Robert Lister Nicholls
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Political elites
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This conceptual chapter aids the analysis of the British political elite. It examines elite theory and for the purpose of the book, provides a definition of the British elite. With the aid of elite theory, this chapter offers an understanding of the reasons why it was the left-wing of the Labour Party, and the right-wing of the Conservative Party that were largely against EEC membership, albeit for different reasons. Also examined is the interaction between the political elite and the wider elite, and the extent of the influence that finance capital has on decision-making in Britain. The relevance of public opinion is also discussed. The chapter analyses the extent of the influence that public opinion has on the British political elite in respect of policy-making, and how the elite are able to manipulate mass opinion.

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