Political Science at HC
Huntingdon College | Political Science | Courses | What's New?
Optional: purchase Union Jacks herePSC 321: British Politics

Richard Heffernan, Philip Cowley & Colin Hay (eds)

Developments in British Politics, 9

Student-written Outlines

revised 7 April 2016, compiled by Jeremy Lewis

Developments Ch.3: David Richards, "Changing Patterns of Executive Governance"
Notes by Seth Harding, spring 2016
• The Westminster Model-
It is the basis of the British Political tradition. It was the political orthodoxy of British government over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Government runs in a top down fashion. Its a zero sum game: The prime minister dominates ministers, who dominate civil servant. Also, central government dominates the wider policy arena. During the last 150 years, the Westminster System has led to executive and cabinet sovereignty
• Broadly, despite Thatcher’s radical pursuit of economic and social reform, she was inactivate when it came to constitutional issues or challenging the Westminster model. Major followed suit with Thatcher. Blair and Brown regularly publicly spoke of devolving power away from Whitehall, but, with the exception of Scottish devolution, they never properly empowered actors beyond the core of the central state. “It remains to be seen if the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government … will deliver on its claims to have embraced 'new politics' by offering a different type of executive government.
• The longevity of the Westminster model is mainly explained by the fact that the two dominant parties, Conservative and Labour, have been willing to subscribe to it and sustain it.
• The Westminster model is premised on:
• - A liberal notion of representative democracy. Power should be in the hands of the government because it will govern in the interests of the nation.
• - A conservative notion of responsibility. Having decision making in the hands of the ministers. It justifies elite rule because it justifies the concentration of power in the central government generally and Whitehall departments particularly.
• - An emphasis on the need for responsible government which is willing and able to take strong decisive, and necessary action even with major opposition.
• In the last 40 years, the level these assumptions are true, and the level the government still follows this model have been a highly debated topic. Overarching ideas are:
- The unity of the state being compromised due to regionalism.
- Territorial integrity being weakened by Europeanisation and globalization of a range of policies, and power draining from Westminster and Whitehall  in this process.
- Compounded by increasing fragmentation and segmentation of the state through such forces as agencification, privatization, and pluralization of public service delivery agents with collectively undermine the capacity of the central state.
- Lines of accountability have become blurred by the fragmentation of the central state
- ministerial accountability rarely sees to work.
-Whitehall's public service ethos has been challenged by managerial reforms which presume officials could be conditioned my market criteria. Ministers and officials often act in secret to protect their own interests rather than the public's.
• “Governance” demands that we consider all the actors and locations involved in the policy making process and suggests central government has become only one of many actors involved.
• One of the key hallmarks of the Blair and Brown era was the need to strengthen ministerial power, particularly at the 'centre' of British government to respond to the pathology of governance.
• The Blair Approach
quotes, “that we will run from the centre and govern from the centre.” Tags to his leadership, 'control freakery', 'presidentialism'. Blair;s inner circle was like an engine room. It undertook key decisions, in private, with limited, if any, broader consultation. Lord butler called it a “sofa style of government.”
Blair realized it was the Whitehall departments, not the centre, that are institutionally strong.
Key innovations included:
1. An enhanced role of the Policy Unit (later the Policy Directorate) a policy think tank unit in Number 10 that aimed to make sure departments knew the Blair agenda and deliver policy in line with Number 10's wishes.
2. The Performance and Innovation Unit (later the Strategy Unit) was formed to improved the centre's capabilities to address cross-cutting strategic issues; homelessness, teenage pregnancies.
3. The Prime Ministers Delivery Unit (PMDU) to ensure delivery of the PM top public service priority outcomes.
4. Challenging Whitehall's traditional monopoly on policy advice to ministers. three ways. one, the creation of ad hoc bodies, task forces. Second, 'Tsars” report to the PM to address specific issues of concern. Third, increased role for Special Advisers (SpAds).
• Gordon Brown: from chancellor to Prime Minister.
Brown set his leadership style in the treasury, operating in a controlling and secretive manner, bouncing departments with directives rather than engaging in dialog and consultation. He was hit with man crises. And economic crisis, in autumn of 2008, 12 months later there was the parliamentary expenses scandal. The government turned in on itself as the defense mechanism of choice, Brown increasingly embraced the the Westminster model.
• Final analysis on the Labour administration's approach to executive government agree:
- A growing democratic deficit between the government and its subjects; the lost of trust in the political elite.
- The continued accruing of power at the centre of British government.

