People Power a user’s guide to democracy in the UK

3 Apr

by Dan Jellinek.
Publisher: Corgi Press/Transworld.

As protestors around the world risk their lives in pursuit of democracy, in the UK the word has never seemed so tarnished. Surveys regularly show our politicians are not liked, not trusted and not wanted. Voter turnout is shockingly low, and episodes such as the MPs’ expenses scandal simply seem to confirm the widely-held opinion that public officials are all as bad as each other.

On the other hand, most people also recognize the truth of Churchill’s famous statement: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Deep down, many of us do feel lucky to live with freedoms that billions of others worldwide would give anything to enjoy. But still, so many of us do not value, trust or engage with our system. What is the answer?

Part of the cure must be to better understand the disease: to understand how our democracy works, with all its strengths and weaknesses, achievements and flaws. This is the concept behind my new book People power: a user’s guide to democracy in the UK.

It is a book aimed at helping people think more deeply about our political system: how it has developed, how it works, and the part you could play in shaping it and improving it. What is a political party, and why should you join one? Can anyone stand for election? How does the House of Lords work? What power does the monarchy have? The style is direct, clear and accessible, packed with stories, facts and ideas to make people stop, think, and understand.

Illustrated by Harry Venning (Clare in the Community), People power: a user’s guide to democracy in the UK has a mission to galvanise and engage people in a positive way. The book is strictly neutral and non-partisan. It is critical where criticism is due, but it also shows people the value of what they have, and how they can help improve it.

People Power: A user’s guide to democracy in the UK is out now in paperback (5 June), published by Corgi Press/Transworld.
Find it in your local bookshop or library, with this book number:
ISBN-13: 978-0593070505

What they are saying about People power:

An excellent introduction
Tam Dalyell, Father of the House, 2001-05

The more we know how to change things, the more we know how to make things better. And this book is an important tool in the toolbox
Caroline Lucas MP

This book is well-informed and clearly written – read it for an accurate and empowering understanding of how our democracy works, or could work
Professor Gerry Stoker, Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Globalization and Governance, University of Southampton

A ground-up account of the democratic process in the UK… identifies some of the problems with the dream of digital democracy which arguing that the power is still ours
Philip Maughan New Statesman – NS Recommends

Highly readable and fascinating… an enjoyable narrative… These and many more revelations transform what sounds like an unpromising subject into an unexpected page-turner. Jellinek deserves huge credit for this.
Chris Moncrieff, Northern Echo

Not a book for political nerds, although even they may find some new nuggets of information within. Instead he is writing for members of the general public. This a book that I would warmly recommend.
Mary Reid, Liberal Democrat Voice

Amid the general climate of cynicism about party politics, he sees an appetite for active citizenship, empowered by the internet as well as the ballot box.
Law Society Gazette