BRITAIN-A Future That Works by Bernard D. Nossiter
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BRITAIN-A Future That Works

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There is a large body of work decrying the sorry state of contemporary Britain, and holding it up as an example of where the entire West may wind up if free enterprise isn't turned loose. Nossiter, the Washington Post's London correspondent, enters the fray as the UK's champion. He has little trouble demolishing the forecasts of doom peddled by the Paris Hudson Institute (The United Kingdom in 1980), Milton Friedman, Morley Safer and Eric Severeid of CBS, and, especially, the contributors to R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., ed., The Future That Doesn't Work. Often using statistics borrowed from the nay-sayers' own arsenals, Nossiter shows that key elements of his opponents' arguments--Britain's slow rate of industrial growth, declining living standard, rising unemployment--are misrepresented through comparisons with the boom economies of continental Europe, the U.S., and Japan. In absolute terms, Britain's post-war development represents a significant improvement in living standards, especially in areas like ecology, health, and leisure. Nossiter similarly debunks the welfare-state myth by showing that social services and total state expenditures in Britain form a smaller fraction of the GNP than in several ""healthy"" European states. But Nossiter's enthusiasm for the UK--tempered though it is by his excellent analyses of the real problems represented by Northern Ireland and racial antagonism--gets the better of him when he projects Britain as a model of post-industrial society built on a service economy. The notion that increasing arts budgets or culturally inspired tourism will keep an entire society afloat is oddly incongruent with the Protestant-Catholic struggle over jobs in Ulster or the perverse and organized violence of ""soccer hooligans."" Nossiter's excesses, however, do not diminish the value of his critical insights--spiked by anecdotes and newspaperman's observations--into Britain and its detractors.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin