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that they are responsible to the people. Public participation is indirect, mostly confined to voting in In the UK, MPs are representatives, not delegates, i.e. they must make their own judgements and not just be mouthpieces for public opinion. The idea is that Politicians should be broadly representative of society in terms of gender, race, religion, age, class etc. We have regular, free, competitive elections based on the universal adult suffrage and equal rights for all.
How Governments Seek Legitimacy Legitimacy = rightfulness, the ability to pass legislation and function as a government without being challenged.
Governments. can promote public participation through elections, referenda etc. Labour have used referenda to legitimise devolution. In the USA legitimacy depends on adherence to a codified constitution. New Labour have relied heavily on ³spin´ to gain and maintain support. Governments should submit legislative proposals to consultation in the form of Green Papers; Labour have been criticised for failing to do this with top-up fees.
System of government where all citizens directly participate in government and are involved in making decisions without relying on representatives. Problems with it: Could work in a small society like ancient Athens, where most inhabitants were not citizens; impossible in a big modern state. Most people are apathetic and ignorant about politics Makes decision making slow and difficult. Public opinion is fickle, e.g. Welsh devolution
Power and Authority Power is the ability to make people do what you want them to do even if they don¶t want to do it and may involve the use of force. Authority means someone accepts your right to tell them what to do so i.e. you have legitimacy. According to Weber there are 3 types of authority: legal/rational, traditional & charismatic.
The right to govern, based on the idea that the government have the right to enforce their policies because they have won a majority in the House of Commons ± i.e. they have the legitimacy and authority to govern. Theoretically this only applies to policies mentioned in the manifesto of the party which won the election, because they were lasted on the strength of said manifesto.
µGovernment of the people by the people for the people.¶ yDemocracy is a system of government for a nation or organisation in which the people rule. yThere are two main types of democracy, direct democracy and representative (or liberal) democracy. yThe main principles of a democracy are political equality, public participation in politics and governing in the publics interests.
How democratic is the UK?
Universal suffrage General elections at least every 5 years give people the chance to vote out unpopular governments ± i.e. the Tories in 1997. Civil liberties are respected e.g. habeas corpus, the right to a fair trial. Labour passed the Human Rights Act to improve civil liberties. Voters have a choice of 3 main parties in general elections plus several smaller ones. The media are free from government control. The public have the right to demonstrate e.g. against the Iraq war, or to join pressure groups, e.g. to campaign against vivisection , to put pressure on the government to listen to them. The government is accountable to the democratically elected House of Commons and can be brought down by a vote of no confidence, as in 1979. Labour have introduced devolution to made government more responsive to regional commands in Scotland, Wales and Greater London. Devolution was introduced after the public were consulted by a referendum (direct democracy). Labour have introduced PR in elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Greater London Assembly and European Parliament.
Whips make sure the most MPs most of the time put their party before their constituents. Americans can vote for individual presidents, but we can¶t vote for individual prime ministers unless we live in their constituency. Governments made decisions which ignore public opinion, e.g. Blair on the Iraq war. We have an unelected Head of State (the Queen) and an unelected House of Parliament (the Lords). Anti-terror legislations threatens civil liberties, e.g. terrorist suspects can be detained for 28 days without being charged. Under representation in Parliament of women, ethnic minorities, the poor and the young. Low public participation ± 61% turnout in 2005, Royal Society for Protection of Birds having more members than all the 3 main parties combined. The doctrine of the mandate doesn¶t work. Governments hold referendums infrequently and only when it suits them, e.g. Labour have not held referendums on the Euro and the EU constitution. The unfair electoral system ± first past the post. Giving labour 55% of the seats for only 35% of the votes. This makes it easy for governments to dominate parliament.
Wilson on the Common Market in 1975. e. devolution. Elections offer a choice between parties. Definition A referendum is a popular vote on a particular policy issue like devolution. like the Freedom of Information Act. The public is ill informed about complex issues like the Euro. but not the Euro. To resolve divisions in the governing party. government. Changes less noticeable to the public. Referenda do not legitimize. or create. Consulting the people is more democratic. Circumstances They Are Held In Usually held on a major constitutional changes like devolution. They promote public participation in politics. since 1935 has had a majority of the vote. It is proposed by government. e. Elections Concerned with a wide range of issues Can bring governments. Referenda are not always a ³level field´. e. Referenda results are not binding. Governments hold referenda when they think they can win.g. which is declining. They demonstrate public support for policies like devolution. No govt. Governments hold referenda for party political advantage. . this is why labour have held referenda on devolution. unlike initiatives or propositions in the USA which are proposed by individuals or pressure groups. e. Wilson let Cabinet ministers campaign on opposite sides but made them agree to accept the result. are not put to referenda. so the govt's.g.g. Referenda offer a ³yes/no´ choice. Public opinion changes. asking for a ³yes or no´ answer. the ³yes´ campaigns had far more media. They limit the power of the government¶s ³elective dictatorship´. referenda are a form of direct democracy. Governments only hold referenda if they think they can win them.g. that is why labour have not held one on the Euro. e. the Welsh voted against devolution in 1979 but for it in 1997. better to leave it to the experts. there is little point in it otherwise. the Euro. Labour over the ³Common Market´ (as the EU was then called) in1975. Referenda Arguments Against Referenda Parliament is supposed to be sovereign and should not abdicate its responsibility like this. mandate to legislate without referenda is questionable. They foster public debate and education about important issues. party and financial support on both the Common Market and devolution Questions in referenda are difficult to frame and bound to oversimplify complex issues. Election results are constitutionally binding Elections fill potential offices and legitimate political power .g.Arguments for Referenda Differences Between Referenda and Elections Referenda Concerned with single issues Referenda can not bring down governments.
