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The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval

Paperback / softback By Mark Garnett
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Product Description

In this timely book, Mark Garnett provides a bracing reassessment of the role of the British Prime Minister, from Margaret Thatcher’s controversial tenure to Boris Johnson’s attempt to confront a pandemic with a ministerial team created to face the very different challenge of Brexit. Taking a thematic approach, Garnett explores the impact of major political developments and personalities on key aspects of prime ministerial functions as party leader, Cabinet-maker, chief diplomat and electoral talisman.

 Much of the controversy over the position of Prime Minister, he concludes, arises from a confusion between the occupant’s inescapable political prominence and his or her – often limited – ability to achieve positive policy outcomes.

 With both David Cameron and Theresa May forced to resign since 2016, the book questions whether the nature of the job has become a deterrent for politicians who are motivated by a desire to serve the British public, opening the way for individuals with much less laudable motivations.

Product Details

Format: Paperback / softback, 288 pages Language: English
Dimension: 150 x 25 x 226mm ISBN10: 1509539360
Weight: 454g ISBN13: 9781509539369
Publication Date: 19 Mar 2021 Publisher: Polity Press

About Author

Mark Garnett is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University. He has written numerous books on UK politics, including the popular textbook Exploring British Politics, now in its 5th edition.

Product Reviews


“Laced with wit and irony […] Garnett makes a challenging and thought-provoking case”Vernon Bogdanor, The Telegraph“Intelligent and insightful”Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer“Few people know more about post-war British politics than Mark Garnett, and very few academic authors can make a thought-provoking analysis so enjoyable to read”Iain Dale, broadcaster and political commentator“In this excellent and authoritative book, Mark Garnett offers invaluable insights into the troubled waters where politics and government merge in the role of Prime Minister.”Sir John Chilcot“A wonderfully invigorating read. Every page made me think, and it will surely become one of the definitive works on Britain’s recent Prime Ministers."Dominic Sandbrook, columnist and television presenter“A subtle and sophisticated contribution to the debate on the role of the Prime Minister, which also succeeds in being delightfully readable.”David Lipsey, Labour Peer"With knowledge, insight and wit, Mark Garnett explores how modern Prime Ministers – from Thatcher to Johnson – have coped with high office in troubled times. For Boris Johnson (and his successors) this is an excellent handbook in How to Be Prime Minister – and how not to be."Michael Crick"Approachably written, wide-ranging, and both historically-aware and bang up-to-date, Mark Garnett's book helps explain why what has become an almost impossible job - one that offers presidential-style prominence but far less real power than many of us imagine - increasingly seems to attract such improbable politicians.

  A great read for anyone interested in the past, present and future of British politics."Tim Bale, Queen Mary University of London"This is a timely attempt at helping us to better understand the role of the British Prime Minister and the challenges of providing effective political leadership. Mark Garnett has developed a thematic study which provides us with a range of new insights: a must-read for students and scholars with an interest in UK politics."Timothy Heppell, University of Leeds"A fresh, timely and original volume on the Prime Minister from one of our leading authorities on postwar British history."Anthony Seldon, author and educator


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