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

Patrick Dunleavy, Richard Heffernan, Philip Cowley & Colin Hay (eds)

Developments in British Politics, 8

Student-written Outlines

(all chapters are new since 6th edition)
revised 27 Apr. 2010, compiled by Jeremy Lewis

Ch. 01: Patrick Dunleavy, et al., "Britain Beyond Blair -- Party Politics and Leadership Succession"

Change in party system?

Leadership succession and political celebrity:

Economic Prosperity and Welfare State Modernization:

Dunleavy 1: Britain Beyond Blair- Party Politics and Leadership Succession
by Cole Muzio, Spring 2010

2005 Election
Labour wins with Tony Blair as Prime Minister with 55% of the seats and 35.2% of the vote. This was their third consecutive victory but Conservatives were closing the gap. Liberal Democrats performed well, but it was seen as a missed opportunity.
Tony Blair, likely as a result of lost popularity, pre-announced that 2005 would be his last election. Gordon Brown, long-term Chancellor of the Exchequer, was long seen as the certain successor.  He pledged to continue Blair’s “New Labour” tradition, but also will attempt to establish his own administration. He will face the challenge of having been in a position of power for over 12 years and still remaining appealing to the electorate.
Liberal-Democrats, attempting to gain a stronger standing, elected Menzies Campbell as leader in 2006 after Kennedy stepped down. Following the publication of the text, Nick Clegg was elected in December 2007 after serving as an MEP from 1999-2004, MP since 2005, and a member of both Kennedy’s and Campbell’s Shadow Cabinets. He promises to reach out to new voters.
Michael Howard , who came to leadership in December 2003, resigned the day after the electoral defeat in May 2005. David Cameron, despite only being an MP for four years and having little experience, was surprisingly elected as leader by 2/3s of party members. He seeks to move the party to the center and pursue the Liberal-Democrat vote. Following his election, the Conservatives polled at above 40% for almost the first time since 1992. Since then, they had been performing about 10% lower than they had for much of the 20th century. He hopes to bring new energy to the party by being highly accessible and trustworthy. His party will “travel light in policy terms,” but will almost certainly utilize his skills developed while he served as director of a public relations company.
2010 Election outlook
Electorate will look for a leader who is telegenic, a great communicator, personally appealing, believable, strong, capable, and experienced. There is a strong possibility of a “hung Parliament.”

Top of page

Ch. 02: Richard Heffernan, "The Blair Style of Central Government"
Synopsis by Bill Butler, spring 2010
- Starts off by explaining that after the election in 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that he would not seek re-election and would resign at some point before the next general election. This seemed to mark the end of the Tony Blair era. His majority in the House of Commons had dropped significantly, and his government suffered a major defeat when the House failed to approve a key element of Blair’s Anti-terrorism plan.

- Some do believe that Tony Blair pushed the limits of his authority as PM. “Previously his well-attested  eagerness to lead his government from the front had prompted complaints of ‘prime ministerial overstretch, the congenital disease of command premiers.’(Hennessy, pg. 17).

- Clair Short, former minister, “We have the powers of a presidential-type system with the automatic majority of a parliamentary system.”

- Others argued that it was actually a ‘dual-monarchy’ (Rawnsley, pg. 18), arguing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown since 1997, and the Prime Minister share the power of government. Because of Brown’s power over the treasury, Heffernan states that, “In short, Brown can, in certain policy areas, dominate Blair.” (pg. 18).

-Heffernan argues that “with the possible exception of Margaret Thatcher at her peak, Blair can lay claim to being the most predominant prime minister since 1945.” (pg. 18) Heffernan then goes on to state that Brown was probably the most influential Chancellor in that same period.

- Heffernan then explains that Blair and Brown, once close political allies, now maintained a ‘fractious’ relationship, with political differences often inflated by supporters and the media. Heffernan cites the most significant reason for such strife as due to the fact that Brown is Blair’s successor, and rather eager to succeed.

- Heffernan declares that the fact that Blair ‘cohabits’ with Brown weakens the argument of Blair as a presidential figure.

- ‘Presidentialisation’ of Blair is possible through three factors given by Heffernan, which allowed for the extension of the prime minister’s influence:
1. His personal style of leadership
2. the media-led phenomenon of political personalization
3. The hollowing out of political parties

-Heffernan stated that political personalization magnified the prime minister, while simultaneously ‘marginalizes other political actors to the periphery of public attention.’ Heffernan also explained how the ‘hollowing of the parties’ strengthened the control of leadership over their party’s initiatives and direction.