1979 No vote. but also to unite the warring Labour cabinet ministers. . In Northern Ireland it was essential to demonstrate public support for the Good Friday Agreement from both Unionists and Nationalists. Labour are pledged not to adopt the Euro or change the electoral system without one. Labour wanted devolution to reduce support for the SNP and PC who wanted independence. 18 years of Tory govt. especially outside Scotland where it couldn¶t be taken for granted. Devolution in Scotland and Wales Devolution in Scotland Devolution in Wales Outcome Yes vote.e. To demonstrate public support for devolution. and also to legitimise their proposals for devolution in Scotland and Wales. New Labour believe in keeping in close touch with public opinion. so a referendum was necessary. Why Referenda Have Been Held More Recently Labour are committed to constitutional reforms like devolution which the Tories were not. Labour saw no point in legislating until public support had been demonstrated and wanted to make it impossible for a future Tory government to reverse it. who had to promise to accept the outcome of the referendum. It has almost become a convention that major constitutional changes require referenda to legitimise them.i. The Welsh referendum was held a week after the Scottish one because the government wanted to boost support for devolution in Wales. which they didn¶t vote for increased support for independence in Scotland and Wales meant that Labour thought devolution was essential as an alternative to prevent the break-up of the UK. where it was weaker than in Scotland. Why It was held not only to take a difficult decision out of the governments hands.Recent Referenda When 1975 The Issue Whether to enter the µCommon Market¶. the EU. 1997 Yes vote. 1997 Yes vote. Same as above.
NFU consulted about the foot and mouth crisis in 2001. Lobbying the EU. e. Using the media.trade unions have more influence with a Labour than a Tory government.How Pressure Groups Influence the Government and Public Opinion Factors that influence why some pressure groups are more successful than others Membership base . e. Pressure groups are bound together by a cause or interest.g. e.the RSPB has more members than all 3 main parties combined. Outsider pressure groups lack direct access and therefore have to campaign in public. Pressure groups aim to influence the government. Hiring professional lobbyists .g. the Stop the War Coalition 2003.the UCW hired Lowe Bell to defeat Post Office privatisation 1994. the fuel protests 2000. Interest. Influence with government .g. Snowdrop getting the support of the tabloid press.g. whereas parties have a range of policies. the NUT with teachers. e. e. Using marches. Public support.g. Using the courts. Lobbying political parties. Publicity stunts. parties by a shared ideology. insider access and use of lobbyists. the World Development Movement sued the govt. over the Pergau Dam affair 1995. e. trade unions lobbying Labour for a national minimum wage. e. demonstrations to gain public support. whereas parties want to be it. e. Pressure Groups Differences Between Pressure Groups and Political Parties Pressure groups are concerned with a single issue. Using ³insider´ influence. e. Snowdrop 1996-7.g. or sectional groups exist to defend the interests of their members. e. ³Insider´ access and links with the governing party .g. the NFU over foot and mouth. Cause or promotional groups campaign for a cause not directly linked to them. pressure groups have a narrow issue focus and are bound together by shared interests or a common cause. Conclusion: business groups have most influence because of financial muscle. Timing -Snowdrop got handguns banned because a general election was imminent.Ecclestone gave £1 million to the Labour Party and then lobbied Blair to exempt Formula 1 from the ban on tobacco sponsorship. Pressure groups do not normally field candidates in elections whereas parties do. e.g. trade unions over rights for part time workers. Amnesty International for human rights. e. Greenpeace landing protestors on the Brent Spar oil rig.g. Definition A pressure group is an organised group which exists to influence government policy in relation to a particular cause or interest.g.g. . The Different Types of Pressure Groups Insider pressure groups have direct access to ministers without having to go through Parliament or the media.g.
Unelected groups have no right to influence a democratically elected govt. Well organised pressure groups can get their way even if public opinion is against them.Help Do pressure groups help or hinder democracy? Hinder They widen participation and are especially attractive to young people and women. No justification in a democracy for pressure groups to use illegal methods. e. e. e. e.g. e. They promote debate and raise public awareness of issues like human rights and the environment. the fuel protests 2000. Friends of the Earth on recycling. They maintain ³political stamina´. Self interested groups like Formula 1 bypass public debate and use financial muscle to get what they want.g. Shelter for the homeless. e.g. pressure group influence is not a ³level playing field´.g. They defend disadvantaged groups whose interests might otherwise be ignored. They keep the government in line with public opinion between elections. the ALF. e.g. . or violence. arms manufacturers have more influence on govt.g. policy towards arms sales than human rights groups like Amnesty International. the Countryside Alliance on hunting. Reclaim the Streets.g.
Most pressure group campaigns. against the Iraq War or in defence of hunting. e.Yes Is pressure group influence increasing? No Pressure group membership is rising while party membership and voter turnout (59% 2001) are declining.g. . Pressure groups often have to work through parties. e. Women and young people especially more attracted to pressure groups than parties. Labour¶s reduced majority since 2005 has made Parliament more relevant. Pressure groups campaign on issues like animal welfare & GM food which interest the public but parties tend to neglect. fail.g. It could be argued that in a global economy big business has more power than parties. It could be argued that what we are seeing is a crisis in party politics rather than a rise in pressure group influence. Only parties can form government & official opposition & offer electoral choice. gambling. Controversy about the sale of peerages has deepened public cynicism about party politics. the League Against Cruel Sports lobbied Labour against hunting. Trident. The lack of differences between the parties makes pressure groups seem more relevant than them. the RSPB has more members than all 3 main parties combined.
