Book review: Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’

Jeremy Browne - Some rights reserved by Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeJeremy Browne spent just over three years as a government minister following the formation of the coalition in 2010, first in the Foreign Office, where his responsibilities included Britain’s relations with countries in Pacific Asia and Latin America, and latterly in the Home Office. However, reading his new book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for ‘The Global Race’, it does not take long to discover which of these offices had the biggest influence on his political outlook.

Because while the detail of the book focusses primarily on domestic policy, the theme that pulls it together, which provides its context, is Britain’s role in a rapidly-changing, globalising world.

This internationalist outlook is in itself a welcome antidote to the parochialism that too often infects our politics. But the concept of a ‘global race’ is not an uncontroversial one. To Ed Miliband, for example, the suggestion that Britain should seek to maintain a competitive advantage over other countries is to engage in a “race to the bottom”. Even The Economist, the views of which usually closely align with those of economic liberals like Browne, has been critical of the concept.

Browne has little time for much of this criticism. In response to the charge that competing in a global race is to compete to transform Britain into a “sweatshop” economy, he is particularly scathing: it demonstrates, to Browne, a profound ignorance of both the current state of the economies of fast-developing countries, and more importantly of the extent of their ambition:

Their vision for their population is not entrenched penury while people in the West enjoy material prosperity. That is why they are investing so heavily in education and training: to build a work force with the knowledge and skills to be internationally competitive, and in time, to be global leaders.

On the more intelligent critique from The Economist and others, Browne essentially thinks they are misunderstanding what he and others mean by the term, and he is happy to endorse their central point:

The comforting truth is that, just because one country gets richer, it does not follow that another country gets poorer. Global economic growth is not a zero-sum game: we can all get richer.

The fundamental point he seeks to make is that just because it may be true in theory that we can become more prosperous at the same time as China, future economic success in either country is not guaranteed. The danger as Browne sees it is complacency by the West at a time when much of the rest of the world is the opposite of complacent.

There is a final criticism that could be levelled at his thesis: even if it is true that Britain’s complacent stagnation and Asia’s ambitious growth mean the certainty of relative decline, well so what? Why should Britain want to compete on the world stage? Browne’s answer is twofold. First, that this is a false choice: we cannot continue to enjoy the levels of material prosperity to which we have become accustomed and refuse to change our approach in the face of overwhelming world change. And secondly, our ability to influence world affairs in the direction of humanitarianism, respect for human rights, the protection of minorities and greater freedom is, of course, diminished if we simply resign ourselves to marginalisation:

We need to influence ‘The Asian Century’ not just for our own benefit but because we need to be strong if we are to protect the weak.

So much for the problem: what about the solutions?

Browne concentrates on five areas where he thinks Britain needs to be particularly bold: education, infrastructure, the economy and budget, international relations and public services.

In all of these areas, two things are notable about Browne’s proposals. The first, unsurprisingly, is their liberal underpinning: many Liberal Democrats will disagree with at least some of Browne’s ideas, but it seems to me indisputable that he makes a strong liberal case in defence of each of them. Second is the scale of the ambition of his suggestions. Given the nature of the challenge he paints in the book’s first few chapters, one expects boldness, but his restlessness is unusual and captivating in a political culture defined by its consistent lack of both vision and action.

Education is the first topic tackled, and rightly so: it is the area most crucial to Browne’s argument and one of the starkest examples of Britain’s relative decline and absolute stagnation: 2012 was the first year in which Britain failed to attain a top-20 place in maths, reading or science in the PISA world rankings of educational achievement.

Browne’s view is that Britain has a world-class elite education provision (private schools and the 20% of state schools deemed to be outstanding by Ofsted) but a mediocre mainstream. This is not just a challenge in economic terms (“our ranking is incompatible in the medium-term with the widely-stated ambition to make Britain a successful ‘knowledge economy’”) but should be of profound and immediate concern to liberals, particularly given the stubbornly high correlation between poverty and educational underachievement:

The educational outcomes for children from low income families are a national scandal. We politicians need to ask ourselves how this was allowed to happen in the first place and how, more shockingly, it has been tolerated for as long as it has.

Browne welcomes many of the coalition’s changes in education, but calls for much greater radicalism. His vision is of an education system in which every school is a free school, with parents, governors, head teachers and staff making the decisions. But, crucially, he thinks this should be combined with a voucher system to give parents the ability to choose their child’s school, with vouchers weighted towards disadvantaged pupils to give schools an incentive to take such pupils, and to provide funding once they are there (like the pupil premium). If that weren’t controversial enough, Browne is also open to the idea of for-profit education providers entering the sector.

It is a radical vision indeed, of an education system free at the point of use in which the state is the facilitator of real choice for all parents (not just those able to buy it), with diverse providers and competition driving up standards.

Browne moves swiftly on from human to physical capital: Britain’s flagging infrastructure. And he is as ambitious here as he is radical in his plans for schools. He wants Britain to rediscover the levels of enthusiasm for construction demonstrated by our Victorian ancestors. If Britain is to compete in a global economy, it is no good to build one high-speed rail line and take 20 years to do so; it is perverse to set our face against increased air travel just as interconnectivity becomes a defining feature of world economics; and it is short-termist and profoundly unfair to deny this and future generations the opportunity to own their own home.

One statistic from the book that struck me above all others is this: between 2011 and 2015 China will build 82 new airports. It is spending 8.5 per cent of its GDP on infrastructure, while we are spending 2.8 per cent of ours. So Britain needs to wake up and get on with restoring our infrastructure: a new hub airport in the South East, improved roads, more high-speed rail, hundreds of thousands of new homes, renewable energy and digital connectivity.

So far, so ambitious. But there is more: Britain, says Browne, must invest in our people and our infrastructure while also focussing, in the medium-term at least, on reducing the size of the state as a proportion of the economy. To Browne, the “sweet spot” that best balances the often-competing interests of economic competitiveness and growth and necessary investment and social protection is a state equivalent in size to around 35-38% of GDP.Jeremy Browne book

How will that be achieved? Well, Browne does not hide the fact that it will mean more cuts to government spending, in respect of which he makes the very reasonable point that ring-fencing of some of the largest areas of public spending has inevitably meant very heavy cuts to much smaller budgets, including those such as the business department which actually have the potential to contribute to our long-term economic health.

