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The Death of Consensus

UK Publisher: Hurst & Co.

Over Britain’s first century of mass democracy, politics lurched from crisis to crisis. How does this history of broken consensus and political agony illuminate our current age of upheaval? Historians usually focus on the dawn of a new consensus – post-war Keynesianism, or Thatcherite neoliberalism. Yet journalist Phil Tinline argues that we should be more interested in the periods of turmoil and misery in between. How did the Great Depression’s spectres of fascism, bombing and mass unemployment force politicians to think the unthinkable? Why do we only remember Thatcher’s triumph, and not the decade-long nightmares of hyperinflation, military coups and communist dictatorship that made it possible? And how, since 2008, have we and our leaders come to be paralysed and deeply divided once again?

Tinline brings to life two previous moments when the great compromise holding democracy together began to crumble; when the political class could agree only that the old era was dead, and imagine nothing but the ominous and the unacceptable.

This lively, original account of panic, torpor and chaos reveals the birth pains of a new political settlement, giving hope that fresh ideas might yet take hold. The Death of Consensus will make you see British democracy differently.

Phil Tinline is a leading producer of historical narrative documentaries. He specialises in mining the points where history, politics, ideas...