the Tories have abandoned support for grammar schools & private healthcare. Political Parties How They Promote Democracy and Participation They represent the people and act as a channel of communication between government and governed. including ³green taxes´ to help the environment. Forming a govt. policy through competitive elections. New Labour have increased workers¶ rights: minimum wage.New and Old Labour New Labour abandoned Clause 4 calling for public ownership & are privatising public services through PFI. New Labour have increased taxes to spend more on health and education. New Labour is tougher than Old on immigration & crime. They translate public opinion into govt. activism. All 3 parties are tough on crime. They give people opportunities to stand for public office They field candidates for election and give citizens a chance to vote and exercise choice. Giving voters electoral choice. = main points on pressure groups in the UK. like Blair & Cameron currently: Adversarial . Conservatism. Parties are ³broad churches´ with a range of views based on a shared ideology. Areas of disagreement No party wants to adopt the Euro immediately but only the Tories are against. and have no plans to reverse devolution. New Labour is keener than Old on constitutional reform & the EU. and Labour and the Tories on immigration. = political ideas concerned with pressure groups. Formulating policies and presenting them to voters in a manifesto. Functions of a Political Party Definition A political party is an organised body seeking to win government power by putting candidates up for election and gaining public support. the other parties against. They give people a chance to join a party and become an activist. & the Tories both support PFI & privatisation of public services. and managing political change in such a way as to ensure stability. standing for public office. New Labour other way round. . Representing the people. Providing opportunities for participation: membership. Brown has used the tax system to redistribute income from the middle classes to working poor families. as Thatcher did after 1979: Areas of agreement All 3 parties are in favour of the EU & enlargement but regard the EU Constitution as dead. New Labour have abandoned the redistribution of wealth and cut income tax rates.the parties agree about fundamental issues. it on principle. The Tories want to free public services like education & the police from excessive state control. Labour are for ID cards. trade union recognition. New Labour and the Tories both supported the Iraq War and want Trident updated Since Cameron became leader. All 3 parties agree good public services are more important than tax cuts.parties disagreeing & reversing each other¶s policies. They have members and activists as well as fielding candidates for public office. New Lab. Consensus and Adversarial politics. New Labour favours free enterprise. They have a wide range of policies which they put together in a coherent form (a manifesto) at election time.. Social Chapter. e. They inform the voters through policy debate and argument. New Labour believe in welfare reform & see employment rather than benefits as the route out of poverty. Old Labour sympathetic to trade unions & suspicious of business. All 3 parties believe in stronger action. wealth creation and are relaxed about inequality of income. Consensus .g.
only 18% of MPs are women & 3% black. especially the young. Blair¶s abandonment of Socialism has weakened Labour¶s activist base. the main opposition party presents itself as an alternative govt.g. Parties provide opposition and hold governments. The average age of Conservative Party members is 65 ± unrepresentative. see parties as corrupt and ³all the same´. accountable. on top-up fees. Women. FPTP & the 2-party system it creates distort representation & limit choice. Turnout has declined to abysmal levels: 59% in the 2001 general election Party membership is declining: the RSPB has more members than all 3 parties combined. Most MPs are influenced more by whips than by their constituents.Ineffectively How effectively do political parties promote democracy? Effectively Parties are essential to provide electoral choice and give people a chance to stand for public office. The public. ethnic minorities etc are underrepresented. as Labour did in 1997. Parties can bring an unpopular government down. e. pressure groups can¶t do this. .
Opportunities or political participation. unlike other minority parties -its strength is concentrated in Welsh speaking areas. Regional Party Lists: you vote for a party in a multimember region. more votes than any other single candidate. party lists (Regional Party List system) or preferential voting in multimember constituencies (STV). Voters vote for a candidate as opposed to a party. not a system. not necessarily a majority). To form or replace governments according to which party wins a parliamentary majority.e. cont. . It is used to elect the Mayor of London to ensure the winning candidate has a majority. Other Electoral Systems Used In The UK AMS: you vote for a constituency MP as in FPTP but also additionally for a party in a multi-member region. We also have local devolution and Euro elections. It was introduced for the Northern Ireland Assembly because Northern Ireland already uses it for Euro elections and to ensure power sharing between Unionists and Nationalists.Other Electoral Systems Used in the UK. but in Wales only 33% of the seats are additional. Labour got 55% of the seats with only 35% of the vote in 2005. To legitimise government. To give voters choice between different political programmes. this is the only system which enables you to choose between candidates of the same party. not proportional. enabling Labour to govern alone without the Lib Dem¶s. PC does well out of FPTP. STV: you list candidates in order of preference in a multi-member constituency. Electoral Systems Proportional Representation (PR) This is a concept. The party list system is used for Euro elections (except in Northern Ireland) to ensure proportionality.all but 2 general elections since WW2 have produced an overall majority. It was introduced for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Greater London Assemblies to ensure fairer representation and appease the Lib Dems. SV: you cast first and second preference votes for candidates in a single-member constituency. To make MPs accountable to voters. meaning that the % of seats each party gets should be proportional to the % of votes which it gets. these additional seats ensure proportionality. the Greens none at all. The Liberal Democrats got less than half as many seats as they should have had in 2005. To win a candidate only needs a plurality (i. Voters vote for a single candidate. The Functions of Elections General elections are for the House of Commons and therefore to decide which party governs. The proportionality of the system is more important than the geographical link between the individual MP and his/her constituencies. First Past The Post Under the FPTP the country is divided into single member constituencies. PR can be achieved through additional seats (AMS). The danger of ³elective dictatorship´ based on a minority of the vote. The effects of FPTP are: Strong single party government .
yEnabled the Greens and Scottish Socialists to win seats in the Scottish Parliament. residential care for the elderly and smoking in public places. Party Lists Generally: there has been a loss of constituency representation: 43% of MSPs have no constituencies and MEPs now represent regions rather than individual constituencies. yGiven the Tories fairer representation in Scot. STV Regional Led to fair representation for the Lib Dems. and Wales than FPTP would give them. yDevolved government has been more stable in Scotland and London than in Wales (because of the problems caused by Blair imposing Michael as First Minister) or Northern Ireland (because of the security situation). Scotland and London. yProduced power sharing in Northern Ireland before its collapse in 2002.g. yCoalition government in Scotland has led to some policy differences from England. . on tuition fees.Effect of the new electoral systems System AMS Effect yProduced coalition government in Wales (2000 ± 2003). UKIP (who got 12 seats each) and the Greens (who got 2) in the 2004. e. but the lower proportion of additional seats in Wales (33%) has enabled Labour to govern alone 1999-2000 and since 2003.
