3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever becoming one. ― Billy Connolly

In the last three years if you were ever brave enough to mention politics to anyone else then you would probably have a fairly heated discussion right up to a full-blown row. Unless they happened to share your point of view that is and then your point of view is often heard, amplified and echoed back to you. There are lots of people who have had enough too, and never intend to vote for anyone ever again.

Opinions are polarised, nationalism is on the rise, partly fuelled by people who are scared about change and the pace of the modern world and we have lost the ability to see a point from anyone else’s perspective. We have reached the point of Breakdown according to Spiller. This book has come from his work on Simple Politics, a project that is striving to make politics, clear interesting and most importantly, still relevant.

To do this he looks at a variety of different subjects that have caused strife over the past few years; immigration, privatisation, taxes, austerity and that political football of the past few years, Brexit. He takes each and look at it from the range of political viewpoints, considers some of the details like is tax good or bad, are immigrants taking our jobs or just doing some of the jobs we are keen on doing?

We all listen to voices that we are comfortable within our own echo chambers, regardless of what we think that we are doing. These are all complex and nuanced subjects that do not have a simple binary solution and as Spiller says, we have lost the ability to see the point of view from the other side that we used to have. What he is trying to do here is demonstrate how listening to an alternative point of view in an argument is not being shouted down by the other side, rather it is learning as we do as a small child that other people can know, feel and understand different things.

It is written in an easy-going conversational style that he has deliberately not made threatening. He has some reasonable suggestions to help us get on better politically, sadly though, I think that the people that really need to read this won’t ever consider picking it up. I would have preferred to have the How It All Works section at the beginning. I feel this would have set the framework of how everything works (or at least should do) and set the framework before moving onto the how others think and the main battlegrounds at the moment. I was slightly surprised that he doesn’t mention royal prerogative – the power of the prime minister to completely overrule and ignore, his cabinet, parliament and party, but that was a minor detail. Just remember to buy a different paper every now and again just to see where people that you might not agree with are coming from.

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