Developments, 4: Alexandra Kelso, "Changing Parliamentary Landscapes"
Notes taken from Justin Nolen's class presentation
Changing Parliamentary landscapes
Expenses scandal
Subsequent Reforms, accountability
Modernization Ctee - under Tony Wright
Control of time (by Government, Opposition and backbench MPS)
Scrutiny by Ctees (of legislation and spending)
Petitioning for redress of grievances (a right since mediaeval times)
Failure of Lords reform (under Tony Blair)

Ch. 7: Territorial Politics in Post-Devolution Britain, by Scully & Wyn Jones
Notes by Shannen O'Leary, Spring 2014
Devolution= the establishment of directly elected legislatures and associated governments for Scotland and Wales.
  -One of the most momentous developments in  the recent political history of the UK.
Why devolution matters?
 -It's very uneven: meaning it has different impacts on different parts of the UK.
  -Scotland and Wales have been the establishment of new institutions.
 -The lack of impact devolution has is due to its lack of attention in England.
 -Devolution has also had a major impact on what central institutions can actually do. For example, the UK government's health minister is now practicing as the English health minister. This is also true for ministers for education, local government, and transport.
 -Devolution is also very hard to take seriously due to the fact that it is different in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Parties and elections under devolution:
 -The first election to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales was held in May 1999.
 -Each body has served a fixed term of four years, there have now been four sets of elections with the most recent being held in May 2011.
 -The elections are held under a two ballot Mixed-Member voting system which elects representatives from both constituencies and regional party lists. (there has been a significant element of proportional representation)
 -To give you an example of lower voter participation in 2007 turnout of the constituency ballot was 51.7 percent in Scotland and 43.6 percent in Wales, compared to 63.8 percent and 64. 9 percent respectively at the 2010 UK general election.
Scotland 1999-2007:
 -Donald Dewer was installed as Scotland's First Minister when the new parliament convened in Edinburgh the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition held a comfortable majority in the 129-seat parliament.
 -In 2007 a resurgent SNP narrowly emerged as the largest single-party. The nationalists established a minority government and Alex Salmond became Scotland's First Minister.
 -In 2011 the election produced the first single party majority in the Scottish Parliament for the SNP.
Wales 1999-2007:
 -1999 saw a surge in support for the Welsh nationalists, Plaid Cymru deprived the Labour party.
 -After this election a period of minority of government followed which was caused in part by the resignation of the Labour leader Alun Michael.
 -In 2003 there was a Labour recovery and a significant Plaid Cymru decline which allowed Labour to govern on its own.
 -Since then Labour has not been able to dominate elections in the same way as it has in Wales for decades.
Institutional and Constitutional Politics:
 -The new design of the Scottish Parliament included some self-conscious 'modernisation' in relation to working practices, increased transparency and various attempts to make the political process more accessible to the general public as well as civil society actors.
 -Devolution was much less thought out and much less far-reaching in Wales.
 -Early changes in the planned structures of Welsh devolution began even as the original legislation was being considered by the UK parliament.
 -The original plan was changed from the model traditional in the UK local government to a cabinet system more typical of a parliamentary context.
 -These constitutional revisions are still ongoing as many of the limitations of the original model of Welsh devolution have become apparent.
Extending Devolution after 2007:
– The SNP government embarked on what is called 'National Conversation' about possible options for Scotland's constitutional future.
  -This was an attempt to shape the agenda that would be countered by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats. They ended up cooperating to enhance the powers of Scottish Parliament to propose enhanced financial powers.
 -In Wales, the Wales Convention made little progress in generating public interest in the rather arcane subject of alternative models of developed government; nor was it able to substantially to advance knowledge of public attitudes.
 -This caused the Welsh voters supported greater powers for the NAW in 2011 by 63.5 percent to 36.5 percent.
Devolution and government policy:
 -At the beginning of devolution the Scottish parliament and NAW believed the policy agendas would be farther to the left due to the fact that the Conservative party was not very popular in Scotland or Wales.

 -Emerging differences has also enhanced the possibilities for policy learning and the comparison of different experiences. Political debates within the two nations have increasingly focused on constitutional ideas.