FPTP enables an MP to be elected without a majority of the vote in their constituency. Wales and Northern Ireland have also had it. With a 61% turnout. Reasons For The Low Turnout in 2005 Public disenchantment with politics: politicians see as corrupt. FPTP is easy to understand and voters used to it. on tuition fees. FPTP enables us to hold governments. Under PR. e. Most voters don¶t read the manifesto and Labour don¶t stick to it. unstable government. Little difference between the parties now that Blair has moved Labour to the right. unpopular policies like the poll tax less likely. Scotland and London have consistently had coalition government since devolution. PR produces weak. STV would enable them to choose between candidates of the same party. STV in Northern Ireland allows voters to choose between candidates of the same party and led to power sharing in NI Executive before 2002 (resumed this year). PR would make this harder. AMS has given the Lib Dems fairer representation and a share of power in Scotland. It gives too much power to small parties. as in Italy and Wales. they only got the votes of 21% of the electorate. Arguments Against Electoral Reform FPTP gives us a clear choice between 2 main parties. Because of AMS. FPTP under-represents minority parties. in Scotland the Lib Dems are in government despite being the least popular of the 4 main parties. 33-44% of MSPs and AMS in London and Wales have no constituencies.Arguments For Reform FPTP is unfair. narrowing political representation and debate. Wales and London. 43% of MSPs have no constituency. PR is more complicated and could reduce turnout ± e. The examples of Germany and Scotland show that PR can produce stable govt. Labour voters¶ disillusionment with Blair because of this and Iraq war. Foreign examples like Germany and Italy show that PR leads to coalition govt. PR would blur this.g. confusion in the Scottish elections of 2007. PR produces strong. especially among young people. in Euro elections we have multi-member regions. AMS enabled the Greens and Scottish Socialist Party to win seats in the Scottish Parliament in 2003. Elections and Electoral Reform Impact of the new electoral systems The Lib Dems. Labours Mandate Only gained 35% of the vote in 2005. making bad. FPTP limits voter choice. dishonest etc. in Scotland. no government has had a majority of the vote since 1935. stable government. Apathy and ignorance about politics.g. accountable and throw them out. UKIP and Greens gained seats in the 2004 Euro election because of the Regional Party Lists system. self-serving. Fall in party membership (all 3 parties combined have less than RSPB) and electoral registration. Most people thought a Labour victory was inevitable so no point in voting. giving governments large parliamentary majorities with a minority of the vote. . governments would have to be multiparty. FPTP creates a strong geographical link between MP and constituency. A fairer voting system would make governments more legitimate and might increase turnout because votes wouldn¶t be ³wasted´.
Our FPTP (first past the post) system maintains this because it usually over-represents Labour and the Tories and under-represents other parties like the Lib Dems. since the 1920¶s the vast majority of voters have voted either Lab. no Liberal PM since 1922. This in turn affects how the media cover politics and therefore how the public see it. The last election saw the best Liberal performance since 1923.2-Party System: Britain has traditionally had a 2-party system. Every post-war election except February 1974 has given either Labour or the Tories a parliament majority. this % has been over 10% at the last 3 elections. Every government since WW2 has been either Labour or Tory. Since 1997 Labour have been the dominant party. Because the 2 main parties dominate parliamentary seats they also dominate how party business is conducted. or Tory. . as the Tories were 1979-97. Election of 3 independent MP¶s 2005 reflected voter disillusionment with main parties. Yes A 2-party system? No In 2005 the 2 main parties gained 85% of the seats. 92 MP¶s are neither Labour nor Tory.
Wales. for the Lib Dems.Labour designed the reforms in opposition and now find them inconvenient because they to some extent reduce government. The Reforms Devolution in Scotland. thinking he might need their support. Greens and Scottish Socialists Party. and Wales because of PR. They can¶t justify restoring hereditary peers even through they have lost their previous majority in the House of Lords. e. Northern Ireland and London. within the UK reduces support for independence. The Human Rights Act gives civil liberties more protection without giving too much power to unelected judges. We need to modernise the legal system by abolishing the Lord Chancellor and creating a supreme court. The Human Rights Act made civil liberties more secure and brought us into line with other European countries. Labour .g. which they praised for evolving gradually over time and delivering strong (usually Tory) govt. UKIP. Hereditary peers were out of date and gave the House of Lords an unfair Tory majority.Problems the Reforms have caused. which by giving self govt. on a power sharing basis is essential to advance the Northern Ireland peace process. power. they have to work in the devolved assemblies and can¶t abolish them because they were approved by referenda. Electoral reform means fairer representation e. Arguments For The Reforms The need for more checks and balances to prevent ³elective dictatorship´. . Constitutional Reform Why They Were Introduced In line with Labour¶s manifesto promises in 1997. The Parties. They opposed the reforms but feel unable to reserve them now they have happened. Tories . Labour feared lack of devolution might lead to independence The need for power sharing to advance the peace process in Northern Ireland. New Labour emphasise rights and responsibilities more than Old so they are more interested in reform. The Secretary ships of State for Scotland and Wales are no longer held separately from other Cabinet posts. Blair intervened to impose his own candidates for Mayor of London (Dobson) and Welsh First Minister (Michael).g. over Scotland. Devolution.g. Blair was committed to co-operation with the Lib Dems. have had to share power with the Lib Dems in Scot. In the previous 18 years the Tories had used the old system in their interests against Lab¶s. Referendums and Elections Act. Referenda on devolution in all those areas. He wanted to remove Tory dominance in the House of Lords. Referenda showed public support for devolution. The loss of foreign and secret donations has caused them financial problems. e.wanted to preserve the old const. Lab. Wales and London. The Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Scots and Welsh wanted self govt. but Dobson lost to Livingstone and Michael was so unpopular that he had to resign. Electoral reform The Human Rights Act Parliamentary reforms.
