‘Here’s the history that really matters’
‘Pitch perfect, fast-moving, brilliantly well-judged’
‘A terrific achievement, covering clearly but with subtlety everything from the spinning jenny to Covid-19’
ADITYA CHAKRABORTTY, GUARDIAN
‘Outstanding! Written in a chatty way but contains a remarkable depth and intelligence’
The UK is, at the same time, both one of the world’s most successful economies and one of Europe’s laggards. The country contains some of Western Europe’s richest areas such as the south east of England, but also some of its poorest such as the north east or Wales. Looking into the past helps understand why.
The debates about the balance between economic openness and sovereignty that re-emerged after Brexit would have been familiar to Peel and Cobden in the 1840s. The size of the government’s deficit has dominated politics since 2010 but fretting about the scale of the national debt was almost a national pastime during Victoria’s reign. Supposedly modern concerns about the impacts of new technology on jobs and inequality date back to at least Captain Swing and Ned Ludd. As the economy emerges from the Covid-19 recession and sets out on a new post-Brexit future an understanding of the past is vital to seeing how the future might play out.
Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through tells the story of how Britain’s economy and politics have interacted with each other from the time of the Industrial Revolution right up to the pandemic of 2020.