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Stand and Deliver: A Design for Successful Government

By Ed Straw


A key issue for democratic politics, in the UK and many other nations, is what to do about voter disengagement.

The faith that electorates have in governments – of whatever party – to make their lives better is dramatically decreasing, while the incompetence of our political structure and of those elected to office becomes ever more apparent.

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“Excellent read. Well argued and brilliantly put forward.” Reader 5* review

 

“Straw book calling for a government revolution” Wales Online

 “I enjoyed it hugely. I feel you (your book) have solved my chief problem your rivals don’t. They sort of reverse engineer the Chinese Communist Party, or in western terms governance by elites.

I think Australia could use these ideas.” CEO, global company

 

“I can thoroughly recommend this book, insightful and relevant.” Reader 5* review

“An invaluable and weighty contribution.

The author addresses a deceptively simple question that has bedeviled generations of politicians and officials: why does British government never work as effectively as we would like it to?” Patrick Diamond, Progress

 

“A must-read for anyone concerned about the quality of the nation’s political life. Stand & Deliver is a passionate tirade against the way we currently do politics and a powerful argument for a radically different approach.”  James Park

 

“I would seriously recommend that anyone disillusioned by gridlocked politics try reading Stand & Deliver.” #USMidtermElections

 

“While other prescriptions for our malaise are largely political – Straw’s premise is that it’s the system itself that needs changing. I completely accept that the current organisation of government promotes not only its dysfunction but also the disengagement of the public. Ed Straw’s Treaty for Government proposes a complete redesign of the way we organize our governance. Straw’s argument is that it is possible to build strong public support for massive changes to the system.” TheBookbag

 

“Ed Straw is fed up with the way the UK is governed and says it’s time for a revolution.” BBC News Online

 

“I much enjoyed the book, and I found it hugely stimulating to be challenged about all sorts of preconceptions I might have had. It’s certainly a bold venture. There’s no disputing the need for such an initiative (both in terms of the commanding analysis and many of the prescriptions). I thought it was particularly strong in terms of why so much fails to land in any conventional sense!  Particularly in terms of the discussions about how Whitehall malfunctions so badly, and sections on local government.” Jonathan Porritt

 

“Excellent read if you have an interest in constitutional affairs. Even if you don’t, it’s a well-written, witty breakdown of how government should work – you know: accountability, measurement of success, those sort of things.” Reader 5* review

 

“Seven Ways To Design A Successful Government” The Yorkshire Post

 

“Straw cuts through and exposes the weaknesses of government in a methodical and inspiring way. He puts forward a very plausible set of proposals for a better way of governing and delivering. Let’s Do It!” Lawrie Philpott

 

What I most like about 'Stand & Deliver' by ‪@EdAStraw is the combination of ambition and wisdom (easy to get either one, rarely both) Peter Miles @ComplexitySol

 

 

If you are ever angered by the standard of government we endure, you are not alone. A key issue for democratic politics, in the UK and many other nations, is what to do about voter disengagement.

 

The faith that electorates have in governments – of whatever party – to make their lives better is dramatically decreasing, while the incompetence of our political structure and of those elected to office becomes ever more apparent. This problem is now so acute that many believe we are in danger of losing an entire generation from the political process.

 

What is stopping government working as we would like? Many elements are blamed, and many sources propose a variety of solutions, such as better party politics, better democracy, better accountability. Ed Straw argues firstly that government doesn’t have to be this bad, and secondly that nothing will improve until we understand that the present system as a whole is itself what stands inthe way of successful government.

 

Taking as its premise the fact that governments are ‘organisations’ – bigger, more complex and more important than most, but organisations nonetheless – the author analyses the root causes of repeated, systemic failure, and proposes a radical yet practical solution: the Treaty for Government. Both timely and groundbreaking, this book sets out the design for an agreement between a society and those whose job it is to improve it, showing us how we can break the cycle and achieve the results we deserve but which the status quo can never deliver.

