The Broken Compass

The Broken Compass : How British Politics Lost Its Way

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The old rules of Left and Right no longer apply. Left-wingers keenly support the bombing of Belgrade and the invasion of Iraq. Tories warn against the threat to civil liberties. The 'progressive' BBC gives a fair hearing to the Conservative Party. Socialist journalists turn and rend Ken Livingstone. In democratic London, merely expressing your opinion can be seriously bad for your career, while in autocratic Moscow you can say pretty much what you like, provided you don't do anything about it. The tearing down of the old Iron Curtain may have allowed markets to sweep into the old Warsaw Pact lands - but it has also permitted revolutionary left-wing ideas to spread like a bacillus through the 'West'. Nobody really cares any more about the old shibboleths of state ownership. The British Labour Party - which opposed nuclear weapons, supposedly on principle, when they mattered - is quite happy to spend billions on the same weapons now that they are unnecessary. The supposed 'right' is as confused and nonsensical as the supposed 'left'. Neo-conservatives run vast budget deficits at home and engage in utopian adventures abroad.
They are actively opposed to old conservative ideas such as national sovereignty, strong families and rigorous selective education, and happy to bend the knee to left-wing orthodoxies from man-made global warming to egalitarianism. The political compass is broken, its needle swinging wildly and meaninglessly. The existing political parties have converged, or perhaps simply retreated in confusion on to what looked like safe territory, the often tried and repeated failed policies of Fabian Social Democracy, now worsened by 1960s sexual and social radicalism. They are no longer adversaries, their personnel are interchangeable and they struggle to find ways to distinguish themselves from each other. They simply ignore - or deny - huge areas of human experience and concern from mass immigration to the collapse of marriage and the disappearance of order and rigour in the state education system. Yet conventional wisdom continues to insist that formal politics can and should continue as it did before - and that an exasperated and increasingly angry electorate should place its hopes in a mere change of personnel at the next election.
Peter Hitchens argues for the re-establishment of proper adversary politics and the rediscovery of principle.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 144.78 x 215.9 x 25.4mm | 408.23g
  • Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1847064051
  • 9781847064059
  • 435,071

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. War, Patriotism and Sovereignty; 2. Liberty; 3. Education; 4. Why are Cars Conservative and Trains Left Wing?; 5. Constitutional Monarchy and Freedom Go Together; 6. Constitutional Reform You Can Do Yourself.
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Review quote

Extract from the book by Peter Hitchens in The Mail on Sunday, 12 April 2009 Author article, book mention, The Daily Mail. Sunday, 10 May 2009. Reviewed in Standpoint, 1 May 2009--Douglas Murray Mention, The Bookseller. 29 May 2009. Hitchens can be terrific.--Peter Wilby, The Observer Mention, Private Eye. 1 - 14 May 2009. 'Treated as a piece of satire ... The Broken Compass can be an entertaining read.' - Morning Star Review in Tribune Reviewed in Standpoint, 1 May 2009--, Hitchens can be terrific.--, Peter Hitches will be a guest on BBC Radio 4's "Start the week," promoting his book The bookseller, 8 May 2009 Reviewed in Standpoint, 1 May 2009--Sanford Lakoff "There are sincere ethical objections to social and foreign policy throughout ... [these are] convincing" - Metro (Midlands, North East, North West, Yorkshire)--Sanford Lakoff Hitchens is in general exhilaratingly good when attacking the hypocrisies and stupidities of specific individuals ... The best parts of the book are the vivid (and self-ironical) scenes of foreign reporting.--Sanford Lakoff Hitchens can be terrific.--Sanford Lakoff This book has some passages of quite brilliant writing and it is at its best when Peter reflects on his own life and his disillusionment with the left-wing ideology of his youth. I long to see him take the next stage in his writer's journey and examine, with his unsparing honesty, the rich human reality of the division he believes is now more important than the split between Left and Right - the deeper gulf between the restless progressive and the Christian pessimist.--Sanford Lakoff "Hitchens is an entertaining character, both on TV and in print, and this book is no exception" - Morning Star--Sanford Lakoff No plaudits can be too great for the predominant clear-sightedness, the historical sense, and the ethical force which Mr. Hitchens has brought to surveying what an earlier, and far inferior, scribe (now dead) called "the anatomy of Britain." The Broken Compass ... will be remembered with esteem long after the uncouth rants of Mr. Hitchens's odious elder sibling Christopher have ceased to hold any but neurological interest.--Sanford Lakoff A controversial and fascinating book ... could not put it down, it gave me plenty of food for thought. I enjoyed it tremendously and highly recommend it.--Sanford Lakoff The Broken Compass, which has received less attention in the conservative press than it deserves, mixes Hitchens's analysis of modern British politics - and the lack of any small-c conservative party - with his own memoirs as an industrial and foreign correspondent.--Sanford Lakoff Hitchens ... never seeks to conceal the dramatic nature of his own ideological odyssey ... Today, famously, he is a fully fledged flail of the left, though interestingly this has not led to any great devotion to the Tory cause, least of all as represented by the emollient David Cameron. If there is one thing that can be counted on from the reconstructed Hitchens, it is his eagerness to go tooth and nail for political timidity wherever he detects it and, in his view, "compassionate Conservatism" is every bit as vulnerable in this respect as was New Labour back in 1997.

He writes with much of the verve and brio of his elder brother and with a greater regard for detail and accuracy.--Sanford Lakoff
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About Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens is a British journalist, author and broadcaster. He witnessed most of the final scenes of the Cold War, and was a resident correspondent in the Soviet capital and in Washington DC. He frequently revisits both Russia and the USA. He currently writes for the Mail on Sunday, where he is a columnist and occasional foreign correspondent, reporting most recently from Iran, North Korea, Burma, The Congo and China.
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Rating details

126 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 27% (34)
4 35% (44)
3 29% (37)
2 5% (6)
1 4% (5)
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