Thriller or Filler? The Establishment: And how they get away with it

Owen Jones' 'The Establishment: And how they get away with it' will appeal to conspiracy theorists, writes Malcolm Gooderham.

Thriller or Filler? The Establishment: And how they get away with it

By Owen Jones and published by Allen Lane

This will be like crack for conspiracy theorists. It is the text many students and journalists want to publish. So well done Owen Jones for making it into print. Sadly this is where the praise ends.

The work is neither an insightful and objective critique, nor is it a thought-provoking polemic. Any youthful optimism is crushed by the book’s cynicism. The narrative is parochial. Oddly, given Jones’ politics, it feels like what you may hear from UKIP.

His theory that there is a right-wing cabal running the country for its own ends fails to break ground in two key ways. 

First, establishing a robust analysis and definition of the ‘establishment’. Rather, the reader is asked to import his view that if there is an elite, it operates as one bloc united by a world view that is neo-conservative. He fails to explore whether there is more than one elite that may share a world view and may act as a bloc.

Second, identifying who does what to whom, why and how they profit. There is little that is revelatory. Worse, the book is bejeweled with innuendo and half-baked conspiracies.

For example, the PM’s brother was at Lords with businessman X, who was knighted. Four years later he was chairman of firm Y. Such a startling fact is coupled with a pay-off: the same firm was awarded a government contract for cleaning prisons. 

I parody, slightly. But you get the point.

Reviewed by Malcolm Gooderham, head of thought leadership, strategic communications, FTI Consulting

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