The Human Rights Act doesn¶t guarantee any civil liberties. would be better. The Parties. the ³Freedom of Info´.Yes Do the reforms go too far. or not far enough? No The Tories accuse Labour of ³constitution vandalism´.e. i. e. PC and the SNP believe the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have too little power. Blair¶s interference in London and Wales show his reluctance to decentralise power. The Lib Dems and Charter 88 want a stronger. The Human Rights Act gives too much power to unelected judges. Act gives ministers the final say on whether info should be disclosed. Elections and Referendums Act has not prevented an unhealthily close relationship between New Lab.g. as in Scot. a codified const. Electoral reform leads to weak coalition govt. Wales and London. elected 2nd Chamber to prevent ³ elective dictatorship´. parliamentary ones. and big business based on political donations. The old system provided strong but accountable government so why change it? Devolution fragments government and cold lead to the break up of the UK. . Lab. The abolition of the Lord Chancellor and creation of a supreme court will disrupt the legal system. The reforms are piecemeal with no overall vision. have refused to introduce a fairer electoral system for the elections which really matter. which Parliament couldn¶t take away. The House of Commons reforms still leave the executive in charge. PM¶s Question Time is now only once a week. The removal of hereditary peers has created a House of Lords dominated by ³ Tony¶s cronies´.
Council of Ministers . UKIP (who now have 12 MEPs) want to withdraw from EU to regain our national sovereignty. taxation and foreign affairs. Factortame Case 1991 established EU law as administered by European Court of Justice overrides British law as administered by Parliament. General shift. Parliament unable to stop Spanish fishermen using British quotas to fish in British Waters. on defence & foreign policy. The presidency rotates between the member states every 6 months. European Court of Justice ± The highest court of the EU over matters it has jurisdiction over. Act 1986 introduced Qualified Majority Voting in certain areas . a law concerning agriculture would go to a council comprised from the ministers for agriculture from each member state. Lib Dems want more voluntary cooperation between member states. Iraq war showed UK still tends to follow US rather than EU foreign policy. The EU Institutions European Commission ± Acts as a civil service. meaning UK has no veto on EU decisions in these areas. but less regulation.The only body composed of officials directly elected by the citizens of the EU member states. Labour are in favour of Euro in principle but have no plans to hold referendum until economic circumstances are right (in effect when public opinion is in favour). Most policy areas still decided at national rather than EU level. EEC had over 3. Composed of one judge nominated by each member-state with the president elected from the nominees The European Union Party Attitudes All 3 main parties are in favour of EU membership and Enlargement (letting countries from Eastern Europe in).) Positive Impacts of EU membership UK retains national sovereignty in sense Parliament could vote to withdraw. It is composed of one member from each state and is responsible for drafting all proposed law. . They believe EU Constitution was killed by referendum defeats in France & Netherlands. European Parliament .It is composed of the national ministers responsible for the area of EU law being addressed ± for example. EU constitution will allow UK to keep own policy on immigration. Tories are against EU Constitution and Euro. border controls. It also controls some agencies and the day-to-day running of the Union. Single Euro. Blair much more pro-Euro than Brown.Negative Impacts of EU Membership When the UK joined EU 1973.g. The Eu Institutions Cont. Every 5 years citizens in all member states vote across a few days for 785 MEPs. agriculture and fishing. defence. she agreed to be legally bound by Treaty of Rome which set up EU (then known as EEC). reflected in new EU Constitution from intergovernmentalism (where national governments maintain veto on EU policy) to super nationalism (where decisions are made by QMV.000 directives and 43 volumes of legislation even then.trade. e.
g. Factortame. by staying at margins we have enabled France and Germany to dominate it in past and shape it in their interests rather than ours. Many aspects of EU. unlike Norway which voted to stay out. like recipe for brandy butter. are corrupt and against our national interest. QMV. EU undemocratic. e. dominance more effectively than we could on our own and showing advantages of ³pooling´ sovereignty. EU quota on textile imports from China mean British consumers will have to pay higher prices to protect producers in southern and Eastern Europe. Kosovo and Ukraine show need for common defence and foreign policy. Adopting Euro would increase foreign investment in the UK and save business and tourists trouble and cost of changing currency. Enlargement will encourage democracy in Eastern Europe and provide more markets for our exports. this shown by inability of EU to deal with problems such as Bosnia. Norway has free trade agreement with EU but is not a member of it. Gives UK exporters access to largest single market in the world (bigger than USA). enabling us to counter US econ. Kosovo and Iraq. EU affects us anyway so important to have influence on it. Threat to national sovereignty: Treaty of Rome. especially Common Agricultural Policy. basis of our defence and foreign policy. it is not accountable to our elected Parliament. EU too often interferes in things which should be decided at national level. this would help us to take more independent line from USA on issues like Iraq. policy and interest rates. in fact 3 times as much of our trade is with EU as with USA. NATO and our ³special relationship´ with USA. Recent problems in Bosnia. we have only one vote on Council of Ministers and one commissioner in EU Commission. Central Bank in Frankfurt. public opinion is against it. . not EU. UK needs to be at heart of EU to be able to influence EU policy in future. also admission of poor countries like Poland imposes economic burden. which would be determined by Euro.For Arguments for and against EU integration? Against Best way to stop Germany dominating EU. In World Trade Organisation we negotiate with USA as part of EU. EU Const. SNP and PC support EU integration because independent Scotland and Wales could not be viable (like Ireland) within federal EU. Why change from strong £ to weak Euro? We don¶t need to be members of EU to benefit from free trade with it. especially economically. EU already too difficult to manage and Enlargement makes this worse. Common Agricultural Policy. Not in our interest to join Euro because we would lose control over our econ.
