Written in the public glow surrounding the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, The Grand Delusion is a critical history of Britain's post-war 'establishment' - with the Queen and her Prime Ministers at its heart. It explores the key questions: has Elizabeth II's reign been good for the UK? Or has it represented six decades of missed opportunities, deepening inequality and failure to adapt?Stephen Haseler argues that the Queen has helped set the tone for the country, that the lavish monarchy has created a culture that has encouraged Prime Minister after Prime Minister in their delusions of grandeur, rendering them unable to adapt to the loss of empire - an 'empire fixation' that has led to mistakes from the invasion of Suez in 1956 to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and on into the tragedy in Afghanistan. A consequence has been the constant search, over 60 years, for 'a global role' as a substitute for empire - a factor which led to the creation of the over-extended finance industry in the City of London. Haseler also shows how the monarchy and establishment have validated an outdated and seemingly entrenched class-system which over the years has led to aggregations of great inherited wealth and falling social mobility and which has negatively affected Britain's economy and its capacity to innovate. The book recounts the relationships between the Queen and her twelve Prime Ministers. Many, most notably Harold Wilson and John Major, were deferential. But others, like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair were not - and in their different ways represented a decidedly different vision of Britain to that of the Queen. Yet the Queen survived these two Prime Ministers. Thatcher's free market, middle class revolution had little time for traditional England, particularly its rural attachments. And Tony Blair's modernising agenda was incipiently republican, though, following the death of Princess Diana, it could be argued that he saved the royal family. The Grand Delusion provides a political and social history of post-war Britain which is provocative, informative and entertaining, while at the same time shedding a deeply questioning light on the essence of Britain's identity today.
Grand Delusion, The
Britain After Sixty Years of Elizabeth II