Government at the centre:
-Heffernan states that the executive, characterized as Downing Street, ‘exercises considerable political clout.’(pg.20) He does mention that the Treasury acts similarly, but only in the realm of domestic policy. Heffernan writes, “Blair has endlessly tinkered with the Downing Street machinery as he has sought to expand his capacity to steer and coordinate the Whitehall machine.”(pg. 20).

- Blair revamped the civil service division, under the leaderships of Robin Butler, Richard Wilson, Andrew Turnbill, and Gus O’Donnell. In addition, Blair executed changes to the ‘topography’ of Whitehall, renaming several departments (Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and Skills) as well as creating new departments(Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, and the Department for Constitutional Affairs) Supporters of such reforms cry efficiency while opponents scream centralization.

-Regardless of intent, the reforms have resulted in “increasingly coordinated and coherent, and increasingly proactive and performance driven” (Burch and Holliday, pg. 22)

Prime minister and the core executive:
-Heffernan declares that the major flaw in the presidentialisation argument is that it, “underestimates the degree of actual political leverage a British Prime Minister, compared to, say, a US president, can have over the legislature as well as the executive. Heffernan argues that it is hard to argue that Tony Blair is, “presidential when being prime ministerial can often afford a wider authority and influence.” Heffernan furthers, “The prospect of prime ministerial influence clearly begins with the executive’s domination of the legislature, while the opportunity for prime ministerial influence is determined by the prime minister’s ability to exercise influence within and over the executive.”  (pg. 22).

Blair’s Prime Ministerial Authority:
Heffernan explains the Prime Minister as the ‘first among equals.’ First- Has the legal right to be directly or indirectly consulted about all significant matters relating to the government. Among Equals- b/c the government includes semi-autonomous political actors, each of whom could replace the prime minister as head of government. (pg. 24)

Heffernan states that Blair’s reforms were built on the ideals set forth by Thatcher and John Major.

Heffernan explains that Blair doesn't govern alone, but the prime minister is very effective at controling the ministers and direct the government. The decisionmaking powers of the full cabinet has been significantly limited, its powers diverted instead to subcomittees and other 'informal forms of government, largely centering on the prime ministerial-led centre..." (pg. 25)

Limits to Prime Ministerial Authority:
-Heffernan opens by stating that Blair, like all PMs, have had to "carefully negotiate the various obstacles thrown up in the path in the path by Parliament."
-Also must manage the House of the Lords (Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats).
- Heffernan furthers, "If the 'scale and heterogeneity of government responsibilities are too great for any one individual to comprehend' (Rose) then the sheer impacts of events and the pressures of time place enormous demands upon any PM." Example: Having to deal with half a dozen foreign affairs issues, ranging from the EU to the Olympics, while simultaniously addressing a suicide on the streets of London. Heffernan notes, however, that such pressures are not unusual.
- PM must also deal with the "critical spotlight thrown by an ever more intrusive and aggressive news media." (pg. 29)
- Modern infatuation with process stories, which focus on the behind-the-scene how of policymaking rather than the policy itself, both 'magnifies and facilitates' disagreements within the government. (pg. 29)
-MP must also manage his or her base of support (party as well electorate in general).

The Tony Blair-Gordon Brown Axis 1997-2005:
- Heffernan correctly predicts Brown's succession of Blair. "Brown's institutional base is weaker than Blair's but he lays claim to significant resources, not least those that arise from the institutional power of the Treasury." (pg. 32)
-Heffernan explains that Blair and Browns coordination of efforts was very effective, especially in the "pre-process pending decisions." (pg. 33). Example- Bank of England independence: "only two other ministers [other than Blair and Brown] knew about the decision before they were told." (pg. 33)

Main example of "Prime ministerial-chancellorial lock on key policy" is Britian's policy toward Euro membership. Blair wanted entry, should it be possible. But Brown adopted a stance of 'procrastination and postponement,' claiming it wasn't the right time. (pg. 33) Almost no other ministers had any influence in the process or outcome.

- Heffernan concludes that "British central government...has sought to establish a strong executive presence." (pg. 34)
- Blair "led from the front."
- Heffernan closes with the statement, "the PM, and the government he or she leads- invariably finds him or herself at the mercy of a variety of political, electoral, and social factors that are either under or beyond their control." (pg. 35).

