Taking Power Back

Putting People in Charge of Politics

Simon Parker

Taking Power Back

Simon Parker

Distributed for Policy Press at the University of Bristol

208 pages | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2015
Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9781447326878 Published December 2015 For sale in North and South America only
One of the key issues of our time is the question of where power and governance should lie. Should they be centrally controlled, drawing on efficiencies of scale and gathered knowledge? Or should they be more locally distributed, so that they more closely represent the actual needs of people and communities? In Taking Power Back, Simon Parker makes a powerful case for the latter: centralization, he argues, has been largely a failure, breeding distrust among citizens—who, he shows, are beginning to take matters into their own hands. Offering policy recommendations and practical suggestions, Parker argues for a new kind of politics, one that can fully unleash society’s creative potential.
Contents
Acknowledgements
Preface

1. The revolution will not be centralised: why top-down politics won’t survive the 21th century
2. Learning to love the postcode lottery: why hoarding power usually fails
3. The localist renaissance: how England’s cities fought back
4. From consumers to creators: reinventing citizenship from the ground up
5. The colonisation of Britain: how the empire came home
6. Giving up is hard to do: why politicians struggle to share power
7. Hack the state: how we can take power back

Notes
References
Index
 
Review Quotes
Peter Riddell, director of the Institute for Government
“At a time of increased talk about the need for decentralization, Parker offers substantive examples from the United Kingdom and elsewhere about how to achieve a lasting shift of power to cities, towns, and local neighbourhoods. It is an ambitious but persuasive program.”
Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council
“A timely and comprehensive case for devolution, helping to put the case for change in a way that is meaningful to people’s daily lives. All in government—central and local—should read this book and act on it.”
Graham Allen MP, chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee
“Parker makes a compelling case that the British experiment with centralism has failed. Using examples from across the globe, this provocative book shows how a happier, healthier, and more equal society can be built from the bottom up. Politicians need to learn to share power: here they will find a roadmap.”
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK
“Thought provoking insights of what needs to change within our political and public services architecture, useful and challenging ideas about how we do that and the likely consequences if we don’t.”
Lord Michael Bichard, chair of the National Audit Office (UK)
“A timely challenge to the belief that a central state has all the answers and just needs to be more efficient. . . . Well worth the read!”
Rafael Behr, political columnist, Guardian
“A demolition of the silos where power has been hoarded in Britain and a compelling case for a different way of governing.”
Phillip Blond, director of ResPublica and author of “Red Tory”
“A guidebook for those who want to understand the next generation of British government.”
Neil McInroy | NewStart (UK)
“Local authorities are under the cosh, pedaling hard with an ever diminishing and denuding set of local services. For those of us who believe in local government, these are cursed times. In a new book, Taking Power Back . . . we are offered a possible antidote to this sorry state of affairs.”
Infinite Futures
“The key, Parker concludes, is not to draw more lines between ‘them’ and ‘us,’ but to radically expand what ‘us’ means, and then to rediscover what we can achieve together.”
John P. Houghton | 3:AM Magazine
“Parker presents an array of innovative and inspiring examples from across the United Kingdom and beyond that encapsulate the spirit of commonism.”
Anthony Painter | Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
“A strikingly convincing account of how to unleash a wave of civic energy across the United Kingdom. . . . For Parker, civic renewal is a mission to underpin a better life for all. It’s not simply about bureaucratic reorganization; it’s about social justice and freedom.”
Rob Foster | London Economic
“When it comes to devolution and the localist agenda, Parker is no arriviste. As the director of a local government think tank and frequent contributor to the debates surrounding public services and the state, Parker’s work has often been ahead of the game when analyzing the challenges and prospects for local democracy. With Taking Power Back, these experiences and the opportunities presented by the devolution zeitgeist are distilled into a prospectus for a radical shift in how and why government exists, and what might (at least in part) replace it.”
Tony Travers, London School of Economics and Political Science | LSE Review of Books
“Parker’s book should give heart to those who support a less centralised country, but also provide a challenge to the politically powerful at all levels. It is well-researched, and blends references to a wide range of historic texts with proposals for contemporary innovation.”
Progress Online
Taking Power Back makes a convincing case of how we can, and why we must, empower communities and together build a well-functioning, stronger, more caring society.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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