The House of Lords can¶t adequately scrutinise bad legislation.Labour¶s Reforms Removal of all but 92 hereditary peers. The whips still control membership of select committees. Strong party control of MPs means voters know what they are voting for. . if the government is implementing manifesto commitments backed by a large House of Commons majority. they defeated a plan to create a backbench committee of nomination. to ignore the House of Lords most of the time and the government can manipulate the House of Lords (nearly all successful amendments originate from the government amending its own legislation).m. held at noon rather than 3 p. The PM answers questions every 6 months from the Liaison Committee (consisting of select committee chairmen). if anything they increase executive dominance. Parliamentary Reform Arguments for and against further reform of the Commons. Our present system delivers strong govt. Labours reform don¶t address the fundamental imbalance of power between Parliament. The introduction of morning in place of evening sessions for the House of Commons on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Why the House of Lords is unable to perform its role adequately? The Parliament Act allows the government. and the executive.g. the loss of evening sessions and the carry-over of legislation from the parliamentary year to the next makes it harder for the opposition to force concessions by threatening to keep ministers debating late into the night or to ³kill´ the bill at the end of the parliamentary year. e. but the whips still decide whether select committee chairman get salaries. Select committees to get more specialist and administrative support plus a chance to scrutinise legislation before it is debated on the floor of the House of Commons. as opposed to the gridlock you get in the USA if the 2 Houses of Congress are controlled by parties or the President faces a hostile majority in Congress. Notice for oral questions to be 3 days rather than 2 weeks so more topical questions can be asked. Bills can be carried over from one parliamentary year to the next. People¶s peers PM¶s Question Time for 30 minutes once a week rather than 15 minutes twice a week. The existing reforms are adequate to improve efficiency and scrutiny.
which an elected 2nd chamber consisting of professional politicians would lack. is essential to give the 2nd chamber legitimacy. more in touch with and accountable to the people.. making further reform unnecessary. An elected 2nd chamber would increase political participation and make it more relevant to the people. The appointed House of Lords is more independent than an elected 2nd chamber would be. An elected 2nd chamber would either be a rival to the House of Commons. This prime ministerial patronage is unacceptable in a democracy.Yes Further reform of the House of Lords? No The current predominantly appointed House of Lords has a wide range of expertise. An elected 2nd chamber would be more democratic. as shown by its having to climb down on issues like the Freedom of Information Act and the act to set up postal ballots in some regions for the 2004 Euro election. e. in business. . The government climb-down in 2004 over its plan to deny asylum seekers access to the courts show that the House of Lords is still effective in defending civil liberties and forcing the govt. law and higher education. A fully elected Senate based on regional representation would complement devolution. the poor. The current House of Lords is an anachronism which needs to be reformed to bring our constitution up to date. The current House of Lords does not have enough power to stand up to the govt. The current House of Lords grossly under-represent the young. election.g. to think again. Because the 2nd Chamber would have still limited powers. Removing them would deprive Parliament of some of its best legislation and the expertise of the current House of Lord committees on Europe and Science and Technology. The removal of most hereditary peers has created a balanced 2nd chamber. In a democracy election rather than patronage should form the basis Houses of Parliament. symbolising the consent of the people. ethnic minorities and religions other than the Church of England. Because the House of Commons is so easily dominated by the executive we need a stronger 2nd Chamber to prevent bad legislation like the poll tax and this can¶t be justified unless the 2nd Chamber is elected. The success of life (appointed) peers since they started in 1958 shows the value of bringing people into Parliament from a variety of backgrounds. about 30% of peers are crossbenchers compared with only 3 independent MPs in the House of Commons. causing gridlock between the 2 Houses and making it impossible to get legislation through or (if elected by the same system at the same time) a clone of it. Blair has abused his power by selling peerages & making his party for the first time the largest single party in the House of Lords. these members might be of low quality.
education (e. But they have established themselves as the 2nd biggest parties in Scotland and Wales. Westminster¶s grip on Scotland and Wales has arguably been irrevocably loosened. health. hunting. The Impact of Devolution. SNP and PC are marginal in the UK as a whole because they don¶t field candidates in England. Devolution Different Forms of Devolution. All the devolved bodies have this power. school league tables abolished in Wales). Wales. they form the main opposition to Labour in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. Legislative is clearly more significant than administrative devolution which is barely different from the sort of power local government enjoys. Financial = The Scottish Parliament. in local devolved and Westminster elections. also by a substantial majority for tax varying powers. Reduced workload for Westminster Parliaments Reduced public support for independence English regional devolution is dead after its decisive rejection (78:22) in the North East referendum in 2004. The Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament is unlike the devolved assemblies elsewhere because it has both legislative and tax varying powers ( these are what make it a Parliament). This is because public support for devolved is stronger in Scottish Parliament than elsewhere. e. education. This is controversial because (a) other devolved assemblies don¶t have it. The Scots voted 3:1 in favour of devolution. North East voted against. Legislative = the Scottish Parliament and NI Assembly. uniquely can vary tax by 3% either way. Evidence of Public Support For It. Northern Ireland and London all produced majorities for devolution. There will be at some stage be a reduction in the number of Scottish MP¶s at Westminster. Their significance has therefore increased with the introduction of devolution. Historically they have only won a handful of seats even in Scotland and Wales and their vote declined in 2003 elections for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. Referenda in Scotland. (b) business fears higher taxation & (c) the SNP doesn¶t think it goes far enough. have the power to make their own laws or amend or repeal Westminster legislate on matters predetermined by the Westminster Parliament. Administrative = allocating fund granted by Westminster and administering health. In Northern Ireland it has been estimated that a majority of both Unionists and Nationalists voted ³yes´ But: The low turnouts in Wales (50%) and London (33%) meant only a minority of the electorate voted ³ yes´ (only 25% in Wales and in Northern Ireland support for the Good Friday Agreement was stronger among Nationalists than Unionists. transport and other public services within the framework of Westminster legislation. . unlike those in Wales and Greater London. More people live in London alone than Scotland and Wales combined.g. where over 80% of the population live.The Significance Of The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Camry (PC).g.