Top of page

Ch. 03: Philip Cowley, "Making Parliament Matter?"
Quick points by Cole Muzio, Spring 2010
- a lament of Parliament’s ineffectiveness is quite typical
-public policy is made outside Westminster but then put into effect by Westminster
- MPs are far more focused on their constituencies than in the past
-criticism of party discipline in voting
- new trend of “career politician” with little “real world” experience. In practice, this has increased back-bencher independence
-increased rebellions in Labour government (partly due to bloated majorities)
-modernisation was reforming practices of House of Commons, however, it has ceased to be a cross-party initiative in any meaningful way
- House of Lords has not been made “democratic and representative” as Labour promised
- assertiveness of House of Lords is increasing, in part due to the fact that the Upper Chamber is more reflective of the popular vote than the House of Commons

Top of page

Ch. 04: Sarah Childs, "Political Parties and Party Systems"
By Cole Muzio, spring 2010
2005 Election- 1st-Labour (with decent sized majority)
3rd- Liberal-Democrats
However, more than 10% of the vote went to parties outside of the “Big 3” with minor parties having very strong showings in their home regions.
SMPS (single member plurality system) keeps two-party system alive despite the nation being much more politically diverse.
  • Historically, Britain has often had a multiple party system, however, in the post-war period (up until the 1970s) Britain was considered the archetype of the two party system (with parity of power/support, mostly alternating governance, patterns of competition etc.).
  • During this post-war period, 90% of votes went to the two major parties with 4% average gap between the two.
  • Emerging issues (gender equality, environmentalism, Europe etc.) led to re-emergence of Liberals (later Liberal-Democrats) and other minor parties, though the electoral effects (seats in Parliament) were limited.
  • Now, only at national level does a two-party system remain as local elections are much more diverse.
  • Possible movement towards a proportional representation system.
    2005-2006 “hat-trick of new leaders,” and changing political climate may result in major inter-party shifts.
    Party questions:
  • Who will be the future leader of Labour/ What direction will it take? Will it return to its original principles? Will it form a new coalition and remain relevant?
  • Conservatives gain seats in 2005 but still “standing still.” Is David Cameron the solution to retaking Parliament (it now appears yes)?
  • Contest between Cameron and David Davis was based largely on appeal to voters and ability to move the party in a different direction.
  • Is Cameron the conservative version of Blair?
  • Liberal Democrats gain seats but find themselves incapable of fighting on both flanks.
  • Can they survive in a political climate of centrist Labour and centrist Conservatives?
  • Will nationalist parties be able to cope with new issues?
  • Decline in party membership and type of party organizations are changing.
  • Parties rely on their membership for donations and for campaigning, but are wary of giving them too much influence.
  • Parties are still very much top-down, however measures such as how MP candidates are selected are slowly de-centralizing the party process.
  • This, in part, has led to more diverse candidates.

    Top of page

    Ch. 05: Bartle and Laycock, "Elections & Voting"
    by Russ Barnwell, Spring 2010
    • Many changes that have recently taken place in British politics:
    o The link between class and voting has weakened.
    o Party identification has weakened considerably.
    o Elections have become more localized.
    o Voters are voting for parties other than Labour and Conservative.
    o Turnout has fallen to record lows in the past two elections.
    • 2005 Election
    o Labour won the election with 35.2% of the vote (down 5.5 points from 2005.
    o Conservatives received 32.3% of the vote (up .6 points).
    o Liberal Democrats received 23.0% (up 3.6 points).
    o Other parties increased their share of the vote to 10.4% (up 1 point).
    o The interpretation of Parliamentary elections in Britain is particularly difficult because of the “first-past-the-post” format.
    • Explanation of 2005 Vote
    o 3 models of voting behavior:
    ? Sociological Models: relationship between social characteristics and the vote.
    ? Social-psychological Models: relationship between voters’ partisan self-images and the vote.
    ? Issue-voting Models: relationship between voters’ preferences and the vote.
    o Demographic Examples:
    ? Age: Young voters were much less likely to support Conservatives than older voters.
    ? Race: 56% of non-whites voted for Labour, compared to 37% of white voters.
    o Partisan Vote: Partisan alignment has declined significantly over the past 30 years.
    o Issue-Voting
    ? Labour’s Record
    • The public had a surprisingly good opinion of the Labour Party’s handling of the economy.
    • In contrast, their weakest area was of asylum (immigration).
    ? Iraq War: significant negative effects on Labour Party.
    ? Economy
    • The perceived economic competence of Labour was the greatest short term factor in their 2005 victory.
    ? Tony Blair
    • Tony Blair was a great asset to Labour in both the 1997 and 2001 elections.
    • By 2005, however, his personal appeal had lessened, and evaluations of him were mixed.
    ? Conservative Party’s Image
    • In 2005, 8 years after leaving office, the Conservatives were still one of the most unpopular opposition in British history.
    • Large majorities felt that the Conservatives were not close to the poor, the working class, ethnic minorities, or women.
    o From Modest Plurality to Comfortable Majority
    ? A modest plurality of votes among Labour allowed them to capture 55% of seats, giving them a comfortable majority.
    ? Conservatives were advantaged by there being more Labour/Conservative marginal seats than Labour/Liberal Democrat marginal seats. So as Labour’s vote fell, it lost more seats to the Conservatives than Liberal Democrats.
    ? Reasons for Pro-Labour Bias
    • Labour seats have smaller populations, so they need fewer votes to win.
    • As a result, it took around 27,000 votes to elect a single Labour MP, 44,000 to elect a Conservative, and 100,000 votes to elect a Liberal Democrat.
    o What lies ahead?
    ? Labour: Several groups will continue to form the bedrock of Labour in the next election
    o Black and Asian Voters
    o Young Voters.
    o Middle Class Non-Manual Labor Voters
    ? Conservatives must broaden their appeal and bring in young voters and minorities.
    ? Liberal Democrats: Must overcome obstacles such as:
    o Lack of support of key groups.
    o Lack of clear identity
    o Operation of electoral system
    Top of page

