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Edexcel AS Politics

Edexcel AS Politics ExamBuster 2009

Introduction to Unit 1- People and Politics Understanding the Examination and Exam Technique
Choosing your questions
In this unit you are presented with four questions. They are of equal value and each question covers one of the four sections of the specification. These are: Democracy and political participation Party policies and ideas Elections Pressure groups There is no significance to the order in which questions appear. Each question is divided into three sections (a), (b) and (c). When choosing which questions to do, the following principles are recommended: It is almost certain that you will be better off choosing your strongest question to do first. You should choose questions on the basis of how well you can answer the section (c) part. The (c) part carries 25 of the 40 marks available for the whole answer. Do not choose a question simply because you can do part (a) especially well. The (a) question is only worth 5 marks. It would be illogical to choose your strongest (a) part if you cannot do well on section (c). If you cannot decide between several (c) parts, i.e. you can do more than one equally well, make your choice on the basis of part (b) which carries 10 marks. But remember, it is the (c) parts that will determine most what your overall mark will be. So, when you first look at the exam paper, look at the (c) sections first.

Assessment Objectives
Each question is divided into three sections, as follows: carries 5 marks carries 10 marks carries 25 marks The way you answer questions should be determined by the way assessment objectives are distributed. Assessment objectives provide the basis upon which examiners award marks. You need to be familiar with them to maximise your marks. They will help direct your revision and with the answers to the questions. A full explanation of assessment objectives can be found in the specification book, but a brief description will be enough here. There are three assessment objectives (AOs):

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AO1

Knowledge and Understanding

This is basically factual knowledge and understanding of key ideas, concepts, meanings, distinctions and processes. It also refers to your knowledge and use of appropriate examples to back up and illustrate your answers. In short, it is what you know. 50% of the total assessment is for AO1. AO2 Analysis and evaluation

This is what students often find tough, although the good news is that AO2 only accounts for 30 % of the total marks. This refers to your ability to show you can analyse a question, can evaluate certain ideas, distinguishing between what is important and what is less important. It mainly applies to questions which ask you ‘to what extent’ or ‘why’ or explain the difference’ etc. It also gives marks for making connections between different parts of the political system. One way of looking at AO2 is that it contains marks for how well you have actually answered the question, however much factual knowledge you may or may not have. AO3 Communication

In short, this is how well you write. There is little you can do about your standard of literacy by the time you come to revision, but you can make sure that you are aware of the appropriate language and vocabulary to use in a particular answer. AO3 is for the accuracy of your writing, how well you go about answering the question, how well constructed the answer is and whether appropriate political vocabulary has been used. This will be illustrated in the detailed revision notes in this guide. There is a total of 20% of marks available for AO3. It is vital that you familiarise yourself with the assessment objectives, not least because the examiners who mark your work will give separate marks for each of those assessment objectives. In other words, if you fail to achieve good marks for one of the assessment objectives you cannot regain them by doing especially well elsewhere. You should aim to score across all three if you can. As we have said, each question in Unit 1 is in three parts. The marks for each assessment objective are not equally distributed between the three parts. This is shown below:

Part (a) – 5 marks All the marks for this part are for assessment objective 1 – knowledge and understanding. There are no marks in part (a) for analysis and evaluation or for communication. Answers should therefore be purely factual, demonstrating your knowledge of political meanings, definitions of institutions and processes and examples to illustrate your knowledge and understanding. Occasionally you may be asked to distinguish between one process or idea and another. This is also assessment objective 1. You should resist the temptation to analyse, discuss and evaluate in part (a) answers. Say, for example, you were asked to distinguish between a pressure group and a party. All you need to do is to draw out the main distinctions and illustrate them with real examples. You do not need to discuss whether pressure groups are more important than parties (which would be assessment objective 2). You need to be clear in your meanings, but there is no need for a structured answer with a conclusion. That would be assessment objective 3. Part (b) – 10 marks The marks for assessment objectives are these:

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7 marks for assessment objective 1 – knowledge and understanding 3 marks for assessment objective 2 – analysis and evaluation 0 marks for assessment objective 3 – communication This is obviously similar to the mark scheme for part (a) questions, but there are some (three) marks available for the way you have answered the specific question. In practice this will mean how well you have explained something, shown understanding of why something happens, been able to draw important distinctions and make comparisons and, sometimes, evaluated how important an institution or a process is. There are no marks for communication so there is no need for a highly structured answer. Again, however, clarity will help you score marks for assessment objectives 1 and 2.

Section (c) – 25 marks As we have said above, this is the key part with the most marks. All three assessment objectives are tested, as follows: 8 marks for assessment objective 1 – knowledge and understanding 9 marks for assessment objective 2 – analysis and evaluation 8 marks for assessment objective 3 – communication Here you are expected to undertake discussion, analysis and, possibly, evaluation. You are expected to back up your conclusions with appropriate evidence, examples and illustrations, and you should attempt a well developed answer with a logical structure and a clear answer to the question. This will be illustrated in the revision notes to follow.

A general guide to answering questions
Before looking at detailed material on specific topics there are some principles which can apply to all topics according to the section being answered. First a look at how much time and how many words you can expect to use in each section: Word count The answer shown below, concerning pressure groups, uses about 100 words and this is a reasonable guide as to how many words an average candidate can write in five minutes under exam conditions, providing he/she does not have to spend too much time thinking. Let us say a good range of words for part (a) would be 100-150. You are advised to spend one minute for each mark available, so 5 marks equals five minutes. This means that, for 10 mark questions you should spend about ten minutes and expect to write 200-300 words. For section (c) questions, expect to use about 25 minutes and write between 500-600 words.

Content Now a look at what should be included in your answers:

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Part (a) answers As a general rule, which applies to most (but not all) questions, the following steps should be followed:

1. Answer the question briefly and clearly using basic language. This will normally bring you two or three marks. 2. Develop the answer a little, extending the knowledge already demonstrated. This will probably carry a further two marks. 3. Offer an example or two if this is appropriate. There will be probably another mark available for this.

Here is a worked example:

Question: Step 1

Distinguish between a promotional and a sectional pressure group. (5 marks) A basic, clear answer: “A promotional group seeks to promote a cause whereas a sectional group attempts to pursue the interests of a section of society”. That should bring at least two marks.

Step 2

Some development of the answer: “promotional groups are not self interested but are concerned with the welfare of society, for example with environmental or social issues. Sectional groups are, however, self interested. They seek friendly legislation, or to prevent hostile legislation or wish to raise public and government awareness of the interests of their own section of society.” That should account for a further two marks.

Step 3

Example(s) A good example of a promotional group is Friends of the Earth which campaigns on a range of environmental issues. An example of a sectional group is the British Medical Association (BMA) which promotes the interests of doctors.

That should bring a final mark.

Part (b) answers Most of the marks are for knowledge and understanding, i.e. content. There are three marks for analysis and evaluation so that should also be included as much as possible. To do this, make sure you have answered the specific question in some way. Here is an example:

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Question

How and why have pressure groups become more important in recent years?

Here it is important to show the ways in which pressure groups have become more important, but also to explain ‘why’ this has been the case. Here are the main ways in which pressure groups are becoming more important and, in each case, reasons why: Parties have been in decline in terms of membership and support. This demonstrates the ‘how’. The ‘why’ concerns the fact that people are disillusioned with party politics and are more concerned with single issues than with party philosophies. The ‘how’ is that membership of pressure groups has been increasing with large groups such as the RSBPB (over a million members), and Friends of the Earth. There are also powerful groups representing large sections of the population, such as Age Concern or large public service trade union such as UNISON. The ‘why’ is because people may feel they are able to influence the political system more effectively through groups concerned with specific interests and issues, than through parties which seem weak in comparison. A third ‘how’ is that there has been an increase in communications, notably the Internet. This has enabled groups to organise themselves more effectively. The ‘why’ is simply the spread of the technology. Pressure groups are increasingly dominating the main policy agendas, such as law and order, social policy, welfare, transport and energy. This is the ‘how’. The ‘why’ in this part is that politics is less ideological, there is a high degree of consensus, so politics is less about parties and more about pressure groups. The same approach can be adopted for any other points which are included. These may be, for example, the fact that governments have become more sensitive to public opinion, increasing affluence has meant that individuals have more interests which they wish to pursue, that government is now more open to influence through its many advisory committees, policy units, think tanks and advisers etc. Examples should also be used. In this case this would mean examples of how pressure groups have had a significant impact on policy. These might be the role played by help the Aged and Age Concern in raising pensions after 2000, the fact that environmental groups have led the way on sustainable energy, or the influence of Liberty over human rights issues. Here we can see that both aspects of the question are being addressed so that all the marks for assessment objectives 1 and 2 can be gained.

Part (c) answers We are now interested in all three assessment objectives. There is 25 minutes and about 600 words to be used. This adds up to a ‘mini essay’. It should have a good structure, should address the question clearly, use evidence to support conclusions and use appropriate examples as illustrations. Marks for the three assessment objectives are almost equally distributed and examiners will award three separate marks which will add up to the total out of 25.

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Question: To what extent do pressure groups enhance democracy? A recommended structure would be this: Paragraph 1 State how you intend to go about answering the question and give a brief outline of the overall conclusions; perhaps something like this: There is no doubt that pressure groups have grown in importance in the British political system in recent years. The question is, however, whether this increase in their importance has enhanced democracy. Here I will examine the positive aspects of pressure group activity as far as democracy is concerned, but will also point out some reservations that can be identified. However, the balance of the evidence will appear to show that the overall effect is favourable to democracy. This introduction serves two purposes. First it tells the examiner that you have thought about the answer in a logical way with a clear focus. Second it acts as a kind of mini essay plan for yourself. Content paragraphs These demonstrate your knowledge of the ways in which pressure group activities have enhanced democracy, but also point out the reservations referred to in the introduction. For example: 1 Pressure groups are part of an active civil society, providing a layer of political activity between the state and citizens. An independent civil society is vital for any healthy democracy…..etc. However, it should be pointed out that, if pressure groups develop too much power they may undermine the authority of our elected representatives and of government…..etc. Pressure groups have a key function of educating and informing the citizens……etc. This will enhance democracy undoubtedly, although there is no guarantee that the information and opinions that they propagate will be accurate or beneficial to the community as a whole. We need to remember that many groups, especially sectional ones, are self interested ….etc They provide opportunities for citizens to participate in politics ….etc. However, they have in recent years begun to undermine the importance and position of parties ….etc They are a vital line of communication between citizens and the state….etc. Nevertheless there is no guarantee that they are accurate in the messages they transmit and they are certainly not accountable as parties and politicians are…etc. They can provide vital information to government, for example environmental groups …..etc. yet they are not impartial and so may deliver information which furthers only their own cause….etc. Pressure groups can certainly protect the interests of minorities in society, with notable examples such as the Countryside Alliance or Liberty being good examples…..etc. This is all very well, of course, but some pressure groups may wield a disproportionate amount of influence, usually because they are well financed (for example, producer groups like the oil and energy industries or the alcoholic drinks industry), or because they have achieved special insider status (such as the farming lobby). This certainly does not represent a democratic outcome….etc. Any other significant points can be briefly mentioned.

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Conclusions Perhaps two paragraphs here: an overall assessment and a brief concluding statement. General conclusion Pressure groups enhance democracy because they tend to disperse power which would otherwise be concentrated in government and political party leaderships. They are part of an independent civil society and create opportunities for citizens to be well informed and to participate actively rather than being passive and ill informed. It is true that certain aspects of pressure group influence, and the activities of some groups can be seen as undemocratic (such as Fathers4Justice or the Animal Liberation Front), but they are certainly a positive feature of any modern, healthy democracy. Final Statement In conclusion, therefore, we can say that, despite a number of serious reservations and exceptions, pressure groups, which continue to grow in importance and influence, do indeed enhance democracy. The answer shown above should add up to approximately 500 - 600 words and will achieve the three assessment objectives. It will demonstrate good knowledge of the place of pressure groups in democracy. It will analyse and evaluate their position, balancing positive aspects with some negative elements. It will have a clear and logical structure, with conclusions backed up by evidence and appropriate examples. One final point concerns assessment objective 3, communication. In the answer it is useful to ensure that you try to use appropriate political vocabulary (and to spell it correctly as much as possible!). In the example above, examples of good vocabulary which would score in AO3 might be democracy, political participation, accountability, authority, insider status, civil society.

Revision Guide The following sections of this guide are a revision guide for the four topics in Unit 1. The guide presents key information and examples to be learned during revision. These are organised into typical (a), (b) and (c) sections of the questions. There are also guides to how to tackle typical (b) and (c) sections. No guide of this kind can be totally exhaustive, especially as there is a new specification and therefore few specimen or past questions to consider. However, they are based on the information contained in the specification and other information provided by Edexcel.

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Democracy and Political Participation
Introductory concepts – The typical subject of part (a) questions

Defining democracy
Defined as a system of government where the people either make political decisions themselves or have direct influence upon them. In a democracy people have free access to information. Government is elected and is accountable to the people. The rule of law applies. There is a peaceful transfer of power from one government to the next. Government is carried on in the interests of the people. There is a high degree of political freedom.

Example: UK, USA Describing direct democracy The people make decisions themselves. People are directly consulted when government makes decisions (also called consultative democracy). People themselves determine what decisions should be considered (known as initiatives).

Example: Referendums in the UK on Devolution, citizens’ juries on various issues, initiatives in various states of the USA.

Defining power
Power refers to the ability of an individual or institution to force people to act in a certain way. Coercive power refers to the use of force such as terror, prison, execution etc as sanctions. The state has coercive power. Political power refers to the use of rewards, sanctions and the acquisition of consent to behave in a certain way. The government has political power. Influence is a weak form of power, referring to the ability to influence how people behave, but not forcing them to do so. The media have influence.

Defining Authority
Authority refers to the right to exercise power. Authority is granted by those over whom power is to be exercised. The most common form of authority is legal-rational, usually by election. Parliament enjoys elective authority.

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Traditional authority refers to authority which is valid because it has lasted for a long time over many generations. Many monarchies have traditional authority. Charismatic authority refers to authority gained through the force of one’s personality and ability to command a following. Individuals such as Margaret Thatcher enjoyed charismatic authority.

Defining Legitimacy
Legitimacy is closely related to authority. It refers to the degree to which a body or a government can be justified in exercising power. It might be argued that the House of Commons is legitimate because it is elected while the House of Lords is not because it is not elected. However, the legitimacy of government in Britain may be challenged because it is always elected on less than a majority of the votes. A foreign regime may be legitimate because its government is widely recognised, but legitimacy might be disputed, as with Kosovo.

Explaining representation
Instead of making decisions themselves, people elect or appoint representatives to make decisions on their behalf. Delegation is where representatives reflect very accurately the wishes and demands of those who have elected or appointed them, e.g. delegates to party conferences. ‘Burkean’ representation implies that a representative is elected or chosen to use their judgment rather than slavishly to follow the wishes of those whom they represent. Party representation is the most common form in Britain. Here representatives represent a party manifesto or its official policies, rather than their own views, except under exceptional or particular circumstances. People in a democracy are normally represented by members of Parliament (or the legislature), parties and pressure groups.

Describing representative democracy
Decisions are by representatives rather than by the people themselves. Representatives are normally elected, though they might be appointed. Representative institutions exist – parliaments and elected assemblies. Representatives are expected to make decisions and policies on the basis of popular opinion, or having consulted those whom they represent. Normally characterised by political parties and pressure groups. Examples: UK, France

Describing political participation
Refers to ways in which people can become involved in political processes. Basic level is in voting, either in elections or referendums. On a higher level people become politically active, either in parties or in pressure groups. At the highest level people may seek to be elected or appointed to political office.

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Examples: Party, pressure group membership, voting, standing for election.

Describing referendums
Held to determine a specific political question. Voters are asked to determine the answer to a question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Although referendums in Britain are not legally binding, they effectively force Government and Parliament to conform to their outcomes. They are used normally to determine an important political or constitutional question. In Britain it is the decision of Government and Parliament whether to hold a referendum.

Examples: Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland 1998, whether to introduce devolution in Scotland 1997.

Describing the past use of referendums
To approve important constitutional changes such as devolution or the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. To help government resolve an internal conflict, for example the 1975 referendum to determine whether Britain should remain in the European community when the Labour Cabinet was split on the issue. To entrench important constitutional changes such as devolution. To allow voters to have a direct say in important changes to how they are governed such as the 1998 vote on whether London should have an elected mayor.

Explaining the concept of citizenship
Being a citizen implies the enjoyment of certain rights. In a democracy these include the right to vote, to stand for office, to a fair trial, to be treated equally by the law. Citizenship also implies the enjoyment of certain rights such as freedom of expression, belief, movement and association. Citizenship is normally granted in three ways – parentage, by being born in the country, or by becoming naturalised after a period of residence. Citizenship also implies certain duties or obligations. These are to obey the law, pay taxes and, in some cases (not Britain) to vote. In some circumstances it may also involve being drafted into the armed forces in time of war or emergency. The modern idea of active citizenship, developed by Labour in the 1990s, is that as citizens we also have a duty to be politically active, to care for our communities and to be active in protecting the environment.

Part (b) Topics

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Advantages of representative democracy
The people cannot be regularly expected to consider and make important decisions. They have neither the time nor the interest. Therefore representatives can do so on their behalf. Representatives have the time and hopefully expertise to consider political issues rationally. Representatives have a role in education the public about political issues. Representatives can ensure that the interests of different sections of society are taken into account in political decisions. Representatives can be held accountable for their decisions to ensure democratic outcomes. Representatives can ‘aggregate’ demands of the people, making them more coherent and developing logical political programmes.

Disadvantages (and problems) of representative democracy
Representatives, and parties, may distort the demands of the people to suit their own political ends. The people may fail to respect the decisions made by their representatives. They cannot be removed from office normally until the next election. The idea of the electoral mandate is flawed in that voters are only presented with a manifesto, the whole of which they must accept or reject. Voters cannot express preferences within various election manifestoes. Representatives do not make themselves accountable enough between elections. Today, when the public is better informed and has access to a wide range of independent information, they are able to make key decisions for themselves. Representatives may make decisions purely for electoral advantage (e.g. tax cutting, expenditure raising), even though such decisions may be unwise.

Advantages of using referendums to determine political issues
It is the most direct, purest form of democracy. The fact that the people have made the decision grants it a great deal of legitimacy. This is especially true where decisions concern the system of government (The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland). Referendums are useful in securing the consent of the people for important constitutional and governmental change (devolution). There is a citizenship issue in that referendums give people the opportunity to participate directly in politics and so may increase their attachment to political institutions (e.g. decision to have elected mayors in London and other localities). They have an educational function, raising citizens’ awareness of issues. This might have been the case, argued the Lib Dems, had there been a referendum on a new constitution for the EU in 2007/8. It can help to entrench constitutional change in a system which has an uncodified, flexible constitution (devolution again). Sometimes referendums can solve a problem for government itself when there is a good deal of internal conflict. This was the background to the 1975 referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Community.

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Disadvantages of using referendums to determine political issues
If referendums become too frequent there will be a danger of ‘voter fatigue’, resulting in low turnouts and apathy. Very much the case in the 2005 vote on devolution to England’s NorthEast. Referendums may have the effect of undermining respect and authority for elected institutions, notably MPs and Parliament. There is Rousseau’s and John Stuart Mill’s argument that referendums represent the ‘tyranny of the majority’. Minority interest would be swamped by the power of the democratic majority. This would probably occur if there were votes on human rights issues or on fox hunting, for example. Many issues, such as those concerning the European single currency or a European constitution, may be too complex for the average voter to understand. Perhaps these decisions are best left to those who have knowledge and the means to reflect of the various complexities. Similarly voters may respond to emotional, rather than rational arguments. Again the issue of the euro would be a possible victim of this effect. There is a danger with referendums that voters would be swayed by campaigns of newspapers, notably tabloids, or by wealthy vested interests who can afford to spend large amounts of money on the campaign. This is certainly a noticeable feature of initiatives in the USA. Similarly voters might make illogical choices in referendums, for example voting for tax cuts which might result in the collapse of public services.

Distinctions between direct and representative democracy
This is a question of comparing the definitions of the two types of democracy described above in the (a) section notes. However, you should specifically draw out the distinctions, i.e.: Direct democracy is purer. Referendums may carry more legitimacy than decisions made by government and Parliament. Direct democracy tends to operate with constitutional change, whereas representative democracy concerns to day-to-day, year-to-year running of the country. Representative democracy will weigh up the different interests of sections of society whereas direct democracy represents the crude view of the majority. Representatives are accountable for their decisions while the people cannot be accountable to themselves.

Explaining ‘liberal democracy’
The term used to describe most, modern established western democracies such as Britain or the USA.

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It is characterised by free and fair elections. Government is limited, usually by a constitution. Government is accountable to the people. The rule of law applies with all citizens equal under the law and government itself subject to legal constraints. This implies an independent judiciary. There is normally some degree of separation of powers between branches of government, with internal checks and balances – implying a strong, entrenched constitution. There are special arrangements, often a ‘bill of rights’, protecting the rights of individuals and minorities. The transition of power from one government to the next is peaceful, i.e. the losing parties accept the authority of the winners. The existence of representative institutions. There is free access to independent (from government) sources of political information. This implies freedom of expression and free media. It is described as ‘liberal’ largely because it conforms to the nineteenth century philosophies of political liberalism as expounded by such figures as James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and John Stuart Mill, as well as being contained in the founding principles of the United Nations.

Explaining ‘pluralist democracy’
Conforms to the principles of liberal democracy, as shown above. Particular stress laid upon features such as free elections, representative institutions, protection for individual and minority rights. In addition it means that many different groups, such as parties, pressure groups and other free associations are allowed to flourish with political life. It also implies a high level of tolerance of a variety of different political and ideologies and cultural lifestyles and belief systems. Today it also implies multiculturalism – different cultural/ethnic/religious groups are tolerated

Part (c) Questions

Assessing (or evaluating) the arguments for the further use of referendums to determine political issues in Britain
The following are arguments in favour of using referendums to determine political issues with, in each case, a critique of, or counter-argument to the point. There are potentially a number of key changes which would alter the nature of the constitution and system of government. Such changes require the consent of the people. These include the adoption of the euro, a change to proportional representation and perhaps the adoption of new constitutional arrangements within the EU. On the other hand it could be argued that such changes are extremely complex and therefore difficult for people with limited knowledge to assess. With increasing information available, especially through the Internet, a free independent media and the spread of news media, people are in a better position than ever before to

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assess political issues. This can be countered with the argument that it is difficult to separate fact from opinion, especially on the Internet. It could be argued that democracy is increasingly essential and referendums represent the purest form of democracy and so should be encouraged. Referendums are commonplace in Europe and the USA and this would bring Britain into line with modern practice. This can be strongly challenged by the possibility that representative institutions, such as Parliament and parties will be undermined at a time when they are already losing public confidence. The general arguments in favour of referendums can be countered by the problems that they bring. This include the problem of ‘voter fatigue’, the tendency of voters to be swayed by emotion, not reason and the fact that wealthy vested interests, or the tabloids, might be able to determine the outcome of referendums on a non-rational basis (see disadvantages of referendums above).

Assessing whether Britain can be described as a true democracy
This is a ‘holistic’ question in that it requires the use of material from other topics in unit 1 and some material from unit 2. Therefore it should be revised at the very end of the course to be most effective and should take in material from a wide range: We could say that there are free elections. Virtually all are entitled to vote and stand for office. Elections in Britain are, by and large, fairly run and there is little corruption. However there is a strong argument that elections to the Westminster Parliament are unfair (include material demonstrating the distorting effects of first past the post. Elections to devolved assemblies, however, are fairer. The existence of an elected, accountable House of Commons is a positive element, but the House of Lords (to date anyway) remains unelected and so fails the ‘democracy test’. All citizens are represented by an MP and can expect their grievances to be taken up and represented to public bodies by MPs. Britain has now passed the Human Rights Act so the European Convention is binding on most public bodies. However, it is not binding on the UK Parliament so rights can still be threatened by a Government with a solid Commons majority. There is a free, independent civil society, with many parties and pressure groups free to operate and to mobilise public opinion and represent popular demands to government. There is a free and highly politicised media which is not controlled by government so the public have access to independent sources of information. The rule of law applies and is protected by a largely independent judiciary. There are a number of general criticisms of the British political system which can be added to the assessment. These include: the persistence of unelected elements such as the Monarchy

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and House of Lords, the lack of separation of powers and therefore, arguably, an overpowerful executive and the lack of a codified, entrenched constitution.

Improving democracy in Britain
The following are ways in which it has been suggested that democracy in Britain could be improved and enhanced. There are concerns that the executive is too strong and Britain is an ‘elective dictatorship’. To correct this Parliament needs to be strengthened. This might involve introducing proportional representation to remove the almost automatic government majority in the Commons. It might involve more parliamentary powers – Brown did promise to grant powers of veto over some public appointments, declaring war and signing treaties. The electoral system for general elections is considered undemocratic because it distorts representation and does not reflect voters’’ true choices. Proportional representation seems to have made Scotland and Wales more democratic so could be introduced for the Westminster Parliament. Individual rights are a concern. Parliament can still overrule the European Convention. If the European Convention on Human Rights or a similar Bill of Rights were made supreme, the system may be more democratic in terms of rights. The problem of declining political participation in party politics threatens democracy. Voting turnout is a major problem. Possibly we might introduce compulsory voting or devices to encourage more voting. Perhaps lower the voting age to 16. Though referendums are used there is a case for extending their use. In addition there could be extensions to the e-petitions experiment after the success of the Internet poll on road pricing proposals. The lack of a codified, entrenched constitution, implying an effective separation of powers and checks and balances, as seen in the USA, is a problem that might be addressed. The House of Lords is seen as an undemocratic anachronism. Proposals for it to be partly or fully elected can be seen as a democratic improvement. Though devolution seems a success, it is argued that both regional and local government in the UK could be strengthened to reduce over-centralisation of power. Other issues where reform of the democracy may not have gone far enough are freedom of information, reform of the judiciary to make it more independent and reform of the House of Commons to make it more effective. The issue of the monarchy can also be raised. Is it time to have a democratically elected head of state?

Assessing how representative the UK system is
The following are arguments suggesting that Britain is a representative system. In each case there is a critique of or counter-argument to the point. We are all represented equally by an MP who will take up our grievances in Parliament and directly to government itself. However, many MPs simply follow party lines and this inhibits their ability to act independently as representatives. It also has to be said that both Houses

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of parliament are not socially representative, with a lack of women and members of ethnic minorities. There is also a heavy middle class bias. Although we have free elections, it can be argued that the first past the post system at general elections distorts representation. To counter this it can be said that the elected Parliament and assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use fairer systems and so there is fairer representation. We have many pressure groups with active support and memberships who represent effectively the many interests and causes in society. However it could be argued that wealthy vested interests dominate and so representation is again distorted. It could also be argued that minorities are under-represented. It may also be true that some pressure groups do not accurately represent the views of their members. We could argue that government itself is not representative enough. Although it is accountable through Parliament and at elections, it may not be responsive enough to the demands of the public and may not represent public opinion accurately. This may be especially true when there is no general election imminent. Although it is not elected, the House of Lords does contain members who represent various sections of the community. There are representatives of different industries, causes, voluntary organisations, worker groups, NHS patient groups, professions and occupations etc. That said, peers are not accountable so their representative role can be questioned. There is a strong argument that local government is not representative. Turnouts at local elections are notoriously low and local party cliques may not be representative and operate in their own interests.