g. unlike federalism. PC with the fact that the Welsh Assembly has less local demand for self govt. Wales policies: no up-front tuition fees. Different policies in different parts of the UK. school league tables. the separate and full tax raising powers. closer to the people it serves and makes it more relevant to the local area. e. It brings govt. he once described the devolved assemblies as ³ It gives extra opportunities for political parish councils´. e. full independence. cause It relieves the legislative burden on the confusion. why North East voted ³no´. especially in Scotland (3:1 for). legally reversible. outside London. participation: voting. population live. hunting or has an Assembly only about 25% of the Welsh charges for care of the elderly. MPs can vote on English matters but not vice versa. It has allowed Scotland to decide its own The public are lukewarm towards devolution. so it can The West Lothian Question: it is unfair that Scottish concentrate on England. the SNP want up the UK. where most of the UK Wales and raises their profile in the world. Westminster Parliament. this English regions. It creates more checks and balances. e.g. ³Power devolved is power retained´ devolution is making ³elective dictatorship´ less likely. Nationalists doubt Blair¶s sincerity about devolution. Good Devolution: Good and Bad points? . legal and educational systems in Scotland.Bad Devolution has happened because Conservatives fear and Nationalists hope referenda showed local people wanted it. has none at all. office holding etc. without breaking power than the Scottish Parliament. hunting. It shows the advantages of devolution to the Devolution creates extra level of politicians who can¶t achieve much because powers limited. tuition fees. Lab and the Lib Dems believe it will satisfy Nationalists are not satisfied with devolution. actually voted for.g. the UK is still unitary. devolution could be a stepping stone to the break up of the UK. Devolution is geographically asymmetrical: It cements national identity in Scotland and England. including control of foreign policy It respects local traditions.
right to bear arms. but can provide clarity in difficult situations. It defines that the state is made up. yThe power of the government is defined.e. dissolve parliament. It makes clear who holds what power and who is responsible for what. Convention Habits and norms that through long use have become binding on those who should abide by the constitution. It is generally comprised of many elements and from many sources. as it requires no special procedures to change. and can be changed easily. as they are laid down. . Works of Authority Political texts that have been written by constitutional experts and scholars over the years. Today these powers lie with the Prime Minister and Government Ministers. restricted. They are not binding. there is no punishment for breaking them.approved by the Commons. HOWEVER y It is inflexible and entrenched. It is therefore flexibly and can adapt. Constitution: A set of rules and laws that define how a nation state is supposed to be governed. appoint government ministers and judges. They are not codified nor enforced by the court. Sources of our Constitution Statute Law Law created by Parliament . as defined by the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. y Protects the rights of citizens more effectively. Royal Prerogative Powers of the Crown that are employed by Government Ministers in her name.AV Dicey¶s ³An introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution´ Democracy Strengths and Weaknesses of the traditional constitution: Provides a coherent system of government ± basically. Example . Example: the USA. Lords and the Monarchs. Codified and Uncodified: Codified: To say a constitution is codified is to say that it was written down in coherent form in it¶s entirety at some point in time. There is a clear centre of authority. and then implemented by the executive and enforced by the courts. can not adapt to suit changing societies and times ± i. HOWEVER Government too centralised? Citizens rights and the rights of local authorities not protected Pre-democratic elements Conventions are unclear and give to much power to unelected judges. it works. y Is protected from constitutional vandalism as special procedures are required to change it. and so. It also lays out the rights of the citizen. y Difficult to amend. given the force of law. No special procedures require to change it. It is flexible and easily adaptable. yEasy to teach and understand. These include the power to declare war. and are thus often entrenched and inflexible. with little room for interpretation. Uncodified: An uncodified constitution is a constitution that has wholly written down. Common Law Law that has been developed and applied by UK courts where there is no clear statute law and the courts have to interpret and clarify the law. the powers it holds and the limits on those powers. Why fix it? Has evolved over time to reflect British values. so can result in µvandalism¶.Strengths and Weaknesses of a codified constitution: y It is clear and coherent. so could generate more interest in politics. Codified constitutions have special procedures for changing them.
upper middle class. Media are better.In what ways has parliamentary sovereignty been undermined? Public: At least once every five years the House of Commons is re-elected. white men. local governments and other public bodies are granted by parliament and can be removed by Parliament. This gave UK courts the power of review over Acts of Parliament courts can scrutinise them. Only 18% of MP¶s are women. Lords inability to check government makes this worse. Parliament has the right to make or unmake any law. so technically sovereignty still resides with Westminster. Parliament is free to withdraw Britain from the EU at any time. the British Parliament cannot pass laws which contradict European laws ± trade. and can not be overridden. but is sitting for a shorter time. In what ways has parliamentary sovereignty been undermined? Political Parties: Since the beginning of the 20th century power has shifted to the House of Commons. Most members of parliament are old. Prime Ministers who repress the powers of parliament tend to meet their fate ± Margaret Thatcher. Roles of Parliament: Money ±approve the government¶s spending. European law When Britain signed the Treaty of Rome it accepted that European law is superior to British law. Combined with the dominance of political parties in elections. Legislation ± producing more legislation than ever before. All powers exercised by ministers (except for the prerogative powers of the PM). All primary legislation must be passed by parliament and secondary legislation made by ministers can be overruled by Parliament.Supposed to be representative of British society. It is easy to argue that sovereignty actually lies with the executive not Parliament. . this has led to tight party control over MP¶s (whips) and disciplined parliamentary groups that make the business of the House of Commons predictable. Also backed by the Civil Service. Use of qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers has reduced the areas in which any member state can veto decisions at European level. devolved governments.e. and the annual approval parliament has to grant for the government¶s spending is a mere formality. after the general election sovereignty returns to Parliament. only 3% black.e. Forum of Debate And Education ± lack of public interest in politics (as can be seen from declining election turnout) and party point scoring means that they do not performs this function well. Scrutiny of Executive ± media performs this role better. Most key decisions must be approved by Parliament. and so at that point sovereignty really lies with the people. In areas covered by the European treaties. QT has been reduced. The Lords has no power to stop money bills. and the HoL is ineffective. which damages government scrutiny. Parliament cannot bind its successors (i. Parliament holds the supreme authority in the UK. Parliamentary Sovereignty Parliamentary Sovereignty is regarded as the main principle of the British Constitution. Parliament is not bound by its predecessors (i. Parliament In what ways is parliament sovereign? Parliament has ultimate political authority. However. Is it good legislation? Dangerous Dogs Act (went through numerous amendments) indicates not.not performed well. In other words. it cannot pass laws that cannot be repealed or amended by future Parliaments). refer them to the ECJ and suspend those Acts. educated in public schools. However. Executive: The Government must be the majority party in the Commons. past Parliaments cannot control the actions of the current Parliament). fishing and agriculture. Party discipline makes the Governments majority reliable and almost guarantees victory in Commons votes ± an µElective Dictatorship¶. However. Representation . Parliament is dominated by government.
