Faith in the UK’s political system has reached new lows. Politicians and commentators are lining up to offer answers, but what if the problem goes beyond left and right, trust and bureaucracy? What if the system puts too much power in the hands of politicians in London and not enough in the hands of ordinary people?
This important book addresses a key issue of our time: where should power and governance lie in our democracy? Simon Parker, a leading expert on public services and government, claims the answer is to give power away. Indeed, across the country, communities and cities are already starting to take matters into their own hands, reinventing citizenship for the 21st century.
Including fascinating interviews with former ministers and officials about their experience of managing the central state, as well as illuminating international case studies, Parker offers policy recommendations and practical ideas for giving power away and creating a new kind of politics focused on unleashing society's creative potential. In so doing, he provides a route map for change, showing how decentralisation can make us happier, healthier and more equal.
Simon Parker is a leading voice on decentralisation and democracy. As director of the local government think tank NLGN, he has worked alongside many of the UK’s leading councils to inspire new approaches to urban governance and public service delivery. He started his career as a journalist at the Guardian and has since held senior positions at Demos and the Institute for Government He is nationally recognised as an expert on local government and decentralisation and his work has been described as ‘making public policy fun’.
“Simon Parker offers substantive examples from the UK and elsewhere about how to achieve a lasting shift of power to cities, towns and local neighbourhoods. It is an ambitious but persuasive programme.” Peter Riddell, Director of the Institute for Government
“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." Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK
“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.” Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council
"Presents an array of innovative and inspiring examples from across the UK and beyond that encapsulate the spirit of commonism." 3am Magazine
"Should give heart to those who support a less centralised country, but also provide a challenge to the politically powerful at all levels." LSE Review of Books
"With Taking Power Back, the 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 replace it." The London Economic.
"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." Progress Online
"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!" Lord Michael Bichard, chair of the National Audit Office
"A guidebook for those who want to understand the next generation of British government." Phillip Blond, Director ResPublica and author of Red Tory
"The key 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." Infinite Futures
"Instead of a society and politics based on a 'them and us', this book is about how we can get a bigger us." New Start Magazine
"A strikingly convincing account of how to unleash a wave of civic energy across the UK." RSA
“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.” Graham Allen, MP
"A demolition of the silos where power has been long been hoarded in Britain and a compelling case for a different way of governing." Rafael Behr, political columnist, The Guardian