Chapter 3 Politics in the UK


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Chapter 3 Politics in the UK

  1. 1. Chapter 3: Who Rules Britain? Politics in the United Kingdom
  2. 2. Content <ul><li>History - the Monarchy </li></ul><ul><li>UKs unwritten constitution </li></ul><ul><li>Parliamentary system </li></ul><ul><li>Electoral system </li></ul><ul><li>Political reforms </li></ul><ul><li>Leisure and sport </li></ul>
  3. 3. History <ul><li>System evolved over time </li></ul><ul><li>From king and nobility to commoners </li></ul><ul><li>Magna Carta 1215 </li></ul><ul><li>Civil war gives basis for constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy </li></ul>
  4. 4. Constitutional monarchy <ul><li>First English Parliament </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lords/Bishops </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commons </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Return to royal control in Tudor England (1485-1603) </li></ul><ul><li>James VI of Scotland became James I of England 1603 </li></ul><ul><li>Charles I signs the Petition of Rights in 1628 </li></ul>King John (1199-1216) Magna Carta 1215
  5. 5. The Monarchy - reign but not rule - Queen Elizabeth II (Reign 1952-)
  6. 6. &quot; Fog in Channel, Continent cut off !&quot; <ul><li>Insularity and self-belief </li></ul><ul><li>Pride in and nostalgia for Britain's past </li></ul><ul><li>Conservatism and traditionalism </li></ul><ul><li>Idealise the countryside </li></ul><ul><li>Respect for the establishment </li></ul><ul><li>Slowness to change </li></ul>Page 27
  7. 7. Britishness <ul><li>What makes a British citizen different from his or her continental cousins? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Winner take all – the Electoral System <ul><li>House of Lords + House of Commons = </li></ul><ul><li>Parliament </li></ul><ul><li>The House of Commons currently comprises 650 Members of Parliament or MPs. Each MP represents one constituency </li></ul><ul><li>Max. five years between elections </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Election Process <ul><li>House of Commons – 650 MP’s  constituencies </li></ul><ul><li>First past the post  majority wins </li></ul>
  10. 10. Election UK - 2005
  11. 11. Election 2001 - Norway
  12. 12. The Election Process <ul><li>Dissolve parliament </li></ul><ul><li>Campaign – three weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Candidates </li></ul><ul><li>Election Day – Thursday </li></ul><ul><li>Polling stations </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Election Process <ul><li>First-past-the-post </li></ul><ul><li>Unfair system? </li></ul><ul><li>Compare with the Norwegian proportional system </li></ul>
  14. 14. System of Government <ul><li>Prime Minister </li></ul><ul><ul><li>leader of the strongest party </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>leads government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PM and government can lose support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Parliament </li></ul><ul><ul><li>House of Commons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>elected members - MPs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>House of Lords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>not elected; less power </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. System of Government <ul><li>What does House of Commons do? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes laws – legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Passes the budget </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitors the government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debates issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ R ecruiting office” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can force a government to resign </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. System of Government <ul><li>What does House of Lords do? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reviews/revises legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debating chamber </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitors the government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life peers with expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is the House of Lords necessary? - Reform in 1999 was quite cautious - Relatively slow reform process </li></ul>
  17. 17. System of Government <ul><li>What does the PM do? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chooses cabinet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decides the overriding strategy of government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patronage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can call an election </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meets foreign leaders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debates in Parliament </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. System of Government <ul><li>The Cabinet: </li></ul><ul><li>Approximately 20 members </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible for Government’s policies </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the major posts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chancellor of the Exchequer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign Secretary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Home Secretary </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Political Parties in the UK
  20. 20. Introduction <ul><li>Today there are three major political parties in the British system of politics: </li></ul><ul><li>The Labour Party (often called New Labour) – the centre-Left party currently led by Harriet Harman (in an acting capacity) </li></ul><ul><li>The Conservative Party (frequently called the Tories) – the centre-Right party currently led by David Cameron </li></ul><ul><li>The Liberal Democrat Party (known as the Lib Dems) – the centrist, libertarian party currently led by Nick Clegg </li></ul>
  21. 21. Political Parties <ul><li>The Labour Party </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Working-class/socialist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Welfare state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nationalisation of key industries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NHS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More taxation, especially of the wealthy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is New Labour? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Political Parties <ul><li>Conservative Party </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-reliance, self-management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relatively low taxation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relatively low public spending </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes to privatisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>” conservatism”: slow change/traditional values/family </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Political Parties <ul><li>The Liberal Democrats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combination of two parties Liberals and Social Democrats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Freedom of the individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposed to both socialism and conservatism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In favour of devolution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Believe in market but not necessarily “ Big Business” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is their biggest problem? </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. British political system <ul><li>The three main political parties in the UK have existed for a century or more and have a strong and stable 'brand image'. </li></ul><ul><li>It is virtually impossible for someone to be elected to the House of Commons without being a member of an established political party. </li></ul><ul><li>All political parties strongly 'whip' their elected members which means that, on the vast majority of issues, Members of Parliament of the same party vote as a 'block'. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Class and Politics <ul><li>In the past, class was a major determinant of voting intention in British politics, with most working class electors voting Labour and most middle class electors voting Conservative. These days, class is much less important because: </li></ul><ul><li>Working class numbers have shrunk and now represent only 43% of the electorate. </li></ul><ul><li>Except at the extremes of wealth, lifestyles are more similar. </li></ul><ul><li>Class does not determine voting intention so much as values, trust and competence. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Consensus in British Politics <ul><li>In the British political system, there is a broad consensus between the major parties on: </li></ul><ul><li>the rule of law </li></ul><ul><li>the free market economy </li></ul><ul><li>the national health service </li></ul><ul><li>UK membership of European Union and NAT </li></ul>
  27. 27. Differences <ul><li>The main differences between the political parties concern: </li></ul><ul><li>how to tackle poverty and inequality </li></ul><ul><li>the levels and forms of taxation </li></ul><ul><li>the extent of state intervention in the economy </li></ul><ul><li>the balance between collective rights and individual rights </li></ul>