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27th November 2023

Demystifying today’s politics: Must-read books

What you should be reading to keep informed on today’s political sphere
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Demystifying today’s politics: Must-read books
Photo: Pierre Bamin @ Unsplash

Politics is ever-changing. It’s what makes it interesting and what makes it impossible to completely wrap your head around. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant wave of stories and the influx of breaking news notifications. Here is a list of non-fiction books based on current issues that can help you to gain a broader understanding. 

The Refugee Crisis 

The Supreme Court has recently ruled that Sunak’s asylum plan for Rwanda is unlawful. The initial proposal aimed to redirect asylum seekers to Rwanda instead of the UK, with the objective of addressing the issue of migrants crossing the channel illegally. The court deemed the policy unlawful due to the potential risk of human rights breaches for those sent to Rwanda. 

In response to the court’s decision, Sunak’s government is currently pursuing legislative amendments to contest the ruling. 

What to read? 

My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden 

Hayden’s book provides an insight into the staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa. My Fourth Time, We Drowned offers a unique and unfiltered presentation of refugee life; Hayden was in contact with many individuals living in detention centres and thus is able to uniquely draw out the voice of the refugees themselves.

Hayden exposes the corruption behind the organisations meant to help and issues with relocation schemes that are advertised as doing good. Making the novel a key read to help understand why Britain ought to be doing more to help, instead of trying to implement unlawful schemes. 

Israel-Gaza Conflict

The Israel-Gaza Conflict has seen continuously rising citizen deaths and human rights breaches. However, when the SNP party proposed a motion for a vote on a ceasefire amid the rising casualties, members of the UK Parliament voted against it, and the motion was defeated.

Many protesters have been gathering around London parliamentary buildings to oppose this, and Amnesty International stated this was a historical opportunity to show support for Palestinian and Israeli citizens. With the UK having issued statements of support for Israel it is important to educate ourselves on both sides of the story.  

What to read? 

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short Introduction by Martin Bunton 

Burton offers a concise and fair overview of the conflict if you want a book with a mainly informative focus. The book explores the historical roots, then Bunton explores the conflict in 20-year segments focusing on key events in the development of the conflict.  

In Search of Fatima by Ghada Karmi 

In Search of Fatima is a powerful biographical story following a Palestinian girl who is displaced from her home in Jerusalem and forced to find a new way of life. It is an exploration of the subtler psychological effects on identity and how the political affects the personal. While the book is her individual perspective it is also an excellent historical overview of the history of the State of Israel. 

Healthcare 

Long waiting lists, overworked staff, and inequality in health outcomes all characterise the UK healthcare industry at the moment. While Sunak had pledged to reduce waiting lists, making the NHS a political priority, he has recently retracted his promise claiming his waiting-list goal would no longer be possible; blaming the NHS strikes instead of his healthcare policies.

The current government is creating fear of more NHS spending cuts and an increase in the number of private organisations involved in the provision of NHS services which could have detrimental impacts.   

What to read? 

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay 

A collection of diary entries from Adam Kay’s time on the frontlines of the NHS, his book seamlessly blends tragedy with humour creating an engaging yet informative account. Kay describes his book as a love letter to the NHS and a reminder of the importance of sufficient funding for the NHS and the dangers of privatisation. 

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe 

Explores the central role of the Sackler dynasty in the creation of the American opioid epidemic. This US account of health care provision offers a stark reminder of the dangers of profit-seeking companies and corruption in relation to health care. 

Gender Identity  

From a liberal standpoint, at the recent Conservative Party Conference, PM Sunak spouted transphobic ideology. This rhetoric is endangering the lives of the queer community and encouraging transphobia. Especially considering it has been revealed that the number of trans hate crimes committed in England and Wales has risen.  

What to read?  

Is Gender Fluid? by Sally Hines

This text offers a graphic, engaging and introductory text to gender theory. The volume assesses the connections between gender, psychology, culture and sexuality, and reveals how individual and social attitudes have evolved over the centuries. Brimmed full of illustrations and gender theory, the text is both engaging and thought-provoking.  


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