sovereignty could also be said to lie with the EU. The nature of the two roles is clearly separated in the constitution. it would take a 2/3 majority in both houses AND the approval of ¾ of the states to make amendments Legally.Royal Prerogative powers. State governments limit the ability of the central government to interfere in all affairs. The US constitution sets out a federal system of Government. both fall under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. in reality sovereignty lies with the executive. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government. who is also Prime Minister. The US constitution is codified in its original 1787 document. The UK constitution can be changed by an Act of Parliament. conventions. parliament is sovereign in the UK. The President needs the support of Congress and vice-versa. All are equal under the law and the Government must respect the laws when making decisions and taking action. However in reality. The constitution is entrenched. a court ruling or an EU law. the royal prerogative. but has little real power. Most of the powers of the monarch are now controlled by the Prime Minister. The UK system does not allow for the separation of powers. common law. Judges are appointed by royal prerogative. but inevitably there is an overlap that can cause problems All powers are set out in the constitution. All are equal under the law and the Government must respect the laws when making decisions and taking action. Parliament is dominated by the executive.A comparison of the features of the US and UK constitutions USA Principle: Sovereignty In the USA the political system is such that no single institution holds sovereign power. State and Local government all have constitutionally guaranteed powers. The UK has a unitary system of Government. The President is the Head of State as well as the Head of Government. authoritative works and EU law. judiciary and legislature. There is no overlap in personnel between the two. It exists in statute law. The Monarch is the Head of State. As EU law has precedent over UK law. The US Constitution specifically separates the roles of the executive. UK Separation of Powers Nature of power Role of Head of State Prerogative powers Rule of Law Codified/ Entrenched . with political power concentrated at the centre. these are referred to as . Federal. the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments. as Parliament is controlled by the leader of the majority party. although custom has led to the development of minor powers such as Executive Orders and Agreements. The UK constitution is not codified or entrenched.
This means they are accountable to Parliament. not the legislature. as the legislature can effective for carrying out executive policy be dominated by the opposing party. and can only be brought down through the legal process of impeachment. (Ministers are answerable to Parliament for what happens in their department). Ministerial powers are derived from Presidential authorisation and his powers are set out in the Constitution. and can be brought down by Parliament (in a no confidence motion). A Presidential system can often lead to an Parliamentary systems tend to be very ineffective Executive. This means they are accountable to the public. A Parliamentary system In a Parliamentary system the Executive is formed from the majority party in Parliament. When a President does not command a majority in the Legislature he finds it very difficult to carry out the programme he was elected upon. This means the Government gains its position from the fact that it can command a majority in the Legislature .A Presidential system In a Presidential system the Executive (in the form of an individual . Ministerial powers are derived from parliamentary authorisation.the President) is elected directly. as there is no separation of powers.
The role and powers of the PM The prime minister is head of the government. manages the agenda. Ministerial Tasks Set the political agenda Determine priorities for action Decide between political alternatives Obtain Cabinet and PM approval Steer proposals through Parliament Be accountable to Parliament for policies Be responsible for the performance of their department Civil Service Tasks Gather information for policy making Provide alternative courses of action Draft legislation Advise on consequences of decisions Provide briefings for other ministers Advise on implementation of methods Draft answers to parliamentary questions The Executive The Executive ± The branch of government concerned with the formulation and implementation of policy. He provides political leadership within the cabinet.directs government policy. the responsibility falls on everyone¶s shoulders. the executive is formed of ministers. In the UK. and can reorganise the structure of the government. government ministers take responsibility for decisions made by the cabinet. appoints advisors. better enables him to direct policy and act as a communicator. Policy making . sets the agenda. enjoys a majority in the HoC and has authority as the party leader. . The PM¶s roles are not laid out in statute but have risen gradually. Patronage ± appointing ministers. Collective Ministerial Responsibility ± The idea that all Cabinet Government The system of government in which executive power is vested in a cabinet. Civil Service Role Must display no political allegiance Are permanent. Prime Ministers Office ± PM¶s office proved advice and support. and should they fail. Recently. political leader in times of crisis and represents country in international affairs. the UK system of government was described as a cabinet system. or at least can be there a long time. Ministerial Role Are politically committed to one party Are temporary ± they only hold office while PM want Are expected to make political decisions Have to use judgement about the outcome Have a high public profile Are publicly accountable for performance Will lose office if their party loses power Presidential Government The view that the prime minister has become the dominant actor in the UK government and is able to bypass the cabinet. can get involved in policy areas of own choosing and takes a key role in times of crisis. The PM and the cabinet are the main institutions within the executive. May only suggest alternatives neutrally Identify possibly outcomes neutrally Are expected to be largely anonymous. holds meetings with key members and appoints committees Party leadership ± is elected by MP¶s and party members. Authority of the office ± chairs cabinet meetings. Cannot be held publicly accountable Will remain in position even if there is a change in the government Prime Ministerial Government The system of government where all the power is centred on the president ± all policy decision are left to them. the role of the cabinet has seemed diminished as our political system has moved more and more towards prime ministerial government. or there is a policy failure. Individual Ministerial Responsibility ± The idea that if a minister¶s office makes a mistake. that minister is responsible. communicator in chief for the government. The cabinet system relies on collective ministerial responsibility The functions of the cabinet are: Registering and ratifying decisions taken elsewhere in the system Discussing major issues Reaching or endorsing final decisions on major issues Receiving reports on important developments Determining government business in parliament Settling disputes between government departments. allocates cabinet posts. Public standing ± High public profile. reshuffles cabinet and dismisses ministers. as conventions. and should resign. The role of the Cabinet For much of the 20th century. whose members exercise collective responsibility. all responsibility. and so therefore. rather than in a single office.
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