But Browne’s vision is not just for a smaller state, but for one that also delivers better outcomes, primarily as a result of radical decentralisation in the delivery of public services, replicating the sort of choice that consumers now enjoy in almost every other area of their lives, and empowering people to exercise informed choices in a market of competing providers.

A challenge for us all

Two things struck me immediately reading this book. The first was the internationalism of its outlook. Probably not since the leadership of Paddy Ashdown has a senior Liberal Democrat’s thinking been so informed by global events. Secondly was its radicalism and profound ambition. It is amusing to see the headlines marking the book’s publication focussing so heavily on Browne’s call for a reduction in the top rate of tax, because this strikes me as one of the least ambitious of the book’s proposals. But it exemplifies perfectly the inherent critique throughout the book that the real danger facing Britain is not being too radical, too restless for change, but continuing with the small-scale, complacent debate that dominates our day-to-day politics.

On the day of the book’s publication I saw Browne variously called a “Thatcherite”, a “Blairite” and (of course, here on LDV) a “neoliberal” (mainly, of course, by people who have not read the book). Such relabelling seems to me to be utterly unnecessary. I fail to see how a political outlook that supports immigration, the EU, renewables, infrastructure investment, better schools and enterprise, and underpins all of that with a determined radicalism and internationalism, can be called anything other than liberal.

That is not to say, of course, that there won’t be liberals who disagree with some of Browne’s ideas, or that doing so makes those people any less of a liberal. But Browne’s thesis is a consistent and challenging one, and those who call themselves liberals but respond solely with derision only go to prove Browne’s point about the paucity of deep and radical liberal thinking. At a time of astonishing global change, Liberal Democrats do a disservice to our heritage as a party and our future as a country if the challenge Browne sets is not met with the depth and breadth of thinking displayed in this book.

* Nick Thornsby is Thursday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs here.

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88 Comments

  • Alisdair McGregor 9th Apr '14 - 12:59pm

    I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive, but I am very much looking forward to it.

    Cue the people calling Browne (& myself, probably) a Tory

  • One of the reasons Britain fails to compete on the world stage is precisely because it has undergone such an onslaught of anti-state propaganda that it has actually, quite uniquely among the world’s major economies, forgotten that it is a country with its own collective interests and problems. This has manifested itself in a number of ways, for example allowing our strategic industrial companies to be taken over and broken up willy-nilly, a lack of an industrial policy (until Vince Cable came along) and general under-investment in or subordination of our vital infrastructure in terms of transport, energy etc. to foreign interests.

    The problem is, this kind of “more of the same” manifesto doesn’t tackle this underlying problem, it merely makes it worse, because it keeps us as a country firmly pointed in the wrong direction.

  • Bill le Breton 9th Apr '14 - 1:56pm

    Nick – “On the day of the book’s publication I saw Browne variously called a “Thatcherite”, a “Blairite” and (of course, here on LDV) a “neoliberal”

    Well you can’t blame the criticism for being inconsistent then.

  • Radical Liberal 9th Apr '14 - 1:56pm

    What’s radical about doing what many politicians have been calling for since Thatcher? Where is the call for workers cooperatives, a land tax, a universal basic income, real participatory democracy, greater inheritance tax? That would be radical. Browne is just offering the status quo.

  • Good review Nick.
    I am looking forward to reading this book with interest. Rather than the ten word soundbites in the mainstream press. In my opinion we can never have too much liberal, radical and internationalist in our thinking.

  • Nick Collins 9th Apr '14 - 2:19pm

    What does the cover depict.: a future skyline for London, a new city or some other dystopian vision?

  • Theis is LDV’s second major puff for Jeremy Browne’s book in 24 hours.
    Nick Thornsby says —
    “…many Liberal Democrats will disagree with at least some of Browne’s ideas, but it seems to me indisputable that he makes a strong liberal case in defence of each of them”
    Many Liberal Democrats have already disagreed with the ideas in the book in the earlier thread in LDV and have set out very good reasons why they disagree and why they think Jeremy Browne’s ideas are Thatcherite .

    The book is published by the organisation going by the name REFORM. This organisation was set up by Andrew Haldenby and other Conservatives. Previously Haldenby had worked for the Conservative Party and The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). The CPS was co-founded by Conservatives Sir Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman and Margaret Thatcherin 1974. Jeremy Browne’s book is entirely in line with the views of Haldenby, Reform and the CPS. That is why it is accurate to describe both author and the ideas in his book as Thatcherite.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 2:33pm

    Nick Thornsby

    I fail to see how a political outlook that supports immigration, the EU, renewables, infrastructure investment, better schools and enterprise, and underpins all of that with a determined radicalism and internationalism, can be called anything other than liberal.

    I do not see any of this as core to what liberalism is about. While I support membership of the EU, I wouldn’t suggest someone who doesn’t cannot be a liberal, and I wouldn’t suppose people who are thoroughly illiberal would necessarily oppose membership of the EU. Similarly, while I think liberals would mostly support “better” schools (but what actually is meant by “better”?), people who are thoroughly illiberal may well also support “better” schools. Plenty of dictatorial regime in the world have had big investment in infrastructure. And so on.

    Liberalism is about individual freedom, with that phrase “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” clarifying that it is not just freedom from state laws we are talking about.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 2:40pm

    Nick Thornsby

    His vision is of an education system in which every school is a free school, with parents, governors, head teachers and staff making the decisions.

    But in every Local Authority school, it IS parents, governors, head teachers and staff making the decisions. The Local Education Authority does NOT dictate to them what they should do. I know this having served as a councillor in a LEA, while my wife was Chair of Governors of a LEA school in the same borough. During my time on theEducation Committee, I had no say on what went on in the Borough’s school, that is not its job. My wife never complained about the LEA stopping her and the school head and other governors and staff stopping them from doing what they wanted to do.

    So this shows how misinformed Jeremy Browne is. He is proposing a remedy for a problem that does not exist. This is snake oil stuff. It WON’T solve the education problems we have and which in my role as a university lecturer having t deal with the products of Britain’s schools I am very familiar with.

  • Nick Collins 9th Apr '14 - 2:44pm

    When I was a Young Liberal, back in the 1960s, Liberal Assemblies (the other parties had “conferences”, we had “assemblies”) were sometimes picketed by a fringe ultra-right wing party (led, if I remember rightly, by a man called Lomas) who called themselves “New Liberals”. Their descendants seem to have infiltrated and taken over the Liberal Democrats and this “authentic liberal plan” is, I presume, their manifesto.

