How To Run The Country Manual by Kevin Albertson, Ian Rock, James Meadway and Chris Fox (book review).

Just what is needed right now is a book to tell you how to run the country. Specifically, ‘How To Run The Country Manual’ by Kevin Albertson, Ian Rock, James Meadway and Chris Fox targets the UK which probably means little interest for those living abroad. However, if you do live in a different country, this will give you some insight into what’s involved here and I suspect the same applies for people who live here as well. After all, you need to understand how the economy is ran, not to mention our society’s politics and the class system. Insight into how a country is run can be useful for those who need some understanding with a bent to include it in Science Fiction. I do hope Haynes considers doing similar books for other countries and even some of the bigger organisations in such a graphic manner.


There’s a lot to digest and outside of the twin column text, there is a lot of boxes of extra information. Throughout all of this is a look at the political stance and something about where we are today. Probably most telling is what has happened to British manufacturing industries and certainly needs to be restored if things are to change in terms of giving jobs to people. As is pointed out, our latest warships aren’t even built in our shipyards but abroad. At governmental level, we just aren’t looking after our country well enough. There’s a lot here you can get angry about, especially how much of an utilities are owned by other countries which also needs to be changed or we’re not going to have much left that we can truly call our own. This book is also very much up-to-date, covering the bank crash half a decade back, and other assessments.

What should worry most people is how lacking we are in major industries and the ones we have being owned from abroad. They weren’t just repeating themselves but looking from the other direction and pointing out that we don’t have much company tax coming in. Even worse is the contradictory state where we are still a major country for inventions and yet it’s other countries and not our own that is benefiting. They use the best current example that graphene was discovered at Manchester University. Be warned, some of these chapters are going to really make you angry about the lack of investment in this country. You can tell I’m seething by the fact I mentioned it a couple times here.

Seeing the analysis of the political system in the UK shortly after the recent general election should make you think a little more about first past the post, especially with the analysis of the voting numbers. Objectively and comparisons are made to other countries’ voting systems, the problem when the Lib-Dems wanted a change was they only wanted one choice to be picked when there are several others that should have been included to give more of an option.

One thing that was odd at the beginning of the chapter on the now fixed term of Parliament is that the writers said but didn’t explain the exceptions as to what could shorten the five year tenure.

This book carries some very pertinent graphical and table information. I’m still puzzling over the really sharp dip in the mid-80s but current UK population growth is only slightly higher than in the early 1960s. Maybe that has something to do with the number of older generations today. There isn’t that many surprises about the top religions in the UK as that was revealed in the last census although I never thought people would treat ‘Heavy Metal’ as one. The analysis of crime rate does show a significant drop but I can’t help wonder with our diminishing police force as to whether it’s more a case of not reporting it or worse, putting it in the wrong category, that is faulty.

The understanding of wealth and its distribution is also insightful. Indeed, the lack of control in housing to make it affordable also shows mistakes that should have been rectified decades ago. Mind you, seeing how the lobbying in Government is carried out will make you wonder, too. It isn’t the fact that council houses were sold to the tenants but more to do with not enough replacement council houses were built afterwards.

In the conclusions at the end of the book, the authors consider this book overtly ambitious. Personally, I applaud Haynes for covering such a subject. It will give you an immense insight into the problems in the UK and how things are actually run. Some of it is clearly not a pretty picture and other bits will have you tear your hair out at some of the bad decisions that have been made in the past and the fact that they have not been rectified. Let’s hope it keeps you angry enough until the next General Election.

GF Willmetts

May 2015

(pub: Haynes. 195 page illustrated large hardback. Price: £22.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-85733-800-6)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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