Explaining how, why and to what extent political participation has declined in Britain
The following relevant points may be used. Membership of political parties has been falling dramatically – from a high of about 2 million in the early 1980s to about 600,000 in 2008. There are also less party activists. The reasons include a growing disillusion with party politics, the decline of ideological politics so that many people have a weaker allegiance to one party. Parties are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit candidates for election at local level. Election turnout has been falling. From a postwar ‘norm’ of about 75% in general elections, in 2001 and 2005 turnout was down to around 60% despite attempts to make voting easier, notably extending postal voting. It is argued that this is a part of a long term disengagement with politics and parties in particular. However, others say it is a temporary phenomenon, caused by the fact that the results were seen as a foregone conclusion, or that there was a degree of ‘contentment culture’ because of economic success in Britain. This suggests there

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is no long term problem in terms of voting. There was an encouragingly high turnout in the election of the London Mayor in 2008. We have also seen the growth of partisan dealignment and loss of identification with parties. This has led to a loss of interests and activism in party politics. To counter the arguments suggesting participation is falling, we have seen rises in pressure group membership and activity. There has also been the rise of ‘new social movements’ which involve large amounts of people being mobilised in a cause. The successful mobilisation of large numbers by the anti-Iraq war movement, the Countryside Alliance and Make Poverty History, etc. Over a million people also took part in 2007 in an e-petition to Downing Street concerning road pricing policy. These also indicate a growing level of participation in single issue politics. Government itself is also involving more people in policy making processes with citizens’ forums, juries, focus groups etc. Local authorities also regularly consult members of the community about their services. In Scotland, particularly, the devolved system allows for devices such as citizens’ petitions and public consultations by parliamentary committees, bringing more people into the political process.

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Pressure Groups
Introductory concepts - the typical subject of part (a) questions

Defining a pressure group
An association of people which seeks to influence public policy and decision making. Some pressure groups aim to further the interests of a section of society, seeking friendly legislation, amending existing legislation or preventing unfriendly legislation. Examples of sectional groups are Help the Aged (pensioners) or trade unions. Other groups are concerned with a cause such as the environment (Friends of the Earth), world poverty (Make Poverty History) or animal welfare (RSPCA) and seek friendly policy and to raise the public profile of the issue and mobilise public opinion in its favour. Pressure groups do not seek governmental power, but rather to influence policy.

Classification of Pressure Groups- Promotional and Sectional
The main classification is promotional (or ‘cause’ or ‘issue’) groups and sectional (or ‘interest’) groups. Promotional groups are concerned with a cause or issue and so are interested in the welfare of the community in general. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace are a perfect example. They are not self-interested. Sectional groups are self-interested. They seek to further the interests of their own members or the specific group they represent. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) or National Farmers Union (NFU) are good examples. Some have a formal membership, other simply represent a section of society.

Classification of Pressure Groups – Insiders and Outsiders
Insider groups are those which have a ‘special’ or intimate relationship with government and other public bodies. These groups are frequently consulted and sometimes have a semiformal place in governing circles. They may have places reserved for their representatives on official policy committees, may be consulted regularly by ministers and civil servants and may regularly give evidence to parliamentary select or standing committees which consider policy and legislation. There are insider groups in devolved governments and in the European Union where ‘registered’ groups have special access to the European Commission and the European Parliament. Typical examples are the National Farmers’ Union, the Automobile Association or the RSPCA. Some groups, such as the National Consumer Council or the Commission for Equality and Human Rights have actually been set up, and are funded, by government itself. Most (but not all) insiders are sectional groups.

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Outsider groups do not enjoy such special status, either through choice or because government does not wish to be closely associated with them. They seek to influence policy mainly by mobilising public opinion and demonstrating the strength of feeling over an issue. They tend to use public and media campaigns to further their issue. Most are promotional groups such as Make Poverty History or Greenpeace, though there are some sectional groups who are outsiders. Trade unions are now largely outsiders, having been insiders before the 1980s.

Defining pluralism
Pluralism is a description of a society and, more specifically, of a political system. It refers to the fact that many different cultural and religious groups, or political views and ideologies are allowed to flourish together. It can also refer to the idea that power in a pluralist society is more widely distributed among individuals and groups. It also refers to a political environment where different groups and associations, such as parties, pressure groups and religions, are tolerated, are free to express opinions and to campaign for office or for influence. Pluralism is associated with the concept of ‘civil society’ which is a description of the groups and associations which exist within a democracy and which are independent of government. Pluralism can be contrasted with political systems described as more totalitarian or autocratic in nature. Here such groups and belief systems are suppressed and a more singular set of political beliefs is imposed.

Elitism
Referring to a characteristic of some societies and political systems. It suggests that those who hold power – political, economic and social – are a relatively narrow, ‘elite’ section of society. It therefore suggests that power may be concentrated within a narrow section of society such as senior political figures, those who possess wealth, those who run major businesses and corporations, possibly leaders of the arts or culture generally, possibly in some societies military or even religious leadership. Elitism therefore suggests that the people in general and groups outside government hold little or no influence. In this sense it is the opposite of pluralism and is often seen as antidemocratic. Examples of elitist societies and regimes have been communist states (USSR, China, Cuba), military dictatorships (Pakistan until 2008), religious states (Iran). Some left- wing thinkers also see ‘western society’ as elitist, believing it to be fundamentally controlled by a close-knit political/business/military elite despite the ‘illusion’ of democracy.

Distinctions between parties and pressure groups
The main distinction is that parties seek governmental power or a share in power whereas pressure groups are not seeking governmental power, but only to influence government. For the above reason parties must be prepared to be accountable for their policies and decisions, while pressure groups do not.

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Pressure groups almost always campaign on a narrow range of issues whereas parties have to develop policies across the whole range of public business. Parties always have a formal membership while many pressure groups do not have membership or only a small, informal membership.

Part (b) questions

How can pressure groups be classified?
For a part (b) question you should use the four classifications described above, i.e. promotional and sectional, insider and outsider. Describe the distinctions between promotional and sectional groups, drawing out the distinctions clearly. Use examples as shown or similar. Describe the distinctions between insiders and outsiders. Again draw out the distinctions and use examples.

Why might it be difficult to distinguish between parties and pressure groups
Note that there are key distinctions. See under introductory concepts above for these. Despite these distinctions there are factors which blur the distinctions. These include: Some pressure groups, such as the CBI or large trade unions do develop a wide range of policies often beyond their own narrow concerns. Some large trade unions are even interested in foreign policy issues. Environment groups such as Friends of the Earth are also interested beyond the narrow confines of the environment, including issues about rights, the economy, world trade and poverty and democracy. Some large pressure groups have put up candidates for election to various levels of government, for example anti-abortion campaigners. These are often known as ‘single issue parties’. It could be argued that the BNP is effectively a single issue party, it is so dominated by race and immigration issues. Some associations are both parties and pressure groups, notably the Green Party and the UK Independence Party (UKIP). These are former pressure groups which have become parties. UKIP used to be only interested in bringing the UK out of the EU, now it has become a general conservative, nationalist party, further to the right of the Conservative Party itself. Some groups have been or have become so closely associated with parties that they can be seen as a part or faction of those parties. This has long been true of unions and the Labour

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Party. It can also be seen in terms of the Institute of Directors and the Conservatives and right campaign group Liberty and the Liberal Democrats.

How do pressure groups seek to influence government?
It is best to describe methods in relation to the different types of group. The three marks available for analysis etc. (AO2) can be gained by linking methods to classifications accurately. Insider groups work largely within government. They seek to have places on policy committees and units, they provide regular written reports, often showing research findings (environment and business groups are examples), give evidence to parliamentary committees and try to arrange meetings directly with ministers and civil servants. They may also become directly involved in the drafting of legislation (e.g. the national Consumer Council or the Law Commission). Outsider groups – usually promotional groups – largely seek to mobilise public opinion. They do this to place their issues on the public and political agenda. They also try to persuade policy makers that many people support the issue and that the government may gain votes by supporting the group (note Help the Aged with its huge section of supporters) Typically they organise media campaigns (Jamie Oliver and school meals), organise public demonstrations (Make Poverty History) and may use stunts which gain publicity (Fathers 4 Justice). Sectional groups usually seek insider status. They may also take direct action – notably trade unions who organise strikes and other industrial action. Important groups in society such as the police or doctors and nurses may threaten non-compliance with new policies. Some groups, often promotional, may operate outside the law. Examples are the Animal Liberation Front or Greenpeace. They hope to gain publicity in this way.

Why have pressure groups become more important in recent years?
A key reason is the decline of political parties and public identification with parties. Membership of parties has fallen from a high point of about 2 million total in the early 1980s to estimated figures in 2008 of about 400,000. Disillusionment with parties and politics in general has led to more identifications with pressure groups which do not suffer the same loss of public confidence.

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People have become more interested in single issue politics, rather than in the broader policies or ideologies of parties. Parties are less ideological than they used to be and there is more political consensus. Attention therefore centres more on issues than broad policies. In the Internet age and the growth in importance of communications and media, government feels the need to pay more attention to public opinion. If voters are more interested in issues than in party beliefs, government must be sensitive to public opinion. Pressure groups are a key indicator of public opinion. Government is ever more complex and technical. Therefore governments increasingly need pressure groups to inform them about opinion, demands, needs and, in some cases, about changes in society in general. Growing affluence has meant that people in general have more activities and interests which lead to demands for policy change. Examples are sport, environment, travel, the arts and entertainment. Britain’s media have become increasingly active in campaigning on political issues. This has provided more effective vehicles for pressure groups to pursue their causes and interests. There are now more opportunities for pressure group access to decision makers. These include the more open political systems of devolved government, local government and the European Union. Pressure groups have also become increasingly involved in the courts, using judicial reviews and appeals to further the interests of members. Appeals for the release of new drug treatments by the NHS are good examples, as are appeals to the European Court of Justice on various aspects of workers’ rights.

How do some pressure groups achieve success?
It is worth defining ‘success’. This would mean the prevention of unfriendly legislation (groups campaigning against the approval of super-casinos), the passage of friendly legislation (Action on Smoking and Health and the public smoking ban). Amendments to legislation (Countryside Alliance and the anti fox hunting legislation) and simply raising public and political awareness of an issue (environment, campaign group Liberty and human rights issues). Achieving insider status (see above for methods) can promote success. Farming and environment groups in the UK and the European Union are good examples. A factor in success is finance. Wealthy groups, such as those representing industries or the professions such as the British Medical Association, as well as large trade unions like UNISON, can afford to mount major campaigns, undertake research and access the media to campaign. Good organisation can promote success. Organising major demonstrations is impressive and can influence both public and political opinion. Thus the Countryside Alliance put rural affairs on the political map in 2003 by putting 300,000 demonstrators on the streets

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of London. The use of the Internet and mobile phones mean pgs can organise demonstrations quickly and effectively – as the anti-fuel tax lobby has discovered. Good use of the media is a useful tool. Jamie Oliver created a one man campaign to improve schoolchildren’s eating habits and obtain more government money for school meals. Groups representing NHS patient categories have also used the media to highlight their cause. Fathers4Justice is possibly the best example of media manipulation. As shown above, the involvement of celebrities can bring success. Jamie Oliver again, Bob Geldof and Bono on world poverty, Elton John or Sir Ian McKellen on Aids and gay rights issues are examples. Sometimes a group may be ideologically in tune with the party in government. Thus rights groups such as Liberty will prosper when the government has a liberal flavour. Business groups tend to be favoured by Conservatives and groups representing the poor and pensioners will generally have more influence over Labour.

Part (c) questions

To what extent do pressure groups enhance or threaten democracy?
The following points could be seen as ways in which pressure groups enhance democracy. Pressure groups could be seen as a way in which power is dispersed rather than being concentrated in the hands of a small elite group of politicians or business leaders. Pressure groups allow a broad spectrum of society to participate in politics. Most do not wish to make a commitment to a party but are willing to become involved in single issues and campaigns. The wide dispersal of power can be seen as vital to a modern democratic system Pressure groups are a vital part of ‘civil society’, that section of society that creates a ‘buffer’ between citizens and the state and ensures democratic controls over the power of government. Pressure groups act as crucial channels of communication between people and government. They express public opinion, transmit public demands and express public attitudes to issues. Many pressure groups represent minority groups in society. They play a key role in protecting their interests against other sections of society as well as against powerful government. This applies especially to such groups as patient groups in the NHS, smaller trade unions, small producers and minority religious or cultural groups. Liberty specialised in such campaigning.

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The decline in the importance and status of parties in recent times has made the representative role of pressure groups especially significant. Parties are less ideological and politics in general is more centred on issues. Pressure groups are better equipped to represent and make demands associated with single issues. The following points could be seen as ways in which pressure groups can be seen as undemocratic. Pressure groups are not accountable, unlike Parliament and governments. This means they may make political demands without having to make themselves responsible for the consequences of those demands. Accountability is a key element in any democracy. Many pressure groups may have political influence which is well beyond their significance in society. This may be the result of wealth (industry groups), strategic position in society (doctors, police) or the fact that they have a special relationship with the government of the day (farmers). In other words, pressure groups are thought to disperse power and reduce elitism, but they may have the opposite effect if they are small yet enjoy considerable influence. Related to the last factor, some wealthy groups may gain undemocratic influence by funding political parties. The relationship between Labour and trade unions can be seen in this way, as can large corporate donations to both major parties. Some pressure groups may not be internally democratic so their political demands may not represent accurately the views of their members. This is a charge sometimes made against groups representing professions. Groups which temporarily capture the public imagination, such as the anti-fuel tax lobby or the Countryside Alliance may create a climate for policy making which may not be democratically determined and may not be rational.

To what extent are pressure groups now more or less significant than parties?
The following can be seen as ways in which pressure groups are more important than parties today. Pressure groups have much larger memberships than parties, with groups such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Trust and the Countryside Alliance having huge memberships and others having extensive numbers of supporters, such as Help the Aged. By contrast party membership has declined markedly (see above). While activism in parties is also on the decline, many pressure groups are able to mobilise large numbers of people to demonstrate (Stop the Iraq war) or to take part in e-petitions (anti road pricing schemes) or to lobby MPs (Age Concern). Politics is arguably less ideological and more consensual. This means party conflict is less relevant while single issue politics has come to the fore. Pressure groups can concern themselves more effectively with single issues than parties.

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Governments today are more sensitive to public opinion than in the past. Pressure groups are better vehicles for public opinion on specific issues than parties can be. The media are now more politically active than ever. They reflect issue demands and therefore give pressure groups opportunities for influence. By contrast parties have become discredited.

The following can be seen as ways in which pressure groups remain less significant than parties. British government remains essentially party government. This means that parties dominate the political agenda and organise the business of Parliament. Governments are formed from single parties and operate on a single party mandate. It can be argued that pressure groups simply frustrate each other’s demands. In other words most pressure groups have counter-balancing forces against them. Parties are able to aggregate policy and balance conflicting demands. Most pressure groups still represent minorities in society. Parties can be more concerned with the national interest. This applies, for example, over such issues as taxation, subsidies for sectors of the economy, rights of the community as a whole against those of minorities. Pressure groups suffer from lack of accountability. This reduces the legitimacy of their demands. As pressure groups do not stand for election they have no mandate and have no direct involvement in the governing process. There are also questions over the degree to which they are representative, whereas parties claim representation through election.

Why are some pressure groups so much more successful than others?
The following points could be used to demonstrate why some pressure groups are typically successful. More details can be seen above in the part (b) guide. This is a brief summary of those points: Insider status. Finance. Organisation. Good use of the media. Involvement of celebrities. Ideological association with the government of the day.

The following points could be used to demonstrate why some pressure groups are less successful. Groups which fail to achieve insider status may be les successful. The classic example is trade unions which were very much insiders under Old Labour but lost insider status in the neoliberal age of Thatcher and Major. This meant that trade unions lost much of their legal status and became less influential in developing policy concerning industrial relations, the economic and social security.

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Some groups fail to achieve public sympathy and support. Again trade unions are less popular than they used to be. It is also difficult for those representing the poor or immigrant groups to gain public or media sympathy. Groups may lose the support of the government of the day. This applied to unions, as shown above, but more recently also it has applied to the farming lobby (Labour) and to the rights lobby which runs counter to the government’s law and order and counter-terrorism policies. Lack of funds is obviously a factor. This applies to small groups representing very small minorities such as sufferers from rare medical conditions or those who have localised concerns. Obviously small membership or support base is a related factor to poverty.

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Elections
Introductory concepts - the typical subject of part (a) questions

Defining elections
An election is primarily a way of choosing representatives, applying to the UK and European Parliament, local government, devolved assemblies and some individuals such as the London Mayor. Some elections, notably general elections, also choose a government in democratic states. Elections use different systems for converting raw votes into elected seats. It involves all or most of the citizens in showing preferences between candidates.

The functions of elections
The main function is to elect representatives, as shown above. General elections determine who shall represent the constituency in Parliament. It may also elect a government and a Prime Minister. An election grants a popular mandate to representatives or to a government. Similarly they provide popular consent for the winning party to govern. Elections are an opportunity for citizens to deliver a verdict on the performance of the outgoing government. It also gives them a choice between different political philosophies and programmes. They have an educative function in that they inform the public about political issues. They are an opportunity for citizens to participate in politics and so can strengthen democracy.

Distinguishing elections from referendums
Elections are normally held at specific or at least semi-formal intervals. Referendums can be held at any time where they are felt to be desirable. An election is to elect representatives and leaders whereas a referendum involves a single question over a specific issue. Elections deal with a wide range of issues.

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The result of elections is binding while, in the UK, referendums are advisory rather than binding on Parliament. While the result of an election may be complex, the result of a referendum must be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Basic description of first past the post
Also known as simple plurality. In constituencies voters choose between different candidates and can only vote for one of those candidates. Voters cannot show any preference between candidates from the same party but must accept the chosen candidate from each party. The candidate who receives the most votes (known as a plurality) is elected. It is not necessary for a candidate to achieve an absolute majority (50% plus) to be elected. In general elections the party that receives an absolute majority or, failing that, more seats than any other party, is expected to form a government.

Basic operation of the regional list system
The country is divided into several regions. In each region parties are invited to submit a list of candidates with up to the number seats available in the region on that list. Voters choose between the list of parties and can only vote once. Within each region seats are awarded to each party in general proportion to the votes cast for the party. A closed list system means that the candidates are elected in the order in which they are placed on the list by the party leaders (the UK system for European elections). An open system means that the voters may place the candidates from one party in their own order of preference. They can still only vote for one party, however. The outcome is highly proportional.

Basic operation of Single Transferable Vote (STV)
Constituencies return more than one member, normally between 4 and 6 (6 in Northern Ireland). Each party may put up candidates up to the number of seats available in the constituency. Voters may vote for any or all of the candidates in their own order of preference. They may use as many or as few votes as they wish. Voters may place candidates from the same party in any order, whatever the parties may recommend. They can also vote for candidates from different parties. For a candidate to be elected s/he must achieve a quota of votes. The quota is calculated as the total votes cast divided by the number of seats plus one. Finally one is added to the total. That is the electoral quota. Any candidates who achieve the quota on first preference votes are elected immediately.

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Thereafter the spare subsequent preference votes of elected candidates are distributed to the other candidates until the required number of candidates have achieved the quota. Basic operation of the Additional Member System (AMS) It is a hybrid system, i.e. a combination of two systems running side by side. A proportion of the total seats in the Parliament or assembly operate on the basis of first past the post. In Scotland and Wales this is about two thirds of the total seats. The other third of the seats are elected on the basis of a regional list system (see above). There is a variation in Scotland and Wales. The regional list seats are not awarded proportionally. There is a ‘differential top-up’. This means that parties which do less well in the constituency elections, are awarded more than their proportional share in the regional list seats. This counteracts the distorting effects of the first past the post section. The result is a broadly proportional outcome overall.

Basic operation of the Supplementary Vote
Used to elect a single person such as a president or a mayor. In a first vote the voters show a single preference for one of the candidates. If any candidate receives an absolute majority (50% plus) of these votes they are elected. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority, there is a second vote. In the second vote only the top two candidates from the first ballot run off against each other. One of these two candidates must then win an overall majority. A variation in the London Mayor election means that voters show their second preference at the same time as showing their first preference – i.e. they show a first and second choice. There is then no need for two separate ballots.

The nature of mandate and manifesto
The mandate is effectively the authority to govern, granted by voters. At UK general elections it is accepted that the party which wins the election has been granted a mandate to govern by the people. As each party produces an election manifesto, it is also accepted that the governing party has a mandate to implement all aspects of that manifesto. Parliament can act as the guardian of the manifesto and the Lords in particular may challenge measures which do not conform to the mandate. There is also an implied ‘doctor’s mandate’ suggesting that the winning party has the authority to do whatever it considers necessary to further the national interest, even if such measures were not included in its election manifesto.

Part (b) questions
Main consequences or effects of the first past the post system
Most MPs are elected on less than 50% of the votes in their constituency. In other words more people voted against each MPs than voted for them.

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It also means that governments normally achieve an absolute majority of the seats in the House of Commons without winning an absolute majority of the total votes. No government since 1945 has won an overall majority of the total votes cast in a general election, but there has only been one occasion (February 1974) when no party achieved an overall majority of the seats in the Commons. This in turn means that Britain has for many years (since 1945) featured single party government because it could command an absolute majority in the Commons and so virtually guarantee to pass nearly all its legislation. A positive interpretation of this says that governments can be strong and decisive and do not suffer the normal weaknesses of coalitions. It also means the government has a very clear electoral mandate and can be judged on the basis of how well it has delivered its mandate. A negative interpretation is that it creates politics which is too adversarial and not consensual enough, that it excludes smaller parties from power permanently and creates an ‘elective dictatorship’ where the executive is seen as over-powerful. The most critical assessment is that the system distorts representation in the House of Commons. Parties (Labour of late) with concentrated support receive a disproportionately high number of seats, while parties with evenly spread support, such as the Lib Dems, are discriminated against.

How do elections promote democracy?
It is crucial that government is carried on with the consent of the people and elections ensure government by consent. They therefore effectively reinforce general consent to the democratic system. If there were no elections there would be no way of guaranteeing popular consent. It is also vital to democracy that government is accountable to the people. Regular elections enable to people to call governments to account and remove them if necessary. As with the point above, without elections government would not be accountable and so would be able to act beyond its authority and might abuse its mandate. Elections are the key opportunity for citizens to participate in the democratic process. Such participation can underpin consent and can help to ensure popular obedience to elected government. Elections are a means by which the people can choose freely between different political programmes and be directly involved in the political process. Elections can provide a means by which suitable candidates are chosen to hold office or to be representatives in elected assemblies.

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What is the impact of proportional representation in Britain?
PR operates in Northern Ireland (STV), in Scotland, Wales and London (AMS) and the regional list system operates for elections to the European Parliament. The impact varies according to place and the system used. In Northern Ireland STV results in a multi party outcome with five of the larger parties all achieving significant representation in the assembly and therefore being awarded places in a power sharing government. STV also allows a number of independent candidates to be elected. AMS produces a roughly proportional result. Smaller parties have done well, especially in Scotland with the Greens and Scottish Socialists winning significant seats. In both Scotland and Wales there has been either coalition or minority governments because AMS does not deliver absolute majorities for the large parties. It has also been beneficial to the nationalist parties and the Scottish nationalists have governed Scotland since 2007 as a minority government but with most seats in the Scottish Parliament. The list system operating for the European Parliament elections has meant a very proportional result with several small parties winning seats, notably the Greens and UKIP. The same is true of the Greater London Assembly, where even the BNP won a seat in 2008. In summary the use of PR has changed the party system in various parts of the UK and has resulted in examples of coalition and minority governments.

Explain the operation of any two (or three) electoral systems used in the UK
See the explanations above under basic concepts and select two or three of the electoral systems to describe.

Part (c) questions
To what extent do elections promote democracy?
The following points could be seen as ways in elections can promote democracy. Clearly they are the ultimate expression of the popular will apart from referendums. In a representative system they are the occasion when the people are able to show a preference between different candidates, parties and political programmes or ideologies. They are also the opportunity for the people to express their approval or disapproval of the outgoing government’s performance in office. It is more direct than other measures of public opinion. Elections are vital to democracy because they force governments to be accountable to the people. Governments are accountable continuously to Parliament, but they also control Parliament because they have a majority in the Commons. The people, on the other hand, are independent of government. Elections satisfy the democratic need for government by consent. They ensure the peaceful transition of power and grant democratic, elective authority to the winning party. Democracy requires that those who have lost an election accept the authority of those who have won. In other words they can be said to reinforce democratic consent.

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A democracy requires a well informed citizenry. Elections and the campaigns that precede them have an important educative function by informing citizens about political issues and the alternatives that are available. Elections are the key device by which suitable representatives are chosen. Representatives are vital to the working of democracy. This applies to other levels of election – European, devolved and local. Elections are, for many people, the only way in which people can participate in politics. Participation is also important in maintaining a healthy democracy and also reinforce consent. The following points could be seen as ways in which elections may not promote democracy. The doctrine of the mandate has problems. At general elections it is accepted that the winning party has a mandate to carry out the whole of its manifesto. However, elections do not indicate which elements of a manifesto the voters approve of. In other words the electoral mandate is a blunt instrument which restricts democratic choices Elections in Britain limit democratic choice. Voters have no say in which candidates are selected (i.e. there are no primaries or dual ballots or cross-party preferences) and so have to accept a choice of candidates determined by small party committees. They also cannot demonstrate second or subsequent preferences. Similarly general elections in Britain can be seen as undemocratic because they produce a distorted result because of the peculiarities of first past the post. The system also means that votes are of unequal value effectively. Democracy requires equal voting rights but, in practice, many votes are wasted – those who support potential winning parties in marginal seats have votes of greater value than those who support small parties or are voting in safe seats. In the age of consensus politics it could be said that the choices presented at elections are largely an illusion because there are so few differences between the main parties. Democracy in Britain today is much more a case of pluralist group politics than party politics.

Assess the arguments in favour of adopting proportional representation for general elections
The following can be seen as arguments in favour of adopting proportional representation for general elections. The most fundamental argument is that the current first past the post system is simply unfair. It distorts party representation, makes votes have effectively unequal value and restricts voter choice. By contrast, proportional representation does produce fair representation. The current system effectively excludes smaller parties from decision and policy making processes. This narrows the political spectrum and creates the danger that the two main parties maintain a duopoly which damages accountability and creates an undynamic system.

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The current system creates adversary politics as opposed to consensus politics. Adversary politics prevents continuity between one government and another whereas consensus politics allows for the development of longer term policy making. The experience of Scotland in particular is that PR can produce good, dynamic government whether it be coalition or minority government. Consensus politics is operating in Scotland and seems to be successful. Arguably the current system is one of the causes of current disillusionment with politics in Britain. Proportional representation w ould increase public support for the political system by giving voters more choice and fair choices, reflecting more accurately the political views of the electorate. PR is the most common basis for electoral systems in modern democracies, (the most notable exception is the USA). Adopting PR would, it can be argued, bring Britain into the modern world of democracy.

The following can be seen as arguments against the adoption of proportional representation for general elections. The key argument is that PR would almost certainly prevent any party from winning an overall majority in the House of Commons. If one values the importance of having single party, decisive government, able to push through its political programme effectively without too much legislative obstruction, one would oppose the introduction of PR. The current system, it can be said, has stood the test of time and produced a stable political system. Changing the system to PR, a conservative would argue, exchanges the known for the unknown. PR would have unknown consequences. Coalition or minority government which would almost certainly result from PR, can be seen as weak and indecisive. Above all coalitions are, it has been claimed, governments for which no-one has voted. Coalition government would also destroy the system of the electoral mandate on which British government relies. Single party government, produced by first past the post, has a clear mandate and so is fully accountable. Coalitions, with post-election negotiated political programmes, have no such mandate and so cannot be made fully accountable. First past the post is a simple system to understand. PR is more complex and so may result in a loss of public confidence and possibly even lower turnouts. PR would almost certainly mean the end of the close relationship between constituencies and MPs. Their representative role and their willingness to take up grievances on behalf of constituents is a vital part of the British political system.