  • Simon McGrath 9th Apr '14 - 2:52pm

    @John Tilley – have you actually read the book? If so can i suggest that rather than complaining about the coverage given to it by LDV you write your own review?

    Are you really suggesting that we can dismiss the book becuase it is published by an organisation set up by someone who used to work for another organisation set up by people we disagree with?

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 2:54pm

    Nick Thornsby

    But, crucially, he thinks this should be combined with a voucher system to give parents the ability to choose their child’s school,

    We’ve had enough of this sort of thing now to see it won’t work and why it won’t work.

    I’ve seen how league table mania drives standards down. Instead of concentrating on the job, institutions concentrate on whatever factors give them an artificial league table boost. The pressure of competition and its consequent obsession with target-setting destroys creativity and productivity. Instead it creates a “keep your head down” mentality, and a culture of bullying as everyone tries to survive it by pushing the work and blame for anything that goes wrong onto others. Instead of building real deep quality, institutions put their effort into shallow but attention-grabbing work in order to gain publicity. It creates jobs for a whole caste of image-boosters, public relations types and so on, who are doing NOTHING in reality to improve real quality of service.

    As a university lecturer involved with admissions, I’ve seen DIRECTLY how competition pressure causes schools to close down or discourage qualifications that are most valuable, and replace them by ones which are almost useless but generate higher league table points and look attractive to naive students and their parents.

    Above all, I’ve seen how this whole dog-eat-dog, strutting posing narcissistic culture created by the mania for “competition” has generated so many kids who have serious attitude problems and are thus of little use in either higher education or employment.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 3:04pm

    Nick Thornsby

    But Browne’s thesis is a consistent and challenging one, and those who call themselves liberals but respond solely with derision only go to prove Browne’s point about the paucity of deep and radical liberal thinking.

    From what I’ve seen of it, Browne is just uttering the truisms of the day. There does not seem to be anything there which has not already been spewed out time and time again as snake oil solutions by the right-wing press and by the plethora of big-business funded “free market” pressure groups and by dozens tedious pseudonym-using people who fill this and other discussion groups with the same sort one one-track “I’ve got a theory of everything mentality” that I used to find so tiresome in the Trotskyites who I used to argue with back in the days when socialism was still the ideology of the trendy and those who wanted to look clever by picking up a ready-made ideology from the shelves.

    The real challenge now, where those who are true deep thinkers should be, is trying to work out why extreme free market politics does not work as its adherents say it would. Not, like the Trots of old responding to my criticisms of socialism in practice, respond to any criticism of how it works in practice by saying all that is needed is more of it in a more extreme form.

  • Nick Thornsby says —
    “…On the day of the book’s publication I saw Browne variously called a “Thatcherite”, a “Blairite” and (of course, here on LDV) a “neoliberal” … … I fail to see how …(it).. can be called anything other than liberal.”

    Well here is what Conservative Home says in their review of the book —
    “…Liberal Democrats often suffer from an identity crisis. … . While some are to the left of Labour, and others – like Nick Clegg – have a lot in common with David Cameron, there are some rare beasts who are almost Thatcherite in their outlook.
    One such example is Jeremy Browne who, having been sacked for being too co-operative in coalition, is releasing a new book this week. “

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 3:13pm

    Nick Thornsby

    and it is short-termist and profoundly unfair to deny this and future generations the opportunity to own their own home.

    My family had hugely more freedom when I was growing up than the same sort of people have today due to low-rent council housing being readily available. People struggling to pay huge mortgages do NOT have the freedom my parents had. People struggling to pay huge rents due to the ending of council housing do not have the freedom my parents had.

    Home ownership rates are going DOWN due to the financial policies of the Conservatives, which have turned houses from homes to “investment” and so have resulted in people who need them being squeezed out of the possibility of ownership. If you want to end that, you have to resolve it by putting more taxation on property so making it unprofitable as an investment. Has Browne proposed this? Is Browne arguing against that drag on enterprise, inheritance, which rewards the idle rich? Is Browne proposing to do anything else about all that Tory stuff which is about making money coming from owning things rather than work?

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 3:16pm

    Have I said enough yet? If I had time I could say much more, but I have a paid job to do.

  • “Global economic growth is not a zero-sum game: we can all get richer.”
    But will we? DO we? No.
    In fact a great deal of “global economic growth” is dependent on exploiting low-paid (or unpaid) workers in undeveloped countries and extracting resources at a breakneck pace at a tremendous cost to life, health, and the environment.

  • I agree with Matthew Huntbach, Helen Tadcastle and David-1.
    The policies supported by the LibDems should be evidence-led if the party wishes to attract my vote in the future.
    Instead there seems to be a preference for right-wing nonsense from high-up people like Jeremy Browne.

    I seem to recall that the party did want evidence to determine policy. We already have the Conservatives and New Labour which seems to want to aspire to be like them. We really do not need a third party trying to claim the same ground

  • Simon McGrath
    What I am suggesting is that when a very well funded political organisation with a particular outlook publishes and heavily promotes a book with Thatcherite views and a Thatcherite author, that is not a coincidence.
    The book was published by Reform which was founded in 2001 by Nick Herbert (now a Conservative MP) and Andrew Haldenby. The organisation had an income of £1.4m in 2012.
    I do not remember Jeremy Browne telling the voters inTaunton that he shared the views of Thatcherite Conservatives. When even Conservative Home describes Jeremy Browne as a Thatcherite don’t you think the games is up?

  • The skyline depicted on the cover is in fact a real one — part of the skyline of Dubai, centred on the Cayan Tower:
    http://luxpresso.com/news-homes-real-estate/cayan-tower-worlds-tallest-twisted-tower-inaugurated-in-dubai/22230

    Dubai is an absolute monarchy which does not seek the assent of its people for the formation of its government. Dubai’s economy, originally grown on resource extraction, now builds its economy on tourism revenue and “financial services.” The real labour that is done in Dubai is almost exclusively the province of imported workers from east and south Asia, some of whom are held in conditions indistinguishable from slavery.

    All in all, an excellent symbol for this vision of future Britain!