 

Reviews

 

“I would seriously recommend that anyone disillusioned by gridlocked politics try reading @EdAStraw’s 'Stand & Deliver'”        #USMidtermElections 

 


“Excellent read. Well argued and brilliantly put forward”  
Amazon 
★★★★★

 

“Ed Straw is fed up with the way the UK is governed and says it's time for a revolution.”  BBC News online

 

“I can thoroughly recommend this book, insightful and relevant”  
Amazon  ★★★★★


 

“Excellent read if you have an interest in constitutional affairs. Even if you don't, it's a well written, witty breakdown of how government should work”  
Amazon ★★★★★
 

 

“An invaluable and weighty contribution”    Progress

 

 

Stand and Deliver is dense in that it is packed with detail, but it is also interesting
and accessible. It would be a shame if Straw's book was only read by policy wonks
and political commentators. An irony, even.  You the public need to read this book,
or at the very least, look at the website”      
The Bookbag

 

“Straw book calling for a government revolution”     Wales Online

 

 

'Confidence in politicians is at an all-time low. In fact, an alarming number of Britons express outright contempt, not just for their leaders, but for the entire political class - for the politicans themselves, for the civil servants standing behind them, even for the Westminster bubble of commentators and policy wonks. We vote for them in ever-decreasing numbers and even those who continue to vote often do not feel represented. Worse still, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be politically disengaged. We're in danger of losing an entire generation from the political process. How can this be good for a democracy?

Ed Straw wades into this debate with Stand and Deliver. While other prescriptions for our political malaise are largely political - Let's have more elections! Police commissioners! Mayors! More referenda! More localism! A recall law! - Straw's premise is that it's the system itself that needs changing. It's the organisation of government itself that's dysfunctional. And so he presents his Treaty for Government which aims to address anachronistic governmental institutions, which were never designed to work in a global environment or to administer large public sectors and which therefore fail in policy, delivery, and accountability.

I hope I'm not losing you. I wanted to write this review in clear and plain English. It would be a shame if Straw's book was only read by policy wonks and political commentators. An irony, even. And there is a great deal for the lay reader to digest, I won't mislead you. But you should read it, even if you do see yourself as one of the disaffected. Stand and Deliver is dense in that it is packed with detail, but it is also interesting and accessible...'

 

4.5/5 stars Full review TheBookBag August 2014

 

'This is a timely book published nine months from a general election that may well see Labour make a rapid return to government. The author addresses a deceptively simple question that has bedevilled generations of politicians and officials: why does British government never work as effectively as we would like it to? Political rivals argue trenchantly about the direction of policy but rarely address how they would make change happen on the ground. As successive prime ministers have discovered to their detriment, too often the levers available to them in Whitehall are not connected to anything outside.

Ed Straw, a management consultant who has worked on a series of organisational reviews for the Labour party since the 1990s, examines the mechanics of policy implementation in a culture where politicians no longer perceive themselves as responsible for delivery. In asking why the government does not work as adeptly as we would like, he outlines a programme of far-reaching reform: a ‘treaty for government’ entailing proportional voting, a democratic system for changing the prime minister, reforms of party funding, fixed four-year parliaments, a citizens’ right to call a referendum, and new measures to ensure ministerial probity. The aim is a more ‘competitive’ democracy in an age when trust in government is rapidly receding.

Since 2010, Ed Miliband has established an ambitious direction of travel anchored in the concept of ‘One Nation’ Labour aspiring to radically refashion British capitalism. In the run-up to the election, his objective will be to put flesh on the bones of what a Labour government would actually do in an era of austerity. Banking reform, a long-term culture of investment in British business, fairer markets in utilities and transport, overhauling vocational education and training – these are laudable goals, yet they have eluded almost all postwar governments. Difficult decisions await the party about how Labour would address long-term challenges, from integrating social care to building a Nordic system of universal childcare...'

 

Full review: Progress Sept '14

 

‘Ed Straw wants a Government that is measured by its results and where the cloud of spin is replaced by a new era of clarity.

As the brother of Jack Straw and the chair of one of the leading think tanks of the New Labour era, Ed Straw has seen Government up close and argues it’s time for a revolution.

The former PwC director now lives at the foot of the Llanberis pass and is convinced that both Westminster and the Assembly would benefit from a form of Government driven by results and led by individuals who faced limits on how long they could hold the top job.

His new book, Stand & Deliver, warns that the present system is “bust” and held by a civil service that should be staffed by carefully hired specialists but is instead run by “dead” generalists.

Mr Straw, a former chair of the Demos think tank, said: “This is not a book that’s been written to make friends. Indeed, it’s quite the reverse.

“People within the system, one or two of them, have already expressed their hatred of it as it stands. Essentially, it says, ‘Look, you’re working in a completely bust system.’”

The book began as an investigation into why Labour lost the 2010 election, asking why ill-discipline broke out and “Why did Labour go into an election with a leader it knew couldn’t win?”’

 

Full review: Wales Online Aug '14

 

 

 

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