My book review of 'The Power in the People' by Michael Mansfield

by Michael Mansfield
The Power in the People
by Michael Mansfield

This is, arguably, the message we need to hear at the moment - particularly with inquiries into Covid and the Post Office ongoing.

The high profile barrister, Michael Mansfield looks back on significant cases in his career where ordinary people have done extraordinary things to challenge those in authority, to bring about change and fight injustice.

Highlighting cases which are all shockingly familiar - Stephen Lawrence, Grenfell, the Marchioness disaster, Hillsborough, Bloody Sunday - Mansfield presents the individuals, families and groups who have sought to right wrongs, against the odds, usually taking decades to do so, never giving up. It is a salutary, emotional, but ultimately inspiring read. 

He writes clearly and sparingly about the cases and also shares his views on systemic failures, the motivations of people in authority (driven solely by power and money rather than a greater good), and how cases can continue for decades in the belief that 'the little people' will ultimately give up and the problem will simply 'go away'.

He ends by briefly outlining three issues which are ongoing - 'forgotten prisoners', Smart motorways and the policing of Orgreave miners 40 years on - plus our response to the climate crisis.

For what seems a small book, and a deceptively 'easy' read, there's a huge amount to process and it feels like a call to action: we can make a difference.

Michael Mansfield will be speaking to me at the Felixstowe Book Festival on Saturday 29 June.

Date of this review: April 2024
Book publication date: 5th October 2023