Assess the arguments for retaining first past the post for general elections
The following points could be used as arguments in favour of retaining first past the post with, in each case, a critique of or counter-argument to the point

It is a tried and tested system with a certain amount of public acceptance. It is also simple and easy for people to understand. This can be countered by the argument that tradition

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should not play a part when politics is constantly evolving. Arguably, too, the system no longer works as turnouts are falling and there is disillusionment with party and parliamentary politics. Other than the USA, most developed modern democracies do not use first past the post which suggests it is not considered democratic. The close relationship between MPs and constituencies is a vital feature of the current system. MPs have a close relationship with constituents, meet them regularly at ‘surgeries’, represent their concerns in Parliament and deal with their grievances against government and other public bodies. This, it is argued, is worth preserving. There is little to counter this argument except to say that one alternative – STV – does give constituents a choice of several members to represent them as the system uses multi-member constituencies. It could also be argued that, because most MPs do not achieve an overall majority in their elections, they are not truly representatives of opinion in their constituency. First past the post delivers strong, single party government with a clear electoral mandate. This has been almost always the case since 1945. Supporters say this is democratic because of the clear mandate and the accountability it brings. The two party, adversarial system that it promotes is also supportable on the grounds that the electorate are presented with clear alternatives. Furthermore it creates stability and supporters of the current system point to other systems which use PR and which have been highly unstable, notably Ireland, Holland and Belgium. This view can be criticised on the grounds that two party politics is not healthy, that it restricts choice, creates an unrepresentative duopoly and, above all, that the delivery of large majorities in the House of Commons places too much power in the hands of the executive which is insufficiently balanced by parliamentary weakness. First past the post has the effect of keeping out small, extremist parties by discriminating against them. Thus, parties of the far left (various communist groups) or the far right (BNP) have been denied the oxygen of parliamentary representation. To counter this opponents say that it also discriminates against moderate small parties who do represent legitimate causes and philosophies. The Green Party is a clear example of this, as have been parties opposing British membership of the EU, such as UKIP. First past the post presents a clear choice for voters but this can be seen as a device for maintaining control over who is elected. The selection of candidates is in the hands of small, unaccountable party committees. Alternatives such as STV and open list systems do give greater choice for constituents, allowing them to discriminate between candidates of the same party.

Analyse the likely effects of the introduction of proportional representation in general elections
The following are likely consequences of the introduction of PR together with analysis of those effects.

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The most likely consequence is that the duopoly of the two main parties will be broken. This would certainly be true if STV or a list system were used and would probably occur under AMS. This would clearly result in smaller parties, especially the Lib Dems, gaining more representation and the opportunity to share in coalition government. It might also encourage the creation of successful new parties who would have the prospect of winning significant representation quickly. Britain has a long history of new parties failing to make an impact because of the electoral system. The Greens and UKIP are good examples. The story of the SDP is also interesting. The Social Democrat Party broke away from Labour in 1981. Although it won considerable support in the elections of 1983 and 1987, reaching almost 25% of the vote, the new party won only a handful of seats in Parliament and so was forced to join with the Liberals in 1988. The destruction of the two party duopoly would probably lead to coalition governments, as has occurred in Scotland and Wales. Coalitions can be supported or opposed. Supporters say they introduce healthy consensus politics, create more continuity and represent a wider spectrum of political opinion. Opponents say it would lead to unstable government run by coalitions without a clear electoral mandate. PR might also lead to minority governments because no party would be able to win an overall majority in the House of Commons. This seems to be a major drawback as instability would become common, with frequent elections and no continuity. Italy has suffered from such instability since world war two. Some say it would be workable with consensus being built on individual issues and governments would be prevented from becoming unaccountable and over-powerful. PR increases voter choice and creates more equality among voters. It also would reflect voter opinion more accurately. There would be less wasted votes and more choice whichever PR system were to be used. Arguably this might reduce current public disillusionment with party politics and might have a positive impact on turnouts. It has to be said that different systems would have different effects. STV, offering multi member constituencies and wide vote choice, would result in a multi party system, with perhaps four or five parties competing for power. It would also result in the election of more independents if the experience of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were repeated in Britain. AMS (a hybrid system, only partly PR), would probably lead to less parties becoming successful and it is likely that two parties would still dominate without their being able to form single party governments. A party list system, the most proportional of all, might result in a very fluid system with perhaps even six or more parties gaining significant numbers of seats in Parliament. It could be argued that this would result in the most instability.

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Party Policies and Ideas
Introductory concepts - the typical subject of part (a) questions

Defining a political party
An association of people who share a similar political philosophy and political ideas and who wish to convert their beliefs into political action. A political party is an organisation that seeks representation and ultimately governmental power or a share in power. Parties are organisations that develop policies and programmes, select candidates for office and seek to have those candidates elected. Major parties seek absolute governmental power whereas minor parties may be seeking to have some representatives elected and perhaps a share in power or to have influence through the legislature.

Distinctions between parties and pressure groups
Notes on this question can be found above, in the section on pressure groups.

Blurring of the distinction between parties and pressure groups
There are some single issue parties, such as the Greens which are also effectively pressure groups. Some of these single issue groups put up candidates for election as parties do. Anti-abortion groups are an example. Although most pressure groups pursue a narrow range of issues, there are some which adopt a very wide range of policies. This includes trade unions and some business groups. Some pressure groups are very closely associated with partie s so the distinction is unclear. This used to be the case with Labour and the trade unions and is true of some business groups with the Conservative Party.

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Main features of parties
Parties are association and therefore generally have some kind of formal structure or hierarchy. The exception has been the Green Party which, until recently, had a very informal membership and organisation. Parties also have an identifiable leader. Again the Greens were an exception until 2008 when they chose their first leader. Parties have an identifiable policy programme upon which they campaign. At elections this is known as a manifesto. Parties have systems for developing policies and for selecting candidates who will stand for election to representative assemblies and parliaments. Parties have a membership, many of whom will be activists and serve on committees, campaign for the party and help run electoral campaigns.

Main functions of parties
Developing policies and political programmes which they hope to put into effect. This is sometimes known as aggregation – the process of taking individual policies and aggregating them into a single, coherent, political programme. Parties have an educative function. They inform the citizenry about political issues and present alternatives from which they can choose. They satisfy a representative function in that they claim to represent either the national interest or the interest of various sections of society, reflecting those interests in their policies. They select suitable candidates to stand for election and to take public offices. In this sense they also act as a training ground for leaders and help to select suitable leaders. In Britain they play a key role in elections, informing the voters about issues and candidates, and encouraging people to vote. They also play a role in running the business of the Westminster Parliament, devolved assemblies and local government, staffing committees and organising legislative business etc. In the UK democracy they also help to reinforce consent for the system of parliamentary democracy. This is because, by and large, they all support the current political system.

Nature of consensus politics
One meaning of consensus politics is that the political climate is such that, the main political parties adopt policies which are similar and overlap a great deal. That is, there is a broad consensus, or general agreement within the political community, over most key political issues. This is likely to reflect broader opinion among the electorate. With consensus politics, political conflict tends to concern such issues as policy detail, how to deliver policies and the competence or otherwise of the government and opposition, but not over the main issues. See notes below for current examples of consensus issues in Britain.

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It is generally agreed that the 1950s and 60s and the period since 2005 have been eras of consensus politics. Another meaning is that parties agree to suspend political conflict over certain issues and to adopt consensus politics. This has occurred in recent times over issues such as the Northern Ireland troubles from 1968-2007 and the Iraq war and postwar involvement since 2003. There is also an informal consensus over the so-called ‘war on terror’. Perhaps the most important example of consensus, however, occurred during the financial crisis of 2008. The extraordinary measures taken by government to restore the banking system were not challenged by either of the other two main parties on the grounds that disunity would be damaging at a time of national and international crisis. A very formal version of consensus politics occurs when there is a coalition government and two or more parties develop an agreed set of policies based on consensus views. This is common in much of Europe, but rare in the UK. It has, however, been a feature of politics in Wales and Scotland since devolution.

Nature of adversary politics
As with consensus politics, there are two meanings. The narrow meaning refers to a ‘style’ of politics which is common in Britain. This is where two or more parties tend to oppose each other on all issues, presenting issues as a clear choice between one alternative and another, which are very different from each other. This is reflected in the constant clashes between government and opposition in Parliament and between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition. It is sometimes said that, with an adversarial style of politics, the opposition opposes ‘for the sake of opposing’, playing, in other words, devil’s advocate on most issues. This is sometimes seen as serving democracy effectively. Adversarial politics of this kind is often seen as a political version of what happens in criminal cases in court where the prosecution and defence sides (each of which has an ‘advocate’) present different versions of the evidence in an effort to persuade the jury and attempt to expose the faults in their opponents’ case. The broader meaning is when there is a wide and clear gulf between the policies of main parties. This is often associated with ideological politics where there is a great difference between the fundamental political beliefs of the parties, resulting in very different policies. It is generally agreed that the 1980s was a great period of adversary politics in Britain, when Thatcherism was confronted by a very left wing Labour Party. Examples of important differences in the policies of the current main parties are shown below.

Part (b) questions

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Main areas of consensus between the three main parties
There is general consensus over policy in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan in particular. All main parties agree that British troops have an important role to play. There may be disagreements only over the precise nature of the role and how long they should stay. There is general agreement on the shape of educational provision, accepting the need for choice in secondary education, high levels of expenditure on education and the broad objectives of the National Curriculum. Disagreement is over detail and quality, though Lib Dems have some deeper concerns over the National Curriculum and the use of targets in education. There are also some issues over the funding of higher education. All main parties agree that the principles of the Welfare State should be maintained, despite some disagreements over the detailed operation of welfare services. There are no major disagreements over how economic policy should be conducted. That is to say support for free market systems is widespread, that controlling inflation is a major priority and that public finance should be conducted responsibly, avoiding too much government debt. The main disagreements concern how much Labour governments had allowed private and public debt to grow after 1997, contributing to the 2008 banking crisis. There is now a general consensus between three main parties that there is a need for policies to combat family breakdown, deprivation in poorer areas and lack of opportunity for the young. There is also a general sense that general inequality and lack of social justice need to be addressed. Disagreement is confined to methods rather than priorities. All three parties agree that environmental protection is a priority, especially climate change and the need for renewable energy production. Conflict is confined to details of policy and which renewables are most appropriate, with some disagreement over nuclear energy.

Main areas of conflict between the three main parties
There remain deep disagreements over Britain’s relationship with the European Union and the single European currency. The Lib Dems encourage closer political and economic integration and wish to move quickly towards adoption of the euro. The Conservatives resist closer integration and see no prospect of adopting the euro. Labour lies somewhere between the two attitudes, seeing membership of the EU as vital to Britain’s interests, but drawing strict lines to prevent loss of sovereignty. Though Labour foresee adopting the euro eventually, it sees the appropriate time as long distant. Law and order policy creates conflict. The Lib Dems especially wish to see a different approach, concentrating mainly on the causes of crime. Labour and the Conservatives support an authoritarian approach to crime, largely supporting prison as a deterrent, though the Conservatives see personal responsibility rather than social causes as the basis of crime.

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There is considerable conflict over specific rights issues. The Conservatives and Lib Dems oppose the adoption of ID cards. They also oppose the proposal that terrorist suspects may be held for long periods without charge or trial. Labour supports the Human Rights Act, while Lib Dems believe it does not go far enough and should be binding on Parliament. The Conservatives believe the Human Rights Act is too extensive and would prefer a more limited British bill of rights. Transport policy provokes political conflict with the Lib Dems supporting large extensions in public transport, Labour wanting to see more environmental curbs on private motoring and the Conservatives adopting a more free market approach. Labour and Conservative tax policies are not far apart, but the Lib Dems fundamentally believe that the tax system is unfair and wish to see more redistribution of income from rich to poor and to replace local council tax with local income tax, which they argues is fairer.

Main current beliefs of the Labour Party
Labour now accepts that economic activity should be based largely on free markets with little government intervention. They also believe that taxation on both private individuals and businesses should be kept as low as possible to promote enterprise. Combating inflation is a key priority, as is the promotion of en enterprise culture. They believe that the best response to poverty is not to redistribute income from rich to poor, but to offer tax credits to the ‘deserving poor’ – those on low pay, seeking work, poor pensioners, or families with children. Welfare benefits should be an incentive to work not a disincentive. Education at all levels – nursery, primary, secondary and higher – is a priority and is seen as the best way to spread opportunity more evenly and to create a more effective, wealth creating workforce. It is also seen as a weapon against youth crime. Health provision is another key priority and should be based firmly on the principles of the welfare state – free to all, equal and comprehensive, funded largely out of taxation. However, they believe the private sector should be involved when this creates better value for money or effective, faster treatment. Though Labour does not wish to see a return to strong and influential trade unions, it does seek to extent and protect the rights of workers in the workplace. The reduction of poverty, especially among children and pensioners, is a key priority, with ambitious targets for poverty reduction being adopted. The party believes that crime should be tackled through a three pronged attack. First, the use of exemplary prison sentences as a deterrent. Second, more effective policing, and third, the adoption of education, training, welfare and housing policies to reduce deprivation and lack of opportunity for the young. Labour believes that Britain should be at the heart of the European Union, but should not surrender any more significant political or economic sovereignty to Europe. They believe we

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should adopt the euro eventually, but only when the economic circumstances are clearly favourable. British foreign policy is to support NATO and the alliance with the USA, but also to promote a common European foreign policy. The party shares the American view that the war against terror should be fought on all fronts. Environmental policy is important with nuclear and renewable sources of energy at the forefront of the policy. Labour also is adopting policies to reduce carbon emissions, especially by private motorists.

Main current beliefs of the Conservative Party
Conservatives believe that we are basically over-governed and so have a long term objective to reduce taxation and to reduce regulations upon personal and business activity. Governments should not, they believe, overload commerce and industry with too many restrictions and regulations. However they do not believe that tax cuts should threaten the provision of public services. They tend to emphasise the authoritarian elements of law and order policy, arguing that prison is a good deterrent against crime. However, they also accept that youth crime does have social origins and so improvements in family life and in the provision of opportunities will have a positive impact on crime levels. Recently Conservatives have come to accept that there is too much inequality and poverty in society and that it is the responsibility of government, as well as individuals and families, to improve the opportunities available for young people. Though Conservatives have an increasing concern for the environment, mainly climate change and carbon emissions, they do not believe that environmental policies should present too many restrictions on industrial and commercial activity. The party shares the other parties’ support for the principles of the welfare state, though they are more enthusiastic than the others about the involvement of the private sector and believe the private sector has an important role to play. This is especially true in pensions and health provision. In education they share Labour’s policies on choice, but are more enthusiastic than the other parties about the retention of selective secondary schools. On education they believe the higher education sector is now large enough and want no further extensions. Instead they wish to expand practical and vocational training opportunities for over-16s. Conservatives support the rights and interests of the owners of private property, especially home owners, arguing that property ownership is a fundamental right and should ne encouraged through government policies.

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They remain sceptical about the growing integration of the European Union. They oppose any further losses of British sovereignty and have ruled out the adoption of the euro in the foreseeable future. They share Labour’s key foreign policies and strongly support the alliance with the USA. However, they do not believe that a common European foreign policy is feasible or desirable.

Main current beliefs of the Liberal Democrat Party
Lib Dems are strong supporters of individual and minority rights. They therefore support the strengthening of human rights, notably making the European Convention on Human Rights binding on the UK Parliament. They also wish to renew democracy in Britain and reduce the democratic deficit. They therefore support the introduction of such reforms as a codified constitution, proportional representation in general elections, the strengthening of devolution and the strengthening of Parliament including the introduction of a fully elected second chamber. Lib Dems have a deep concern for environmental matters and support greater investment in renewable energy sources and curbs on carbon emissions in industry and transport. They strongly support greater investment in public transport. Social justice is a growing concern and Lib Dems would reform the tax system to make it fairer to those on lower incomes and to redistribute more income from rich to poor. Specifically they would replace local council tax with a local income tax based more closely on ability to pay. They strongly support the principles of the welfare state and are more suspicious than the other parties about the involvement of the private sector in welfare provision. They support more emphasis on poverty reduction, especially among pensioners, whose cause they strongly support. In education they are very opposed to selection in secondary education and support greater investment in all schools in order to create more equality of opportunity through educational provision. They also support further extensions in higher education with the abolition of tuition fee top-up payments. They are very supportive of the European Union and accept the need for closer integration including the rapid adoption of the euro in Britain. They believe that a common European defence and foreign policy is possible and desirable. They are less enthusiastic than the other main parties about the alliance with the USA, though believe Britain should remain in NATO. They opposed the Iraq war and wish to see British disengagement from Middle East affairs.

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Nature of traditional conservatism
Traditional conservatives do not see society as a collection of individuals but rather as an ‘organic whole’ (the ‘organic society’), where everyone is interrelated, and that those who are prosperous and successful have a responsibility to care for the welfare of those who are less fortunate or deprived. They believe in the importance of traditional values and institutions. These should be retained in order to maintain continuity with the past, underpin stability and retain values around which society can units. Thus they strongly support the monarchy, established religion, parliamentary institutions and family values. They believe that common values and a common morality are vital to maintain stability from one generation to the next. They believe that ownership of private property should be encouraged and supported and that widespread property ownership brings with it a sense of responsibility and supports stability. They take an authoritarian approach to law and order, believing that criminal activity is a matter of personal responsibility and that punishment should concentrate on deterrence. Attempts to create equality on society are artificial and deny the fact that people naturally fall into different levels of ability and potential. Although they believe inequality is natural they retain the belief that the more fortunate have a responsibility to protect and help the less fortunate (in the nineteenth century this was known as ‘noblesse oblige’). Government should be a limited activity and should interfere in people’s lives as little as possible. This implies general support for free economic markets and low taxation. However, traditional conservatives do believe that government has a responsibility to maintain the welfare of all the people and should interfere to achieve that. Traditional conservatives are nationalists who believe government should pursue and protect the British national interest. This means that their attitude to European integration has been pragmatic, accepting it if it is British national interests, but opposing it if it is not. They are also ‘unionists’, emphasising the need to maintain the close integration of the different parts of the United Kingdom.

Nature of ‘Thatcherism’
There is much greater emphasis on the idea that government activity should be limited. This is reflected in the concept of ‘neo liberalism’ which is a modern version of nineteenth century classical liberalism whose supporters believed in minimal government. They are ‘monetarists’, believing that governments should not manage the economy actively, but rather simply maintain financial disciplines, avoid excessive government borrowing and regulate the issuing of currency to avoid inflation.

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Limited government implies little or no interference in industrial, financial and commercial activity, low personal and business taxation and the maintenance of free markets with no government interference. Powerful trade unions are an obstacle to private innovation and economic growth because they pursue the interest of workers to the detriment of private enterprise. Their power should therefore be curbed. Like other Conservatives they are strong nationalists and unionists. This is reflected in euroscepticism, a belief that the EU threatens Britain’s political sovereignty and so should be limited in its jurisdiction purely to the maintenance of free economic markets. Thatcherites believe that excessive welfare provision creates a ‘dependency culture’ where individuals and families become so used to relying on the state that they lose any sense of self – reliance and become ineffective as workers or producers. Therefore they believe that welfare should be limited to those who are unable to provide for themselves through no fault of their own. However, they accept that elements of the welfare state, notably pensions, education and health, should be maintained, albeit at a reduced level. This also implies encouragement for the private sector in the provision of welfare services. Inequality in society is natural and is a positive force. Thatcherites believe that competition is a positive force and creates incentives in society which strengthen it and create more wealth. They do not believe that government should take an active role in environmental protection. Instead they believe that, if there is a public demand for such protection, private free markets will ultimately provide the solutions. They are strong supporters of authoritarian law and order measures and the maintenance of traditional values, accepting that the individualist society which they support, does need some mechanisms for cohesion and stability.

Nature of traditional socialism
Inequality is neither natural nor desirable. Socialists therefore believe that the state has a responsibility to reduce inequality and to create greater equality of opportunity. Socialists see society as being fundamentally divided along class lines and that class conflict is the inevitable consequence of capitalism. Collectivism is a key principle. This suggests that many goals are best achieved collectively rather than individually. These include such fields as education, health care, low cost housing, pensions and collective protection for workers (unions). Free market capitalism is seen as a system which contains significant faults, notably it places to much power in the hands of employers and exploits workers, and operates in the narrow interests of shareholders and entrepreneurs, rather than workers, consumers or the community as a whole. As such the state is justified in interfering with capitalism. Where capitalist enterprises operate as a monopoly, or against the public interest, they should be brought under state (nationalisation) or workers’ (worker co-operatives) control. Because of economic inequality resulting from capitalism, the state should re-distribute a good deal of income and wealth from rich to poor, using both the tax and welfare systems run by the state. A state run welfare system should be created where all those with income should contribute and where all are equally entitled to its benefits, free at the point of delivery. State welfare

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should include such areas as health, education, pensions, social housing, unemployment support, support for low income families, local government services such as care of the elderly and long term mentally ill or disabled people. All should enjoy equal civil, social and economic rights. This involves equal treatment for minorities and other groups, notably women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, the aged and gay people.

Nature of New Labour/Third Way
The term ‘Third Way’ refers to ‘New labour’ policies which were developed in the early 1990s under the influence of such politicians as John Smith, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Bryan Gould, Gordon Brown and Robin Cook. Third Way refers to a new set of political beliefs which were neither socialist nor Thatcherite in nature (see above for both), hence the term ‘third way’. It accepted that free market capitalism was the most effective way of creating national wealth and that Third Way policies should attempt to ensure that all should have the opportunity to share in the greater wealth created under capitalism. In essence it was an aspiration to create an economy and society which was able to combine a free market, capitalist, enterprise economy, with a society which enjoyed social justice. This rejected the socialist idea of creating economic equality, but instead attempted to ensure that all should have equal opportunities and life chances, but that we should accept the inevitability of inequality. However, unjustifiable inequalities should be removed through tax and welfare policies. A strong and effective welfare state should be retained, but, at the same time, self-reliance and personal responsibility for one’s welfare should be encouraged and promoted. Thus home ownership, private pensions and employment opportunities should be encouraged alongside state provision of such services. The state should not control the national economy except to ensure stable currency, low inflation and should pursue full employment. However, full employment should be pursued by encouraging a private enterprise culture and a flexible workforce. Education, largely run by the state, was to be the driving force behind greater equality of opportunity, improved life chances, less poverty, less crime and a more dynamic, productive workforce. British membership of the European Union was seen as a key element in economic prosperity and the competitiveness of British industry. Unlike both Thatcherism and socialism, the Third Way believed that Britain does have a responsibility to contribute to reducing world poverty and encouraging free world trade.

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Britain should also pursue a foreign policy based on morality and the maintenance of world stability (known as an ‘ethical foreign policy’)

Nature of liberalism in the UK
Liberalism is primarily concerned with extending and protecting the freedom of both individuals and minority groups. This implies strong defence of rights and a political system that is tolerant and takes rights into account. Liberals see society as a collection of free individuals, though they do accept that we have a moral responsibility to consider the welfare of others. Though liberals fear and oppose the excessive power of the state, they do accept a positive role for the state in terms of promoting equality of opportunity, social justice and the provision of welfare. There is an emphasis on equal rights for individuals and groups in society. Liberals stress the need for extending pluralist democracy. This implies extending popular influence over government, ensuring th at different groups in society can influence decision making, that there should be tolerance of different beliefs, lifestyles and cultures by government and society in general. They also stress the need to reduce the power of overcentralised government by dispersing power and to ensure that government is fully accountable to the people. Though liberals generally support free market capitalism with low state interference, they also accept that the state has a responsibility o promote equality of opportunity, to promote a degree of social justice and to provide welfare for those unable to care or provide for themselves through no fault of their own. Liberals support multiculturalism – the idea that different ethnic and cultural groups should be tolerated and protected, and that diversity in society is a positive force and is to be celebrated.

Part (c) questions
To what extent has the current Conservative Party abandoned its traditional roots?
The following are arguments suggesting that the Conservative Party has abandoned its traditional roots. The party has taken on the neo-liberal attitude of Thatcherism. This means a much greater emphasis on the importance of free markets and a view of society that sees it as made up of individuals who are independent of each other. This largely abandons the idea of the organic society.

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While traditional conservatives believed that people naturally fall into different levels of ability and potential, the modern party accepts that every individual has potential and can be totally mobile within society. Traditional Tories saw society as falling naturally into layers, modern conservatives see society as ‘atomised’ and fluid. Traditional conservatives promote the idea of a single set of values for society to which all can subscribe. A single set of values was seen as vital to social cohesion. The modern Conservative Party is more tolerant of competing values, lifestyles and cultures; in other words it is more inclusive in its social outlook. The modern party is less insistent on the maintenance of traditional institutions and has come to accept a degree of constitutional and institutional reform, notably supporting a partly elected House of Lords, accepting devolution and supporting a British Bill of Rights. The traditional movement was more concerned to maintain the status quo.

The following are arguments suggesting that the modern Conservative party has not abandoned its traditional roots. Traditional conservatives have always believed that society as a whole has a responsibility to care for those who are deprived and who do not share in the general prosperity. Under Cameron it has been accepted that this responsibility still exists and that the state should intervene to help the less fortunate. The modern party remains the party of property ownership, seeing it as a key feature of a stable society and a device by which people feel a sense of responsibility. Thus they believe government policies should protect the interests of property ownership. Cameron and his leadership group see themselves as the heirs of ‘one nation Toryism’. They fear that social conflict will grow if there is too much inequality in society, as Disraeli had claimed in the 1870s. Therefore they argue that the state needs to intervene to promote social justice. Modern conservatives remain nationalists and fear the disintegration of the United Kingdom and are determined to pursue British national interests abroad. The modern party continues to see government as a limited activity so that the state should interfere as little as possible in people’s lives and in economic enterprise.

Conclusions A possible conclusion is that the modern Conservative Party has developed another ‘third way’, just as Labour did in the 1990s. In other words it is neither a Thatcherite Party nor is it the same as the traditional Conservative Party. Instead it is a compromise or combination of the two (a Fourth Way?) In more detail this implies that the party remains fundamentally neo-liberal and sees society largely as a collection of independent individuals with their own lifestyles and aspirations, but it also sees social cohesion as vital and accepts that the state has a role to play in promoting welfare and social justice.

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To what extent has the Conservative Party abandoned its Thatcherite tradition?
The following points could be seen as ways in which the Conservative party has abandoned its Thatcherite roots. It accepts that a degree of state intervention to create more social justice can be justified. This may involve welfare, but also intervention in family situations, in education and through social services in general. There is a sense that we are responsible for the welfare of those less fortunate than ourselves. Thatcherism suggested that we are responsible for ourselves as long as we have the capability) and that we should not rely on others or the state. Modern conservatives now accept that we do have mutual responsibilities. Thatcherism saw crime and disorder as a matter of personal responsibility. Though the modern party also believes in personal responsibility, it also accepts that some crime, mainly among the young, has social causes and will respond to intervention by the state and voluntary organisations. Thatcherites would have argued that environmental problems have a market solution based on technology. The current Conservative Party believes that these problems will not right themselves automatically and therefore need state intervention. Thatcherites were extremely traditional in their view of the constitution and political system. Modern conservatives now accept that constitutional reform is essential and that the political system needs a good deal of democratic renewal. Although tax cuts are part of the ‘Cameron agenda’ in the long run, the modern party accepts that tax cutting should not be part of a dogmatic ideology, but instead should only be undertaken when the economic conditions are favourable. In general Cameron’s Conservative party is more adaptable and pragmatic, whereas Thatcherism was a more fixed, dogma with fixed principles. The following points could be seen as ways in which the modern Conservative Party retains Thatcherite ideas. The party still accepts that free markets and competition are essential for successful wealth creation. The party still fundamentally believes that the private sector is a better producer than the public sector. There is still a suspicion of state power. Current conservatives still believes the state should be curbed and that it interferes too much in personal lives and in business with too much taxation and too much regulation.

