The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy

Ferdinand Mount

The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy

This was supposed to be the era when democracy came into its own, but instead power and wealth in Britain have slowly been consolidated the hands of a small elite, while the rest of the country struggles financially and switches off politically. We are now ruled by a gang of fat-cats with fingers in every pie who squabble for power among themselves while growing richer. Bored with watching corrupt politicians jockeying for power, ordinary Britons are feeling disconnected from politics and increasingly cynical about the back-scratching relationship between politicians and big business. The New Few shows us what has led to this point, and asks the critical questions: why has Britain become a more unequal society over the past thirty years? Why have the banks been bailed out with taxpayers' money, while bankers are still receiving huge bonuses? Why have those responsible not been held accountable for the financial crash? Why has power in Britain become so concentrated in the hands of corrupt politicians who have been exposed cheating their constituents in the expenses scandal? Despite this bleak diagnosis, there are solutions to the rise of the new ruling class in the modern West. The New Few sets out some of the ways in which we can restore our democracy, bringing back real accountability to British business and fairness to our society. 3.5 out of 5 based on 10 reviews
The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Business, Finance & Law
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-1847378002
Publisher Simon & Schuster
 

This was supposed to be the era when democracy came into its own, but instead power and wealth in Britain have slowly been consolidated the hands of a small elite, while the rest of the country struggles financially and switches off politically. We are now ruled by a gang of fat-cats with fingers in every pie who squabble for power among themselves while growing richer. Bored with watching corrupt politicians jockeying for power, ordinary Britons are feeling disconnected from politics and increasingly cynical about the back-scratching relationship between politicians and big business. The New Few shows us what has led to this point, and asks the critical questions: why has Britain become a more unequal society over the past thirty years? Why have the banks been bailed out with taxpayers' money, while bankers are still receiving huge bonuses? Why have those responsible not been held accountable for the financial crash? Why has power in Britain become so concentrated in the hands of corrupt politicians who have been exposed cheating their constituents in the expenses scandal? Despite this bleak diagnosis, there are solutions to the rise of the new ruling class in the modern West. The New Few sets out some of the ways in which we can restore our democracy, bringing back real accountability to British business and fairness to our society.

Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us by Ferdinand Mount

Reviews

The Times

Trevor Phillips

[An] exhilarating polemic … In a world where television and the internet have largely detached political distance from physical geography, can the familiar dispute about localism carry the same force? And as global movements of capital and labour remorselessly erode the power of governments, does anyone seriously believe in the revival of the moral state dreamt of by Red Tories and Blue Labour alike? I really doubt it. Yet for much of this freewheeling assault on Britain’s rulers the ride is irresistible ... His essay combines political tolerance with fierce erudition and narrative verve.

28/04/2012

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The Sunday Times

Rod Liddle

It is an elegant tour de force, and all the better for being tinged with a little mea culpa. — the author is a Conservative, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher at a time when she was beginning the deregulation of the city and curtailing the financial independence of local government — both bad mistakes, Mount admits now ... This is a devastating account of inequality and greed, all the more so for coming from a high Tory.

29/04/2012

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The Evening Standard

Joshi Herrmann

Important … Mount is supremely qualified to write this book although that doesn’t prevent a few factual slips and mischosen quotes … Regardless, The New Few is a robust and welcome contribution to the conversation the financial crisis has forced us to have about Britain’s future and an interesting addition to the modern conservative critique of inequality

19/04/2012

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The Literary Review

Nick Cohen

This is not the book of a contented man but of a genuine Tory radical. Modern right-wing ‘radicals’ are meant to believe in passing public services to private monopolies, cutting corporation tax and the top rate of income tax, increasing inequalities and giving the market its head. In other words, what we have had since Mrs Thatcher’s day — only more of it. Their critics normally come from the Left. Mount is a true democratic radical. His book is original and on occasion brilliant because it provides a conservative critique of the status quo.

01/05/2012

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The Financial Times

Jonathan Ford

Provocative and succinct … Some might be tempted to dismiss his views as sour grapes. After all, was the old magic circle any better than the new one? But Mount makes a powerful case that the recent changes go beyond simple switches of personnel at the top. They threaten not only the good name of capitalism but the integrity of our democracy too.

05/05/2012

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The Observer

Andrew Anthony

Like many on the aristocratic wing of the Tory party, [Mount] was never a full-blooded Thatcherite, and long ago reverted to classic One Nation Conservatism. What's odd, and is itself worthy of reflection, is how left-field that kind of old-fashioned belief in social cohesion now appears. After all, Mount is no rabid anti-capitalist, but a 72-year-old conservative arguing for a little more equal distribution of wealth. And among a cowed and timid political class that currently qualifies as a radical position ... [a] thoughtful book.

29/04/2012

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The Spectator

Polly Toynbee

When a Tory tells the story, it’s far more compelling than any left-winger … Like David Willetts’s excellent analysis of inequality between generations in The Pinch , this book should be compulsory reading for the cabinet. Both authors amass devastating evidence — but that in the end leaves both of them floundering in their final chapters. How do you solve such epic structural dysfunction without radical intervention by the state? A Tory seriously worried about inequality is like someone living in the wrong body, a category error; for a Conservative government will always dismantle the few redistributive mechanisms that could act as some brake on the galloping inequalities.

05/05/2012

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The Independent

Jon Cruddas

The Coalition government becomes "the most interesting political event I have witnessed"; possibly a "new world symphony" ... What is on offer is "the distribution of power to the many, the taming of the oligarchs". Really? Mount's book is a brilliant attempt to import rigour and coherence; indeed, the case is better made than by anyone in the current administration. Yet can he really be suggesting across the City, within our hollowed-out party structures, across Whitehall and Westminster, that the Coalition is embarked on a systematic assault on power elites and oligarchy in defence of the little guy? It doesn't look like that from my advice centre in East London.

28/04/2012

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The New Statesman

John Gray

[Mount writes] “What is true of communism is true of oligarchy, too. We make our own destiny and we can unmake it if we really want to.” … But do politicians and the public really want to alter Britain’s course? One can’t help feeling that at this point Mount’s analogy with communism breaks down ... there is little popular demand for radical change. Nor is there any sign of a Gorbachev-like figure emerging in British politics.

25/04/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Peter Oborne

The conundrum of British society over the last 20 years is how the plutocrats managed to break free from British centralisation to make their colossal fortunes … I hoped Mount might tell us how the rich pulled off this sensational coup, but he does not even attempt to do so, probably because (like so many political writers) he lacks any real curiosity about the connection between money and power. What he gives the reader instead is a lazy version of a story which has already been well told by Simon Jenkins about the destruction of local institutions at the hands of an anonymous elite.

09/05/2012

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