The Verdict | Granta

  • Published: 06/10/2011
  • ISBN: 9781847082503
  • 129x30mm
  • 320 pages

The Verdict

Polly Toynbee, David Walker

Did the Labour government improve people’s lives? Are we healthier, wealthier or wiser; happier or safer than in 1997, when Labour came to power? If we are, how much do we have to thank Blair and Brown and their cabinets for? In The Verdict, Polly Toynbee and David Walker strip away spin, personality and political rhetoric to judge how our lives have changed. They consider Labour’s lasting legacy and what its successors can learn from Labour’s performance.
Travelling the country, Toynbee and Walker compare Labour’s promises with people’s own accounts of what they experienced in recent years. They drop in on a Sure Start centre and visit schools, hospitals and colleges – and estates plagued by disorder – to ask: what different did Labour make?
Combining sharp, witty writing, human stories and expert analysis, The Verdict charts Labour’s often bewildering array of initiatives, projects and schemes. It questions how many depended on bubble finance and how many will be missed as recent public spending cuts take hold. From the early optimism of ‘Things can only get better’ to the misery of the financial crisis, Toynbee and Walker hand down the definitive judgement on Labour’s record.

Polly Toynbee and David Walker are becoming our latter-day Beatrice and Sidney Webb ... indefatigable researchers of and campaigners for a better society. The duo spare nothing and nobody in their robust dissection of today's Britain and how Labour, while still doing some good, muffed a once-in-fifty-years opportunity for change. It's a requiem for one government and a benchmark for the next

Will Hutton

This book is shot through with fairness and tinged with regret. As an audit of what the Blair and Brown governments did and didn't do from a Centre-Left perspective, Toynbee and Walker will hold the field for a very long time

Peter Hennessy

Combining meticulous research and interviews, bringing to light the experiences and attitudes of ordinary voters

London Review of Books

The Author

Polly Toynbee is a political and social commentator for the Guardian. Previously she was the BBC’s Social Affairs Editor and a columnist for the Independent and the Observer. She is the author of, among others, Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain, Hospital and Lost Children. With David Walker she has written two audits of Labour’s first and second terms, Did Things Get Better? and Better or Worse?: Did Labour Deliver?

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The Author

David Walker is Managing Director, Communications and Public Reporting, at the Audit Commission. He was formerly editor of the Guardian‘s ‘Public’ magazine and before that Chief Leader Writer for the Independent. He is a member of the council of the Economic and Social Research Council and a trustee of the Franco-British Council. He is co-author of Sources Close to the Prime Minister, The Times Guide to the New British State and, with Polly Toynbee, Unjust Rewards: Did Things Get Better and Better or Worse: Did Labour Deliver?

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From the Same Author

Unjust Rewards

Polly Toynbee,David Walker

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Against the backdrop of the current recession, journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker present a worrying account of social inequality in Britain today. Shredding the myth that executives require astronomical salaries, they put the case for higher taxation of the very rich. This was once the heart of Labour ideology, but politicians now seem almost embarrassed to raise the subject. Toynbee and Walker demolish the arguments against higher taxation, and show how government policy could revitalize British society.