Top Books To Better Understand UK Politics
Source: Dimitris Vetsikas
Sociology is a newer disciple, a prescience. Only practiced in its own right from the late 19th century, and only Going international with its university departments in the 20th century. Whilst the discipline has some varying political influence, it is yet to reach the levels of influence other studies have attained.
Whilst theorising, making society ‘better’, or equal for citizens may the aim of the discipline (most sociologists focus on specific issues). That would be impossible to do without an understanding of, or influence on the political system. These books are not pure sociology books but a compilation of books from Academics, Journalists, and theorists from various disciplines.
Below are 11 books that will help everyone have a better understanding of UK Politics. Whilst you won’t be an expert after reading these books, you will be better prepared for Political debates, and understanding policy/the wider implications.
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
Owen Jones is a British Socialist and Political Commentator raised in Stockport, England. Though he was educated and raised in a predominately Working Class area, he achieved academic success, going on to study History at Oxford University.
He then sought to answer the question of why so many of his friends didn’t end up with the opportunities he did. Chavs, examines how The Conservative government ruined chances for predominantly Working Class English Northeners by closing the mines. Then provided no other viable forms of long term employment.
Jones then highlights the political climate of modern England. One where anyone can talk down on the Working Class, in ways they wouldn’t ethic minorities. Supported by a classist media which constantly pushes negative imagery through shows like Benefit Street, and 16 & Pregnant.
The plight of the Working Class hasn’t been easy in Britain, and this book is a fantastic outline of institutions attempting to paint a group in a negative light. Jones has a long and hopefully fruitful career ahead of him. He writes often for The Guardian, and is an outright speaker on current social issues.
John Stuart Mill
A Libertarian classic, I don’t even feel as though On Liberty could be adequately summarised in a few paragraphs.
This was the first philosophical book I read at the age of 17 and would advise people not to shy away from Mill. A progressive of his time, Mill was an advocate for women’s rights in The Subjection of Women.
As an MP, John Stuart Mill took his stance against what he deemed to be government interference in private life (the private sphere). He believed others could only interfere in individual action when it did harm. If no harm was posed to others, then no interference was permitted (the harm principle).
Austerity: The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy
An easy and compelling book, Mendoza argues that The Conservative government are trying to push back decades of Social Change. Attempting to get rid of all the institutions and safety nets put in place to prevent citizens falling into poverty.
All this is being done under the banner of ‘Austerity’. an ideology pushed by the IMF and subsequently the EU in recent decades. Mendoza pays great attention to Greece and how Austerity ruined their economy, contributing to the rise of the far right. A great read, all should pick up.
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
There’s truly no reason everyone shouldn’t read this book. At 126 pages, Timothy Snyder has aimed to cut out all of the thrills, diagrams, and fluffy stuff. So he can focus on pushing the information that truly matters.
We can learn a lot from the past and that is what this book is attempting to remind us. With 20 chapters, the lessons are short and concise. You learn the importance of being wary of paramilitaries, looking for peers in other countries and remaining calm through the unthinkable.
I can’t wait to read more Snyder and would welcome any recommendations which are like this.
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
The UK is located in Western Europe. Regardless of how much the country wants to set itself apart, it will (for the foreseeable future) remain part of Europe, and on Earth. The UK therefore, has a vested interest in the economies of other countries, their prosperity, and preferably a lack of wars.
In 10 maps, Marshall dives into Global Politics. Choosing countries, continents, or geographic locations. Marshall makes a number of predictions, many of which are ringing true today.
A fiction book on this list, one all readers hoping to develop an understanding of politics should read.
In this book, Orwell describes a world where the government overreaches into private life. Your thoughts, actions and night murmurs can get you locked up, as individuals are rounded up to camps when they overstep ‘boundaries’.
This is one of those classics which doesn’t have a good ending, but does real life always? No, no, no. Everyone should debate with themselves over how much political control is necessary.
The Establishment: And how they get away with it
Another book by Owen Jones. If you had asked me a few years what I would really like to do, I may have spewed out something about working for a think tank. After reading this book, those words were never uttered again. Jones outlines how most Think Tanks tend to be funded by corporations invested in seeing certain policy pushed by government.
Lobby groups who create the image of do goodies. Tracking the funds of a number of organisations, Jones destroys any perception that the reports published by these ‘think tanks’, as no more that funded opinions.
Without a doubt Owen Jones has changed the way I see and engage with politics. He may not be someone you enjoy but respect is free!
A communist classic the Communist Manifesto has been influencing governments, guerrilla groups, Academics, and students to change allegiance for nearly two centuries now!
It also strikes a cord amongst conservatives who at times fail to see any benefit of the theory. Regardless of your political affinity, reading this book will have you prepared for all sorts of debates .
Not the easiest, or most compelling read but one which will have you prepared to hold your own in arguments. Another great benefit to reading Marx is that you can also see whether you enjoy or side with him.
Fixing Drugs: The Politics of Drug Prohibition
This book was recommended to me by my dissertation supervisor. I never expected it to be so good, so I apologise if you’re reading this post got never returning the book!
Pryce begins by exploring the early history of Drug Prohibition, before moving into the effects of these laws. Most notably, the War on Terror. You then get to explore eradication techniques often utilised by governments around the world. I don’t want to spoil everything!
Since then I’ve yet to find a book centred on drugs to be as interesting.
Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House
This was my first book by Luke Harding and without a doubt their will be numerous in the future. You may wonder why a book on Trumps accession to presidency is on the list. Well, it’s because the UK and USA share a ‘special relationship’. Or do they?
This book is an example of how British investigative journalism hasn’t faltered in the last decade. Harding does a great job of trace Trumps business run ins with the Russians since the 90s. His close relations with not only KGB spies, but also Russian oligarchs.
It’s not hard to see why Trump would be so friendly towards the Russians after reading this. But what does that mean for the world? Will NATO be as reliable in upcoming decades?
Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Yuval Noah Harari initially gained worldwide success with his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. This is the follow up book.
In this text, Harari examines what the future will mean for inequality. How will genetic testing change the playing field. Will the super rich choose to select genes which make their children not only super beautiful but also super smart. Will the poor be the ones to experience pollution whilst the rich live in literal bubbles? This is the case in China where houses and buildings are now encompassed in bubbles to keep air clean for a few lucky individuals.
Will a new race of genetically elite, Homo Deus, look down on Homo Sapiens?
A mix of old and new theorists, academics and investigative journalists. These 11 reads will have you more prepared to understand British Politics and debate policy issues that effect the lives of others. You’ll be better positioned to see what the future is likely to bring. What policy could be leading to.
Have any recommendations? Let us know in the comments.
By Shaneka Knight
Goodreads: Shaneka Knight