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Although modern conservatives support the pursuit of social justice, poverty reduction and the welfare state, there remains a general instinct that excessive welfare can be a disincentive to work and enterprise. It remains a monetarist party, believing that the state should intervene as little as possible in economic management, should restrict itself to responsible public finance and control of the money supply to combat inflation. The party remains antagonistic to the power of organised labour, seeing it as a barrier to economic innovation, competitiveness and growth. The party retains the euro-scepticisms of the Thatcherites, although its antagonism towards European integration is less marked than it used to be. Fundamentally the party still supports economic free markets in Europe, but not any loss of political sovereignty.

To what extent is Labour still a socialist party?
The following can be seen as ways in which Labour has abandoned its socialist roots. Modern Labour now accepts that capitalism is the best way of creating wealth. It no longer views society in terms of class and class conflict. Though class differences still exist and are significant, they no longer believe them to be fundamental. Instead they emphasise the idea of individual identity rather than class identity. Although it is still accepted that free market capitalism creates a great deal of inequality, Labour accepts that this inequality can be tolerated. This implies that Labour no longer supports a steeply graduated tax system. Labour has abandoned socialism’s strong attachment to collectivism and now promotes individualism, the idea that individuals prefer to pursue their own goals rather than entering into collective enterprises. Labour is a monetarist party in that it sees the state’s role in economic management as limited and that, as long as there is a healthy, free market economy, most economic problems will be minimised. In particular it no longer believes that the state should intervene actively to pursue full employment. Labour no longer believes that the state has a responsibility significantly to redistribute income from rich to poor, preferring to increase and widen opportunity so that all may enjoy prosperity through the ir own efforts. Labour has reduced its close attachment to trade unions. Though it believes in strong rights for workers, it does not believe that the power of organised labour and unions should rival that of employers.

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Socialists do not believe that the private sector has any role to play in the provision of welfare or any other public services. By contrast Labour now accepts that the private sector can be an effective supplier of public services.

The following can be seen as ways in which Labour has retained socialist principles. Labour remains committed to the principles of the Welfare State, believing that it should provide welfare on the basis of equality and universality. They believe it should be substantially financed from general taxation and that its services should be available substantially free for all. Though Labour no longer pursues significant redistribution of income, it has poverty reduction as one of its key goals. This, if successful, might have the effect of creating more social and economic equality. Labour remains committed to ensuring equal economic and social rights for all sections of the community, including women, ethnic groups, the disabled and gay people. Labour accepts that workers are vulnerable to the power of employers and so promotes the growth in legal safeguards for workers, even though it no longer supports strong trade unions. Labour’s social security policies, notably in respect of the tax credit system, are seen as ways of creating greater equality, though this is equality of opportunity rather than pure economic equality which socialists used to pursue.

Is there a ‘liberal consensus’ in Britain?
The following are arguments suggesting there is a liberal consensus in British politics. All three main parties now accept that a free market economy with relatively little state interference in the economy, business, commerce etc. This represents the victory of neoliberal economic ideas. All main parties are neo-liberal in that they support free market capitalism. There is a great emphasis placed in freedom and rights for individuals and minorities. All main parties support some kind of enforceable bill of rights. All parties support an inclusive and tolerant society where a variety of cultures, groups, beliefs and lifestyles should be allowed to flourish and be granted a wide range of opportunities. The three parties support policies directed at greater social justice of one kind or another. Welfare is seen as a modern liberal idea and all three parties accept the need for a welfare state and support the idea that a wide range of welfare services should be supplied free, financed out of general taxation. All main parties seek to promote equality of opportunity and therefore support the vital role of education. The following are arguments suggesting there is not a liberal consensus in Britain. On law and order policy there are fundamental differences between the parties. The authoritarian approach of the Conservatives and New Labour can be contrasted with the

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liberal insistence that crime largely has social and economic causes and that remedies should be based on that belief. The Conservatives (and to some extent the Labour Government after 2000) are not fully committed to the protection of civil liberties, especially where there is a conflict between such liberties and measures to detect and reduce crime and terrorism. Despite protesting that they believe in social justice, neither of the two main parties support a tax and welfare system which would reduce inequality. The two main parties could be accused of eroding the principles of the welfare state by introducing the private sector into service provision and by charging for some services, notably dentistry, prescriptions, higher education and care of the elderly. It could be argued that the recent success of parties such as UKIP and the BNP suggests the consensus is not shared by the whole of society and these parties pursue a number of illiberal policies on issues such as law and order, race and immigration.

In what ways and to what extent are the Liberal Democrats a liberal party?
The following are ways in which it can be argued that the Liberal Democrats are a liberal party. The party stresses the need for strong legal protections for individual and minority rights. They believe the conflict between individual rights and the rights of the whole community should be resolved by favouring the former. They are powerful defenders of liberties such as freedom of expression, movement, thought and association. The party makes a priority of equality of opportunity, placing great emphasis on the importance of education for achieving such equality. Liberals place great emphasis on tolerance of different lifestyles, cultures and ethnic groups. To this end they have adopted a liberal and open attitude to immigration and asylum seekers. It also results in support for the principles of multiculturalism. The party is a strong defender of equal rights for all groups in society, notably women, ethnic minorities, gay people and the disabled. Liberal Democrats strongly defend the basic principles of the welfare state, especially in the causes of social justice, equality of opportunity and social mobility. The party is suspicious of the power of the state. To this end they support democratic renewal, notably the introduction of proportional representation, an elected second chamber, a strengthened devolution settlement, stronger local government and greater power for Parliament against the executive. To this end they also support the introduction of a codified constitution containing powerful checks and balances within government. Liberal Democrats are strong supporters of the European Union and British involvement with Europe. European integration is supported on the grounds that it extends economic and social rights and promotes free trade. It also promotes a more diversified society.

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The following are ways in which it can be argued that the Liberal Democrats are not a liberal party. Of the three main parties the Liberal Democrats are the most supportive of state intervention to create social justice and economic stability. Traditionally liberals have been suspicious of state power. Liberal democrats believe the state can play an active role in creating social and economic change. The Liberal Democrats accept that higher taxes for the better off should be contemplated in order to redistribute income. It could be argued that liberal philosophy would oppose such interference in the distribution of income in a free market economy. The party has accepted that state restrictions and interventions should be accepted in the interests of environmental protection. Thus they propose more curbs on private motoring and on industrial activity. Liberal Democrats would intervene in commercial and business activity in order to protect the interests of consumers and workers.

To what extent is Labour a party of factions?
The following are important factions in the Labour Party The most important is the ‘left’ of the party, represented by more militant trade union leaders and a group of MPs, such as Jeremy Corbyn and Frank Dobson. This group believes that the Labour Party has moved too far away from its socialist roots. They argue that the party should support such left wing causes as greater redistribution of income from rich to poor, extensions of the welfare state and the elimination of the private sector from public service provision, the restoration of the power of trade unions, greater scope for old age pensions and other welfare benefits and higher taxes on business. Many, but not all left wingers are also euro-sceptics. They also oppose British foreign policy being so closely allied to the USA, preferring a more independent line for Britain. The so-called ‘Blairites’ are those who continue to support the agenda of new Labour which was developed in the 1990s. The Miliband brothers, David and Ed, and Alan Johnson are key mem bers of this group. They support the Third Way agenda, including the maintenance and extension of opportunities for private enterprise, encouragement for private property owners and promoting inward investment into Britain from abroad to stimulate growth and employment. These polices are to be pursued within the context of a poverty reduction programme, extensions of equality of opportunity and a system of welfare benefits that creates incentives. They also support the involvement of the private sector in the provision of public services. Between these two factions are those who represent the ‘centre’ position. They are represented by such figures as Harriet Harman and John Cruddas They believe that support

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for poverty reduction, the welfare state, education and equality of opportunity should be extended by Labour, but also share the Blairite position that private enterprise should be encouraged and that the private sector can play a positive role in the provision of public services. This group believes the Labour Party’s core goal is to increase equality of opportunity and to promote social mobility. Policies around which all members of the Labour Party can unite. There is a commitment to retaining the principles of the welfare state and full support for its goals. There is a general agreement that poverty reduction must remain a key objective. Members of the labour Party are all agreed that old age pensioners should be protected in terms of their pension values and care in old age. The protection of the rights of groups in society and protection from discrimination for women, the disabled, ethnic minorities and gays is an objective to which all members of the party agree. The principle of equality of opportunity is a matter of consensus within the party.

To what extent is the Conservative Party a party of factions?
Factions within the Conservative Party include the following The ‘Conservative Way Forward’ is a group dedicated to carry forward the philosophy of Margaret Thatcher. This means it is dedicated to promoting a free market approach, the reduction of personal and business taxation, a eurosceptic approach to the EU and a reduction in the scope of the welfare state to prevent the spread of a ‘dependency culture. In addition to the above group there is a faction of extremely right wing conservatives who are Thatcherite in their approach and are also very nationalistic. This means they oppose further immigration and take a hard line on asylum seekers and possibly support complete withdrawal from the EU. They also oppose proposals for constitutional reforms. The ‘Tory Reform Group’ represents the more liberal wing of the party which also claims to have a ‘one nation’ approach to conservatism. They believe the party should pursue policies of social justice, equality of opportunity and an attack on poverty. This group argues that the state can be justified in intervening to maintain economic stability and in redistributing some income from rich to poor. The group is less eurosceptic and is a supporter of the maintenance of the Welfare State. The group support multiculturalism and a generally tolerant society. In between the two stand the centre of the party, largely supporters of the Cameron agenda. They are socially liberal, but are also committed to free market policies, arguing that taxes should be reduced when this become feasible. They are cautious about European integration, but not totally opposed to the adoption of the euro in the future. They take a dual approach to law and order, arguing for an authoritarian approach to more serious

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crime, but a liberal approach to youth offending. The centre group of conservatives also accept the need for democratic renewal in Britain and would reform Parliament to make government more accountable. The centrists surrounding Cameron also stress the need for stronger environmental protection. Policies around which most conservatives can unite All conservatives are united in their support for individualism. This means they believe that individuals and families should be provided with the opportunity to pursue their own goals and to realise their aspirations. This suggests equality of opportunity, the promotion of private home ownership and choice in the consumption of public services, notably heath and education. All conservatives are nationalists, whether eurosceptic or not. They believe in maintaining the union of the United Kingdom and pursuing British national interest abroad. All conservatives are suspicious of the role of the state and would wish to reduce the general role of government in society in terms of both taxation and the regulation of business and commerce. Conservatives are naturally suspicious of radical change and prefer the current known to a future unknown. Though some support constitutional change, they also accept the need for some mild reforms to the political system to make it more democratic. All conservatives see the maintenance of law and order as a key element of society.

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Introduction to Unit 2 Governing the UK Understanding the Examination and Exam Technique
The structure of the questions
You are required to choose one stimulus response question from a choice of two and one extended essay, also from a choice of two. You cannot choose two of either kind of question. Therefore you must be prepared to write one essay answer.

Choosing your questions
The stimulus material may be a table of data, such as election figures, or the composition of Parliament. It may also be a written passage about a topic, possibly a news item, a speech or an extract from a book or article. There may be two pieces of stimulus material. When first looking at the exam you must spend some time looking at both questions. What may appear to be an attractive proposition at first sight, but may prove to be difficult. Look quickly at the nature of the stimulus material and then at the questions. The (c) part of the question is, effectively, a mini essay and is worth 25 marks out of 40. This is the key question so your choice is likely to be based on how well you think you can do that question, rather than the lower value parts (a) and (b). The choice of essay question is simpler and you will probably make a quick judgment on that depending on your knowledge and how challenging the question appears to be. One principle is vital, however. You must be convinced that you understand what the question actually means and how you would go about answering it. If you are not sure about the meaning of the question (an unlikely event), it is probably best to avoid it if you have the option.

Stimulus response questions
There are three parts:

(a) Is worth 5 marks and is always an instruction to identify and explain something from the stimulus material. It will not require any of your own knowledge except you ability to explain a relevant idea or concept. The example below illustrates this. (b) Is worth 10 marks and is always a combination of information contained in the stimulus material and your ability to explain it, with material, knowledge and understanding from your own knowledge. As a general rule you should think of approximately half your answer being based on the stimulus and half based on your own knowledge, that is about right. A 60%40%, or 40%-60% split would also be fine.

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(c) Is worth 25 marks and is a ‘free standing’ question. That is, it can be answered without any reference to the stimulus material, although the subject matter of this question is always very closely related to the subject of the stimulus material.

Here is a typical stimulus response question:

Read the following passage and answer the questions which follow: “Britain’s constitution is currently described as unwritten and uncodified. The first description is largely untrue, but the second is certainly true. The constitution has a number of sources, most of which are written. The written parts include mainly parliamentary statutes, such as the Scotland and Wales Acts, which granted devolution, and the Human Rights Act which brought the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. However, some of the European Union Treaties, such as Maastricht are now parts of the constitution, as are books of constitutional authority, such as Bagehot’s English Constitution of 1867 and Dicey’s work on the Rule of Law. There are also a number of historical documents which are considered to be constitutional, such as the 1688 Bill of Rights, which went some way to establishing parliamentary sovereignty and even the Magna Carta of 1215 contains some legal principles which are upheld to this day. The main unwritten elements are conventions, which are rules considered binding, but which are unwritten and do not have the authority of Parliament. These include the Salisbury Convention, which forbids the House of Lords from blocking any government legislation which was contained in its last election manifesto, and the convention of collective responsibility, which requires all government ministers to defend official government policy in public. There are also a number of traditions and customs in existence, largely relating to parliamentary procedure and ceremonies. Many now argue that the time has now come to codify the constitution, making it totally written and contained in a single document. This, it is believed, would prevent the drift to excessive executive power, would strengthen the rights of individuals, would educate the public about the political system and bring Britain into line with the vast majority of other modern democracies. Written by the author From the source material, in what senses is the British constitution partly written and partly unwritten? (5 marks) From the source material and your own knowledge, why is it often argued that the British constitution should be codified? (10 marks) Assess the arguments for retaining an uncodified constitution. (25 marks)

Part (a) requires you merely to identify and explain briefly the written and unwritten parts referred to in the passage. In this case it will include parliamentary statutes, works of authority and EU statutes which are clearly written documents, whereas there are unwritten parts which are not written into law, such as conventions, traditions and customs. In each case give the examples used. Part (b) you should explain briefly the arguments mentioned in the passage for codifying the constitution. There are three of these. To these you can add your own reasons, such as preventing

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the constitution from being changed and corrupted in future by elected governments with a parliamentary majority, the idea that a codified constitution would introduce a system of checks and balances and separation of powers which is essential to accountable government and democracy, and the argument that codifying the constitution would provoke an important national debate about the constitution and create an opportunity for public participation in an exercise to remove the inefficient and undesirable elements of the constitution. Part (c) is a mini essay. You need not refer to the stimulus at all, and in this case it is probably not necessary, though you may want to mention how it has grown historically, using examples from the passage, and so is a traditional device which has stood the test of time etc.

Assessment Objectives
The descriptions of assessment objectives is shown in the introductory material for Unit 1, above. The division of assessment objectives for stimulus response questions is the same as for questions in Unit 1 (again see above for this division). Remember that all the assessment objectives for part (a) are for knowledge and understanding, so analysis and evaluation are not required. You only need demonstrate your ability to select knowledge from the stimulus accurately and your ability to explain it clearly. For part (b) questions there needs to be some analysis or evaluation. This is likely to be covered in the demonstration of your own knowledge. The part (c) division of assessment objectives is evenly spread across the three. Here again you should refer to the guidance on part (c) questions shown in the Unit 1 material above.

Essay questions
These carry 40 marks. The division of assessment objectives is as follows: AO1 – Knowledge and Understanding AO2 – Analysis and evaluation AO3 – Communication 20 marks 12 marks 8 marks

Note that half the marks are for knowledge and understanding so you must be able to use a wide range of factual evidence to support your analysis and evaluation. Included in AO1 is the appropriate use of illustrations and examples. In your revision make sure you know plenty of these. Analysis and evaluation is where you are actually answering the question. Look out for such instructions or questions as: “to what extent”, “why?”, ”for what reasons ?” and “assess”. These words are an invitation for you to engage in analysis and/or evaluation and you must make sure you do what is required. Communication skills in an essay include three main features. First, the general quality and clarity of writing, which is a matter of your general educational level. Second is the structure of your answer. Is it logical? Does it address the question? Does evidence support conclusions? Are those conclusions clear? Third is the use of appropriate vocabulary. You can prepare for this by making sure

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that, for each topic, you familiarise yourself with political words and phrases which enhance your meanings. Textbooks and other written resources will help a great deal with this. Remember the examiners will award three separate marks for each essay answer. They cannot transfer any marks from one assessment objective to another so you must try to respond to the three objectives as best you can. Good analysis, though valuable and essential, will not replace a lack of relevant factual knowledge. A beautifully written essay cannot achieve more than 8 marks if it does not contain analysis or factual knowledge.

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The Constitution
Introductory concepts

Defining a constitution
A constitution essentially spells out the architecture of governance. It details the working arrangements of government in a country and the collection of rules, written and unwritten which regulate the government and inform the relationship between the government and the people. In relation to the former, constitutions can specify what the different powers of respective branches, and levels of government, are, as well as the relations between them. For instance the German and Australian constitutions provide for federal arrangements, whereas the UK and France operate unitary systems. Regarding the latter, a constitution also specifies the relations between the citizen and the state. Famously, the first ten amendments to the US constitution are known as the Bill of Rights, and include the right to free speech, bear arms, etc.

Two features of a codified constitution
The roles of different branches and levels of government and the relations between the citizen and the state are brought together in a single document, the oldest and shortest working example of which is the US constitution. Codification implies entrenchment, i.e. it is a higher law and requires a special procedure for amendment. An example is the Irish constitution whereby a referendum is set after a bill passes both houses of its legislature.

Distinguishing between a federal and a unitary constitution
A federal constitution entails separate spheres of sovereignty between national and subnational levels and each level is, in theory, autonomous. In the USA, for instance, federal government in Washington DC is supreme in areas such as foreign trade, but states are supreme in areas such as crime (e.g. some states have the death penalty, others don’t). A unitary constitution, on the other hand, draws all power into a central source. In the UK all legal power resides in Westminster since “Parliament can make or unmake any law” (Dicey).

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Defining sovereignty
Sovereignty refers to absolute power, i.e. the exclusive right to control of governance. In the case of the UK, sovereignty in legal terms (de jure) is said to reside in Westminster since “Parliament has the sole right to make or unmake any law” (Dicey). But the concept of popular sovereignty suggests that (de facto) power is merely on loan to legislators since the people exercise popular sovereignty via the ballot box. Another distinction is internal/external. The former relates to power exercised within national boundaries, whilst the latter is connected to the ability of a state to participate in international negotiations.

Main features of the UK constitution
The UK constitution is uncodified. It is drawn from a number of sources, much of which is written, and is not contained in a single authoritative document. Written sources include Acts of Parliament such as the Human Rights Act (1998), and in terms of unwritten sources we could point to the convention that the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that commands a majority in the Commons. Another core feature is that the UK operates according to the rule of law. This is a principle which states that law is applied equally to all citizens throughout the UK. Discussion in recent months about the possible introduction of Sharia/Islamic law in the UK highlighted how this would be incompatible. It also states that citizens have rights and government power is not unlimited, e.g. the Belmarsh case in 2004 which ended indefinite detention. Another feature is that it is unitary, i.e. it draws all power into a central source. In the UK all legal power resides in Westminster since “Parliament can m ake or unmake any law” (Dicey)

What are the sources of the UK constitution?
Mnemonically these can be listed as SCCREW (though the writers claim no credit for this): Statute. Acts of Parliament such as the House of Lords Act 1999 (cutting the number of hereditaries to a rump of 92), or the Terrorism Act 2005 (28 day detention), account for a great deal of the rules of governance in the UK. Common law. Sometimes referred to as ‘case law’ or ‘judge made law’ since the decisions of judges in court form the basis of law, and precedent determines how the law is applied in subsequent cases. Much of criminal law in England and Wales is derived from common law for instance there is no statute making murder illegal.

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Convention. That the most senior members of government departments shall form a Cabinet, or that the Prime Minister should be the leader of a party that commands a majority in the Commons is not to be found in any statute law. We can add to this the Salisbury Convention that guides the Lords not to reject any bill which was a manifesto commitment of the government. Royal prerogative. It is now customary that the Prime Minister exercises powers which are theoretically the preserve of the monarch, e.g. hiring and firing ministers, calling elections, etc. European law. Accession to the EEC (now EU) has had a considerable impact on the shape of the UK constitution. The European Court of Justice reigns supreme where EU law applies, e.g. in July 2008 Luxembourg ruled in the Coleman case that it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because of their association with a disable person. Works of authority. A canonical sextet of Walter Bagehot, A.V. Dicey, Sidney Lowe, L.S. Amery, Harold Laski, and Ivor Jennings have each created a thesis or doctrine on the constitution, e.g. Dicey established the twin pillars of the constitution: rule of law and parliamentary sovereignty. Bagehot outlined the principle of Cabinet government, and this is the theoretical model applied today.

Distinguishing between a codified and an uncodified constitution
In a codified constitution the roles of different branches and levels of government and the relations between the citizen and the state are brought together in a single document, the oldest and shortest working example of which is the US constitution. Conversely an uncodified constitution, as found in the UK, Israel, and New Zealand does no such thing and instead draws upon multiple sources. In the UK, a great deal of constitution is written down in the shape of statute law, but much of our understanding about how government operates is based on convention, e.g. that a government resigns en masse following defeat in a confidence motion. Codification implies entrenchment, i.e. it is a higher law and requires a special procedure for amendment compared to normal law. An example is the Irish constitution whereby a referendum is set after a bill passes both houses of its legislature. In the UK our constitutional furniture can be rearranged by the same means by which the rules about what breed of dog a person can own are changed. Codification usually implies that the document is judicable, i.e. it is left to the highest court in that nation to determine ultimately what is and isn’t ‘constitutional’. For instance numerous cases (ban on headscarves, existence of Islamic party) have been tried at Turkey’s Constitutional Court relating to contraventions of the principle of secularism in Article 2 of its constitution. UK courts meanwhile, determine discrimination cases only in relation to Acts of Parliament in absence of a written constitution. Even the introduction of the Human Rights Act does not permit judges to declare actions unconstitutional, merely incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Where sovereignty is located in the UK
Legal (de jure) sovereignty is located in Parliament. Dicey stated: “Parliament has the sole power to make or unmake any law.” This means that it has ultimate legal power and its actions cannot be over-ridden by any other body. Some power has been transferred downwards to the new devolved structures, and upwards to the supranational EU. The Scottish Parliament has exercised its primary legislative powers to plough a tartan furrow on higher education funding and long term care for the elderly. The EU extends its tentacles to regulate all manner of things, ranging from limits on company CO2 emissions to what farmers can produce. Sovereignty in practice (de facto) can be said to be located elsewhere. The doctrine of popular sovereignty suggests that the people hold ultimate power and that they lend it to MPs between elections. Although the UK does not operate a system of recall elections, politicians must remain sensitive to the needs and wishes of the electorate (either locally or nationally) lest they get ejected. We could also argue that the usage of referendums (Scotland/Wales 1997, London/NI 1998) saw popular sovereignty triumph over parliamentary sovereignty. Parliamentary government can be said to be a euphemism for Cabinet government, and, by extension, for prime ministerial government. Hailsham’s “elective dictatorship” (coined, incidentally, at a time when the government of the day did not command an absolute majority) argument sought to capture how since the establishment of the sovereignty of Westminster, there had been a steady flow of power to the government. Further centralisation by modern Prime Ministers, exaggerated by the growth in personality politics, suggests real power, in terms of political sovereignty, lies at No. 10.

Ways in which Parliament is sovereign
Dicey stated: “Parliament has the sole power to make or unmake any law.” This means that it has ultimate legal power and its actions cannot be over-ridden by any other body. This can be variously illustrated. First, power which has been transferred either upwards or downwards can be reversed. Devolution can be repealed by a simple Act of Parliament. Margaret Thatcher scrapped the Greater London Council and six Metropolitan Boroughs in 1986. In relation to Northern Ireland, home rule was imposed by Edward Heath in 1972 and since power sharing was introduced the assembly has been suspended (in 2002, but restored in 2007). Law from Brussels/Strasbourg/Luxembourg may take precedence over UK law in certain policy areas, but the UK could withdraw from the EU at any time. This leads to a related point: no parliament can bind its successors. This applies not just to the constitutional changes outlined above, but to any Act of Parliament. Thus a future Conservative government could, if it so wished, repeal the ban on hunting with hounds. Much has been made about the erosion of sovereignty by the judiciary, principally in relation to the passage of the Human Rights Act and the creation of a new Supreme Court (scheduled for 2009), which ends the function of the House of Lords as the final court of appeal. But in each case, these changes do not give power to the judicial branch to strike down actions of Parliament. In the highly controversial Belmarsh case, for instance, Parliament could have

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ignored the judgement declaring indefinite detention for foreign nationals. Further, even though Parliament chose not to ignore the judgment, the suspected international terrorists had to remain in prison until new legislation was written since the principle of parliamentary sovereignty makes it impossible to strike down primary legislation. Hence the HRA has provided a moral rather than legal check on the legislature. Lastly, in the absence of a written constitution detailing the outcome of a referendum as binding on our legislators, Parliament could ignore the so called will of the people. If, say, a vote on converting to the Euro was defeated on a low turnout, the government could still choose to negotiate for entry.

Part (c) or essay questions

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the UK constitution?
The following points could be seen as strengths/advantages of the UK constitution. The flexible nature of the UK constitution is a virtue. Governments with a mandate are not limited in their ability to change governing arrangements by having to go through lengthy and complex procedures. As a result, the Labour government were able to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law via a simple Act of Parliament. The UK constitution provides strong government. Whilst not everyone agreed with the reforms to the UK economy of the Thatcher era, it was possible for her to undertake massive change to such things as employment laws. Political leaders have not managed to effect equivalent changes in Italy and Germany despite these policy reforms being key election pledges. We should appreciate the value of our constitution: it allows the government to govern The constitution, although uncodified, cannot be ignored. For instance, there is no special procedure for amending the governing apparatus but any future government would be unwise to attempt to reverse devolution without recourse to a referendum. The constitution is organic and has been allowed to adapt with time. Its uncodified nature has meant that we are not encumbered with relics of the past, like the right to bear arms, as is the case in America with the 2nd Amendment. Extensive personal freedoms are afforded to UK political citizens without the need for codification or entrenchment. We have only minor restrictions on freedom of speech such as libel, incitement to racial hatred etc. Rights have been advanced on race, gender, disability, and sexuality via Acts of Parliament. Are rights any better protected in the USA, for instance? Is awareness of the fundamental principles that underpin liberal democracies any higher in those countries with codified constitutions and bills of rights? UK citizens are not ignorant of habeas corpus, or the rule of law. The public may have been perplexed by David Davis’s real motivation for resigning his seat, but not the arguments he was espousing.

