The Holistic Manifesto takes on and succeeds in meeting three challenges: it provides an informed, engaging survey of the economic and political ideas that underpin centre-left thought; based on those ideas it creates a framework for analysing policy proposals, centred around reducing inequality; and using this framework it provides a practical, electable policy platform. To pull off one of these three would be impressive - the hat-trick constitutes a major achievement.
The recent electoral defeats suffered by liberals in many developed countries represent an existential crisis for the left. The breakdown of the coalition between liberal professionals and the working classes, with the former and their interests now almost completely dominant, underlies this crisis. Anthony goes back to first principles, reasserting the interests of the working classes and the necessity of reducing highly unequal economic and social outcomes, all while acknowledging the constraint of electability. This analysis leads to radical conclusions, such as the equal treatment of all income (and therefore much heavier taxation of capital gains and inheritance). But radical does not equal far left: rail nationalisation and the restoration of student grants, the two flagship policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, are both focused on the middle classes, the disproportionate users of rail travel and university education.
There are many of us who still believe that a practical balance between social justice and economic performance, committed to engaging with the working classes and to winning elections, offers the best hope for developed democracies. Recent travails are disheartening, but the fighback by the centre-left must start now. If you want to join that fight, give yourself the necessary intellectual armoury and buy this book.