Public Attitudes to Devolution:
 -Scotland is strongly supportive of devolution, Wales is not as supportive.
 -Research has shown that very few people in Scotland want to return to pre-devolution forms of government. With that being said there is also a substantial number of people wishing rule of Scotland to sway more towards independence.
 In Wales, research shows very significant change in public attitudes over the first decade of devolution there has been no increase in those supporting independence.
 -In the beginning there was major fear among supporters in both Scotland and Wales that if the new institutions were not identified with clear policy successes and improvements in the lives of people then there might be a severe public backlash against the very principle of devolved government.
 -One question that has become repetitive in the the research on public opinions is “Why has public support for devolution remained strong in Scotland and grown substantially in Wales, if most people do not think it has substantially improved their lives?”
  -One factor is people make comparisons between government in Edinburgh and Cardiff    on the one hand and that in London on the other.
  -The second factor is many people are able to distinguish their specific attitudes to    current governments and their policy record from a broader, more diffuse sense of how    they believe they should be governed.
 -Recent research also shows that levels of reported British identity have remained largely unchanged in both Scotland and Wales.
The Future of Devolution:

Ch 9: Anti-Politics in Britain by Gerry Stoker
by Skye Esry, Spring 2014
The issue is that many British citizens feel alienated from the political processes of the nation, and this causes an overall negative outlook among the people towards political institutions
Voter turnout and overall involvement had decreased since the 1950s—coalition government adds new, uncertain dynamic to public involvement
The Rise of Anti-Politics (Identify the Problem):
Some groups, especially economically disadvantaged, have a harder time engaging in politics
In 1959, anywhere from 3 in 10 to 8 in 10 citizens were unaware of and unengaged in various aspects of British Politics
This has only improved by “a modest degree” in the C21st
This could be because only a ¼ of the population trusts politicians and less than 1/3 are satisfied with job done by MPs
Another option is that there is an increased sense of disempowerment when it comes to influencing the political system—British citizens feel that they cannot do anything within the political system
                In the 1950s, 8 in 10 citizens felt they could impact local politics and 6 in 10 felt the same about national politics
                Today, 3 in 10 citizens feel they could impact local politics and 1 in 10 feel they could impact national politics
 Social Divide:
The better your job, education history, and social status, the more likely you are to be involved in politics
Younger citizens and some members of different racial and gender demographics are less likely to be involved in politics
 Comparative to Others:
Lower to middle ranking compared to other European nations
Not as good at political partisanship
But pretty good at individual political acts (Sign petitions, boycott goods, wear badges)
Anti-political culture:
Brits never enthusiastic about trusting politicians
Relative non-joiners
Propensity to vote is strongly class based
Explaining Disengagement:
Citizens have been made to feel powerless
                Can vary based on personal ascription
                Liberal vs more collectivist arguments
Citizens feel power has been taken by political elites
Citizens feel disengaged from MPs even though they have never been more accessible
Is it the citizens that have changed?
                More educated and informed causing more demands
Solution—give the people more power

People do not always understand the political process
Engaging people more in the process can lead to enhanced frustration and anger
The challenge is sustaining the people’s faith in the process
People don’t trust that decisions made are in the best interest of the whole
                The public believe MPs as a whole need to be more ethical
Solution: maximize transparency and accountability

Social and economic changes have decreased engagement in churches, social groups etc that supported partisanship
Loyalty cannot be taken for granted but has to be earned
Many do not engage in partisan politics but single issue campaigns
Solution: new forms of mobilization

It is the performance of politics that causes dissatisfaction
Shift from partisanship to valence political world changes how we judge competencies
Focus of performance is shallow
                Voters rely heavily on campaign cues and party leader images
It is hard to judge success on this scale—hard to decipher what the true collective will is

Many citizens are not capable of understanding the inner workings of politics
                Makes them view the system negatively
Incorporate civic orientation
                Engaging younger demographic—those with deeper understanding of politics tend emphasize the negative

Do nothing:
                The country is evolving
                Give it time to adjust
Radical reform:
                Coalition government and reform
                Empower the citizens
Best option:
                Engage the citizens in the already established system