    Ch. 06: William Maloney, "Political Participation beyond the Electoral Arena"

    Top of page

    Ch. 07: Matthew Flinders, "The Half-hearted Constitutional Revolution"
    By Cole Muzio, spring 2010

    Background: Labour comes to power May 1 1997 with a sweeping majority after having campaigned on major constitutional reforms
    New Labour and the constitution
    Result: There was an initial burst of reform.

    It came at a frantic pace with 20 bills on wide ranging topics related to constitutional reform.
    Public pressure and pre-election commitments forced the reforms, and a commitment to maintain the previous government’s policies freed up the “legislative space” for reforms to occur.
    However, by the end of 1997 the ministers were weary of reform efforts believing that they had taken up too much time and had not allowed them to focus on immediate needs.
    Additionally, the leadership (Blair) was not himself a true believer in constitutional reform (being more of a moderate).
    Principled Progress and Retrospective reasoning, 2003-05
    - Labour government shifts focus from constitutional reform to strong government services (“delivery that matters”)
    - Creation of Department of Contitutional Affairs in 2003 (akin to our Department of Justice)
    - Reduction of House of Lords to 92 hereditary peers
    - Creation of Supreme Court and other judicial reforms (How does a Supreme Court work when there is no “rigid Constitution”???)
    - From 2001-2005 government seems confused and chaotic particularly due to shift of focus to national security.
    - Increased attention given to the idea of multi-level governance (a contrast to the Westminster model) which emphasizes distribution of power, networks, and fluidity. Government tries to preserve Westminster model
    There is now a debate about the “degree of change” that actually occurred. Flinders’ conclusion seems to be that the reforms were “far reaching, but not radical.” Also, under Labour, despite having promised to strengthen the image of government, public trust has fallen. However, it may be too soon to make a final judgment.
    Top of page

    Ch. 08: Charlie Jeffrey, "Devolution and the Lopsided State"

    Top of page

    Ch. 09: Michael Smith, "Britain, Europe and the World"

    Top of page

    Ch. 10: Cox and Oliver, "Security Policy in an Insecure World"

    Top of page

    Ch. 11: Gillian Peele, "The Politics of Multicultural Britain"
    Notes by Bill Butler, Spring 2010
     - Peele begins with explaining how the July 2005 terrorist attack in London brought new focus on managing Great Britain's multiculturalism.
     - Peele explains how the bombings generally motivated across-cultural condemnation of the violence, but the bombings
     nevertheless increased fears of growing 'islamophobia' and violent acts of vengence.
     - "The bombings also underscored the extent to which the ethnic diversity which is now central to the politics of the United Kingdom,
     as well as to the politics of many other European states, is shaped not just by domestic events but is tied to the wider dynamics of the
     international arena."
     - Peele concludes that the aspects of multiculturalism, specifically what it means and its limits are of "vital importance" to British society.