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The UK judiciary has not been overtly politicised since they do not have to act as final arbiters of the constitution. It would be undesirable to have judges enter the political thicket in relation to controversial issues such as abortion or the death penalty, as they do in the USA. Instead it is left to our legislators to make political decisions. After all, MPs are elected and accountable to the people. Judges are not. For all its faults, our electoral system seems to operate effectively and has the consent of the people. For instance, in 1997 a relatively small swing of support away from the Tories swept a new government with fresh ideas into power. Usually the party with the largest share of the votes wins and thus there is clear accountability. The raft of constitutional reforms carried out since 1997 makes the UK a more open and responsive democracy. The Scottish Parliament, established in 1999, brings government closer to the people of that nation and has permitted the introduction of more region sensitive policies, e.g. the abolition of up-front tuition fees and then the decision not to introduce variable fees for Scottish undergraduates. The new election systems in the devolved regions afford greater representation in a number of ways. Firstly, to supporters of parties with evenly spread support, e.g. UKIP secured 12 seats at the Euro 2004 elections under the list system. Secondly, a much larger proportion of women have seats in the devolved assemblies versus the Commons: half of the MWAs in Cardiff Bay are women compared to only a fifth of MPs. Codification would undermine the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and upset the nature and balance of government. This historical principle has stood the test of time, so it would seem foolish to tamper with it. Who would write a codified constitution? The debate would be unnecessarily divisive (as was the case in 1911 over the House of Lords) and political consensus would be impossible. When parties can’t even decide on how they are financed, what chances are there of arriving at consensus? In addition there was no real public demand, and other priorities should take precedence. Anthony King argues that codification is no panacea. People are overly concerned about what goes in and forget that many countries that have codified constitutions leave a great deal out. As an example of the first point we could examine the Icelandic constitution which contains that “The President of the Republic shall reside in or near Reykjavik.” And on the second point there is no country in the world that has a constitution which detailed how its elections would operate, e.g. the US could have a run-off between the top two candidates for President if it so wished.

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The following points could be seen as weaknesses/disadvantages of the UK constitution The lack of codification and the need for special procedures to amend the constitution make it too easy to change. There have been a raft of major alterations to the UK’s relations with the EU without referendums: Maastricht, Amsterdam, and Nice were approved without asking the electorate, and the government ignored public demand for a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Despite steps in the right direction as a result of the introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights, through the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998, rights are still not adequately protected since they lack entrenchment in our political system. That civil liberties receive little protection was illustrated in full Technicolor by Blair’s fourfold extension of detention without trial. ASBOs have created a criminal class of innocent civilians. On a related point, the derogation from the Act was seen by rights campaigners as unacceptable. That governments elected by just 1 in 5 of the electorate can alter the rights of the people on a whim underlines the need for codification. Since most of the constitution is unwritten it is unknowable. This means that citizens rely on government to play by largely unwritten rules. It would be far safer and far more democratic if our constitutional arrangements and procedures were defined and limited by law. This would have an educative benefit, enhance trust by the electorate, and help to protect democracy. Unlike citizens in the USA, who are able to buy a copy of the US constitution from almost any bookshop, since UK citizens lack a constitution which can be read and understood, they are less likely to claim their rights. The election system used for Westminster distorts representation politically and socially. In 2005 Labour were awarded an overall majority of 66 seats (55.1% of the 646 available) with only 35.2% of the national vote. Concerns are that there is very little consent for the government. Since turnout was just 61.3% it means that only 21.6% of the entire electorate voted for the government. Of comparable democracies only Turkey has a government with a majority on a lower share of the vote. Currently only 20% of MPs in the House of Commons are women, and although this is a slight increase on 2001 (18%) the UK still lags behind many other Western European parliaments. If the Commons was to be truly representative there would be 51 black or ethnic minority MPs. The constitution is imbalanced, with the executive holding far too much power. Parliament is a toothless body, i.e. it is unable to effectively hold government to account. PMQs achieves little of lasting worth since PM’s often evade answering questions and focus instead on political point scoring. Select committees have little real impact since they cannot subpoena witnesses and have limited resources. Related to this is the power of the Commons to force through anything it wishes by implementing the Parliament Act, as it did with hunting with hounds. Thus there is no effective legal restraint against a party with a majority in the Commons between elections. Since we have no codified constitution detailing what issues are put to a direct vote by the people, what the people vote on is decided by the government of the day. Thus whilst we have had votes on devolution since 1997 there have been no votes on the Amsterdam and

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Nice Treaties, or the alterations to the composition of the House of Lords. That there are no clear rules governing when referendums should be held is illustrated by the case of the Brown non-referendum on the EU Reform Treaty. Independent experts argue that the new Treaty is substantially the same as the European Constitution, an issue which the pubic were promised a referendum on by Brown’s predecessor. The reforms to the House of Lords in 1999 have not made it more democratic. The hereditary element is indefensible, and the appointment process is corrupted. ‘Cash for peerages’ has brought into question the shady nature of life peer appointments. Our constitutional system has been seriously discredited since there is an inference that a seat in the legislature is not obtained on merit (if it ever was) but by a desire to get political parties out of financial difficulty.

To what extent has Parliament lost sovereignty?
The following can be seen as ways in which parliamentary sovereignty has been undermined The European dimension European Union law takes primacy over UK law. The oft’ quoted example of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) striking down an Act of Parliament is the Factortame case (1990) whereby a Spanish fishing company was successful in arguing that they were being illegally denied access to UK waters. In summer 2008 the ECJ ruled that British disability law needed to change in the Coleman case because it did not meet EU directives on discrimination of disabled carers. The EU’s powers have been further extended by increased use of qualified majority voting, the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy and Justice and Home Affairs Po licy. Further sovereignty has been eroded since most decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats in the European Commission. Referendums Whilst the previous government held none in 18 years, when New Labour came to power they held four in their first year. These popular votes take decision making out of the hands of parliamentarians. Whilst politicians are not duty bound to act on the result (there is no written constitution guaranteeing that legislation automatically reflects the outcome), they would be unwise to do so. In this way, popular sovereignty gains the upper hand over parliamentary sovereignty. Devolution The transfer of Westminster’s power to elected, sub-national governments has led to a raft of different legislation emanating from these new bodies. For instance, Scottish and Welsh students have their university tuition fees covered, the ban on promoting homosexuality in

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schools has been repealed by Holyrood, and the Northern Ireland Assembly has ploughed its own furrow on rights with the creation of a Single Equality Act. Human Rights Act Since the introduction of the HRA in 2000 judges have had the power to review cases in light of the ECHR and to declare Acts of Parliament incompatible with the Convention. In 2004 the Law Lords ruled 8-1 against the government’s indefinite detention of terrorist suspects in Belmarsh and Broadmoor prisons under the Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. External forces Parliamentary sovereignty according to the Westminster model is seen as an ideal type. Reality dictates that a number of other forces also determine its behaviour. First, powerful pressure groups can exert untold influence, e.g. the BMA on health legislation. Second, global institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation can shape policy outcomes – arguably globalisation has accelerated this process. Third, economic changes wrought by large international financial institutions are able to resist whatever Parliament tries to do – the credit crunch illustrates this. Lastly, Parliament can never be separate completely from the climate of public opinion – how much did the public backlash impact the recent 10p tax u-turn?

The following can be seen as ways in which parliamentary sovereignty remains unaltered. Pragmatism on the EU A nuclear option or Doomsday scenario is said to exist where the UK could opt out of EU membership. The British government recognised this during negotiation and passage of the European Community Act 1972 and it was put into practice when Greenland left in 1985. A more realistic illustration of the limits on the scope of the EU’s powers is the degree to which UK leaders have managed to exercise influence either in keeping certain policy areas off the table (so called red line issues such as direct taxation), or arranging opt-outs (e.g. Euro membership). The concept of pooled sovereignty is relevant here. Extension of QMV may have removed the national veto in many cases, but it also acts as a recognition of the benefits of membership, e.g. the removal of trade barriers between member states, and EU enlargement. Referendums Popular sovereignty is not supreme. First, as stated above, legislators could ignore the outcome of a referendum if it was decided by a narrow majority, or turnout was abysmal – either of these are probable on, say, Lords reform. The second point is closely connected. It is likely to be precisely for this reason that a raft of constitutional changes have been ushered in without recourse to referendums – the ejection of all but 92 peers in 1999 being one such example. Further, the people have no ability to initiate referendums above local level (and even then only on minor issues such as local government structures). Witness the failed attempt by Stuart Wheeler to bind the government to a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Human Rights Act

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Much has been made about the erosion of sovereignty by the judiciary, principally in relation to the passage of the Human Rights Act and the creation of a new Supreme Court (scheduled for 2009), which ends the function of the House of Lords as the final court of appeal. But in each case, these changes do not give power to the judicial branch to strike down actions of Parliament. In the highly controversial Belmarsh case, for instance, Parliament could have ignored the judgement declaring indefinite detention for foreign nationals. Further, even though Parliament chose not to ignore the judgment, the suspected international terrorists had to remain in prison until new legislation was written, since the principle of parliamentary sovereignty makes it impossible to strike down primary legislation. Hence the HRA has provided a moral rather than legal check on the legislature. Devolution In de facto terms changes in the location of political power have resulted in a quasi-federal landscape where policy differences continue to multiply throughout the Celtic fringes and the capital. But the de jure status of these new elected structures is not guaranteed. The UK retains its unitary constitution, it is not a federal state (and federalism looks no closer than it did pre-1997) since the separate spheres of authority are not legally enshrined. Westminster, if it so desired, could impose direct rule on the various regions (as it has several times with the Northern Ireland Assembly) or abolish them completely (as with the Greater London Authority and metropolitan councils in 1986 [although these were not strictly devolved]). External forces Was there ever a golden age when Westminster was not subject to external pressures? The idea that Westminster was previously somehow all powerful is a myth. True, the extension of the mass franchise may have altered the face of power, and the twentieth century has given rise to a number of international and supranational bodies. But parliamentarians have always been subject to the influence of powerful individuals and groups, and the uncontrollable forces of markets and international trade.

Explain the arguments for and against reforming the House of Lords
The following points could be used to support the case for a primarily or fully elected second chamber. Probably the most common argument against the House of Lords is that it is place in a modern democracy is indefensible. The only other country in the world where membership of the legislature is based on birthright is Lesotho. The most recent reforms cutting the number of hereditaries do not make it a whit more democratic. As Tom Paine argued as long ago as 1791: "The idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, as hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; as absurd as an hereditary Poet Laureate." The only other fully appointed chamber is Canada’s second chamber, the Senate – here also there have been questions raised about its democratic legitimacy.

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An elected chamber would be a more effective check on the executive dominated Commons since the Salisbury Convention would fail to bind Lords to waving through government manifesto commitments. On other bills the Lords can only exercise a temporary veto. Reform would allow it to exert a permanent one. A more assertive chamber can only be a good thing in a country that is often described as an ‘elective dictatorship’. If it was elected using a system of proportional representation the Lords could be said to more accurately represent the wishes of the people ,and would allow small parties to have more influence on the legislative process. The Greens have benefited from the use of the Additional Member System for the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly, and UKIP from the use of party list for the European Parliament. Neither party receives any representation in our national legislature. The public back reform. Opinion polls indicate that about two-thirds want a primarily or wholly elected chamber. In 2005 over 55% of the electorate backed parties committed to an ele cted second chamber. An elected chamber could incorporate regional representation on a federal basis, as for Germany’s upper house. Federal Union, a constitutional reform pressure group, argues, for example, that there is no political forum where the Mayor of London can debate the future of London transport with the UK government. Accompanied by a drop in the number of Scots and Welsh MPs this would go some way to addressing such anomalies as the West Lothian Question. The ‘Cash for honours’ debacle demonstrated in Technicolor that the appointments process is corrupt. There have also been accusations that political favours can be bought from our MPs with a promise in the Lords, e.g. Keith Vaz was said to have had the prospect of being draped in ermine dangled in front of him on the eve of the 42 day detention vote in the Commons. Only a fully elected chamber will ensure that what Billy Bragg terms the ‘stench of impropriety’ can be cleared from the air. If there was ever a time to reform the Lords it would be now: the current chamber sits in limbo as a half way house after Labour’s last attempt at reform in 1999; as a result of the 2005 Constitutional Reform Act the office of Lord Chancellor has been has been stripped of its legal and legislative functions, and the Law Lords are moving to a new home at Middlesex Guildhall. Introducing elections would be the final step in the process of tidying up some of the anomalies of the old House.

The following points could be used to support the case against a primarily or fully elected second chamber. The current chamber works well. It is the most active chamber in the world. It sits for longer and meets more frequently than any other. Since 1999 the Lords has proved to be a useful check on the executive dominated Commons. It has defeated the government nearly 300 times since the bulk of the hereditaries were ejected, including plans to curtail civil liberties:

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2001 and 2003 prevented plans to limit trial by jury; 2001 blocked proposal to introduce offence of inciting racial hatred; 2005 limitations on control orders; 2005 denied government power to use delegated legislation to introduce compulsory ID cards. The work of its committees is highly respected. The European Committee’s reports are read all throughout Europe and their suggestions are often debated in the European Parliament. A chamber with mostly appointed rather than elected legislators is not without its advantages. It provides an antidote to the lower house as it provides the opportunity to create a chamber which contains people who have experience of something other than professional politics – Charles Kennedy, for instance, was elected as an MP at just 23. The current chamber more closely mirrors the popular vote at the last general election than the Commons, so why do we need elections? Legislative gridlock would occur. An elected chamber, granted a new sense of legitimacy would see no need to bow to the Commons. This problem would be further complicated if party control in the two chambers were different. Alternatively, the introduction of a large elected element may take place alongside a neutering of the chamber’s power. The constitutional scholar Vernon Bogdanor, writing in a letter to The Times, highlighted the inconsistency of the Labour approach since the introduction of elected members is likely to take place alongside a limit on its powers. This idea is echoed in a leader in the Guardian which stated that it “would be unacceptable to use the Parliament Act to push through a bill creating an insufficiently robust upper house.' Problems of election excess. With the introduction of devolved assemblies and the advent of elections for Europe we already suffer from a rash of elections. Then there is UKIP’s argument about there already being too many elected officials in the UK. Even if we exclude MEPs there are at present 969 elected office holders above local level in the UK. Do we really need an additional 400+? On a related note, this raises concerns about the quality of the new legislators. We would lose all the experience of the ex-ministers and Prime Ministers we have currently. Would exChancellor Lord Howe have stood for election? It would be stocked full of the ‘has beens’ and ‘never weres’. As with a clutch of other potential reforms to the constitution, there is no real public appetite for reform. It is primarily an issue which motivates academics, and even then only a small minority of their breed, such as those based at UCL’s Constitution Unit. Voters would much rather see their politicians get on with the job of improving bread and butter concerns like health care, education, the economy, etc.

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Another problem in common with other constitutional reform proposals is the lack of consensus on the issue, as the outcome of a series of votes in the Commons illustrates (the most recent collapse coming in 2007). Not only can’t the parties find agreement, there is also disagreement within the parties. The respective front benches generally give the impression of favouring a primarily elected chamber, but privately they worry that this would make it harder for them to get their legislative programme enacted. Introducing elections would be no panacea. Voters in countries with elected second chambers, such as the USA, are not over the moon with the job they perform. And constitutional scholars in that country grumble about such things as the degree of representation afforded to states.

Explain the arguments for and against introducing a written constitution
The following can be regarded as arguments for codification of Britain’s constitution. The constitutional convention process would act as an opportunity to update our governing arrangements and correct imbalances in the political system. For instance, the constitutional status of the House of Lords could be considered properly, alongside the relation between the executive and legislature. It is likely that serious thought would be given to the problems thrown up by asymmetrical devolution, like the West Lothian Question. Codification would provide a counter-balance to the power of the executive. At present the PM wields enormous power through the royal prerogative, such as the power to declare war without the need for Parliament’s consent. Increasingly, much of what we have taken our constitution to entail, such as Cabinet government has been washed away. Increasingly PMs make decisions with a coterie special advisers and Cabinet is kept in the dark. Greater checks and balances are therefore necessary. Related to this is the power of the Commons to force through anything it wishes by implementing the Parliament Act, as it did with hunting with hounds. Thus there is no effective legal restraint against a party with a majority in the Commons in-between elections. At present there is a lack of special procedures to amend the constitution, thereby making it too easy to change. There has been a raft of major alterations to the UK’s relations with the EU without referendums: Maastricht, Amsterdam, and Nice were approved without asking the electorate, and the government ignored public demand for a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Codification would give the constitution special status and make it more difficult for a government elected with the support of as little as 1/5 of the electorate from making major changes. Codification would strengthen rights protection, and help guard the citizen against an over mighty state. Despite steps in the right direction as a result of the introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights through the passage of the Human Rights Act, rights are still not adequately protected since they lack entrenchment in our political system. That civil liberties receive little protection was illustrated in full Technicolor by Blair’s fourfold

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extension of detention without trial. ASBOs have created a criminal class of innocent civilians. On a related point, it appears that governments can give with one hand and take with the other. The incorporation of the HRA was a step forward in rights protection, but the derogation from the Act was seen by rights campaigners as unacceptable. That governments elected by just 1 in 5 of the electorate can alter the rights of the people on a whim underlines the need for codification. Since most of the constitution is unwritten, it is unknowable. This means that citizens rely on government to play by largely unwritten rules. It would be far safer and far more democratic if our constitutional arrangements and procedures were defined and limited by law. This would have an educative benefit, enhance trust by the electorate, and help to protect democracy. Unlike citizens in the USA, who are able to buy a copy of the US constitution from almost any bookshop, since UK citizens lack a constitution which can be read and understood, they are less likely to claim their rights. Codification would redress this.

The following can be regarded as arguments against codification of Britain’s constitution Professor Anthony King in “The British Constitution” lays out a number of persuasive reasons against those who wish to “modernise” our constitution and these form the basis of the case outlined below. First, there is no need. Britain has not undergone the kind of constitutional crises that have precipitated the drafting of written constitutions in countries like the Germany and Japan after WWII. The only seismic shock that might act as a catalyst for a written constitution is if Scotland became independent. Most inhabitants of these islands are broadly satisfied that the nature of government is legitimate. It may not be perfect, but which country can claim that its system is? Holding a constitutional convention is bound to widen divisions, not heal them, as was the case following the meeting in Philadelphia in 1787. The debate about the need for radical constitutional change is driven by academics rather than the people. Opinion polls might show that the latter are overwhelmingly in favour of a written constitution, but the issue is of very low salience. Voters would much prefer their politicians get on with the business of improving schools or hospitals, remedying unemployment, etc. Consensus about what should be included in a written constitution seems remote given the inability of our political classes to agree on how they should be funded, or what remuneration MPs should receive. As if to underline this point, Parliament has again delayed difficult decisions about what to do with the House of Lords – it is now nearly a century since second chamber was first reformed, and nearly a decade since the vast majority of hereditaries were ejected. How long would arguments about the constitution drag on for? Even if the convention managed to come to agreement about the constitution’s contents, a referendum on the issue is unlikely to motivate large numbers of the electorate to visit the ballot box. A low turnout would surely undermine the whole process.

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Even if codification were secured it is as likely that the new British constitution would be worse than the status quo ante than better. The framers of the US constitution contained amongst them a large number of individuals with direct experience of applying their intellect to constitutional matters. Without men and women of comparable stature in the UK, would actual progress with our constitution be made? The UK constitution has been modified enormously since the 1960s. Even if we consider solely the changes that have taken place since New Labour took power in 1997, it is clear that it is time to take stock and consider their impact. If fine minds do want to consider constitutional matters, there is plenty to be getting on with in attempting to address issues such as how the devolved institutions should finance themselves, or whether there should be an agreed convention on what issues should be put to a national referendum. Codification is not a panacea. First of all, what needs to be included? Many entrenched provisions become outdated or irrelevant. On the first, witness the problems cased by the USA’s 2nd Amendment which guarantees the right to bear arms. On the second, it is a little known fact that the Icelandic constitution includes a clause which states that its president must live in or near Reykjavik! The conduct of elections barely receive a mention in most codified constitutions, so should the UK include it?

Explain the arguments for and against introducing a Bill of Rights
The arguments below are based on the excellent report on this debate by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in August 2008.

The following can be regarded as arguments for a UK Bill of Rights either to replace the Human Rights Act or sit alongside it. A Bill of Rights would be a unifying force and help create a common bond. They would build on the HRA, giving further effect to principles as old as the Magna Carta, and thereby punctuating British values at a time when social mobility and diversity is increasing. A Bill of Rights would give explicit recognition of the link between rights and responsibilities, thus putting them in their proper context. This would give individuals a clearer idea of what to expect from public authorities and from each other. Education would be enhanced and greater citizenship would be promoted. A Bill of Rights would protect the individual against the powerful, addressing the needs of the poorest and most marginalised such as older people in healthcare, asylum seekers, adults with learning disabilities, and children in secure training centres. A Bill of Rights could include recognition of the importance of economic and social rights which are not covered by the HRA, e.g. the right to health and education, the right of access to court, the right to jury trial. On the latter it could also include more detailed articulation of this abstract principle.

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A Bill of Rights could restore the checks and balances that have been eroded by a steady stream of anti-terrorism legislation. The HRA has not been an effective bulwark against this. Since its inception it has not prevented restrictions on the right to assembly near Parliament (SOCPA, 2005), the ban on incitement to religious hatred, extension of detention without trial, increased use of stop and search, and so on. In this way, a Bill of Rights would be “HRA plus”. The HRA and the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) must be the minimum safety net below which rights protection should not fall. Besides it would be impossible not to adhere to the ECHR since it is a condition of EU membership and Britain would still be bound by international law. A Bill of Rights would perform a symbolic or iconic role by suggesting that the state was serious about rights, and reflecting changes in society since the ECHR was drafted over 50 years ago. Thus it could include reference to the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sexuality. This would reinvigorate democracy by empowering individuals and communities.

The following can be regarded as arguments against a UK Bill of Rights A Bill of Rights is only worth pursuing if it builds on the rights the HRA provides. It should not be a cynical attempt by politicians to remedy perceived failings of the HRA, e.g. that the HRA’s existence has prevented officials from deporting suspected terrorists since it would have infringed their human rights. A debate about a Bill of Rights could weaken the protection of existing civil liberties, especially if it afforded less protection than the ECHR/HRA, or if there were differences between a Bill of Rights and international human rights standards. There is a suggestion that the real motivation behind new proposals is to dilute the protections for human rights already contained in the HRA. On a related note, it is worth pointing out that the right wing press have picked up on the British Bill of Rights campaign only recently. These attacks cannot be divorced from accusations that “foreigners” are interfering in matters of British justice – there is more than a tinge of euro-scepticism (which should be unconnected to a rights debate) here. The unnecessary argument: it is disingenuous to talk of a British Bill of Rights since we already have one in all but name in the shape of the ECHR. What Mao Tse-tung might have called the “it’s too early to tell” argument: the HRA has only been in effect since 2000. It is better to wait for it to “bed down” and be understood by the public. Moreover, we don’t know how a new independently minded Supreme Court might

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begin to interpret the Act from its new home (due to open October 2009) at Middlesex Guildhall. Many Bills of Rights weaken rights protection by adopting aspirational tones or including aspirational language. Statements about the way society should be or the values you want as a society are not justiciable. In addition we can incorporate into our argument many of the negatives of potential codification of our constitution: the lack of inter-party consensus; low levels of public interest and the concomitant danger of low turnout in a referendum; fossilisation (e.g. the US 2 nd Amendment).

What impact has EU membership had on UK sovereignty?
The following points explain some of the ways in which UK sovereignty has been undermined Legal sovereignty has been affected in a number of ways. First, European Treaties (sometimes referred to as the acquis communautaire) are supreme over all UK law covered by the treaties. Further, the doctrine of direct effect for certain categories of European law means that such law does not have to be approved by the UK Parliament before it is applied to citizens. In practical terms, European law has primacy over UK law in areas where EU law has competency. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) possesses institutional supremacy as the final arbiter of the Treaties and UK courts must abide by decisions of the ECJ. The oft’ quoted example of the ECJ effectively striking down an Act of Parliament is in the Factortame cases in the early nineties when a Spanish fishing company was successful in arguing that they were being illegally denied access to UK waters. In its second judgment the House of Lords deferred to the ruling by the ECJ on the basis that under the European Communities Act 1972 a UK court must override any rule of national law found to be in conflict with any directly enforceable rule of Community law. More recently, in summer 2008, the ECJ ruled that British disability law needed to change in the Coleman case because it did not meet EU directives on discrimination of disabled carers. There has been an extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) for the Council of the European Union (formerly the Council of Europe, normally referred to as the ‘Council’) in every treaty round since the Single European Act (SEA). Scrapping unanimity on a range of issues means that Britain cannot block proposals unless it can win the support of other countries.

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o

By the time of the SEA in 1986, majority voting was standard for budgetary measures and a range of other measure, including free movement of capital, and rules on state aid. The SEA extended its coverage to single market measures, as well as areas concerned with education and public health. The Maastricht Treaty moved 30 further articles to QMV, e.g. transport safety, and consumer rights. In the Treaty of Amsterdam an additional 24 measures were subject to QMV, some of which related to certain Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) decisions. The Nice Treaty moved another 46 articles to be decided by QMV, e.g. rules on asylum seekers and refugees.

o o o o

A number of EU common policies have reduced Britain’s decision making ability, with controversial consequences. The Common Agricultural Policy has been a concern since it takes up such a large part of the EU budget. The UK has been partially successful in reducing it, but roughly half the budget is directed at a sector that contributes just 2.4% to the total GDP/economic output of the EU. The Common Fisheries Policy has had a damaging effect upon British fishing: approximately half of the British ‘white fish’ fleet has been tied up. The Common Foreign and Security Policy may be developing at the expense of Britain’s NATO role. Economic sovereignty has been hampered by adhering to the Growth and Stability Pact. Critics argue that these fiscal rules may hamper Britain’s ability to deal with a recession. Mrs Thatcher famously proclaimed that Britain did not roll back the frontiers of the state only to see Europe re-impose them, but the development of what we can call ‘Social Europe’ suggests that the former Prime Minister would be sorely disappointed. The Social Chapter, signed by the UK in 1997, covering a range of employment rights, such as equal treatment for part time workers and parental have been criticised by businesses as an undue burden placed on them by government.

