A book by Colin Hay called "Why we hate politics"

Sunday 23 November 2014

by Stephen Hewitt

This morning in a Cambridge coffee bar someone had a book on the table "Why we hate politics", Colin Hay, Polity Press and was kind enough to let me look at it, so the following is a review based on a few pages read at random without taking notes.

It looks as though this book contains some interesting snippets, for example on page 117 Hay writes that in 1997 Labour under the leadership of Tony Blair was returned to power after 18 years absence and almost immediately the new Chancellor Gordon Brown announced the intention to make the Bank of England independent, although nothing of this had been mentioned in the election campaign.

Hay uses pseudo-scientific words like "depoliticization". In this context this word appears to mean the removal of policies or institutions like the Bank of England from even any pretence of democratic accountability.

On the previous page Hay has listed three possible reasons for this particular decision, and I did not find any attempt at justification of his choice of these three out of the unbounded number of hypothetical reasons that he could also have invented, or what was the point of inventing them at all. This arbitrary selection of reasons seems to be Hay viewing reality through his own special distorting lens of preconception.

One of his putative reasons had to do with a belief in a "time inconsistency" theory of inflation. I searched in vain for this theory in the index, but the index is very short and consequently not very useful. However somewhere there is a diagram with blocks and arrows about the "time inconsistency theory", which has something to do with electoral cycles and business cycles. The third reason was the most interesting and was generally in the direction of wanting to avoid public accountability or scrutiny although Hay, using his special lens, had to put it in terms of avoiding scrutiny specifically of "neo-monetarist" policy or some such.

The publisher, Polity Press, listed an address in the USA and one here in Cambridge.