Who Are We Now?
A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year 2022
'I can’t tell you how refreshing it is in these polarised times to read a book on politics that doesn’t have an axe to grind . . . an essential read.' The Sunday Times
'Subtle, sophisticated . . . compellingly told . . . This is a gentle and intelligent book, refreshingly unpolemical and reflective.' Observer Book of the Week
Jason Cowley, editor-in-chief of the New Statesman, examines contemporary England through a handful of the key news stories from recent times to reveal what they tell us about the state of the nation and to answer the question Who Are We Now?
Spanning the years since the election of Tony Blair’s New Labour government to the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the book investigates how England has changed and how those changes have affected us. Cowley weaves together the seemingly disparate stories of the Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay, the East End Imam who was tested during a summer of terror, the pensioner who campaigned against the closure of her GP’s surgery and Gareth Southgate’s transformation of English football culture. And in doing so, Cowley shows the common threads that unite them, whether it is attitudes to class, nation, identity, belonging, immigration, or religion.
He also examines the so-called Brexit murder in Harlow, the haunting repatriation of the fallen in the Iraq and Afghan wars through Wootton Bassett, the Lancashire woman who took on Gordon Brown, and the flight of the Bethnal Green girls to Islamic State, fleshing out the headlines with the very human stories behind them.
Through these vivid and often moving stories, Cowley offers a clear and compassionate analysis of how and why England became so divided and the United Kingdom so fragmented, and how we got to this cultural and political crossroads. Most importantly, he also shows us the many ways in which there is genuine hope for the future.
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is in these polarised times to read a book on politics that doesn’t have an axe to grind . . . It is wonderfully written, the pages littered with poetic and literary references, as you might expect from an outstanding journalist . . . an essential read.
The Sunday Times
Subtle, sophisticated . . . compellingly told . . . This is a gentle and intelligent book, refreshingly unpolemical and reflective.
Julian Coman, Observer Book of the Week
First-rate . . . [Cowley] is a broad-minded observer, a true liberal if that description may still be applied, and his elegance is all the more attractive for its absence of gloss . . . If you open this book for instruction, you may find much of value in the author’s selection of snapshots from his life and the lives of others. You will certainly read it with pleasure.
Michael Henderson, The Times