Review of Philip Coggan’s The Last Vote

Philip Coggan, a financial journalist renowned for objectivity and insight, has brought these traits to an analysis of modern democracy and a history of the right to vote. Political analysis is usually marred by partisanship and ideological bias. It is almost disconcerting to read a book which simultaneously dissects the damage done by an expanding welfare state and the insidious corrupting of our political system by an extreme distribution of wealth and influence. Coggan’s relentless objectivity gives great weight to his arguments.

But this book is much more than a crystal clear critique of the current threats to democracy – rising government liabilities, campaign financing by vested interests, and voter apathy. Coggan brings political history alive by tracing the tortuous evolution towards one person one vote. This is a gripping narrative strategy, but also a compelling case for the thesis that power is deeply reluctant to loosen its reins. Often, when we think of the history of suffrage, the civil rights movement and the suffragettes spring to mind. But the battle is centuries old and has afflicted every social group and class, bar the monarchy.

As is typical of Coggan’s work, the writing is superb: clear, articulate and jargon-free. There are also astonishing facts. For example, it took until 1971 for women in Switzerland to obtain the right to vote (and one third of the all-male electorate voted against).

Coggan concludes with an appeal for us to treat each vote as if it were our last. After reading this book it will be hard not to.

About The Author

Eric Lonergan is a macro hedge fund manager, economist, and writer. His most recent book is Supercharge Me, co-authored with Corinne Sawers. He is also author of the international bestseller, Angrynomics, co-written with Mark Blyth, and published by Agenda. It was listed on the Financial Times must reads for Summer 2020. Prior to Angrynomics, he has written Money (2nd ed) published by Routledge. He has written for Foreign AffairsThe Financial Times, and The Economist. He also advises governments and policymakers. He first advocated expanding the tools of central banks to including cash transfers to households in the Financial Times in 2002. In December 2008, he advocated the policy as the most efficient way out of recession post-financial crisis, contributing to a growing debate over the need for ‘helicopter money’.

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