     A Diverse Society
     4 key points explaining the origins of Britain's 'Diverse Society'

     1. The first major concerns about Immigration took off around 1945.
     Post World War II, the immigration became increasingly controversial because so many of the immigrants were non-white. However, there was
     very little regulation of immigration by the government. "What did emerge was a split between the concerns of the policy-making elite and those of the wider society where the impact of immigration was directly felt." In 1948, Britain extended citizenship to all peoples in her vast empire. Poor economic conditions in the immigrant's original countries, coupled with labor shortages in the transport and National Health Service encouraged this growing economic diversity.
     "It was only when this non-white immigration from the New Commonwealth became extensive that it was seen as a problem and the traditional liberalism in relation to rights of entry and abode was questioned."
     2. Although Britain is generally perceived as an open society, these immigrants were met with hostility and even violence. Parliament began  restricting the rights of immigrants:
     -Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962
     -1971 Immigration Act
     -Increased regulations on secondary immigration: the ability to bring ones family along.
     3. By 1980, the debate had shifted from Immigration to Asylum; asylum moved into the spotlight when the number of requests rose
     dramatically, probably due to increased conflict in Sri Lanka, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
    Three pieces of legislation were passed by the Thatcher government in hopes of curbing the number of cases granted asylum: 1987 Carriers Liability Act, 1993 Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act, and the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act.
     4. The emphasis on restricting entry to Great Britain has not fostered a positive conception of British citizenship, like in France or the
     United States.
    However, there has been a recent effort to make becoming a citizen more of an accomplishment, in order to emphasize the benefits and responsibilities of the citizen.
     Britain's Ethic Mix:
     -7.9 percent of British Mainland population, mostly made from people of Indian, Pakistani, and Eastern European descent, as well as the
     - 45% of all minorities in Britain reside in London.
     The Multiculturalism debate
     - Debate centers not around whether or not Britain is a multicultural society, but around the "normative and prescriptive aspects of multiculturalism."
     Defining Multiculturalism
     - "Members of different cultures have the right to assert their different and distinctive cultures in public and private."
     - Opposite of Assimilation model, used by France and the United States.
     - Multicultural debate of the past focused on the practical, and avoided the theoretical.
     Multiculturalism usually entails a specific agenda of policies that focus on according equality and recognition to different traditions.
     - usually with a focus on education.
     - usually includes the right to validate beliefs through dress (i.e. Muslim head-scarves.), have their religious practices and holy days
     afforded equal respect with those of the majority religion, and should be able to express their beliefs wherever possible.
     - Should Islamic schools be regulated/funded?
     - What allowances of the dress code can be made for Muslim women in the school system?
     - Should ritual slaughter of animals for certain Muslim and Jewish religious practices be allowed?
     - How far should the state tolerate attitudes and practices which assume the subservience of women, like arranged/forced marriages?
     Multiculturalism debate also includes, in Britain's case, to what extent the British state, including the Church and the monarchy,
     should be modified.
     New Labour and Multiculturalism
     "Traditionally, Labor has generally been seen as more sympathetic than other parties to minority ethnic concerns."
     - Since 1974, roughly 4 out of 5 of all black and Asian voters who have turned out have voted Labour.
     - Labour could not afford to appear soft on Immigration--> led to contradictions in policy.
    Race Relations Act of 2000
     - reinforced Labour's already strong record as the party willing to use the power of government to combat discrimination.
     - Gave all public authorities a general duty to promote race equality.
     - Home Secretary given powers to further this agenda in public bodies, such as schools.
     - important because it indicates an intention to inject concern for racial equality into British public policy and it establishes a duty to monitor and assess promotion of said ideals.
    Minority Groups and the Political Process
    Minority groups are small and fragmented, but becoming increasingly organized and able to forward their own agenda.
     - Example - Muslim Council
     - Parties are forced to balance between appealing to these groups for support and looking beyond them to the communities which they may or may not accurately represent.

    Increased efforts to mobilize minority voting
     - Example - Operation Black Vote and the black manifesto (demanded commitment to Islamic schools and reconsideration of anti-terrorism legislation.)

    Major parties stepping up their recruitment of minority candidates
     - 2005, a record 113 minority ethnic candidates

    Politics of Extremism
    Riots of 1958 in Nottingham and Notting Hill furthered the idea that debating immigration should be kept off the agenda.
    Extreme Right
    - Immigration central to their agenda.
    - British National Party
    Islamic leaders
    - Attempting to reduce the appeal of a terrorist attack
    - Suggests that recent foreign policy 'feeds the flames'
    British government has stepped up its efforts to counter Islamic terrorism and extremism by consulting widely with the Muslim community.

    Top of page

    Ch. 12: Michael Saward, "The State and Civil Liberties in the Post-9/11 World"

    Top of page

    Ch. 13: Dominic Wring, "The News Media & the Public Relations State"

    Top of page

    Ch. 14: Colin Hay, "Managing Economic Interdependence: The Political Economy of New Labour"

    Top of page

    Ch. 15: Stephen Driver, "Modernising the Public Services"

    Top of page

    Ch. 16: Andrew Gamble, "British Politics after Blair"

    Top of page

    Ch. 17: Patrick Dunleavy, "The Westminster Model and the Distinctiveness of British Politics"

    Top of page