|by Kent Aitken|
a tweet from George Wenzel.
We invite members to provide their reviews and reflections for posting here. Alison was kind enough to join us via Hangout to discuss the book when we met, and asked for suggestions for future editions, as well.
Thank you to Alison, and to everyone who takes part.
Nick and Erin both mentioned the context of other books we've read. I'll second the value of reading these books together, and add the warning it may feel like a slight punch in the gut.
Where to even start? Alison asked for suggestions for improvements, and while any book could be improved, suggestions for Tragedy would be minor quibbles. They've done an excellent job, and published an engaging read out of powerful and unique source material. It's a worthwhile addition to the interim reports from the same interviews. My one concern would be that, given the qualitative nature of the research, those that disagree could dismiss the narrative as being a product of the authors' perspectives. Fortunately, many direct quotes from former MPs will hold much weight on their own.
TL;DR: I've probably thrown around the term "must read" in the past, but this absolutely is, for anyone interested in politics or public administration.
I was struck by the idea of MPs considering themselves "outsiders" to the heart of the process, and working for ways to make a difference. Many seemed torn between "playing the game" and delivering results for their ridings and the country. Since I wrote When Parameters Are The Problem I've been seriously debating where the balance is between fitting neatly within the system, and adhering to one's principles (at least, when the two are indeed in conflict). I just didn't realize that the conflict would apply to MPs, as well.
I was also intrigued at the lack of agreement on what an MP's job is in the first place: trustees of their riding, or delegates? There to echo voices or make decisions on their behalf? Simultaneously, should they be acting as ombudsmen for the bureaucracy to citizens, as Nick notes?
I finished this book over a month ago and it's still rolling around in my mind. When voters go shopping, pick this up.