Top of page

Chapter 10: Richard Heffernan, "Pressure Group Politics"
Notes by Benjamin C. Richardson, Spring 2016
Representative Democracy itself cannot ensure that the state acts in the interests of society. Thus, pressure groups serve as another means of checks and balances on the government.
Pressure groups organize opinion, mobilize elements of the public and, from time to time, have government account for its actions and sometimes even change its behavior.
It is important when defining pressure groups that they use reformist, non-violent means to pressure government.
There are several overlapping categorizations of interest and pressure groups:
A. Organized interest groups and professional associations- classically, trade unions, but also professional bodies such as British Medical Association or Law Society.
B. Organized pressure or cause groups (e.g. civil rights groups, Greenpeace, etc.)
C. Organized advocacy or charitable groups (e.g. policy ‘think-tanks,’ explicitly non-partisan charitable groups, Church of England, etc.)
D. Organized and unorganized social movements- these are tougher to pin down, but typically deal with micro-aggressions or discrimination against specific groups of people.
Two broader ways to explore interest groups:
Associational- these are organized interest groups or professional associations where the membership shares something in common (a group, “of something”)
Promotional- these are groups that are concerned with a cause that may not directly involve them (a group “for something”)
Further exploration of these two groups are assisted by analyzing whether they are insider or outsider groups.
Insider groups are groups that operate within the state. Their views are sought out by the government.
Outside groups are that guard their independence, and they do not compromise nor do they make concessions on their policy demands.
Configuration plays a critical function in interest groups. Configuration is comprised of four fundamental elements:
Visibility: Is the group well-known? Does it have a high public profile?
Resource level: Is the group well-financed? Who are the donors? How many employees does it retain? How professional is the operation?
Size of membership: The larger the membership base, the more legitimate (normally) is the group’s claim to speak for people. The larger the group, the more influence it will have.
Legitimacy: How relevant is the group? How salient is its issues?
Pressure groups operate within in the ‘public square.’ They utilize media as a means to promulgate their message.
Compared the U.S.’s federal system, the British unitary political system establishes natural safe-guards in limiting the opportunities for pressure groups.
The British Parliament is much more subservient to the government than the U.S. Congress. Thus, British pressure groups face another systemic obstacle to wielding power.
With the more relaxed campaign finance laws in the U.S. compared to Britain, the more expensive campaigns in the U.S. cultivate more opportunities for U.S. pressure groups to exert influence than their British counterparts.
The U.S.’s fixed constitution prevents the government from doing specific things, but the flexible constitution of Britain enables the government to do things. Therefore, despite the lack of access to the government in Britain, pressure groups can have more impact if they can successfully shape the media’s agenda.

