Britain's participation in the Iraq war defines one of the most tumultuous periods in its political history. Driven by a desire to enhance the influence of the British government on the world stage, the decision to support the US-led invasion has severely disrupted the stability of international relations, produced rising disenchantment with the domestic political process, and has threatened to undermine the continued viability of the New Labour project. Yet these developments are also indicative of a far-deeper malaise. The events surrounding the war have clearly exposed the flaws and weaknesses that are inherent within the British democratic system. A deep-seated adherence to a top-down style of policy-making at the expense of more participatory and accountable forms of governance has been amplified by the internal structures of the New Labour government itself. The consequences have left an indelible mark on Britain's political landscape that will endure for many years.
Publisher: Zed Books Ltd
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 513 g
Dimensions: 234 x 152 x 19 mm
Edition: Annotated edition
'Steve Kettell provides an incisive and important account of how the decisions made around the invasion of Iraq were not simply an aberration from the usual processes of British democracy. They were instead a vivid illustration of what has happened to British politics, clustered around a few personalities whose actions are shielded from proper public scrutiny. Thoroughly researched, this is the best book yet on how the disastrous decision were taken to support Bush's war on Iraq, and how the politicians tried in vain to cope with the collapse in public confidence afterwards.'
Dr Glen Rangwala, University of Cambridge
'The Iraq war, its causes and its consequences, has produced a number of powerful books. This latest addition provides a comprehensive, readable and intelligent look at the ramifications of the sorry tale for British and international democracy.'
John Kampfner, Editor of the New Statesman
'This book provides a clear and accurate account of how Tony Blair and his entourage got Britain into Iraq. I agree with Kettell's argument that this was only possible because of the undemocratic and elitist nature of the British state'.
The Rt Hon Clare Short MP
'This important book not only effectively counters the myths surrounding British policy towards Iraq, it also reveals the elitist and centralised nature of the political system and foreign policy-making more generally. It is a must-read for anyone entertaining the notion that our system is democratic or that foreign policy is made in the public interest
'Kettell's book, though partisan, is impressively thorough and well-researched. Not all will like his conclusions, but it is nevertheless a persuasive and important contribution to the debate on the biggest question mark of the Blair premiership.'
Dr Anthony Seldon, Brighton College
'Steven Kettell's claim is stark: that unlike the majority of his electorate, Tony Blair was committed to regime change in Iraq well before 9/11, and welcomed the invasion as a way of enhancing Britain's global role. If true, this claim underscores the importance of another: that all this was possible only because of the centralised, hierarchical and elitist nature of a British political system in need of total participatory overhaul. Controversial and provocative, this book adds an important new dimension to the contemporary debate on UK politics, and deserves to be widely read.'
David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies, Wake Forest University, North Carolina
'Steven Kettell's Dirty Politics? is a compelling account of how we went to war in Iraq and poses big questions of consitutional significance.'
Peter Kenyon, Chartist
'Steven Kettell's book provides a great service by emphasizing the impact of the structure of the UK state on the developing storyline. The service is a great one because it points to a vital area of reform..'
David Coates, Wake Forest University
'Kettell's Dirty Politics is a useful ... survey of the heady world of elite politics at a moment of failed decision-making.' - The Muslim World Book Review