The following points explain some of the ways in which UK sovereignty has been preserved or even enhanced. A nuclear option or Doomsday scenario is said to exist where the UK could opt out of EU membership. The British government recognised this during negotiation and passage of the European Community Act 1972 and it was put into practice when Greenland left in 1985. Hence Westminster’s sovereignty would prevail. The government could, if it was in our national interest, and with the backing of Parliament, defy the EU. In an echo of the so called ‘sheepmeat’ affair in the late 1970s, the beef row reached boiling point when in 2002 France, refused to abide by an ECJ ruling that it lift its ban on British beef imports. The amount of UK legislation said to be formed at a European level is greatly exaggerated. The regularly cited figure of 50% relates to business and charity law, an area which is regularly affected by Euro legislation due to the obvious impact of the single market. As a

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whole it is reckoned that a more accurate figure is around 9%. As a result of research by John Redwood, a Eurosceptic MP and Conservative frontbencher, between 2003 and 2004 it was found that for government departments such as Defence and Health zero per cent of legislation came from the EU. In a number of major policy areas such as tax, foreign policy and defence the national veto has been retained and the likelihood of these issues being transferred from unanimity to qualified majority voting seems minimal. Much of the debate about the erosion of national sovereignty and the creation of a European superstate is driven by a media that can best be described as ill-informed, and is often tainted with pseudo-patriotism and anti-foreigner bias. Alistair Jones writes: ‘The EU is portrayed as faceless bureaucrats in Brussels taking over British lives and telling everyone what to do – use grams and kilograms rather than pounds and ounces…Soon it will it be kilometres rather than miles, and we will have to drive on the tight side of the road.’ Continuing the above theme, it is a misconception that the UK has no ability to directly influence EU policy. In reality policy making in the EU is a constant process of negotiation and elected representatives have influence in two of the EU’s main institutions, the European Parliament and the Council. In the former, MEPs from the UK, who are directly elected, can influence legislation via a codecision process, and in the latter ministers from the UK c an participate in regular meeting with their counterparts from other sovereign states. The Council operates on an intergovernmental basis and whilst commitments to ever closer union may be discussed, national interests are paramount and they are fiercely protected. Lastly, there is the European Council, where heads of state/government meet twice a year. Although this is not officially an EU body, arguably it is here, and in particular the regular summits, where the agenda for the future direction of the EU is forged. The UK has retained a great deal of economic sovereignty by remaining outside of the Eurozone. Thus by not adopting the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union it is still the UK that adjusts monetary policy, such as interest rates, not the European Central Bank. Despite the creation of multiple external relations bodies in recent years, Britain retains its national veto on foreign and defence policy. The EU has a common foreign policy, but it is not a single foreign policy. This was dramatically demonstrated when Britain split with most of the EU in joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Nor do EU developments affect transatlantic relations through NATO, or its position on the UN Security Council.

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It is argued that there has been an augmentation of the UK’s sovereignty since EU membership pools sovereignty. In other words the UK shares the responsibility for tackling certain areas with other EU members that would be more difficult to combat independently. Environmental issues don’t respect national borders, and common action is required to combat climate change. Additional areas include drugs, international crime, money laundering, trade, and action against terrorism.

What has been the positive impact of devolution?
The following can be viewed as positive outcomes of devolution and support the arguments of those in favour. Democracy has been enhanced within the UK since government is much more region sensitive: the new arenas deliver different policy to that produced by Westminster. In Scotland there is free long term care for the elderly, a repeal of the ban on promoting homosexuality in schools, and a Freedom of Information Act that has fewer restrictions. Since the SNP took control of Holyrood further differences have emerged: plans to keep open A&E wards, abolish all prescription, and extend free nursery and prescription care. In Wales, there have been fewer differences, but this began to change once Morgan took over from Michael as First Minister and aimed to put ‘clear red water’ between Cardiff and Westminster. Witness the abolition of school league tables, free bus travel for pensioners, and free school milk for infants. And despite the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly, there have been differences such as the Single Equality Act. The London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, remains at the vanguard of new transport policy. Following his earlier success with the congestion charge (introduced February 2003), Livingstone announced in November plans to introduce C O2 busting emissions based charging to the existing congestion charge scheme. On a separate but related note, the new legislatures act as policy laboratories. The argument here is that if the policies outlined above are not successful then this is not as expensive a mistake as if they were UK wide. Also, successes can be copied in different regions. Scrapping up-front tuitions fees was first introduced in Scotland and now applies south of the border. Northern Ireland has followed Wales in appointing a Children’s Commissioner. Since the publication of the 2006 edition of this guide, regions continue to learn from successful experiments elsewhere: officials responsible for introducing the smoking ban in England in July 2007 closely monitored the effects north of the border, where the ban was introduced much earlier (March 2006). Clearly one part of the Union can learn from the experience of another.

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The electorates within the devolved regions accept devolution and express the view that it is the preferred system of government. In Wales support for government solely from Westminster has halved since 1997, whilst support for Scottish style powers has doubled. A similar pattern is evident in Northern Ireland, where, despite the problems in the region, voters would like an assembly with primary legislative and tax varying powers. Devolution is the preferred form of government and all three regions favour devolution max rather than devolution lite. Despite increases in support for the nationalists in 2007 reflected there has been no discernible upsurge in nationalism within the devolved regions as some fierce antidevolutionists argued. The switch away from Labour reflected dissatisfaction with the party in government rather than an attraction to the nationalist cause. Support for independence in Scotland rose slightly in the early devolution years then fell below the 1999 peak, with roughly a quarter of the population remaining in favour. Much has been made of recent opinion polls that indicate a majority of support for Scottish independence but when the Scottish people are asked if they want Scotland to exit the Union, only a quarter express support. It is one thing for a teenager to demand more freedom from their parents, but leaving home is quite another. Another way of looking at it is to consider that pretty much the only people who foresee an independent Scotland are members of the SNP. Within England the vast majority want Scotland and Wales to remain in the Union, thus there has been no English ‘backlash’. Further evidence that devolution does not appear to be leading to the break up of Britain that some predicted comes from surveys which show that voters in England still feel a very strong attachment to the Union post devolution, despite an apparent increasing desire for a satisfactory answer to ‘the English question’. The use of proportional electoral systems in the new assemblies has resulted in UK politics becoming much more pluralistic. Nowhere was this more evident than in Scotland where the success of the Greens (7 seats), Scottish Socialists (6 seats) and Independents (4 seats) in 2003 created a ‘rainbow parliament’. There is increased party consensus regarding devolution and it is now accepted as part of the constitutional landscape – the Conservatives have dropped their opposition, even if fringe parties like UKIP have not. Devolution has boosted the representation of women in comparison with Westminster. In the 1999 Scottish Parliament elections, women secured 37% of the seats; more than double the figure for the House of Commons at that time (18%). In the Welsh Assembly, women won 41% of the seats. These figures increased after the 2003 round of elections so that women now make up 40% of MSPs and 50% of MWAs. There was a dip in both regions in 2007, with the proportion of female legislators falling to 33% in Scotland and 47% in Wales. These figures compare favourably with the highest in Europe (The Swedish Riksdag, with 45%, has the highest proportion of women in its legislative assembly amongst EU member states).

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What has been the negative mpact of devolution?
The following can be viewed as negative outcomes of devolution and support the arguments of those against. Devolution is an expensive luxury in terms of the costs of setting up and running the devolved bodies: the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood came in at ten times over budget, with the estimated cost at £431m; the cost of creating and running the Greater London Authority has exceeded government predictions by 400% - this is hardly surprising when six of Livingstone’s ‘directors’ earn six figure salaries; Northern Irish MLAs were paid despite the suspension at Stormont (if we ignore the operations of the ludicrously named ‘virtual Assembly’) for over 4 years - the Northern Ireland Secretary stated that MLAs are being paid an average of £85,000 each in salaries and expenses to do nothing; bureaucracy has increased with, for instance, an extra one thousand additional public servants involved in administration in Scotland. Further evidence that the transfer of power from Westminster does not come cheap has transpired over the past year in the shape of Alex Salmond’s rebranding of the ‘Scottish Executive’ as the ‘Scottish government’: this cost £100,000 but its legal status remains unchanged. The raft of different policy measures that have emanated from the devolved assemblies in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have been made possible simply as the result of the unequal distribution of public funds within the UK as allocated by the complex Barnett formula (itself intended as a substitute for devolution) meaning that public spending is higher outside of England. Critics of Alex Salmond allege that he is driving Scotland towards a financial black hole with his generous spending promises and he has already had to backtrack on plans to abolish student debts and scrap council tax. Far from reinvigorating democracy, voters appear to be ‘underwhelmed’ (Curtice) by devolution. Survey evidence suggests only a quarter of voters in Scotland feel devolution has made a real positive difference to life in Scotland and been a success so far. Questions still remain about whether devolution will lead to the break up of Britain. A poll for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper revealed that a majority of Scots were in favour of independence. This was not viewed as novel or particularly startling, but a another poll in The Sunday Telegraph suggested that a majority of the English, 59%, said it was time to let Scotland go it alone. Furthermore, a startling 68% of the English people polled said they wanted their own parliament. This has alarmed many unionists who see it as confirming many of their worst fears about the full ramifications of Labour’s delivery of a Scottish Parliament. As the headline in the paper stated: ‘Tony Blair’s lasting legacy could be the end of the Union.’ Would this fierce debate in the national media on the 300 th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England have occurred if devolution had not taken place? Critics argue that since the SNP’s victory in May 2007, Alex Salmond – by staking a claim to North Sea Oil, for instance – appears determined to drive a wedge between the English and Scottish border. Tory MPs in England (even if they do include Scots such as Malcolm Rifkind) are doing their best to aid in delivering the nationalist’s ultimate goal by calling for votes in the Commons on English matters by English only MPs.

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Participation has been a disappointment. In Scotland turnout for the 2007 election was only 52%, compared to over 60% for the region in the 2005 General Election. For Wales it was even worse, with only 43% turning out to vote. These figures were slightly up on the last round of elections but they are hardly convincing evidence that the public feel voting for the new devolved arenas makes any difference. There is tension and confusion regarding the roles of the elected representatives for different tiers of government and constituency areas: MPs are uncomfortable with the competition for casework from MSPs and MWAs; voters are confused as to whether the devolved or Westminster representative is the relevant person to contact; the first-part-thepost members in the devolved assemblies feel the need to jealously guard constituency business form the regional representatives. Devolution has worked smoothly thus far partly because the governments in the devolved assemblies have not been markedly different in complexion from Westminster: Lib-Lab coalition in Scotland; single party Labour administration in Wales; Ken Livingstone back in the Labour fold as London Mayor. Thus devolution was merely an extension of Labour’s power and the devolution settlement has yet to be fully tested. Tension is now beginning to emerge between Holyrood and London over Scotland’s budget allocation from the Treasury. That Labour’s devolution plans did not appear to be fully thought through has become evident. There has been no significant change in the central government machinery except some rationalising of the jobs of Scottish and Welsh Secretaries of State. And post devo lution the West Lothian question has become more than a theoretical argument given that the Labour government has relied on the vote of Scottish and Welsh MPs to get its (England only) health and education policies passed, such as the introduction of variable top up fees in England. To add insult to injury for English undergraduates, the Scottish and Welsh governments subsidise the fees for students from those areas as a result of generous funding allocations from the Treasury. Labour in London have exhibited something of a split personality in relation to devolution. They were happy to establish the new bodies but have been slow to grant extra powers that the people and politicians in these regions want. Support for this assertion is furthered when we consider the delay over the granting of any substantial extra powers to the London Mayor and Welsh Assembly. A range of new powers were transferred to the London Mayor in summer 2006, but a full six years after the office was established. Wales was given new powers over higher education in 2004 and draft legislation in winter 2006, but is unlikely to have a referendum on having the same powers as the Scottish Parliament until 2011 at the earliest. Although Blair did campaign in the North East referendum it was neither energetic nor sustained. There was a sense that devolution was a first term commitment and other issues then became a higher priority.

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Devolution has not resulted, as proponents had hoped, in a new form of politics, free from the tales of corruption which are so often associated with Westminster life. MSP Tommy Sheridan was the centre of a court case last summer against the News of the World where lurid sex allegations surfaced. Sheridan won his libel case, but he faced perjury claims soon after. While devolution may have brought government closer to the people, it has brought sleaze closer to the people as well.

Explain the arguments in favour of regional devolution throughout the UK
The following points could be seen as strengths/advantages of a federal structure. It is much more efficient to have the regions concerned with policy delivery involved in the formulation of policy, and there would be less bureaucracy working on matters hundreds of miles away without local knowledge. Is a civil servant based in Whitehall really best placed to decide the best way of overcoming the inadequacy of road transport between Newcastle and its vicinity at peak hours? Further Norton argues that shipping responsibility for local problems out of London would relieve the burden on central government. Moreover it would leave national politicians free to concentrate on strategic thinking that affects the whole of the UK such as macroeconomic and defence policy. Evidence from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland suggests that there are clear benefits to bringing the government closer to the people since policies can be designed to fit the needs of the people in different regions, e.g. the Scottish ban on fox hunting, end to up-front tuition fees, scrapping of Clause 28 etc, and the Welsh experiment with the baccalaureate, end to prescription charges, N.I. scrapping of SATs – none of which have taken place in England. A one-size-fits-all approach to policy development is ineffective, since an approach to tackling, say, homelessness, may be right for a large city like Birmingham but not necessarily for a smaller city like Cambridge. Indeed, a particular region could decide that this wasn’t a problem at all and target resources elsewhere. The governmental structures we have now are in need of redesigning. Local government was designed to fit the needs of the mid-nineteenth century and central government expanded in the middle of the twentieth to meet the demands of that time. Now, as urban centres have developed and expanded and international co-operation has increased, new regional and supra-national structures better fit today’s society. For example, local government is powerless in solving strategic co-ordination problems in transport affecting, for example, the Liverpool-Manchester corridor. A regional government incorporating these two urban expanses could work towards easing congestion. Introducing an elected element would make the regional structures that already exist much more democratic. Regional development agencies, for instance, handle billions of pounds of public money. The regions in England need to have a platform that will give their area a voice enabling them to lobby central government for increased funding. There is more need now after devolution to the ‘nations’ which could potentially breed rivalry between relatively underfunded English regions and the areas covered by the new devolved institutions (the social care measures passed in Scotland and Wales are funded by generous allocations from the Treasury).

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There is evidence of a public appetite for devolution in some English regions. A poll in November for the BBC’s Politics Show (North East) suggests that people in the North East want to have more control over their own affairs. The survey indicates that 69% of respondents supported the idea of some sort of downward transfer of central government authority to give them power over transport, environment, and economic development. o Interestingly, the desire for some degree of self government in the North East does not seem to be driven by the experience of devolution in Scotland and Wales, but by the traditional argument that the North East is not getting a fair deal compared to London. Figures show that people in the North East are ambivalent about whether they are better or worse off than the devolved nations, but they overwhelmingly believe that they are worse off than London.

The time may have come for the extension of the directly elected mayor idea to Britain’s major city regions outside London. This is an idea long championed by Tony Blair, but previously resisted by John Prescott. Supporters of the idea can point to the success of London, where Ken Livingstone’s decision to introduce the congestion charge proves that the mayor idea can bring about innovative solutions to problems that extend beyond traditional local government boundaries. The conjunction of a lack of desire for elected regional assemblies, and Livingstone’s success, may well mean that the time is ripe to usher in a new dawn for local democracy in the shape of mayors of city-regions, with strategic responsibility for public policy.

Explain the arguments against regional devolution throughout the UK
The following points could be seen as weaknesses/disadvantages of a federal structure. There appears to be little real appetite for devolution amongst the people of England. Opinion polls cited by John Prescott’s office when he was in charge of English regions indicated that over 70% of people in three Northern regions and the West Midlands supported elected regional assemblies but the only area to have a referendum, the North East, resoundingly rejected the idea in 2004 with a 78% No vote. If every region in England were to have an assembly, then regions would be fighting amongst themselves for the same amount of money that was available before. Far from strengthening the union and preventing the break up of Britain, increased regionalisation could encourage fragmentation. Those areas that were quick to vote for devolution would gain in the short term but it would be likely in the long run that the biggest/most populous regions would have most clout. Government would not be brought closer to the people unless the assemblies were given real powers as in Scotland. What the government offered the people of the North East was rejected pa rtly because the assemblies would be toothless tigers. Ministers and civil servants would have far more influence in the area than they do in Scotland or Wales. The proposed assembly would have control of less than 2% of expenditure in the region, and most of the powers it would have would be taken from the existing local government structures.

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Assemblies would merely add an extra layer of bureaucracy: the cost of creating and running the Greater London Authority has exceeded government predictions by 400%; an extra one thousand additional public servants are involved in the administration in Scotland. Opponents argue that the money spent on offices and officials could be better spent on improving public services. Regional assemblies would do little to improve economic performance within the regions. The government’s argument that a North East Assembly would help close the North/South divide is not borne out by evidence from elsewhere. Statistics do not conclusively support the argument that Wales is performing relatively better as a region post devolution. Nor is this unusual in comparison to countries in Europe with devolved/federal structures, e.g. Spain/Germany. Business people have argued that a new assembly, run by second rate politicians, may well hamper dynamism, and that central government needs to take a more considered coordination role to resolve the problem of regional economic disparities.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the reforms to the constitution since 1997?
The following points can be viewed as positive outcomes of constitutional reform post 1997. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which reformed the role of the Lord Chancellor and paved the way for the introduction of a new Supreme Court were necessary to create a clearer separation of powers at the heart of the UK’s constitution. Proponents of these reforms predict that the newly independent judges will be far more willing to provide a constitutional check on the legislature and executive. Arguments from the section on devolution are relevant here: Devolution makes government much more region sensitive: the new arenas deliver different policy to that produced by Westminster. In Scotland there is free long term care for the elderly, a repeal of the ban on promoting homosexuality in schools, and a Freedom of Information Act that has fewer restrictions. In Wales, there have been fewer differences, but this began to change when Morgan took over from Michael as First Minister and aimed to put ‘clear red water’ between Cardiff and Westminster. Witness the abolition of school league tables, free bus travel for pensioners, and free school milk for infants. And despite the long periods of suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly, there have been differences such as the Single Equality Act. The introduction of the Human Rights Act in 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act in 2000 show a commitment to protecting the rights and liberties of the individual, and to making government more transparent and therefore accountable.

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The ejection of all but 92 hereditary peers may not make the upper chamber more democratic, but it does view itself as more legitimate and has been more willing to exercise its powers. Moreover, its composition more accurately reflects the 2005 popular vote than does the Commons. Increased use of the referendum by Labour compared to their Tory predecessors. They have allowed voters to confer legitimacy on major constitutional changes (e.g. devolution) or the introduction of novel ideas (directly elected mayors), and using them between elections has reduced the democratic deficit. The experiment with the introduction of different types of electoral systems to first past the post has been a successful one. The likes of the Supplementary Vote (SV) for the London Mayor, or the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for Stormont and Scottish locals increase voter choice. The top up element of the Additional Member System (AMS) in the Scottish, Welsh and London legislatures, or the List system for Euro contests helps ensure that the allocation of seats more closely mirrors how the people cast their votes. Benign effects relate to the increased vibrancy of electoral competition and debate, including: The use of the Additional Member System (AMS) in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly has created a much more pluralistic political culture by giving many smaller parties (and independents) their first seats in UK legislatures above the local level. Both the Greens and the Scottish Socialists gained representation via the top element. The nationalists have been granted a stronger voice in Scotland (SNP led government from 2007) and Wales (Plaid Cymru coalition partners with Labour from 2007) The use of AMS to elect members of the Scottish Parliament has proved something of a lifeline for the Scottish and Welsh Conservatives. For a party that won no seats in either country in the elections to Westminster in 1997, proportional representation has allowed them to keep their head above water. The Liberal Democrats have benefited to the extent that they have been given the opportunity to form the government. In Wales the Liberal Democrats formed a partnership with Labour from 2001-2003, and in Scotland the party sat alongside Labour in government between 1999 and 2007. The major effect of the use of the Party List system for elections to the European Parliament was that it provided a major boost to UKIP in the 2004 elections: Increased representation of women – in Cardiff Bay 47% of legislators are female, more than double the 20% figure for the House of Commons. At Holyrood, one third of MSPs are women.

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The following points can be viewed as negative criticisms of constitutional reform post 1997. Labour’s plans to remodel the constitution were the outcome of successive election defeats. Previously Labour elites held a similar view to the Tories: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Conservatives have pragmatically accepted most of Labour’s reforms, but parties like UKIP argue that the reforms have done untold damage to a system that worked perfectly well for centuries. Devolution can be viewed as an attempt by Labour to solidify support in the Celtic fringe rather than having been driven by a deep New Labour desire to democratise Britain – notwithstanding the SNP’s victory in Scotland, and Johnson’s in London, which came a full years after devolution was delivered. Devolution. The negative impact of devolution is relevant here: It has been expensive, for example the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood came in at ten times over budget, with the estimated cost at £431m; It has created regional unfairness, with Welsh under-25 receiving free prescriptions while the English under-25s do not. Election system problems. An unfortunate effect of the use of the top-up element in elections in Scotland and Wales is the tension that has arisen between the constituency and list members: the first-past-thepost members in the devolved assemblies feel the need to jealously guard constituency business from the regional representatives. Participation has been a disappointment. The introduction of other electoral systems in the UK has not resulted in a stampede to the polling stations: turnout for the Welsh Assembly elections in 2003 was only 38%. Pro-reformists pointed to the 5% increase at the 2007 elections, but this still means that less than half of the Welsh electorate bothered to vote. The introduction of the Party List system for European Parliament elections did little for turnout, with the percentage of the electorate voting falling by a third between 1994 and 1999. The Freedom of Information Act was watered down considerably from when Labour made its proposals in opposition, for example the Security and Intelligence Services are exempt. Critics argue that the government can still declare any disclosure to be against the national interest and block it. Despite Blair’s claim that constitutional reform would not be “the politics of 100 days that dazzles for a time, and then fizzles out” it is clear that it was very much a first term project and Labour has failed to finish what it started Thus o o o Lords reform is stillborn, with the chamber acting as a halfway house, No answer has been proposed in relation to the West Lothian Question There is no Highway Code for which issues should be put to referendum

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Although it has been conceded that the new electoral systems Labour have introduced increase democracy it has not fulfilled its 1997 manifesto promise on a referendum on electoral reform for Westminster. On a related note, some groups have criticised Labour for not promising more. Nowhere were there any manifesto commitments to a UK Bill of Rights, a written constitution, the creation of a fully federal system, or granting judges the power to strike down primary legislation. Nationalists in both the northern and western elements of the Celtic fringes are aggrieved that Labour did not offer the people a vote on independence. Establishing a precedent that major constitutional change entails use of the referendum has been criticised since opponents of this instrument of direct democracy argue that elected politicians should make decisions since the UK is a parliamentary democracy.

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Parliament
Introductory concepts

Two features of a presidential system of government
In the United States, where a presidential system is in place, there is a clear separation of powers. The President sits at the apex of the executive, and is unable to initiate legislation. In the American model, for instance, to see his legislative programme enacted the President must rely on members of Congress introducing bills. Unlike in parliamentary systems, the chief executive is not accountable to the legislature, he is accountable to the people directly via elections. This means that if the President loses authority he cannot be forced to resign in a confidence motion.

Two features of a parliamentary system of government
Bagehot, the constitutional scholar (in the late nineteenth century) described the relations between the different branches of government in the UK as a 'fusion of powers’ since the executive is drawn from the legislature. In this sense all members of the government in the UK must be either MPs (e.g. the PM is MP for Kirkcaldy) or members of the Lords (e.g. the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland). Government in the UK must be accountable to Parliament. This is exemplified by Prime Minister's Questions. Ministers are also expected to appear in the House on a regular basis to announce or defend policy. Ultimately the Commons can bring down a government via a motion of confidence, e.g. Callaghan 1979.

Two functions of Parliament
Parliament performs a legislative function. For a bill to become law, it must go through a number of stages in both the Commons and Lords. Not all government proposals succeed, e.g. in 2005 MPs defeated the 90 day detention plan. Parliament is also designed to hold the executive accountable. It can do this by various means of government scrutiny, such as Question Time. The Prime Minister, for example, is expected to face the Commons once a week for half an hour.

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Two functions of the House of Lords
The House of Lords can be viewed as a ‘revising chamber’. Over half the time in the Lords is devoted to examining in detail legislation sent to it by the Commons. In this way it serves as a useful check on the government by making them think again. The Lords has defeated the Commons on numerous occasions on ID cards. The Lords is also a forum of independent expertise. Off the floor, Lords work in specialist committees. One of these is the much respected European Select Committee, whose report on European enlargement was published throughout the EU.

Two powers of the House of Lords
Powers of the upper chamber are defined by the 1911 and 1949 Parliament Acts. In relation to legislation it can veto bills for up to a year, but on the third occasion the elected Commons can force it onto the statute books against the Lords’ will, e.g. Labour invoked the Parliament Act in 2004 to ban foxhunting. The Lords also has the power to prolong the life of parliament beyond the normal five year maximum term – the life of the parliament elected in 1935 was prolonged several times before ending in 1945.

Composition of the House of Lords
The Lords is different to the Commons in that it is unelected, and comprises four main types of peer: The bulk of peers (617 from 735) are Life Peers, appointed by the Prime Minister under the royal prerogative. Most of these toe the party line, but around a third are crossbenchers. There are 26 Bishops (sometimes referred to as Lords Spiritual), including Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since 1999, 92 hereditary peers have been allowed to sit. These peers, such as Lord Strathcyde, inherited their title but retained their seat following an intra-Lords election. A special rank of Life Peers are known as the Law Lords. Currently there are 23 Law Lords, including the Lord Chief Justice, Baron Phillips.

Role of an MP
MPs perform a number of functions. These sometimes overlap, but can be placed in three broad categories: o According to their parliamentary role, MPs have a number of duties they are expected to carry out in the Commons. These include: voting on legislation; participating in debates; committee work. James Arbuthnott, recently chaired the

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Defence Select Committee during its investigation into the armed forces, where they claimed that troops were overstretched. o MPs are expected to work on behalf of constituents. Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, writes on his website: “It is my job to represent you in Parliament, regardless of whether you voted for me in the last General Election.” MPs can assist constituents through their work in the chamber, by raising an issue in a debate, asking questions of ministers, or signing an Early Day Motion. MPs can redress grievances by contacting the Ombudsman or acting as a figurehead for concerns by contacting local media. The mandate model suggests that MPs should support their party wherever possible, by adhering to instructions from the party whips, or acting as ambassadors for their party by promoting it in their constituency. Andy Slaughter, as MP for Ealing, for example, publishes a regular newsletter presenting his party, Labour, in a positive light, while often criticising the Conservatives.

o

Main ways in which Parliament carries out its scrutinising role
Arguably, the best known method used by Parliament to hold the government to account is Questions to Ministers. MPs can request either an oral or written response. Question Time takes place in the Commons for an hour after prayers Monday to Thursday, where each government department answers questions according to a rota. In the Lords, questions are to the government as a whole. PMQs are seen by many as the high point of the parliamentary week, allowing the opposition a chance to try and catch the PM out with surprise questions, and have often led to heated debate. George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, puts forward the case for PMQs by stating that it is an occasion when Parliament is: ‘Asking the most powerful person in the country, the PM, to come once a week to account for his policies.’ A major development in the ability of the House of Commons to scrutinise the executive is the introduction of departmental select committees in the UK in 1979. These non-partisan bodies can call for ‘persons, papers and records’ and can be seen to have resulted in more open government and act as a useful deterrent on an over mighty executive. Furthermore, the Prime Minister is now called to answer questions twice a year by the Liaison Committee. Peter Riddell has argued that select committees have ‘been a major factor in the opening up of the workings of government over the past twenty years’. Blowing the whistle on the government’s Arms-to-Africa affair in 1999 by the Foreign Affairs committee. o In July 2007, the constitutional affairs committee concluded that following a series of controversies the role of the Attorney General was ‘not sustainable’ and should be reformed.

Probably the least well known way in which government scrutiny occurs is through opposition days. These are days on which the subject for debate is chosen by one of the opposition parties. 20 days are allocated for each parliamentary session - 17 go to the largest opposition party and three among the other parties. Parties usually seek to choose a

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topical subject which the opposition thinks might embarrass the government, e.g. on the eve of the Glasgow East by-election in July 2008, the Tories sought to catch the government on the issue of fuel duty.

