A gross mistake; an error due to stupidity or carelessness. There are a handful of cock-ups that we remember all too well, from the poll tax to the Millennium Dome. However, the list is longer than most of us realize - and it's growing. With unrivalled political savvy and a keen sense of irony, distinguished political scientists Anthony King and Ivor Crewe open our eyes to the worst government horror stories and explain why the British political system is quite so prone to appalling mistakes. You will discover why: The government wasted up to GBP20 billion pounds in a failed scheme to update London's Underground system. Tens of thousands of single mothers were left in poverty without financial support from absent fathers. Tony Blair committed the NHS to the biggest civilian IT project the world has ever seen, despite knowing next to nothing about computing. The Assets Recovery Agency cost far more to run than it ever clawed back from the proceeds of organised crime. The Coalition government is at least as blunder-prone as any of its predecessors. Groupthink, constantly rotating ministers and a weak parliament all contribute to wasted billions and illogical policy.
But, it doesn't have to be this way. Informed by years of research and interviews with senior cabinet ministers and civil servants, this razor-sharp diagnosis of flawed government is required reading for every UK citizen. With its spirited prescriptions for more fool-proof policymaking, it will prove to be one of the most important political books of the decade.
Anthony King is Millennium Professor of British Government at the University of Essex. He broadcasts frequently on politics and elections for the BBC and writes on the same subjects for the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Observer. Sir Ivor Crewe is the Master of University College, Oxford. He was formerly Professor of Government and Vice Chancellor at the University of Essex.