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Apr '14 - 4:20pm

    Thanks for the review, Nick. I ended up getting quite angry at some activists reactions towards Jeremy’s book. It is not that people disagree with economic liberalism, it is that people were making out that it is so much more right wing than centrism and moderation, which is very debateable. I don’t even know if they think this, it’s just lazy criticisms that you would expect to come from other parties, not from your own side. Apparently it’s even more right wing than conservatism to some. It goes to show that to some, the biggest crime in politics is not making the poor poorer, but the rich richer.

  • On education, I disagree. The central point he makes is that Britain’s system is failing – the evidence is that by and large, it is recovering, with those schools ranked as poor or mediocre generally getting better. The major hurdle seems to be a lack of staff caused by the amount of funding available, rather than any inherent flaw. This is not to say that Coalition education policy is flawless, but that its flaws aren’t the limiting factor right now, funding is.

    On infrastructure I’d broadly agree with him, but I’d also say that there’s no real benefit to sticking yet another giant airport in the South East and that allowing arbitrary GDP ratios to become sacred writ is a bit silly.

  • Stephen Howse 9th Apr '14 - 4:52pm

    “It goes to show that to some, the biggest crime in politics is not making the poor poorer, but the rich richer.”

    Quite. It’s a view I usually associate with Labour, many of whose number seem to want increased taxes on the rich as an end in and of themselves, as a punitive measure. That is a party where words like ‘profit’ and ‘business’ are still dirty words – and as evidenced by the reaction to some of the ideas Browne is putting forward, so they are amongst some Liberals as well.

    There also seems to be a reactionary bent to a lot of the criticism of ideas which I’d have thought Liberals of all shades could support, especially the idea for state-funded school vouchers – which is basically an extension of the principle the Pupil Premium introduced (that policy pretty much universally championed by Liberal Democrats).

  • @Stephen Howse
    Ideas should be judged on their merits. Just saying “vouchers” as if that ends the argument is absurd.
    Tell us the merits without using the word “liberal”. If there is no evidence that vouchers help, then why the rush to introduce them?

  • David-1
    So you can judge a book by the cover “!!! :-)

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Apr '14 - 5:25pm

    Stephen Howse, I agree, but the main gripe for me is how people who support imperialist levels of immigration controls can call Jeremy right wing. I do not have the best credentials in this area, but I’m not launching the opprobrium!

  • I just love the way these free market fundamentalist monetarist types bang on about China, a hyper controlled marxist derived mono culture based on manufacturing.

  • @Joe Otten
    Those who have blind faith in the market have been around for years. The fact that they have not gotten their agenda through does not make it non-existent

  • Matt (Bristol) 9th Apr '14 - 6:18pm

    Can I just take issue on a minor point with William Hobshouse, who points out that in the 19th century Liberals believed in free trade and internationalism? This is true. However, they also allowed local councils like Birmingham and others to intrude in the market, set up businesses and create new infrastructure like gas and transport provision in a way that modern free-marketeers would find horrendous. They also encouraged local authority control and inspection of schools (alongside church provision). A Party that could simultaneously contain John Russell, Lord Palmerston, John Bright, William Gladstone, Charles Dillke and Jospeh Chamberlain (not to mention many many others) was capable of going in many policy directions simultaneously and providing much inspiration to all parties; in fact all the three main modern parties could claim in part to descend from the 19th century Liberals.

    I don’t think any liberals would say they were against a free trade economy or against internationalism. The questions are, what is the correct relationship in a free trade economy, between the state and the private sector, how much should the state’s relationship with the public be moderated by regional or central control, and how much should the total free choice of the individual be balanced with protection or provision of a minimumlevel of safety and quality of life for the many? How much should a desire for international success require domestic sacrifices and from whom?

    Jeremy Browne is free to say what he thinks the answers to these questions are, and many people are free to disagree with him.

  • Nick Thornsby Nick Thornsby 9th Apr '14 - 6:47pm

    Gareth, are you referring to me when you say “the author” (I would assume that you were talking about Browne, but the way that the sentence is structured doesn’t make it clear)? If so, what connection are you referring to?

    The book is available through the link in the first paragraph.

  • Shock horror, (Gasp of surprise!), … Orange = Blue. Nothing to see here,… move along folks, ….move along.

  • @JohnTilley you are wrong. The book is published by Biteback Publishing.

    They have published titles by David Laws, Vicky Price, Danny Alexander and over fifty Labour politicians. But nice try at a Conservative party conspiracy theory

  • The education system has improved largely because in spite of diminishing returns, the spending increases under Labour improved standards by improving the fabric of schools and the quality of new teachers. Free schools and vouchers are both gimmicks, free schools actually undermined the pupil premium by skimming off a proportion of it. Browne and his ideas are part of the (mainly Tory) problem.

  • Nick Collins 9th Apr '14 - 7:56pm

    Nick Thornsby:…I fail to see how ( Browne’s book). can be called anything other than liberal.”

    >>> “‘There’s glory for you!’
    ‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”‘ Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘”there’s a knock-down argument for you!'”
    ‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a knockdown argument”, ‘ Alice objected
    ‘When I use a word.’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what i choose it to mean – neither more nor less’.”
    Lewis Carroll: “Through The Looking Glass”.

  • Toby Fenwick 9th Apr '14 - 7:59pm

    I should start by saying that I’ve not read the book either, and I’m grateful for Nick’s review.

    On the education points, the “tail” of under-achievement has been consistently documented, and “The Tail” was published by CentreForum last year dealing exactly with this. One of the recommendations was a new form of scoring for the league tables designed by CentreForum’s Chris Patterson, which is being implemented from 2016 (IIRC). These avoid the break at the C/D boundary, and focus on maximising improvement across the schools.

    I’m a bit confused by the suggestions from Helen and Mathew that competition in education is inherently bad; if this is true, then it is surely almost unique as a field of human endeavour that doesn’t benefit from users choosing their product. I’m afraid I don’t think this is the case, and I do favour vouchers and the ability of popular schools to grow because the system of catchment areas is simply selection based on financial ability / willingness to live close to a popular school. As I understand the data from the US, the biggest winners in Michigan’s voucher programmes were precisely poor parents who couldn’t afford to live in expensive suburbs but who through vouchers could send their children to the best schools.

    And if this means that unpopular schools go bust, so what? Is it seriously being proposed that we should continue to operate schools that no-one wants to attend? And if we’re focused on the quality of the output of public services that remain free at the point of use, why should we as a matter of policy/ideology rule out profit making schools? (Don’t such things exist in Sweden?)

