Chapter 3 Politics in the UK

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  • 1. Chapter 3: Who Rules Britain? Politics in the United Kingdom http://access.cappelen.no
  • 2. Content
    • History - the Monarchy
    • UKs unwritten constitution
    • Parliamentary system
    • Electoral system
    • Political reforms
    • Leisure and sport
  • 3. History
    • System evolved over time
    • From king and nobility to commoners
    • Magna Carta 1215
    • Civil war gives basis for constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 4. Constitutional monarchy
    • First English Parliament
      • Lords/Bishops
      • Commons
    • Return to royal control in Tudor England (1485-1603)
    • James VI of Scotland became James I of England 1603
    • Charles I signs the Petition of Rights in 1628
    King John (1199-1216) Magna Carta 1215
  • 5. The Monarchy - reign but not rule - Queen Elizabeth II (Reign 1952-)
  • 6. " Fog in Channel, Continent cut off !"
    • Insularity and self-belief
    • Pride in and nostalgia for Britain's past
    • Conservatism and traditionalism
    • Idealise the countryside
    • Respect for the establishment
    • Slowness to change
    Page 27
  • 7. Britishness
    • What makes a British citizen different from his or her continental cousins?
  • 8. Winner take all – the Electoral System
    • House of Lords + House of Commons =
    • Parliament
    • The House of Commons currently comprises 650 Members of Parliament or MPs. Each MP represents one constituency
    • Max. five years between elections
    http://access.cappelen.no http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsg-05690.pdf http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Britishpoliticalsystem.html#Parliament
  • 9. The Election Process
    • House of Commons – 650 MP’s  constituencies
    • First past the post  majority wins
  • 10. Election UK - 2005
  • 11. Election 2001 - Norway
  • 12. The Election Process
    • Dissolve parliament
    • Campaign – three weeks
    • Candidates
    • Election Day – Thursday
    • Polling stations
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 13. The Election Process
    • First-past-the-post
    • Unfair system?
    • Compare with the Norwegian proportional system
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 14. System of Government
    • Prime Minister
      • leader of the strongest party
      • leads government
      • PM and government can lose support
    • Parliament
      • House of Commons
        • elected members - MPs
      • House of Lords
        • not elected; less power
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 15. System of Government
    • What does House of Commons do?
      • Makes laws – legislation
      • Passes the budget
      • Monitors the government
      • Debates issues
      • “ R ecruiting office”
      • Can force a government to resign
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 16. System of Government
    • What does House of Lords do?
      • Reviews/revises legislation
      • Debating chamber
      • Monitors the government
      • Life peers with expertise
    • Is the House of Lords necessary? - Reform in 1999 was quite cautious - Relatively slow reform process
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 17. System of Government
    • What does the PM do?
      • Chooses cabinet
      • Decides the overriding strategy of government
      • Patronage
      • Can call an election
      • Meets foreign leaders
      • Debates in Parliament
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 18. System of Government
    • The Cabinet:
    • Approximately 20 members
    • Responsible for Government’s policies
    • Some of the major posts:
      • Chancellor of the Exchequer
      • Foreign Secretary
      • Home Secretary
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 19. Political Parties in the UK
  • 20. Introduction
    • Today there are three major political parties in the British system of politics:
    • The Labour Party (often called New Labour) – the centre-Left party currently led by Harriet Harman (in an acting capacity)
    • The Conservative Party (frequently called the Tories) – the centre-Right party currently led by David Cameron
    • The Liberal Democrat Party (known as the Lib Dems) – the centrist, libertarian party currently led by Nick Clegg
  • 21. Political Parties
    • The Labour Party
      • Working-class/socialist
      • Welfare state
      • Nationalisation of key industries
      • NHS
      • More taxation, especially of the wealthy
    • What is New Labour?
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 22. Political Parties
    • Conservative Party
      • Self-reliance, self-management
      • Free market
      • Relatively low taxation
      • Relatively low public spending
      • Yes to privatisation
      • ” conservatism”: slow change/traditional values/family
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 23. Political Parties
    • The Liberal Democrats
      • Combination of two parties Liberals and Social Democrats
      • Freedom of the individual
      • Opposed to both socialism and conservatism
      • In favour of devolution
      • Believe in market but not necessarily “ Big Business”
      • What is their biggest problem?
    http://access.cappelen.no
  • 24. British political system
    • The three main political parties in the UK have existed for a century or more and have a strong and stable 'brand image'.
    • It is virtually impossible for someone to be elected to the House of Commons without being a member of an established political party.
    • 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'.
  • 25. Class and Politics
    • 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:
    • Working class numbers have shrunk and now represent only 43% of the electorate.
    • Except at the extremes of wealth, lifestyles are more similar.
    • Class does not determine voting intention so much as values, trust and competence.
  • 26. Consensus in British Politics
    • In the British political system, there is a broad consensus between the major parties on:
    • the rule of law
    • the free market economy
    • the national health service
    • UK membership of European Union and NAT
  • 27. Differences
    • The main differences between the political parties concern:
    • how to tackle poverty and inequality
    • the levels and forms of taxation
    • the extent of state intervention in the economy
    • the balance between collective rights and individual rights