Chapter 14: Britain’s Place in the European Union by Lori Thorlackson
Notes by Skye Esry, Spring 2014
Britain has history of Euroskepticism—the public has the lowest levels of trust in the EU of all member states
                Many say that membership has not benefitted the UK
                It is not a good campaigning tool for politicians to be highly supportive of the EU
The UK has been viewed as the “awkward partner”
                It has opted out of policy including the single currency goals
                Parliamentary sovereignty is still superior in Britain
The EU and Domestic Party Politics:
The Liberal Democrats (part of Conservative coalition) are most pro-european of the parties
                Are the most willing party to compromise/work with the EU
                2010 election manifesto—Britain should be “at the heart of Europe”
Labour and Conservatives are more complicated
                Labour was anti-integrationist originally
                Now, more open—“cloak[ing] its European policies in the rhetoric of national interest”
                                Skeptical of economic policies but favor social reform
                Conservatives—Party of Europe in the 1970s
                Now, party is dominated by Euroskeptics (soft skepticism)
                                Integration has taken sovereign powers from the UK (ie justice or home affairs)
Soft skepticism—general support for membership with either opposition to specific aspects of integration or a general rhetorical strategy of defending the national interest against Europe.
UKIP (UK Independence Party)—Hard Euroskeptics
                Hard Euroskepticism—Rejects not only further integration but also EU membership
                Had 13 returning MEPs in 2009
Much cross-party consensus concerning EU policy
The Coalition Government and European Policy:
Coalition agreement says that UK will encourage enlarged EU and protect sovereign powers
Both parties have minimized their strong party stance
                Conservatives have toned down Euroskepticism
                Liberal Democrats have been less pro-Europe outright
UK will not join the euro
“EU Status quo” will not change any time soon, making coalition relationship stable
UK and the Euro:
Part of the coalition agreement that government “does not join or prepare to join the euro”
                Conservatives will prevent monetary union while in power
                Economic and political developments make euro membership less attractive
Under Labour, moves were made
                Euro had to pass 5 tests
Convergence, flexibility, preparedness of financial sector, prospects for growth and employment
                                In 2003, only one test passed
Economic crisis and unpreparedness will keep euro out of UK
The UK and the Lisbon Treaty:
AKA Reform Treaty
Aims to streamline EU decision making process and make it more democratic and responsive
UK fears it will deepen supranatural control and lessen British sovereignty and red line powers and make a European super state
Red line powers—national autonomy in justice, home affairs, tax, foreign policy and defense, and social security
Britain is pro-integration for certain policy goals but does not want to expand supranatural powers (European Parliament/ European Commission)
Prefers intergovernmental approach; national governments will retain as much power as possible
UK has opt-out policy when it comes to freedom, security and justice policies
Economic Crisis, EU Budgetary and the Lisbon Strategy for Growth:
UK pro-economic reform (CAP—Common Agricultural Policy)—helps to make a shift from the awkward member of the EU
                Thatcher Rebate—Mrs Thatcher felt the UK paid in too much because of CAP receipts
                This has since been used as negotiation tool in EU
UK opinion of financial services very different from the rest of Europe
                Want to prevent undermining of their financial services industy
Policy leader with Lisbon Strategy for Growth (not related to Lisbon Treaty)
Emphasizes growth, flexibility and competitiveness—focuses on training and education—targeting poverty and social exclusion (compatible with Labour reforms)
                Framed in terms of social integration
                More cross-party agreement
                Market supporting, non-binding methods of governance—not a threat to UK sovereignty
                                Still have “emergency brake” veto power on social policy
EU Enlargement:
UK is pro-enlargement because it means prevention of further deepening of EU power
Want to expand East to Turkey and West Balkans (were leader of the move to make them members)
                                Concern is EU absorption capacity—unanimity required, so it will be hard
                Introduces more opportunity for UK leadership in EU
                Economic benefits of increased trade and market access, regional stability and political and  economic transformation
                Will ensure (in Britain) democratic stability, security and economic growth as well as create larger market
                Britain is pro-European Neighborhood Policy
Will include Euromed countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia) and Eastern regions (Armenia, Azerbijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine)
Will promote democracy, human rights, good governance, keep peace and stability in region

Richard J. Aldrich and Antony Field, “Security and Surveillance in Britain.”
Notes by Nathaniel Madlock, spring 2012

Scope of Agenda

Issue at hand
Terrorism and International Security
UK counter-terrorism strategy
In the field:UK counter-terrorism operations
Surveillance and the Intercept Modernisation Programme
Security and Cameron government in 2010
Issue at hand
2001(9/11) and 2005(7/7) show implications for deployment
Strategies,policies, and capabilities
U.S. Ponder about adapting UK-style MI5
High policing?
Realm of Security and Surveillance from 2010 onward?
Terrorism and International Security
Security agenda placed at top on both sides of Atlantic since 9/11.
Double bombing in Istanbul(Byzantium,Constantinople)
Attacks on 7/7 end deadly
Domestic Bombing from citizen?
2006 eminent liquid bombing fail
Istanbul on Map (image)
UK Counter-terrorism strategy
Sir David Omand Coordinates
European Union influences CONTEST(II)
Box 15.1
BOX 15.1 (image)
In the field:UK counter-terrorism operations
-Terrorist attacks have been transnational
-Nick Clegg suggestions on global terrorism
-Joining of MI5 and domestic counter-terrorism operations
-Parliment' Home Affairs Committee views
-New partners in the terrorism game
Surveillance and the Intercept Modernisation Programme
-Proposals for monitoring the UK
-GCHQ entitled to to monitor communications
-Globalisation of Communication
-Increase in the number of potential terrorist
-Government much more risk  adverse in Surveillance
- Data Mining
-UK government and Technical sources
Security and the Cameron government in 2010
-Changes in Policy outlines by Theresa May (Home Secretary)
-Security community double in size since 9/11
-Cameron favors improving defense against cyber-attacks.
-CONTEST II? Expansive approach towards counter-terrorism, but is it effective?
-Reforms strengthen the UK,  but also questions the legitimacy of Intelligence activity.
-Joining of Government Departments
Top of page