    I know that this little list is likely to be unpopular, but I think we owe it to ourselves (and our children) to think about how we achieve the best outcomes for our public services (education in this case) without being fixated on the state provision of the service itself. (And yes, this discussion should also apply to the NHS. )

    In broaching these difficult questions, Jeremy Browne should be congratulated. I may not agree with his answers, but it is important that we have the debate.

  • @Toby Fenwick
    I have no problem with thinking about how to get the best education.
    The problem is that this involves looking at the evidence and often people confuse their desire for something to be true, with it actually being true.
    VHS and Betamax was a choice determined by people. Betamax was in many ways the better choice but it still lost out.
    I suspect there are many other examples where the market does not produce the best outcome.

    This is why we have government, to solve problems which the market cannot solve.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 8:34pm

    Toby Fenwick

    I’m a bit confused by the suggestions from Helen and Mathew that competition in education is inherently bad; if this is true, then it is surely almost unique as a field of human endeavour that doesn’t benefit from users choosing their product.

    I am speaking from direct experience of working in education, as is Helen. Are you?

    I am not saying it is “inherently bad”, I am just pointing out what I observe from actually being there. I am pointing out that it doesn’t seem to work out quite as well in practice as it does in theory. You stick to your wonderful fantasy theory world, like the Trotskyists I used to fight against years ago. I’m working in the real world.

    Now I think this is the point. The mantra “competition drives up quality” has been repeated again and again as if it so true it cannot be questioned for years and years now, there’s few left who will outright oppose the idea. So to see Jeremy Browne wheeling it out again and praised as if he’s saying something new and wonderful when really he’s just repeating tired old slogans and stale arguments really drives me up the wall. Actually I’m not saying there’s never any case for competition, not at all. What I am saying is that a good and clever thinker would be abel to go beyond simplistic well-worn slogans, and would be able to think about possible flaws in them, would be able to look at how it works in practice, would be able to take a more rounded view.

  • Simon McGrath 9th Apr '14 - 9:20pm

    “@Gareth Epps
    Hagiography and strangely the author does not declare his connection with the organisation publishing Jeremy Browne’s book (incidentally, can someone yet confirm where this is available to all?)”

    Leaving aside the bizarre comment about Nick Thornsby have you really never heard of Amazon?

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 9:32pm

    Toby Fenwick

    If this is true, then it is surely almost unique as a field of human endeavour that doesn’t benefit from users choosing their product.

    Like financial services? According to your fine theories the recent PPI scandal could not happen. Neither could all the previous financial product mis-selling scandals. According to your fine theories, the competition in the sale of these products must automatically gave driven up their quality, so that no-one could possibly have been sold a product so poor in quality it was against their interest to have purchased it.

    AsI said, I live in the real world. From your words, and your attachment to these fine theories, you don’t.

  • Simon McGrath 9th Apr '14 - 9:38pm

    @John Tilley
    I wasnt aware that Mrs Thatcher favoured large scale infrastructure investment or free schools?

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Apr '14 - 10:29pm

    William Hobhouse

    The Liberal Party of the 19th century believed in free trade and internationalism as the best route to prosperity for all. Jeremy Browne’s modern argument for those core historic liberal values is refreshing.

    The world was somewhat different in the 19th century. Businesses were small-scale things, companies operating nationwide almost unheard of, let alone global corporations so big they could play one nation against another. The big powers then were the landed aristocracy and the established Church. Free trade was seen as something which was in opposition to the entrenched power and wealth of those institutions. It is a long way from what we have now, where free trade is all about defending the wealthiest and powerful business institutions that dominate our society.

    I am not saying, as I have been accused of, that the free trade idea and the free market idea are all wrong. I am just saying that applying lines that worked in the 19th century to the very different situation of the 21st century without considering how that might change their impact is simplistic. I am suggesting that those who want to advance those ideas need to show awareness of their fallibilities and those aspects where they go wrong, which is just what I used to say to those who advanced simplistic socialist theories back in the days when they were the trendy ideology, adopted by all who wanted to look clever and found them a nice neat ideology they could pick up fro the shelf, learn its jargon and impress by spouting it endlessly.

    With all those I have been arguing against here, I see no signs of a willingness to step away from fantasy ideology and to think in more pragmatic terms which have some relationship with the reality of how things work in practice especially now we have had plenty of experience of market-oriented governments, given we have had little else since the days of Callaghan.

    When I look at REAL 19th century liberals, I find that actually they were pragmatic about these things. They didn’t seem to have this shrill “the state is evil, the answer to all problems is to put it out to a cash market” mentality which those who claims to be their direct heirs today have.

    In fact I find REAL 19th century liberals were very much associated with the development of local democratically controlled services which we are now told by their supposed heirs must be privatised and marketised because “competition drives up quality”.

    Consider now the great Mayor of Hanley, born in 1837, Mayor when Queen Victoria died, died himself in 1910 (the web page gets a few dates wrong, later it says 1802 when it means 1902). More well-known examples could be given, but you may perhaps see why I like this one. As you can see from what it says on that site, he was very much a Liberal. Now, what he was most famous for was organising the purchase of land for public parks. Yes, as it says there, collecting taxes from the ratepayers (so none this “taxation is evil” of his supposed successors) to provide PUBLIC parks. He didn’t get businesses to open up parks, or contract them out to businesses, charging entrance fees, with the idea that competing businesses running these things would “drive up” their quality, and making them private would be “liberal” because that’s small state, where public parks would be nasty socialist stuff.

    It’s just an example, but its shows the mentality of public service that real Liberals had in those days, contrary to the shrill voices we are getting now from those who claim to be their closest followers.

  • Martin Lowe 9th Apr '14 - 11:39pm

    If you want the state sector to make up 35-38% of GDP, then you don’t p— good money away on non-productive administrative schemes like school vouchers and toothless regulators.

  • The false identification of 19th-century liberalism as laissez-faire economics (under the spurious title of “classical liberalism”) was the project of certain German-Austrians with originally fascist sympathies, who rewrote history (in the later ’40s and after) in an effort to make a reactionary conservative agenda palatable to a world in which, at the time, conservatism was deemed dead and “liberal” was as far right as was intellectually respectable.

    There is no reason or justification for using the term “liberal economics” in this confusing and misleading way. It ought, if anything, simply be called “conservative economics.”

