Who Are We Now?

Listen to a sample

What to expect

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is in these polarised times to read a book on politics that doesn’t have an axe to grind . . . an essential read.’ The Sunday Times

Subtle, sophisticated . . . compellingly told . . . This is a gentle and intelligent book, refreshingly unpolemical and reflective.’ Observer Book of the Week

In this compelling and essential book, Jason Cowley, editor-in-chief of the New Statesman, examines contemporary England through a handful of the key news stories from recent times to reveal what they tell us about the state of the nation and to answer the question Who Are We Now?

Spanning the years since the election of Tony Blair’s New Labour government to the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the book investigates how England has changed and how those changes have affected us. Cowley weaves together the seemingly disparate stories of the Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay, the East End Imam who was tested during a summer of terror, the pensioner who campaigned against the closure of her GP’s surgery and Gareth Southgate’s transformation of English football culture. And in doing so, Cowley shows the common threads that unite them, whether it is attitudes to class, nation, identity, belonging, immigration, or religion.

He also examines the so-called Brexit murder in Harlow, the haunting repatriation of the fallen in the Iraq and Afghan wars through Wootton Bassett, the Lancashire woman who took on Gordon Brown, and the flight of the Bethnal Green girls to Islamic State, fleshing out the headlines with the very human stories behind them.

Through these vivid and often moving stories, Cowley offers a clear and compassionate analysis of how and why England became so divided and the United Kingdom so fragmented, and how we got to this cultural and political crossroads. Most importantly, he also shows us the many ways in which there is genuine hope for the future.

Critics Review

  • I can’t tell you how refreshing it is in these polarised times to read a book on politics that doesn’t have an axe to grind . . . It is wonderfully written, the pages littered with poetic and literary references, as you might expect from an outstanding journalist . . . an essential read.

    The Sunday Times
  • Subtle, sophisticated . . . compellingly told . . . This is a gentle and intelligent book, refreshingly unpolemical and reflective.

    Observer Book of the Week
  • First-rate . . . [Cowley] is a broad-minded observer, a true liberal if that description may still be applied, and his elegance is all the more attractive for its absence of gloss . . . If you open this book for instruction, you may find much of value in the author’s selection of snapshots from his life and the lives of others. You will certainly read it with pleasure.

    The Times
  • Interesting . . . there is a certain Orwellian (in the best sense) curiosity and insightfulness

    Sunday Telegraph
  • As someone who zips around England — and the wider UK every week — this book really resonates with me. Wonderfully written with colourful and incisive accounts of contemporary England

    Chris Mason, Presenter of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions?
  • A beautiful piece of storytelling – the British eyed from unexpected places, from China to the middle of the middle of the middle. The question will never go away but these answers help us a lot

    Andrew Marr

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get tailored content recommendations, product updates and info on new releases. Your data is your own: we commit to protect your data and respect your privacy.