarian revolution took place in November 1957 (pp.113 and 185) and so is unrelated to Suez; and he is simply misleading in stating that the Tories haven’t weakened the Health Service (p.152). His politicians are all men of moderation and good sense, his book an offering to failed gods. But it’s dull stuff. Don’t bother ...

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