  • Well how very odd. On Tuesday we are told in LDV by The Voice that —
    “… The book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for The Global Race, is published today by the think tank Reform. ”
    But on Wednesday up pops “charles” to tell us —
    charles 9th Apr ’14 – 7:49pm
    “@JohnTilley you are wrong. The book is published by Biteback Publishing. … …But nice try at a Conservative party conspiracy theory”

    What is even more curious is that “charles” would seem to think that publication by Iain Dale’s Biteback company would free Jeremy Browne from any link with Thatcherites or Conservatices.

    @charles. I suggest you take up your problem about who is actually publishing and promoting this book with LDV Towers. I also suggest you google Biteback, Iain Dale, and REFORM before you suggest that anyone is putting forward a conspiracy theory. As far as I am aware Jeremy Browne is entirely open about his links with far right Thatcherites. He is on the board of REFORM and only recently was happy to appear as a fellow Thatcherite with the Tax Payers Alliance and Instiute of Economic Affairs. This is not a conspiracy, he is not trying to hide the fact that he is a Thatcherite. His book makes that clear for all to see.

  • Great review Nick. Makes me keener to read the book than I was as it seems the ‘international’ bit may be more thought-through than Cameron’s fairly thin ‘global race’ motif. Perhaps the usual bleaters on here could read it and then if they disagree with parts of it – or the whole thing – explain why using argument and evidence rather than attacking the author?

  • Tony Jebson 10th Apr '14 - 8:14am

    Nice review. Looking forward to receiving my copy (Amazon says next Tuesday:-/).

  • Simon McGrath
    It was free school milk that Thatcher was against.
    The term “Free schools” has come to mean something else. It had a very different meaning when Thatcher was Secretary of State for Education — I would assume that in the early 1970s she would have regarded such things as dangerous and generally run by a bunch of leftwing hippies (as indeed some of them were and none the worse for it). At the time Thatcher was involved in the biggest ever centralisation (nationalisation) of secondary education, creating more state comprehensive schools than any other Secretary of Stete in history. This is all a bit of a inconvenient truth for today’s misty-eyed romantic Thatcherites like Jeremy Browne. But then he was either at elite foreign schools as the son of a diplomat or at Bedales, so I guess he was not too concerned about the practical implications of what was going on in state education of the masses in the UK.

  • jedibeeftrix 10th Apr '14 - 9:20am

    “Perhaps the usual bleaters on here could read it and then if they disagree with parts of it – or the whole thing – explain why using argument and evidence rather than attacking the author?”

    Very much agreed, mark.

  • Helen Tedcastle
    It may be because Browne and his supporters write and speak from a position of profound ignorance when. It comes to state education in the UK.
    Some more inconvenient truths which provide context for Browne’s ideas. —
    Born in Islington in 1970, Browne is the son of British diplomat and, as a child, lived in many different countries, including Iran, Zimbabwe, and Belgium.
    Browne was educated at Bedales School.
    fees today for his school — Bedales (per term)        Boarders: £10,615      Day: £8,345

    If Browne’s plans came in, how many “vouchers ” do you think they would be counting each term at Bedales?
     If the child of a poor family was a boarder at Bedales, would the parents then have to pay the bedroom tax for their child’s empty bedroom?

  • Paul in Twickenham 10th Apr '14 - 12:57pm

    @JohnTilley – as I never fail to enjoy pointing out, I had the good fortune to go to a state school in Derry that serves a largely working class community and which has produced two nobel prize winners, a number exceeded by only 12 schools on the planet and (until 2 years ago) 2 more winners than Eton has produced.

  • A Social Liberal 10th Apr '14 - 1:38pm

    Paul in Twickenham

    It wouldn’t be a GRAMMAR school would it? It wouldn’t be a religious grammar school would it? Is it the Londonderry equivilent of Aireville School ( http://www.airevilleschool.co.uk/ )?

  • Paul Reynolds 10th Apr '14 - 1:43pm

    I liked the bits in the above debate about competition (NHS, schools) related to Toby’s comments. There might be bit of conflation here –

    * competition is bad per se versus …
    * competition is good in principle but doesn’t work in school provision or NHS so it shouldn’t be attempted versus ….
    * competition in schools and NHS doesn’t work now but can be made to work in the future versus ….
    * competition is good in all respects and thus should be fully introduced by the state in education and health

    There are those wonderful phrases ‘at the mercy of the market’ and ‘completely unregulated private sector’ used so frequently on BBC R4 news in the mornings.. essentially a Marxist perspective on society – equating the market with anarchy. There is also the misuse of the phrase ‘laissez faire’ even attributed to the Scottish Adam Smith (who argued the opposite in his views on cartelistion, colonialism and mercantilism).

    Indeed I have met many a LibDem at Conference who joined the party based on their strident opposition to exploitative private sector business and based on their objections to a supposed ideology which promotes anarchy designed to favour the rich. At one Conference policy consultation 18 months ago one erudite gentleman stood up and argued strongly against private ownership of business at all…. and no-one objected or batted an eyelid.

    My own preference is to think of markets as part of democracy – or rather the absence of monopoly (economic, political, social) which is important for a functioning democracy.

    Therefore I am also critical of those who use the concept of markets to excuse abuse of economic power, kleptocracy, or cartels – the view that ‘what’s good for big business is good for Britain’,… or to support the view that ‘private monopoly is better than state monopoly’ (as if those were the only options).

    ‘Absence of monopoly’ … if that phrase is substituted for the word ‘markets’ it helps to separate out the liberal democratic concept of markets from the pro-monopoly corporatist version which is popular in the Tory party and with Blairism, and which brought us the 2007 financial crash !

    The socialist concepts of ‘unregulated private sector’ and the public ‘at the mercy of the market’ glosses over the fact that every company in the UK is subject to millions of pages of regulation – commercial law, financial law, sector laws and so on. However, gaping loopholes – and distorted concept s of ‘markets’ – which allowed the 2007 crash and continuing wealth concentration, often the result of lobbying and conflicts of interest, are best dealt with through improved democracy and demonoplolisation, than the socialist approach of increasing state power per se (which almost always involves an increase in concentration of power).

    These are my thoughts when I read the passages about markets.

  • Stuart Mitchell 10th Apr '14 - 1:45pm

    “One statistic from the book that struck me above all others is this: between 2011 and 2015 China will build 82 new airports. It is spending 8.5 per cent of its GDP on infrastructure, while we are spending 2.8 per cent of ours.”

