The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Ed Straw

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Ed Straw


Summary: Jill's not easily impressed by political books but she did enjoy Stand and Deliver: A Design for Successful Government by Ed Straw. She had quite a few questions for Ed when he popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 22 August 2014
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill's not easily impressed by political books but she did enjoy Stand and Deliver: A Design for Successful Government by Ed Straw. She had quite a few questions for Ed when he popped into Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Ed Straw: Anyone and everyone who wants something to change. Who either don’t vote or are reluctant voters, and who see through the political babble.

  • BB: We ask this first question of all authors we interview for Bookbag, but in this case it seems more important than usual. Who do you most want to read Stand and Deliver? Political communicators or the end users, so to speak?

ES: End users. The system will only change through us making it change. The book describes how. People in the system usually hate the book - it means big change. But some political communicators know better than anyone just how bad it is, and write about it powerfully.

  • BB: Many of our readers here at Bookbag are the politically disaffected you're worried about. They read fantasy books to get away from all the failures, the spin and the sleaze! But they're an open bunch. Can you describe your book in just one paragraph in a way that would energise them and make them want to read it? Because they should read it, shouldn't they?

ES: I’ll try.

An accessible even exhilarating read for anyone who wants to learn about government and politics, their failures, and how to fix them. In this book you’ll find that government and party politics does not have to be the frustrating, disenchanting and vacuous experience it usually is.There is a future where power resides with us, taxes are fair, high standard public services are the norm, people feel part of decisions. A world without sleaze and ineffectual politics. Where wealth and income are proportionate. My next vote is not for a political party but for the Treaty for Government. Read on.

  • BB: What can we, the people, do in terms of taking action to help effect the changes you're talking about?

ES: Have a look here.

Spread the word

• Review the book and the Treaty online.

• Raise the Treaty, and keep raising it – with friends, neighbours, MPs, on radio, television, online, in newspapers.

• Sign every petition. Heckle. Ask people in government if they are scared of something this good, and if they are up to its demands. Use shame.

• Talk to friends and colleagues. Urge them to find out about the Treaty.

• Use the resources on this website as the basis of discussion. A video lecture on the treaty will appear there soon.

• Engage a speaker, book a venue, publicise the meeting.

• Run a book club on each section or the whole of the Treaty.

• Write about it in magazines/newspapers/journals/ society newsletters you are involved with. • Twitter/Facebook/Linked-in comment.

• Get some feedback going for a local authority or Council, or a Public Service Organisation. For example, use 'Civic Apps' such as and Use these to 'report, view, or discuss local problems (like graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting)'.

• Or use Freedom of Information to prise out feedback.

Make connections

Many organisations have been campaigning for years for change in society. From political journalists and constitutional academics to Mumsnet and protest voters. From on-line campaigning groups and democracy NGOs, to consumer champions like Which.

We may be starting from different places, but many are pushing in the same direction. We all know government isn’t working. We are getting a raw deal. It doesn’t have to be this way. Renaissance government is there for the taking.

If you work in these and other organisations build bridges between them.

  • BB: How much of a challenge was Stand and Deliver to write? And the Treaty of Government to define and refine?

ES: A socking great one. Firstly, in terms of this being my first proper book rather than a think tank report or pamphlet. Secondly, no-one has designed a new system for government before, so nothing to work from. Finding a really good editor provided the breakthrough for the structure of the book. The research and interviewing is just painstaking - it needs to be done properly. The Treaty itself arose from early morning lights going on (my creative bursts - such as they are - occur mostly as I’m waking up) - especially the one that said the reason governments fail is that they have never been designed - and from applying sound organisational theory. Critiques from readers are invaluable.

  • BB: How long would your proposed changes take to deliver? And how long before we began to reap the benefits?

ES: One year’s deliberation, vote at a referendum, one year’s implementation. So two years to feel the benefits.

We don’t want to have sprung on us the equivalent of the police commissioners. So we need a year to talk about the Treaty so we all understand it, why it’s necessary, what it can do, and to iron out any wrinkles, and draft the legislation and constitution. Then hold a national vote. Then implement the changes - the plan and the management for these would have been put in place during the deliberation phase.

  • BB: And what does Ed Straw do when he's not writing prescriptions for putting government to rights?

ES: Enjoying time with my partner/wife, children and friends. Pokey conversations. Building the garden. Walking. Camping. Making music.

  • BB: What three books should every person read?

ES: The Collapse of Complex Societies - Joseph Tainter - this is our destiny if we don’t grip government and adopt the Treaty or something similar

On the Psychology of Military Incompetence - Norman Dixon - if only one book on organisation is to be read this is the one.

The Thick Of It Scripts - Armando Iannucci - reality tv, not entertainment

  • BB: What's next for Ed Straw?

ES: Book on Information, but with a very new take.

  • BB: Thanks for chatting to us, Ed and we hope that your plans come to fruition.

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