Distinguishing between the powers of the House of Commons and House of Lords
The Commons is viewed as the more dominant chamber in Parliament, as the Lords have seen their power curtailed by statute and custom. This is most visible in legislative terms. Although bills can start in either chamber, the Commons is where the majority of legislation is introduced. Successive Parliament Acts have limited the capacity of the upper chamber to block legislation and it can now only delay legislation for up to a year. On the third occasion the elected Commons can force it onto the statute books against the Lords’ will, e.g. Labour invoked the Parliament Act in 2004 to ban foxhunting. Neither does the Lords possess any power to originate a money bill, and can only delay financial legislation for a maximum of one month. A further restriction is the Salisbury Convention, a custom which dictates that the Lords will not seek to defeat a manifesto commitment on a second reading. The Commons also has more extensive scrutiny powers. Since most ministers are MPs, they are questioned in the lower house. By extension it is unlikely that PMQs will be transferred to the Lords since no PM has been a member of that chamber in over a century. In the Commons, Departmental Select Committees monitor the work of government. No such equivalents exist in the Lords. Ultimately the Commons can bring down a government with a motion of confidence, as it last did in 1979 with the Callaghan government. The Lords does, however, have some powers that the Commons does not. o The Lords has the power to prolong the life of parliament beyond the normal five year maximum term – the life of the parliament elected in 1935 was prolonged several times before ending in 1945. The upper chamber also possesses (at least until 2009) significant judicial powers. Collectively the Law Lords act as the final court of appeal in civil cases throughout the UK and criminal cases in all areas excluding Scotland. The most high profile example of a case took place in 2004 when the Law Lords ruled 8-1 against the government’s indefinite detention of terrorist suspects in Belmarsh and Broadmoor prisons.

o

Main differences between parliamentary and presidential government
Bagehot, the constitutional scholar (in the late nineteenth century) described the relations between the different branches of government in the UK as a 'fusion of powers’ since the executive is drawn from the legislature. In this sense all members of the government in the UK must be either MPs (e.g. the PM himself is MP for Kirkcaldy) or members of the Lords (e.g. the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland). In the US there is a clearer separation of powers: a US President by contrast is not a member of the legislature and can appoint to his Cabinet from outside Congress. Government in the UK must be accountable to Parliament. This is exemplified by Prime Minister's Questions. No such equivalent exists in the US. Ministers are also expected to appear in the House on a regular basis to announce or defend policy. Members of the

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executive branch in the USA tend only to appear when there is a hearing by committees. Ultimately the Commons can bring down a government via a motion of confidence, e.g. Callaghan 1979. A US president is directly accountable to voters, not the legislature. A PM's authority depends on him/her being leader of the largest party in the Commons and this is determined by the outcome of parliamentary elections. For the US President there is no relation between his incumbency and who the largest party is in either chamber of Congress -- at the moment the two branches in the US are controlled by separate parties.

Part (c) or essay questions
How effective is Parliament in controlling the executive?
There is a range of ways in which Parliament can effectively control the executive In response to the idea that we live in a post-parliamentary system Parliament could say, as Mark Twain did, ‘Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’ In parliamentary systems, where the executive is drawn from the legislature, the government introduces legislation but it must gain the assent of both Houses of Parliament before it becomes law. Debates on bills constitute around 40% of the time spent on the floor of the House and, in theory, give backbenchers the opportunity to influence the shape of legislation with their speeches. Votes on bills don’t always go the way the government would like. A good example of MPs defeating a major proposal by the government is the recent rejection of Blair’s plans to extend the detention of terrorist suspects to 90 days. Backbench rebellions have begun to cause government major headaches, and the party whipping system is not as strong as has traditionally been the case. A leader article in The Guardian stated that if politics was a sport, then the 2005-2006 session would go down as ‘a vintage season’ and was ‘one of the most effective parliamentary spells of modern times’. Labour MPs rebelled more than a quarter of the time, a postwar record for within two sessions of an election. The rebellions clearly went beyond the usual suspects given that 112 Labour backbenchers went against the government at least once – this is nearly one third of the Parliamentary Labour Party. ‘The result was a record unique in recent political history.’ The government was defeated on 4 whipped votes, and squeaked by on a single vote on another. 90 day detention was blocked o o religious hatred laws were significantly revised a full rather than partial ban on smoking in England was passed

The ‘great reformer’, William Gladstone, said to Members of Parliament that ‘Your business is not to govern the country, but it is, if you think fit, to call to account those who do’. One of the ways in which MPs can do this is consider government actions on the floor of the House via debates and Question Time. Viewer numbers for BBC Parliament are tiny but however small these numbers might be and despite politicians appear on TV in much less formal shows, e.g. Tony Blair on Richard and Judy, this does not diminish the fact that our national assembly sets the tone for political debate. We mustn’t forget that Parliament was recalled

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Edexcel AS Politics ExamBuster 2009 for the Falklands as well as after September 11 th. Why? Because the people expect it. How many times do we see political correspondents start off their report with ‘Today at Westminster…’? Clearly our Parliament is effective in this respect and seeks to become even more so. MPs have had some success in effectively controlling the executive off the floor, i.e. away from the chamber, of the Commons. Early day motions (EDMs) are tabled by MPs to register disquiet about the direction of government policy. An example of their effectiveness comes from 2002 when over 300 MPs signed a motion for a mostly elected second chamber, thereby helping to effectively torpedo the governments plans for a 20% elected chamber. In late 2005 an EDM signed by 33 MPs served as a warning to Blair that his plans for more independence for schools would need greater consultation with MPs. The election of David Cameron to the Conservative Party leadership has boosted the fortunes of his party: after years of the Tories being in the doldrums, the opposition present much more of a threat to Labour than under Hague, IDS, or Howard. This is reflected in the media attention now given to the Tories. According to The Guardian: ‘David Cameron took command of the despatch box with a swagger that suggested they put something special in the water at Eton.’ A major development in the ability of the House of Commons to control the executive is the introduction of departmental select committees in the UK in 1979. These non-partisan bodies can call for ‘persons, papers and records’ and can be seen to have resulted in more open government and act as a useful deterrent on an over mighty executive. Furthermore, the Prime Minister is now called to answer questions twice a year by the Liaison Committee. Peter Riddell has argued that select committees have ‘been a major factor in the opening up of the workings of government over the past twenty years.’ Successes include: o o Blowing the whistle on the government’s Arms-to-Africa affair in 1999 by the Foreign Affairs committee A scathing attack on transport policy in 2002, and in 2005 the House of Commons Select Committee covering the work of the ODPM has criticised the work of the department calling it ‘ineffective’.

In August 2006, Phil Willis, chair of the Science committee said the government’s current (recreational) drug classifications were ‘riddled with anomalies’ and ‘clearly not for purpose’. In October 2006, the Transport committee criticised the government for wasting millions of pounds of public money on projects that may never get built. In November 2006, the Treasury committee rebuked the government for not doing enough to provide satisfactory banking services for poorer customers. In July 2007, the constitutional affairs committee concluded that following a series of controversies the role of the Attorney General was ‘not sustainable’ and should be reformed. In October 2006, a report from the powerful Public Accounts Committee (which predates the 1979 committees and is traditionally headed by a member of the opposition) claimed that a shortage of high quality head teachers was to blame for at least a million children being taught in ‘second-rate’ schools.

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It is argued that the House of Lords has become a more effective check on the executive than the House of Commons: it has had more success in amending legislation than the usually more compliant Commons. There is a certain irony here that the House of Lords has been more willing to give the government a bloody nose after it has succeeded in ejecting mass numbers of hereditary peers. In 2005 there was the biggest dispute between the two chambers for nearly a hundred years over the Prevention of Terrorism, and in 2006 the Lords rejected plans for a compulsory ID card scheme for the third time. Independence has been furthered by Lib Dem peers jettisoning the ‘Salisbury convention’ which traditionally restricted the ability of the Lords to vote down government manifesto bills. Praise has also been made of the independent expertise in the Lords investigative committees. Unlike the Commons equivalents they don’t shadow departments but tend to be ad hoc and focus on special issues. The European Union Committee, which scrutinises draft EU legislation, has influenced the government in recognising the need to set up people smuggling units in urban police forces. The House of Lords also possesses a judicial function and can constrain the power of the executive via judicial review. Since the Human Rights Act (1998) came into force judges have been unafraid to declare government policy incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly in relation to terrorism. In 2004 the Law Lords ruled that indefinite detention without trial for terrorist suspects (under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001) was in breach of Article 5 and Article 14 of the ECHR. The House of Lords continues to act as a useful check on the government. In 2005-2006 the Lords defeated the government on 53 occasions. This was not a one off. According to Meg Russell at the Constitution Unit, the average number of defeats since the 1999 reforms is 49 per year. Russell also adds that many of these defeats are ‘substantial and lasting’. Ultimately the House of Commons can refuse to sustain the government in power. On four separate occasions the government has been brought down by a confidence motion: 1895, 1924 (twice), and in 1979 when an Opposition motion of no confidence in the Callaghan Government was carried with a majority of one. The result led to the dissolution of Parliament and the victory of the Conservative Party in the following General Election.

There are a number of criticisms of the ability of Parliament to control the executive. On the idea of more revolting backbenchers, Labour whips may not stalk the corridors and bars of the House of Commons striking fear into the hearts of backbenchers as they once did, but this state of affairs is only likely to prove a temporary hiatus in the executive dominance of the legislature. Similar, but not as active, rebellion was a feature of Major’s premiership, but when he was succeeded by Blair as PM it was a full seven years before Blair lost a major vote in the House of Commons. Hailsham accurately described our system of parliamentary government as one of ‘elective dictatorship’. As far Her Majesty’s Opposition’s capacity to control the executive goes there is an argument that a bill is presented to the Commons pretty much as fait accompli. Backbenchers make very few amendments to bills in standing committees: reproductions of the full chamber in miniature, with ministers, party whips and the number of MPs mirroring the full chamber. Thus, it replicates many of its failings and is ineffective in this respect. It is reckoned that only 1% of suggested amendments succeed. The work is seen of such low

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importance by some MPs that they spend the time doing administrative work and answering letters from constituents! On a related point, for all the discussion about the rise of Cameron and the re-emergence of a vibrant two party system, the opposition has been powerless to force the government to markedly change policy on any substantive issue. For instance, William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Sec., gave a rousing speech in the Commons during a debate over the Iraq inquiry, but ultimately the government won the vote with a comfortable 25 majority. The theory that ministers can be held to account by assembly members as a result of forensic examination at Question Time does not match reality. Prime Minister’s Questions in the UK achieves little of lasting worth since PM’s often evade answering questions and focus instead on political point scoring. This is exemplified by one occasion in Blair’s second term, when the PM took it upon himself to give a run down of his government’s achievements after 5 years in office, and this sounded more like a party political broadcast than a serious response. Brown may, as reporters have suggested, may have been reduced to appearing like a wounded bear during his PMQ clashes with Cameron but there have been no changes in Government policy as a result of these sessions. Select committees have been criticised as watchdogs without teeth. Many have argued for the development of beefed up select committees, to put them on a par with their US counterparts. US congressional committees are far more powerful since they can subpoena witnesses, who must testify under oath, and are blessed with massive staffing and financial resources. UK select committees do not share these features. Moreover, chairmanship is seen as a prestigious post, equal to if not superior than a job in the US Cabinet. Select committees are not generally seen as an alternative career path in the UK. Recent evidence confirms that these are toothless bodies since these post 1979 departmental select committees have done little to hold government to account on the major issue of the Blair government, Iraq. As Simon Jenkins stated in The Guardian when comparing UK committees with their American counterparts: ‘Its intelligence, defence, and foreign affairs committees have been safe in the hands of Ann Taylor, Bruce George, and Donald Anderson, as reliable a trio of loyalists as you could hope to find’. The effectiveness of mechanisms such as EDMs is diluted as a result of their overuse. During the Major years, there was an average of around 1,500 per session. MPs further devalue their worth by highlighting trivial issues. For instance, 29 MPs signed an EDM to congratulate St Mirren Football Club on winning the Scottish First Division Football Championship in the season 2005-06! The ability of the House of Lords to constrain the executive is limited to a great extent by Acts of Parliament and convention. Since the 1911 Parliament Act, money bills receive automatic assent in the Lords, and since the 1949 Parliament Act it has only been possible to delay legislation for about a year, after which the Commons can pass it without the consent of the Lords. The government recently invoked the 1949 Act in forcing through measures aimed at banning fox hunting. Also, the ‘Salisbury convention’ limits the Lords’ delaying powers to legislation not promised in a government’s manifesto. On the whole recent governments have not had to worry unduly about losing a motion of confidence. There is some evidence that room for manoeuvre was restricted by a small, and

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then non-existent, majority during Major’s premiership but the strength of party discipline as exercised via the whip’s office is likely to be sufficient to sustain most governments. What seems to stick in the throat of critics of Parliament, like Simon Jenkins of the Guardian, is that Parliament is too supine, and appears to be unwilling to use the powers it does have. He argues that the body provides very little value for money for British voters, making explicit reference to the sum total of expenses drawn by members in a year: £83 million. This amount works out at an average of £130,000 per member and it is almost double an MPs actual salary.

How representative is Parliament?
Parliament can be said to be representative in the following ways. Fair representation is ensured for the House of Commons by virtue of each geographic area maintaining representation. For General Elections the UK is divided into 646 constituencies of a roughly equal number of electors so that everyone’s vote carries roughly the same weight whatever region of the UK a voter is from. A series of voting reform acts ensure that all citizens, with some exceptions such as archbishops and the mentally ill, have the right to vote and each person has the right to vote only once. This ensures that no one group or individual is unfairly over-represented. During General Elections there are a wide variety of parties to choose from and thus there should be one which marries with the views of a voter. Traditionally the working classes were represented by the Labour party and the middle classes by the Conservatives. There are also nationalist parties which have aimed to represent in Parliament those who believe in independence for Scotland and Wales. Environmentalists have the Greens. The system of election used for the House of Commons is broadly representative in the sense that it usually the most popular party that goes on to form the government. Although it is not perfect, supporters of the electoral system would argue that it allows the party that almost always gains the plurality of the vote to go on and pass legislation and if they are unsuccessful then a small swing of the vote will be transmitted into the formation of a new government representing a different range of views, e.g. the Tories were swept from power in 1997. Members of Parliament are elected to serve the interests of all of their constituents, not just those who voted for them. Much of an MP’s time is spent dealing with constituency business, and they build up a very good local knowledge as a result. Voters of all parties can identify with the Member for their area and this link can be lost with different systems which use much larger geographic areas for constituencies and/or are multi-member. This strong MP-constituency link is not apparent in assemblies in other parts of the world, and is sometimes taken for granted. Indeed, many new MPs can be overwhelmed by the demands on their time by constituents and did not appreciate the importance of their role as constituency representative until entering Parliament. As a result of Labour’s reforms to the House of Lords, coupled with recent changes in numbers, the House of Lords can now claim to be much more representative of party

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support amongst the electorate. Of those peers who take a party whip, 217 are Labour, 200 are Conservative, and 76 are Lib Dem.

Parliament is unrepresentative for the following reasons. No government has been elected since 1970 with more than 45% of the vote. In 2005 Labour was awarded an overall majority of 66 seats (55.1% of the 646 available) with only 35.2% of the national vote. Since turnout was just 61.3% it means that only 21.6% of the entire electorate voted for the government. In this we are the sick man of Europe: none of the other EU members has a single party government with a lower share of the vote. Elections distort the complexion of the House of Commons result in terms of party representation. If seats were allocated on a purely proportional basis then Labour would have won 227 seats as opposed to 355. Clearly they are over-represented. The Liberal Democrats would have been awarded 142 seats for their 22% share of the vote rather than the 62 they actually won. For the Conservatives, a proportional distribution would have seen them get 208 seats, which is more than the 197 secured by fptp. It is likely that Labour voters will continue to be over-represented since the electoral system is now biased in the Labour party’s favour. What this means is that if the Conservatives and Labour each polled an equal share of the vote at 33.8%, Labour would still have 116 more seats than the Conservatives. The majority of MPs cannot claim to fairly represent their constituents as in 2005 only just over one third of all MPs elected achieved a majority of the votes cast in their constituency. This was a new lowest ever, and some way down on 2001 when around 50% of MPs could claim they had received a majority of the votes. The lowest share of the vote was polled by Gordon Banks in Perthshire with just 31% of the vote. The MP with the lowest share of the whole electorate was George Galloway in Bethnal Green who managed to poll only 18% of the potential vote. According to the resemblance model, Parliament should be a microcosm of society. It is not. Firstly, women are not fairly represented. Currently only 20% of MPs in the House of Commons are women and although this is a slight increase on 2001 (18%) the UK still lags behind many other Western European parliaments. These figures also compare badly to those for the devolved assemblies: after the 2007 round of elections women now make up 33% of MSPs and 47% of MWAs. Secondly, Parliament does not accurately reflect the black and ethnic minority population. In the 2005 elections there was an increase in the number of black and ethnic minority MPs, from 13 to 15, but the figure is still low when compared to the percentage of the black and ethnic population in the UK. If the Commons was to be truly representative there would be 51 black or ethnic minority MPs. Thirdly, Parliament is overwhelmingly middle class. Just fewer than 90% of MPs were, before entering Parliament, based in occupations that put them into the top two categories in terms of social class compared with just over a third of the general population. Whilst there is some evidence to suggest that the House of Lords may perform better in some respect as society’s mirror than the Commons, the most significant criticism that can be levied at the Lords here in terms of representation is to do with who the peers can claim to represent if no-one elected them. Remarkably, 92 of the current peers are there as a right

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of birth. No other country in the world, with the exception of Lesotho, has a legislature that contains members who are there on a purely hereditary basis. Confusion also arises when we consider who MPs represent. The ‘delegate’ model suggests MPs vote and act in accordance of the wishes of those who elected them. The ‘representative’ or ‘trustee’ model suggests, however, that MPs should be free to make up their own minds as to what is best. This view is exemplified by Edmund Burke who argued that ‘Your Representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement.’ Lastly there‘s the ‘mandate’ model with the idea here being that a politician should be loyal primarily to his party.

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The Prime Minister and Cabinet
Introductory concepts

Defining Cabinet government
Dicey identified a system of cabinet government at the heart of the UK’s political system in the late nineteenth century. Theory suggests that Cabinet operates collectively. o Decisions are made by the Cabinet as a whole, where the Prime Minister is merely primus inter pares. For instance, Gordon Brown held lengthy meetings with his senior ministers in the autumn of 2007 when they discussed the pros and cons of calling a snap election. Following the banking crisis in 2008, Brown formed a series of economic Cabinets. o A further strand entails collective responsibility. All ministers are expected to support Cabinet decisions in public, or resign. Both Clare Short and Robin Cook quit Blair’s Cabinet in 2003 over Iraq.

Role of a minister
The most senior ministers will be in charge of an entire department, such as Alistair Darling at the Treasury. Junior ministers will be in charge of a more narrow range of policy, such as Sarah Mc Carthy Fry, the schools minister. As such they seek to develop policy and legislation in line with the government’s aims – which is usually outlined in the manifesto at the preceding election. In theory a Minister of State must assume responsibility for everything under their aegis. So if a mistake occurs in their department, ministers are expected to be held accountable. Accountability is visible when ministers face scrutiny by the legislature. This can either be via appearances before the relevant Departmental Select Committee in the Commons or in Questions to Ministers in either parliamentary chamber. Increasingly ministers face trial by media, where they are expected to tour TV studios defending government mistakes, e.g. lost data, prison escapes, etc. Ministers of State have an input into government policy making. They attend weekly Cabinet sessions and can voice opinions on issues beyond their brief. Ministers of all levels also staff Cabinet committees as directed by the Prime Minister.

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Two powers of the Prime Minister
The PM has the power of patronage, which covers appointments to Cabinet, head of the civil service, peerages and honours, and senior levels of the judiciary and clergy. In relation to ministerial appointments Tony Benn described the power of hire and fire as an enormous one since it can be used as a tool to exert control over the parliamentary party. The PM can also determine the date of a general election. Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair used this successfully by calling elections at favourable times. Gordon Brown fluffed his chance during the election that never was fiasco.

Role of the Prime Minister
The PM has become de facto head of state and as such they represent Britain on the world stage. As part of this role they attend/chair summits of the EU, G8, etc. A role formally performed by the monarch is commander in chief, but it is now purely symbolic. Thus the PM is in charge of committing the nation’s armed forces to battle or peacekeeping roles, e.g. Gordon Brown’s decision for a steady withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. The PM is chief government spokesperson. In this capacity they answer weekly questions in the Commons at PMQs, and Blair initiated monthly press conferences.

Defining collective ministerial responsibility
Collective ministerial responsibility (CMR) is a convention that can be described as the glue which holds Cabinet government together. It is convention that all ministers publicly support decisions of Cabinet (even if they disagree in private) or its committees or resign. Over the last 40 years or so, around two dozen ministers have exited the government on the grounds of collective responsibility. Most famously, the dramatic resignation of Michael Heseltine over the Westland affair in 1986. Less famously, but more recently, Robin Cook and Clare Short left the government over the Iraq invasion. Under the penumbra of collective responsibility, convention dictates that the government should resign if defeated on a vote of confidence in the Commons, for instance James Callaghan called for a dissolution on 28 March 1979 following a defeat in the Commons shortly after the government’s referendum proposals were rejected by the Scots and Welsh.

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Defining individual ministerial responsibility
A feature of parliamentary government is that the executive is drawn from the legislature and according to the constitution is directly answerable to it. The ministerial 'highway code' is laid out in the ministerial code of conduct, which is issued to all ministers. It is very rare for a minister to resign as a result of an error of policy or administration, but we can point to the resignation of Estelle Morris over the A levels fiasco in 2002, and Bev Hughes over visas in 2004. A personal mistake is by far the most common reason for ministers to resign, but some ministers weather the media storm better than others. In the 1990s it seemed like the Tories had set up a ministerial resignation production line (Mellor, Mates, Yeo, Brown, Hughes, Aitken), but after New Labour took office it quickly became apparent that being whiter than white was a promise that would be difficult to fulfil. In 1998 the Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, resigned after a ‘moment of madness’ on Clapham Common.

Main sources of prime ministerial power
The powers of the Prime Minister are not defined by statute, but derive principally from the royal prerogative. Technically the monarch is Head of State, declares war etc, but in practice these powers reside with the person that lives at Number 10 Downing Street. Perhaps the most significant of these is the power of patronage. This allows the PM to make appointments to a range of positions throughout the state, from the head of the civil service, to the director of the BBC, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The power of hire and fire allows the PM to wield enormous influence over their parliamentary colleagues: promises of jobs in government for aspirant backbenchers, and the threat of the sack for those who carry the red boxes is a powerful tool. The Prime Minister is by the far the most well known politician in the government and their personal stature, allied with a good media image, can be used to help secure a personal mandate. PMs have exploited the media by, for instance, staging photo ops with foreign leaders, magnifying their profile and spinning their personal story via ever expanding No 10 communications offices. Blair took this a step further by introducing presidential style monthly press conferences. Ideas about charismatic leadership are also relevant here. Thatcher and Blair perfected the cultivation of an authoritative image: Thatcher once claimed that she required no more than a few hours sleep a night; the most celebrated occasion when Blair employed his acting skills was after the death of Princes Diana, whom he labelled the “people’s princess”. Constitutionally the Prime Minister is the person who can command a majority support in the House of Commons. As the leader of the largest party, the combined influence of the power of patronage and the party whip ensure that the PM can exert a strong influence in the legislature. When a PM enjoys a comfortable majority it is possible to argue that some MPs owe their place to the popularity of their leader – it was claimed that Blair told the Parliamentary Labour Party that the 1997 landslide was achieved on his coat tails.

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Main functions of Cabinet
It is normally considered that formal business takes place at the beginning of meetings. This includes things like EU news. Ministers will report back from the Council meetings. We can surmise that Hilary Benn would have updated colleagues on recent CAP reforms as Environment Minister. Extraordinary meetings can be called in times of crisis and emergency. The members of the dramatic sounding ‘Cobra’ vary according to the situation at hand. Cobra has convened in response to the September 200 0 fuel protests, 9/11, 7/7, and bird 'flu. A modern development is the focus on media management. ‘The Grid’ was prepared by Jonathan Powell, Blair’s Chief of Staff, where news announcements by the government are arranged in advance. It was reported that Powell had the report on the death of Diana penned in for a Friday some months in advance. ‘The Grid’ continues to be a feature of the Brown Cabinet. Regular meetings are used to settle disputes on issues of controversy. Cabinet ministers are serious politicians in their own right and can influence policy beyond their departmental brief. Third term issues of the Blair government that were thrashed out in Cabinet include the smoking ban in England and the decision to update/replace Trident. An obvious example from the Brown Cabinet would be the long political meetings held before the election that never was in autumn 2007.

Main factors a PM would consider when appointing their Cabinet
First of all, a PM will look to reward loyalty. He/she will seek to surround themselves with colleagues whom they feel will help drive forward their agenda. Mrs Thatcher once said that she was looking for '6 good men and true'. She sacked the wets and replaced them with dries who shared her ideological vision. Brown’s first Cabinet saw him appoint Doug Alexander and Ed Balls, both men are keen Brown followers. PMs are restricted, however, in that they must appoint big hitters. Heavyweights such as Heseltine could not be excluded from Mrs Thatcher's Cabinet even though he was more of a one nation Tory. An American president once said that it was better to have such people inside the tent than outside. For the same reason Blair could not avoid appointing Brown since he would be severely weakened by the possibility that Brown would have campaigned against him from the backbenches. PMs will also look for a balance. This could be in terms of region, so Scots and Welsh tend to be well represented under Labour PMs -- look at the existence of the Scottish mafia in recent

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Cabinets with the likes of Darling, Browne, etc. Major had no women in his Cabinet of chums, but for Blair at one time around a third of his Cabinet were women. Brown has five women in his Cabinet, but appointed Jacqui Smith as the first ever female Home Secretary.

Main weaknesses of Cabinet
Ministers are far too busy running their departments to give serious consideration to strategic whole government thinking. Alan Johnson for instance heads a department that controls the NHS, which is the UK’s biggest employer and spends over £90bn – this is more than the economic output of the Czech Republic! Not only this, but Ministers very rarely stay in one post for any length of time. John Reid had seven Cabinet positions in only eight years! This is arguably why Britain appears to muddle through. Since Cabinet is drawn from the legislature the pool of talent is fairly limited. As a consequence Ministers are not experts. John Hutton's pre-political career was not in the military (he used to be a Lecturer in Law), yet he was made Defence Secretary. Gordon Brown was the first ever Chancellor to have any background in Economics. This is in sharp contrast to the US Cabinet where many members are picked for their expert knowledge. We may not have prime ministerial government but there is no doubt that Cabinet as a forum for collective decision-making is something of a fantasy. Recently the former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Butler, went on record as saying that Cabinet only made one decision in the first nine months of the Blair premiership, and that was to hand the decision on the Millennium Dome back to the PM! Apparently Brown wakes his colleagues at 6am to discuss the agenda for that day.

Reasons why ministers resign
Ministers are expected to resign if they are unwilling to accept government policy. Over the last 40 years or so, around two dozen ministers have exited the government on the grounds of collective responsibility. Most famously, the dramatic resignation of Michael Heseltine over the Westland affair in 1986. Less famously, but more recently, Robin Cook and Clare Short left the government over the Iraq invasion. It is very rare for a minister to resign as a result of an error of policy or administration, but we can point to the resignation of Estelle Morris over the A levels fiasco in 2002, and Bev Hughes over visas in 2004. A personal mistake is by far the most common reason for ministers to resign, but some ministers weather the media storm better than others. In the 1990s it seemed like the Tories had set up a ministerial resignation production line (Mellor, Mates, Yeo, Brown, Hughes, Aitken), but after New Labour took office it quickly became apparent that being whiter than white was a promise that would be difficult to fulfil. In 1998 the Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, resigned after a ‘moment of madness’ on Clapham Common. Distinguishing between role responsibility and personal behaviour as a reason for resigning is not always easy, as the second Blunkett resignation testifies.