    These kinds of comparisons are meaningless though. China is vastly bigger than the UK and has had to invest rapidly in infrastructure because they were starting from a very low base, so of course they’re going to spend more than we do. One might also point out that China is one of the most polluted countries on earth and has an appallingly high death rate on its roads (over a quarter of a million killed each year). I really don’t see why we should be falling over ourselves to be more like China.

    People like Jeremy Browne invite us to look enviously at cherry-picked statistics about the Chinese economy such as these, while ignoring the grinding poverty that many millions of Chinese people still live in. Figures on Chinese growth and investment need to be seen in the context that the Chinese government’s ambition is for China to acquire “developed nation” status by 2049. That’s how far behind they are.

    I am not advocating complacency here, simply a realisation that the Chinese growth figures only tell a small part of the story, and certainly won’t continue forever. Whether China will go on to conquer all before it in the second half of the 21st century remains to be seen. Twenty five years ago, most people believed that Japan would dominate the world economy for decades to come.

    As for Browne’s desire to aim for what I think is an arbitrary state expenditure target of 35-38% of GDP (if that’s what you mean by “size of the state”), I won’t be buying his book, but I’d be interested to know if he gives any reason why we should aim for this rather than the much higher figures maintained by several countries who are much better off than we are. There tends to be a positive relationship between wealth and state spending, so I’ve always found it rather baffling that some people instinctively flinch from it.

  • Toby Fenwick 10th Apr '14 - 4:11pm

    Mathew,

    Whilst I don’t work in the sector, I take a close and careful interest in it. Whilst any observation is useful, I’m sure you’d agree that research and empirical evidence has a key role to play, too. So to simply assert that unless you’re in the sector your views are irrelevant is not enormously helpful. (It’s also sometime since I’ve been compared to a Trotskyist – for which, um, thanks…)

    There is one place that competition in education is clearly harmful: between exam boards. Like any other kind of regulation, where points win prizes, if the income of those adjudicating the prizes is directly dependent on the number of customers, there is a strong incentive to shade the exams to maximise the number of entries. As a result, we shouldn’t be remotely surprised that there is grade inflation; a single exam board would limit the risk of this (e.g., there is only one IB.)

    Helen: On vouchers, I was using the Michigan data only as it is that which I’m most familiar with. I’d welcome your thoughts on why it is a good or bad idea.

  • Toby Fenwick 10th Apr '14 - 4:19pm

    @ Paul Reynolds: I agree. The key for me is how we sustainably get the best results to drive value for money in public services. Setting an arbitrary proportion of GDP for state spending is as ideologically wrong-headed to me as deciding that there should be a monopoly of state provision in areas A, B or C.

  • Stephen Donnelly 10th Apr '14 - 4:41pm

    I have only read the review rather than the book but can offer some perspective as a businesses man with direct experience in China and India.

    Without doubt we are in for a shock. There is no reason to suppose that we can protect the high standard of living in the UK when our advantages in education, and through history, have been eroded. Why should a bus driver in Huddersfield be able to command a salary 50 times higher than in New Delhi? It is not a question that other countries are doing better, but they are catching up, and we are unsustainably rich. The comfortable post empire days are now behind us.

    We do have some remaining advantages, for instance the integrity of our legal system, lack of corruption and good government. The openness of our economy, both to business and immigration is ( has been) a major advantage. Let’s whisper it, but London and the financial services industry help to underpin the economy.

    I also find the education offered to undergraduates in China and India to be rather narrow compared to the best education offered in this country. Too much is achieved through rote learning and independent thought is not sufficiently encouraged. The big difference that I see is in the motivation of the students. Our advantage is based on diversity, and (despite my state comprehensive education) too much of this is provided by the private sector.

    I am not sure that Jeremy Browne has the solution, but it seems he is asking the right questions. The answers will not be found in resisting change and closing ourselves off to new ideas.

  • @Toby Fenwick
    Evidence has a key role to play but you seem to put forward the Michigan data without drawing the right conclusions from it. Evidence becomes useless if you are not prepared to examine it carefully.
    Put forward evidence that proves the case, or accept the fact that people are not going to want to go down the road you prefer

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '14 - 9:07pm

    Toby Fenwick

    Whilst I don’t work in the sector, I take a close and careful interest in it. Whilst any observation is useful, I’m sure you’d agree that research and empirical evidence has a key role to play, too. So to simply assert that unless you’re in the sector your views are irrelevant is not enormously helpful.

    No, your views are not irrelevant, you might have had some useful insight. Except in your case you didn’t. Instead you repeated a trite old line whose failings have become very evident as it’s been tried as hasn’t worked in so many sectors. I have said a little about why it doesn’t work. I note that you have had no reply to the actual points I made here about why it doesn’t work as you think it would.

    We could have a useful discussion if you were prepared to admit the problems and shortcomings with your suggestion, and to make constructive suggestions as to how they could be overcome. Except you obviously aren’t.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Apr '14 - 9:39pm

    Stephen Donnelly

    I also find the education offered to undergraduates in China and India to be rather narrow compared to the best education offered in this country.

    Indeed, that is perhaps why a modest lecturer at a medium-ranking university in the UK is regarded as “outstanding” by the Chinese Ministry of Education when he does much the same there as he does here.

  • For far too long this country (UK) has been dominated by 2 political parties whose own allegiances divided our nations playing a political game of see-saw. And where did we end up after the second World War – a serious declining economy torn apart by industrial strife whilst at the saw time a defeated nation (Germany) pulled itself up by its jackboot straps and got stuck in. We still have a fantastic engineering base with, for example,many cars being produced for foreign owned companies as a prime example. Jeremy Browne might not have a perfect solution to a global national identity that might, just might, help all of us raise our sights with a higher goal for everyone concerned but lets at least welcome the debate that follows and help ensure we do keep on the track for both a better industrial and related improving social inclusive society once and for all. After all “its the economy stupid”!

  • @ Paul in Twickenham 10th Apr ’14 – 12:57pm
    I probably enjoyed reading your comment as much as you enjoyed making it. I was also lucky enough to go to a state school which has produced some rather exceptional people.
    As a result I can say for example that I have played chess with a grand master and beaten him (although I usually don’t mention he was 14 at the time and playing thirty other people simultaneously).

    The success of one sort or another of the hundreds of kids who benefited from going to this state school may have done something for the economy of the UK. But that was not the point. It was not about making one part of the planet richer than another or winning some sort of “global race”. Education was about learning and knowledge and about liberation from ignorance.

    Andrew StunnelL MP also went to this school but he was much older than me (and he still is). :-)

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Apr '14 - 9:54am

    @Jedibeeftrix
    “There is research to suggest that spending in the high thirties is the most efficient level for an advanced economy that both maximises growth and and the potential of society.”

    The last time you claimed this and I asked you to substantiate it, all you came up with was a piece from some obscure right-wing think tank. No surprise there.

    The inconvenient (for you) fact remains that if you look at our Western European peers, those countries which have much higher standards of living and quality of life than ours tend to be countries which spend more than us and more than your arbitrary target.

    More globally, what is striking is the huge disparity between spending to GDP ratios. Some rich countries spend a lot, some don’t. The reverse is also true. The idea that there is some one-size-fits-all “sweet spot” we should aim for has no basis in reality, and it would certainly be an immense folly for policy makers to be preoccupied with such a target.

  • @Stuart Mitchell
    Yes you are right to pick up the “research suggests” nonsense again.

    A little research can be a dangerous thing.
    Over the last couple of days there have been reminders that “research suggests” that it was worth spending millions of pounds on Tamiflu.
    Unfortunately, a closer examination of all that particular research suggests it was a complete waste of money.

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Apr '14 - 11:15am

    @John Tilley
    I know this is off-topic, but perhaps the media (who are now crowing about what a huge waste of money Tamiflu was) should examine their own role in this fiasco. I remember there being huge media pressure on the government to make Tamiflu widely available during the flu pandemic in 2009, though even at the time there were plenty of scientists saying it wouldn’t make any difference.

  • @Stuart ‘Mitchell
    You remember correctly, the CMO at the time had to do repeated media interviews . It was in the run up to the gereral election and the media wanted to discredit the government whilst also maybe serving the financial interests of some large corporations. George Monbiot has done some good work on who buys our news. I have a copy of Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Pharma, which I intend to read soon.
    Which brings us back to the topic rather neatlly. We might ask ourselves in this thread whose financial interests are served by promotion of Jeremy Browne’s book and the ideas therein?

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Apr '14 - 11:56am

    @John Tilley
    And of course there are even worse examples of the same kind of thing. I’m thinking particularly of the way the Tory press tried to make political capital from the MMR furore. At least the government stood firm on that one.

  • Simon Banks 11th Apr '14 - 5:06pm

    I haven’t read the book. I look to reviews like this to give me some idea of whether the book’s worth reading, given that many other books and websites have something interesting in them.

    Clearly there are ideas worth discussing here. But on the basis of the summary mentioned here, I see big gaps. If Browne is an internationalist, he should be more concerned about global warming and about world poverty (much of which is not in the Far East or in Europe) than about a race of the U.K. with China, South Korea or even India. On a more local level, if all schools are free schools, how will local community concerns that cross the boundaries between education and, say, community safety, the environment or health be tackled? Isn’t the liberal case not for total independence for schools (or actually, freedom constrained only by national government) but for something more like home rule, with decision-making largely devolved within the school community, but within a local government framework?

  • The East Asian economies are not really neo-liberal. In each country the econmies are dominated by conglomerates.
    The areas where Britain can excel are in the high-tech sections but to suceed here the UK requires a highly educated labour force in science and technology..

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Apr '14 - 11:40am

    @Jedibeeftrix
    “Hmmm, and if we project out to 2050 how does the standard of living in those countries look then?”

    You might as well ask which horse will win the 2050 Grand National. I have bad news for you – economists are pretty lousy at making predictions. The OBR can’t predict growth rates with much accuracy even six months in advance, yet you’re inviting me to believe you know what’s going to happen in all major economies in 2050. I’d suggest you go and look at similar kinds of predictions that were being made 25 years ago and see how wide of the mark of they were.

    You also need to review the difference between a high growth economy and a high wealth economy. It’s better to be the latter than the former. The most common characteristic of high growth economies is that most of the people are poor.

    Looking at your four sources, only one of them is credible, and that one doesn’t draw anything like the same conclusions as you. Of your other three sources, one is (ahem) yourself, one is an obscure Bulgarian free-market think tank, and the other is a website which claims the following as part of its mission statement :-

    “Your mind has been infiltrated. Your logical and conscious prefrontal cortex is ever thwarted by powerful saboteurs hiding within the dark realm of your subconscious. The usurpers of your decision-making processes are none other than the ignorant reptilian brain stem and emotional limbic system. They torture you with sadness for the slightest defiance. They drug you with narcotic neurochemicals to reward your obedience. This diabolical duo is responsible for all forms of irrational human behavior, such as racism, war, and marriage… You have a total of three brains: the reptilian brain, the paleo-mammalian brain, and the rational brain. In a sense, a human being is what you might get nine months after a romantic evening between a lizard, a dog, and Mr. Spock.”

  • Great review, Nick.

  • Stuart Mitchell
    I loved the sentence —
    “.., The usurpers of your decision-making processes are none other than the ignorant reptilian brain stem and emotional limbic system. ”
    This may say more about the Jedi than anything else ( although I always thought someone who thinks he is a Jedi and often quotes Lord Hailsham might be slightly odd).

    Do you think Jeremy Browne might have had his decision-making processes taken over by reptiles? It could explain the Turbo Charged Thatcherism that he is coming out with.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Apr '14 - 2:00pm

    Playing the man again, eh John.

    Why is the ball always in your blind-spot?

  • Mick Humphreys 19th Apr '14 - 12:16pm

    I find it curious that some people should comment without having read the book.

    It is well written and makes many thought- provoking comments. It is not the least radical on the more important issues that affect people such as drug and prison law reform, but it will give those concerned with the mundane but merely essential activities such as: business, education, health, infrastructure and making money something to think about.

  • Mr. M. T. Cribbin 29th May '14 - 2:45pm

    Jeremy Brown, who I’ve just seen interviewed on TV on Book Club ( or something like that )! Makes some first class comments on Britains position in the New World order, and how poorly educated are large sections of our 15 to 16 yrs olds, mainly of course from the poorer sections in the Uk, ( Nothing changes here as we’ve been saying this for 50 yrs or more now ) and it does not seem to matter Which party in in power either.

    Now my Main point. Where can one purchase his book “Race plan” and how much is it?

    Yours sincerely

    M T Cribbin

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