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Ultimately ministers will go when the embarrassment to the government of a resignation is less than the embarrassment of them keeping their job.

Constraints on the powers of the Prime Minister
It should be noted that the power of the PM is variable between as well as within premierships. Whilst we can argue that Thatcher was more powerful than Major, it can equally be argued that their respective powers waxed and waned during both of their tenures in Number 10. The elastic nature of the office is not just due to the way in which PMs use their powers, but also due to the wider political climate. Recent evidence supports the view that the power of the UK premier is not unlimited, as some would argue. This was summed up by an article in The Economist under the headline: ‘The Strange Death of Tony Blair: Who Killed the British Prime Minister?’ Blair has delivered the Labour Party an unprecedented 3 successive election victories, but it is now kicking him out of Number 10. It is true that, as Hennessy said, PM power is a ‘putty-like concept’. Factors which limited Blair’s power o The opposition: First, the rise of Cameron checked the PM. After inheriting the Tory leadership, Cameron steadily stolen much of Blair’s patch in the centre ground, with talk of social justice and singing the praises of the NHS. Labour dropped to their lowest opinion poll ratings for 15 years. Labour Party: Related to this is the increased pressure on Blair from within his own party. Backbenchers, particularly the fresher intake, were far from slavishly loyal. On 16 September, 15 MPs put their signature on a letter calling for him to resign. Blair was never loved by segments of his party, i.e. various shades of the left, and those who did not desert in the early Blair years have tolerated him so long as he looked like he could deliver electoral success. Events, dear boy, events: The single most important reason that Blair became a liability to his party is Iraq. Had circumstances unfolded differently after the invasion, voters may have been more willing to forgive Blair’s apparent tendency to toe the Bush line. Cabinet colleagues: A PM cannot ignore his Cabinet forever. Blunkett’s diaries serve to illustrate the extent to which Cabinet was sidelined in the Blair premiership. Furthermore, they revealed the large degree of intra-Cabinet tension over Iraq in March 2003 where Brown swung to support Blair at the last minute since he felt he would end up on the backbenches otherwise. As Thatcher’s exit proved, a PM who rides roughshod over their Cabinet will pay the ultimate price (what Thatcher herself described ‘regicide’). A less favourable media climate: The media also have a role to play. Cabinet splits also leaked on Trident (led by Beckett) and 90 day detention (referring to Goldsmith). Although Blair managed to hold things together, these stories further weakened his position.

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Of relevance here is the last paragraph from the previous section on Brown’s short time in office. Gordon Brown may be seen as a ditherer, but the process of events that have affected his premiership (party funding sleaze, the fall out from the sub-prime crisis) would have damaged anyone.

Part (c) or essays questions

There are two main types of questions concerned with where power lies within the core executive. The first asks whether Prime Ministers have become more ‘powerful’, the second asks whether they have become more ‘presidential’. Both ask you to consider whether the traditional model of Cabinet government now no longer applies since the Prime Minister is individually able to exert control over government, with the presidential thesis suggesting that the PM does not simply dominate Cabinet, he is separate from it. With a couple of exceptions, there are few differences between the two types of responses, since they both ultimately depend on consideration of the personality and circumstances of the office holder.

To what extent have Prime Ministers become more powerful?
The following points suggest that Prime Ministers have become more powerful/more like presidents. The slow but inexorable decline of full Cabinet as a forum for decision making. o There have been some blips in this trend (Major’s accession following Thatcher’s regicide, and Blair post Iraq), but the pattern is one of less frequent meetings of the full Cabinet, coupled with a shortening of their length. In the 1960s meetings of Cabinet were biweekly, lasting upwards of 90 minutes. In Blair’s first term, they were once a week and went on for as little as 40 minutes. Bilaterals between the PM and the relevant minister, or smaller ‘kitchen’ cabinets, are where real decisions are made. Although Blair refused to recognise the description, Lord Butler (the former Cabinet Secretary) was critical of Blair’s preference for ‘sofa government’. Naughtie writes: ‘The real deals are done elsewhere *than in Cabinet+, usually in the Prime Minister’s study with only three or four people sitting around: and often as not, with only two.’ ‘Denocracy’ is how Seldon describes this Blairite process of decision making in small, informal groups. The decision to grant the Bank of England more control over interest rates was made by the Blair/Brown axis, with John Prescott and Robin Cook informed only shortly before the announcement was made. Mo Mowlam went on record as saying that the first she knew about it was when it was broadcast on the Today programme. Kavanagh notes: ‘In government, the key meeting of the week for Blair remains the 9am office meeting with is staff on Monday mornings, sometimes called a “Tony Meeting”’. When full Cabinet does meet, it used as a stage for reporting back on events such as meetings of the EU council, UN, G8, etc., or progress in dealing with crises, e.g. foot

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and mouth, floods, etc. In Blair’s Cabinet, ministers were presented with ‘the Grid’, a weekly schedule of news announcements designed to keep Cabinet singing from the same hymn sheet. When discussion did take place, it was superfluous. The decision to go ahead with building of the Millennium Dome was a fait accompli, despite a majority of Cabinet being against it. Echoes here of Lincoln’s alleged summary of the debate on the Civil War: ‘Seven no, and one aye. The ayes have it’. o Recent PMs have increasingly sought the advice of non elected, special advisers. The practice was evident under Harold Wilson, but recent PMs have accelerated this trend by, for instance, consulting them on issues of major importance. Mrs Thatcher preferred taking input from her economic adviser, Sir Alan Walters, not her Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, on ERM entry. Jonathan Powell, Blair’s Chief of Staff, played a key role in the Good Friday negotiations. Further, the size and scope of political offices has grown. Under Blair, the number of political appointees jumped from 8 to 28, and a plethora of new units were created, e.g. the delivery unit and the strategy unit. In particular, there has been an expansion of the media machinery. Blair created the Strategic Communication Unit, headed by a political appointee, Alastair Campbell, a man some dubbed ‘the real Deputy Prime Minister’.

Related to the previous point, is the emergence of a phenomenon whereby the electorate focus on the head of the government rather than the government as a collective, suggesting that we have a de facto single executive. Blair had much higher approval ratings than the Labour government as a whole, and in his first term whips often reminded MPs that they gained their place in the Commons by riding on their leader’s coat-tails. Likewise, Gordon Brown’s deep personal unpopularity is said to be damaging his government. Another feature is Blair’s introduction of monthly Downing Street press conferences. A presidential-style move by a PM who spent little time in the House of Commons – in his final appearance at PMQs Blair admitted that he ‘never pretended to be a great House of Commons man’. The quasi-Head of State thesis. Peter Oborne criticises the Blair government’s attempt to portray the PM, not the Queen, as head of state. Oborne points to at least three events to support of his premise: the unprecedented decision by Blair to walk from Downing Street to Parliament for the occasion of its State Opening, thus deliberately upstaging the moment of the Queen’s arrival; an interview given by Jack Straw, where he twice referred to Blair as ‘head of state’; Blair himself described British troops as ‘my’ armed forces during a visit to Kosovo. The increasing foreign policy focus (Britain was involved in more wars than under any other leader during the Blair decade) has allowed Blair to adopt a presidential pose. Perhaps the ultimate sign of hubris in this regard was Blair’s plan to purchase a new jet similar to the American President’s Air Force One, which critics dubbed ‘Blair Force One’. Blair’s personal style of governance also extended to his habit of taking personal control over departmental affairs: ‘he saw himself as the white knight, charging in to solve problems, rather than leaving it to the relevant minister’ (Norton). Whilst some observers claim there has been a slight revival of ministerial autonomy under Brown, the PM’s past control freakery seems to be exhibiting itself if rumours are to be believed about Cabinet colleagues being woken at 6am each day to go through a run down of the day’s business. And how much real control did Alistair Darling exert at the Treasury on Northern Rock or the 10p tax u-turn?

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The following points suggest that Prime Ministers have not become more powerful/more like presidents. The office of Prime Minister is too much for one person and it is unrealistic to suspect that they will be able to control the entire apparatus of government. They possess collective oversight and may choose to take an active interest in particular areas of policy (e.g. Thatcher and local government finance, Blair and choice in public services), but they lack time, institutional support, interest, or even knowledge – Blair reputedly admitted that he didn’t understand economics, for instance. There is one major stumbling block when attaching the prime ministerial/presidential thesis to Blair: Brown. Blair was unique amongst modern PMs in having no economic adviser. Kavanagh writes: ‘For such a so-called presidential figure Blair was blocked in key areas. The Chancellor carved out a measure of autonomy hardly ever achieved by a minister. Certain departments were regarded as Brown preserves...’. He goes on: ‘Across much domestic policy Blair shared power with Gordon Brown. Brown unilaterally took control of entry to the euro (‘our destiny’, according to Blair).’ A Prime Minister would be unwise to disregard Cabinet: o First, they must keep some sort of balance politically in order to appease wings of the party. Blair was mindful of the need top keep John Prescott onside as a channel between himself and old Labour. Brown has not wielded the knife to exclude Blairites, e.g. Miliband. A PM must maintain support of their senior colleagues. The refusal by ministers to stand by her during the 1990 leadership challenge was a legacy of her treatment of ‘big beasts’ like Heseltine and Lawson. It remains the case that resignations can cause untold damage. Howe’s resignation speech from the backbenches undermined Thatcher’s authority. (A US President meanwhile is embarrassed by departures from his Cabinet, not mortally wounded.)

Whilst there has been a growth in the Downing Street apparatus, little realistic comparison can be made between the resources and staff available to the Prime Minister and the Executive Office of the President. The number of presidential aides in the White House Office alone (i.e. the West Wing) is nearly 400. The number of personal staff available to the PM is closer to 30. Related to the above point, media machine growth (both in the stature of the communications offices, and scale of operations) is a natural reaction to the development of the 24/7 media age – Blair’s accession to the premiership was followed by the BBC’s introduction of round the clock TV news coverage. The power a PM can wield, or the capacity to act in a presidential manner, is one which fluctuates. This ebb and flow is visible not only between premiers but within premierships. George Jones has compared the PM’s power to an elastic band, which stretches depending on personality and circumstances. We can roughly apply it as follows. Thatcher was blessed with large parliamentary majorities in 1983 and 1987 and was credited with improving

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economic performance. Allied to this, she was a woman with charisma. She was followed by Major in 1990, a PM at the other end of the spectrum in each regard. Thatcher was thus more powerful than Major. This pattern of circumstances can be equally well applied to Blair and Brown. But, all political careers end in failure and therefore short term events can blow PMs off course. The case study outlined above of Blair pre and post Iraq is adequate testimony to this. Another theory that has been applied to the power of the Prime Minister debate is Pareto’s idea about a “circulation of elites”. Pareto, pace Machiavelli, attempted to explain the nature of political change when arguing that a powerful group rises to power, becomes decadent and decays, and then is replaced by another group. Although it has been attacked for being overly simplistic (why do the groups decay?) it has been used to explain New Labour’s rise post Thatcher, and the emerging threat of Cameron’s re-energised and remodelled one-nation style conservatism. Alternatively we could suggest that the public becomes tired of leaders after an extended period of time and demand change. Some political commentators have put forward the so called “10 year rule”: after a decade at the frontline of British politics, the electorate becomes restless and change of leadership is inevitable. Thatcher was PM for just over ten years, Blair lasted nearly as long. Brown’s difficulties have been explained by virtue of the fact that he was one half of a dual premiership between 1997 and 2007. Constitutional scholars have been arguing for decades that the PM v Cabinet debate is outmoded and analysis of power relations should not be viewed as a zero sum game that is all about the personality of the Prime Minister. A far more sophisticated analysis would move beyond this binary game and incorporate study of the core executive, and the nature of power dependency within it. All actors within the core executive (the PM, Ministers, and officials) have resources and these must be exchanged to sustain the network they operate within. It is advised that the following point is used to support the argument that the Prime Minister has become more presidential. Michael Foley developed the theory of spatial leadership (based on his study of how US Presidents attempt to overcome the limited formal powers they have domestically) in order to explain how UK premiers have adapted and adopted techniques used by American presidents in order to overcome the constitutional limitations on their power. These tactics are: (i) outsider: Blair has presented himself as separate from Labour; (ii) Blair focused heavily on media usage, and communication tools as part of a permanent campaign; (iii) individual dominance: using force of personality to intervene in departmental affairs, e.g. Blair’s personal involvement in health, schools, Northern Ireland. The following point could be used to support the argument that the Prime Minister has not become more presidential PMs may have become more presidential in style, but important constitutional differences remain. Due to the separation of powers, American presidents have far less power in the domestic sphere than their British counterparts. Whilst he is de facto chief legislator,

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legislative power resides in Congress. This problem is often compounded by the American public’s apparent preference for divided government, i.e. different parties controlling the executive and legislative branches. The Democrats took control of both houses in 2006, further weakening Bush’s authority.

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Judges and Civil Liberties

Introductory concepts
The rule of law
The rule of law is a principle that states that law is applied equally to all citizens throughout the UK. Discussion in recent months about the possible introduction of Sharia/Islamic law in the UK highlighted how this would be incompatible. It also states that citizens have rights and government power is not unlimited, e.g. the Belmarsh case in 2004 which ended indefinite detention.

Functions of judges
Judges have a responsibility to ensure that a fair trial is conducted and will interpret the law when determining sentencing, on the basis of common law, case law, or guidelines – e.g. the starting point for murder is 10 years. Judges also have a quasi political role and perform judicial review, e.g. the Belmarsh case in 2004 which ended indefinite detention.

Part (b) questions
Explain the main ways in which the judiciary remains neutral
First, any political affiliations are not supposed to interfere with jurisprudence (the facts of the case in relation to the law). Thus judges are not blocked from membership of parties or pressure groups, but any conflict of interest could see the outcome of a case overturned. This was highlighted in the Pinochet extradition case where Lord Hoffman’s membership of Amnesty International led to the rejection of a ruling on the Chilean dictator. Second, Britain’s senior judges, by virtue of their extensive education, are able to see beyond prejudiced ideas and views based on ignorance. J. A. G. Griffith† criticised judges for their homogeneity, but would we feel more confident about what happens in court if we were judged by someone of the same race/gender/class as ourselves but who had no understanding of the law? Lastly, one of the virtues of being a citizen in a fair and free society is the capacity of external groups to campaign on someone’s behalf (a defendant or criminal) for a retrial. If a

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conviction is believed to be unsound, support can be forthcoming from the media or pressure groups (or both). A number of convictions have been quashed following retrial, such as the release of the Belmarsh prisoners.

Outline the main methods used by the judiciary to protect civil liberties

Through the power of judicial review judges can declare actions by public officials/bodies ‘ultra vires’ and have been unafraid to use these powers: during Major’s government the courts found against Howard as Home Secretary ten times on a range of issues, with the most high profile case involving overturning his decision to impose a minimum sentence on the killers of James Bulger; in 1999 judges declared Straw’s attempt as Home Secretary to deport asylum seekers to France and Germany unlawful. Since the introduction of the Human Rights Act (1998) judges have had the power to review cases in light of the European Convention on Human Rights. Judges have used the new powers to provide citizens extra protection against civil rights abuses: in 2004 the Law Lords ruled 8-1 against the government’s indefinite detention of terrorist suspects in Belmarsh and Broadmoor prisons; in 2005 judges declared that evidence gained under torture was inadmissible. Judges can also act as a pressure group via their comments (sometimes off the record) to the media, in the House of Lords, or when summing up cases: in 2003 Lord Woolf (the ex Lord Chief Justice) attacked Blunkett’s plans to restrict the sentencing powers of judges. Judges have continued to act as a pressure group when making public comments: recently the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, aired his reservations about England’s prisons crisis. In ‘leaked’ papers of a meeting, Phillips attacked the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for placing pressure on a prison system that is at record numbers.

Part (c) or essay questions
How independent are judges from Parliament and the executive?
The judiciary is free from pressure from Parliament and the executive for the following reasons It is argued that pay and conditions of employment keep the judiciary free from corruption and political pressure. Firstly, judges have security of tenure, so whether members of the other branches of government like it or not, a judge cannot be dismissed at will and

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therefore can act independently. Appointments are for life (retiring age 75), quam diu se bene gesserint (subject to good behaviour). To be removed it must be by an address by both Houses of Parliament. This has not happened since 1830. Secondly, salary is paid from the Consolidated Fund, not by the government. Currently the Lord Chief Justice receives approximately £230,000 per year, and the Law Lords earn around £198,000. The sub judice rules in both houses of Parliament keeps the judiciary free from interference by the executive and legislative branches since MPs and Lords are prevented from discussing a current or impending court case. Two reasons are put forward for the rule: the need not to prejudice court proceedings (which applies also outside Parliament, where it is enforced by the contempt of court rules), and the principle of ‘comity’, whereby it is considered undesirable for Parliament to act as an alternative forum to decide court cases. For example the Secretary of State was precluded from making certain comments regarding the extradition of (the now deceased) General Pinochet. The conduct of judges should be free from criticism by Parliament, except on the rare occasion when there is a substantive motion for an address for removal from office. In early the 1990s, just over 100 MPs signed a Commons motion after a judge had made a controversial decision – but all the MPs received in return was a telling off from the Lord Chancellor. Growth in judicial review indicates an increased willingness of the judicial branch to exercise its powers in declaring actions of ministers ultra vires (i.e. beyond their statutory power): Kenneth Baker: was found in contempt of Court for failure to comply with court order in asylum case Michael Howard: extension of sentences for Bulger killers unlawful Jack Straw: ban on journalists investigating miscarriages of justice overturned Since the Human Rights Act (1998) came into force judges have been unafraid to declare government policy incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (particularly in relation to terrorism): In 2002 the Law Lords unanimously ruled that the Home Secretary’s power to increase the minimum tariff recommended by the trial judge for convicted murderers is ‘incompatible’ with Article 6 of the ECHR (the right to a fair trial); In 2004 the Law Lords ruled 8-1 against the government’s indefinite detention of terrorist suspects in Belmarsh and Broadmoor prisons; In 2005 judges declared that evidence gained under torture was inadmissible; In October 2007 the Law Lords ruled that 18 hour curfews were in breach of civil liberties under the ECHR. The Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, went public in January in defence of judges who make ‘difficult’ decisions, thereby underlining the government’s attempt to protect the independence of the judiciary.

The judiciary is not free from pressure from Parliament and the executive for the following reasons

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Some of the offices overlap and holders thus perform functions which in some states would be carried out separately by the executive and legislative branches. The oft’ cited example is the Lord Chancellor, but the Constitutional Reform Act (2005) changes the complexion of the post so students should be careful here. Somewhat less obvious, but not lacking in controversy, is the fusion of roles carried out by other members of the government, such as the Attorney General who serves as legal adviser to the government. The previous incumbent, Lord Goldsmith, was the subject of much criticism over his opinion that the government’s actions in Iraq were legal. He was then under scrutiny over his advice on the BAE investigation. In July a Commons select committee described the role as ‘not sustainable’ and called for reform. The appointments procedure has been characterised by secret soundings by the PM and Lord Chancellor, and the higher judiciary has been drawn exclusively from the Bar (particularly the Inns of Court in London). Although changes have been made to open recruitment procedures with the creation of an independent Judicial Appointments Commission, it is questionable whether a profession drawn from such a narrow base, via a process with little real transparency, can be truly independent. The judiciary have led a series of investigations on controversial political issues: Scott Inquiry (Arms to Iraq) Saville Inquiry (Bloody Sunday) Hutton Inquiry (Death of Dr David Kelly) Critics have suggested that such inquiries will never reveal facts that would cause the government more than minor embarrassment. Many newspapers referred to the Hutton outcome as a ‘whitewash’. The judiciary is much more likely to rule in favour of the government than against. Even Lord Woolf (the ex Lord Chief Justice) admitted that for every case the government lost, there were more than ten it won. The high profile cases lost by the government create the illusion that the judiciary acts independently from the other branches, thereby suggesting that some political pressure may exist.

To what extent are judges neutral?
The following points suggest the judiciary is not free from social/political bias

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J.A.G. Griffith (ex-Professor of Law at the University of London) in The Politics of the Judiciary (1977) examined judicial attitudes towards such issues as trade unions and police powers, and suggested that judges had, ‘acquired a strikingly homogeneous collection of attitudes, beliefs and principles, which to them represent the public interest.’ They are on the whole, male, white, public school, and Oxbridge educated. a. In October 2007, Mrs Justice Dobbs, Britain’s only black High Court judge, called the progress of opening up the judiciary to non-white candidates as “woefully slow”. She cited the fact that since her own appointment in 2004 there had been about 30 High Court appointments, only two were women and none were black. Social bias is further evident where there is a clash between property rights and civil rights, thereby keeping political power in the hands of those who have it. For instance, industrial disputes in 1980s where the judiciary upheld rights to compensation for companies against unions. Judges’ known membership of societies such as the Freemasons may make them biased in cases involving the police. It is possible to argue that senior judges shared prejudices that led to convictions in high profile miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford Four, and the Birmingham Six. Evidence of bias against women found where judges are viewed as openly hostile to rape victims but lenient on rapists. Surveys have revealed that the average sentences for rapists were 4 years or less, whereas Appeal Court guidelines recommended that 5 years should be the starting point in such cases.

The following points suggest the judiciary is free from social/political bias The make up of the judiciary mirrors existing power structures and cannot be blamed on the judiciary. Its composition is no more elitist than top echelons of the executive: only three Prime Ministers in the past hundred years did not attend Oxford University. The aforementioned miscarriages of justice, far from displaying evidence of pro-state/police bias, could merely be dependent upon the poor quality of evidence put before Court. In finding in favour of corporations rather than the unions in industrial disputes, judges were interpreting the letter of the law. Judges may not have agreed with the thrust of Mrs Thatcher’s legislation, but they cannot ignore statute. Judges are as likely to find against Tory governments as Labour ones, thereby going against one of the central themes of the Griffith book, that of anti-Labour bias. In the 1980s and 1990s, Kenneth Baker was found in contempt of Court for failure to comply with court order

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in asylum case and Michael Howard’s extension of sentences for Bulger killers was declared unlawful

How effective are judges in protecting civil liberties?
The following evidence suggests the judiciary is effective in protecting civil liberties Through the power of judicial review judges can declare actions by public officials/bodies ‘ultra vires’ and have been unafraid to use these powers: in 1985 judges ruled in favour of the right of unions to be consulted before their terms of service were altered; during Major’s government the courts found against Howard as Home Secretary ten times on a range of issues, with the most high profile case involving overturning his decision to impose a minimum sentence on the killers of James Bulger; in 1999 judges declared Straw’s attempt as Home Secretary to deport asylum seekers to France and Germany unlawful. Since the introduction of the Human Rights Act (1998) judges have had the power to review cases in light of the European Convention on Human Rights. Judges have used the new powers to provide citizens extra protection against civil rights abuses: in 2002 the Law Lords unanimously ruled that the Home Secretary’s power to increase the minimum tariff recommended by the trial judge for convicted murderers is ‘incompatible’ with Article 6 of the ECHR (the right to a fair trial); in 2004 the Law Lords ruled 8-1 against the government’s indefinite detention of terrorist suspects in Belmarsh and Broadmoor prisons; in 2005 judges declared that evidence gained under torture was inadmissible; In October 2007 the Law Lords ruled that 18 hour curfews were in breach of civil liberties under the ECHR. Judges are sufficiently independent from the executive to make decisions via judicial review even when the government may not like the outcome. In the summer of 2006, Tony Blair was sufficiently outraged by a High Court decision which allowed Afghan hijackers temporary leave to remain in Britain as ‘barmy’, an unprecedented attack on a ruling by a Prime Minister. The kind of bias identified by Griffith over 30 years ago may be slowly unravelling. The fact that judges are almost a homogenous bloc of white, middle class males may not in fact affect their neutrality as shown recently by a couple of landmark divorce rulings (Miller and MacFarlane) where women have been awarded significant portions of their ex-husbands’ earnings. The appeals procedure has ensured that the right to a fair trial is upheld: the Guildford Four were released in 1989; in 1997 the men alleged to have killed Carl Bridgewater were released; in 1998 Derek Bentley’s murder conviction was quashed; in 2002 Stephen Downing was released after his conviction was declared unsafe.

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Judges can also act as a pressure group via their comments (sometimes off the record) to the media, in the House of Lords, or when summing up cases: in 2003 Lord Woolf (the ex Lord Chief Justice) attacked Blunkett’s plans to restrict the sentencing powers of judges; in 2004 Lord Hoffman declared during the Belmarsh trial that the government’s anti-terrorism laws were a greater threat to liberty than terrorism itself; in 2005 senior judges revealed their anger in a newspaper interview about laws passed by the Labour government which, it was argued, curbed their powers; The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, aired his reservations about England’s prisons crisis. In ‘leaked’ papers of a meeting, Phillips attacked the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for placing pressure on a prison system that is at record numbers; More recently Phillips undertook community service incognito before launching a scathing attack on the government’s prison policy, where he argued that ‘it is madness to spend £37,000 jailing someone when, by spending much less on services in the community, you can do as a good a job’.

The following evidence suggests the judiciary is not effective in protecting civil liberties A.V. Dicey argued that alongside the sovereignty of Parliament one of the twin pillars of liberty was an independent judiciary. Whether the latter exists has been called into question. The judiciary is much more likely to rule in favour of the government as against. Even Lord Woolf (the ex Lord Chief Justice) admitted that for every case the government lost, there were more than ten it won. According to Sunkin, despite the increase in judicial activism, it appears that judicial review provides a ‘very partial and limited check against government illegality’. Griffith suggested that ‘These judges have by their education and training…acquired a strikingly homogenous collection of attitudes, beliefs and principles.’ It is thought, therefore, that judges hold social bias and questions are raised about whether justice is really blind. For example one in thirteen women reporting a rape will see the accused convicted. The high profile cases of miscarriage of justice outlined above, as well as numerous other lower profile cases, have led many to lose faith in the courts. Analysis suggests that an average of seven cases per year are quashed after referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. We must also consider the length of the appeal cases. Speaking about his 27 years in jail, Stephen Downing admitted that he often felt dehumanised, saying, ‘You're just a statistic and nobody cares about you.’ The impact of the Human Rights Act has not been as great as expected. Moreover, judges can only issue a ‘declaration if incompatibility’ which does not force the government to take action. According to the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the ‘vast majority’ of cases tried within senior courts which contain a human rights aspect ‘would have been lodged notwithstanding the implementation of the Act’. Further surveys indicate that of the cases that are tried under the HRA most were determined in favour of the status quo. In short,

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the HRA has been used sparingly and in only around 1% of cases since the act came into force have the courts declared British law incompatible with the ECHR. We have to question whose civil liberties it is that judges are protecting by overturning large chunks of the government’s anti-terrorist legislation (via judicial review often with reference to the Human Rights Act). To allow hijackers to remain in the UK because it is supposedly unsafe for them to return to their home country may protect individual liberties, but potentially undermines the collective security of the UK. Recently it was reported that over 200 of Britain’s top judges had given ‘unduly lenient’ sentences to criminals guilty of serious offences, according to a list drawn up by the Attorney General. Relatively low sentences for men guilty of sex crimes such as sex trafficking may suggest a male bias. Recent high profile media outbursts by senior judges indicate that the convention that sitting judges should keep quiet outside the courtroom has broken down. This may cause irrevocable damage to our justice system. Not only may it undermine our faith in judges, but it could result in constitutional changes which limit the discretionary power of the judiciary. Continued pressure by the government and the media is putting excessive pressure on judges and jeopardising the right to a fair trial. If judges cannot determine sentences on the merits of the case but feel pressured to play to the gallery by instead imposing harsh sentences, then the principle of an independent judiciary goes out the window.

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