The media have become more complex, with new actors (e.g. spin doctors and
marketing people) and a whole new dimension with the Internet. This chapter
analyses these developments, with brief discussion of bias, voting and
language in politics. It was only after 1970 that the two big parties
bothered about advertising in the professional sense. Propagating political
messages via the media was thought to be a job for the specialists:
politicians. The chapter examines the extent of media influencing the voting
behaviour. Even if most people decide how they will vote months before an
election, they must have been influenced by information filtered through the
mass media. The chapter also discusses the role of media in power
distributions and the importance of language in political communication.
This chapter presents an overview of the British political system in the form
of questions and answers. The topics in which questions are raised and
answers are provided include representative democracy, decision-making,
civil service and local government. The fundamental idea underpinning the
British system of governance is democracy but utilises representatives. The
representatives are answerable, at least in theory, to someone, or some
group of people, at every stage of their decision-making. Interpreting
government decisions gives a degree of power to senior civil servants and
advising ministers in theory gives them hidden power to run the country.
Local governments are also important but the gradual stripping of power from
local authorities since the middle of the last century and the strangling of
their financial freedom of action has made local government less attractive
to able people and less interesting to voters.
This chapter deals with the issue of policy-making in British government, and
presents the various models of policy-making such as the Westminster model,
the ruling-class model, pluralism, corporatism, and the party government
model. Jennifer Lees-Marshment reckons parties design their messages for
their 'markets' and refashion them when they prove inappropriate.
The chapter highlights the three stages of policy cycle, namely initiation,
formulation and implementation, with the consequences of the measure then
feeding back to influence future inputs. It reviews the various constraints
upon the policy-makers such as finance, time, and political support.
Ensuring that the people are delivered prosperity is the sine qua non
of democratic government, so this area of policy is the most important.
Policy has to overcome the disadvantages Britain suffers economically.
This chapter identifies a number of factors and suggests how they might
influence the political culture of Britain. Two historical features can be
identified that have been especially important in the development of
Britain's political culture: sequential solving of major problem and
the centuries-long adventure of the British Empire. The British economy has
been able to evolve from an agricultural to a highly industrialised country
with only minimal dislocation. Although Britain does not have a written
constitution, it has its own unique system of government, parts of which are
warmly supported and others of which are not. The chapter also discusses
other aspects of British political culture such as the absence of extremism,
the changes of the 1960s when a bonfire was made of the rules of deference,
the decline of deference's impact on crime, and the post-1945 welfare
schemes such as free education and free health care.
Socialism and Conservatism were once the commonplace rival ideologies in
Britain but both have been so diluted since the latter part of the twentieth
century. There are four main broad bodies of belief in British politics, all
based on blends of existing (though fading) ideologies: new Labourism (or
Blairism), Conservatism, Liberal Democracy and green thinking. This chapter
examines the central elements of socialism and Conservatism; the post-war
consensus; revisionist Labourism, Thatcherism and Blairism. It also looks at
David Cameron's reworking of Blairism; Liberal Democracy and Green
thinking as well as aspects of the political fringe. The chapter outlines
Clement Attlee's version of socialism, identifies certain constants of
traditional Conservatism, and lists the elements of agreed-upon postwar
consensus. Given Labour's shunt to the right provided by Tony Blair
after his election as party leader in 1994, Labour and the Conservatives
began to converge as the 1990s wore on.
Political parties are central to the business of democratic government, which
could not realistically be carried out without them. This chapter presents
the history of party government in Britain, and details the history,
organization, leadership and other issues of the Conservative Party, Labour
Party, the Social and Liberal Democrats, and nationalist parties. It also
discusses the funding of political parties and looks at the future of the
parties in Britain. The Conservative Party was held to represent the
interests of the traditional ruling classes as well as those of property
owners and the 'wealthy' in general. The Labour Party was set up
by the trade unions, with the enthusiastic help of various socialist
societies, to create a 'political wing' to their activities.
However, voters are less interested in seeking action through parties but
tend to seek it instead from single-issue pressure groups.
Under Vladimir Putin, the Russian leadership has consistently sought to shape a strategic agenda. This book discusses the strategy planning process and the legislative and policy architecture that has taken shape. It explores the nature of the agenda itself, particularly Putin's May Edicts of 2012, which set out Moscow's core strategic agenda. The book examines the questions raised by the numerous problems in planning and the extent to which they undermine the idea of Russian grand strategy. It explores what the Russian leadership means by a 'unified action programme', its emphasis on military modernisation, problems that Russian observers emphasise, strategy undermining, and the relation of mobilisation with the Russian grand strategy. The book argues that Russian strategy is less to be found in Moscow's plans, and more in the so-called vertical of power. The broader picture of Russian grand strategy, and the leadership's ability to implement those plans, is examined. The book discusses patriotic mass mobilisation often referred to as the 'Crimea effect', and the role of the All Russian Popular Front in the implementation of the leadership's plans, especially the May Edicts. It talks about the ongoing debate in the Russian armed forces. Finally, some points regarding Russian grand strategy are discussed.
This chapter discusses a series of important problems faced by Moscow. Richard Connolly has noted that the 'most obvious external cause of the economic slowdown in Russia has been the prolonged stagnation in the economies of Europe. He also noted that Russia has been negatively affected by the strengthening of the US dollar as the consequence of the tapering of monetary expansion in the United States. The chapter describes a wide range of other problems that constrain and undermine Russian strategy-making. These problems can be broadly divided into two categories: the effective balancing of resources and the 'conducting of the orchestra'. Russian observers often talk of a crisis of administration, a problem publicly acknowledged by the leadership. The vertical of power, the means through which the leadership attempts to implement its policies, is often dysfunctional and only works when it is micro-managed by the top leadership.
The Wakeham Commission report, A House for the Future (Royal
Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords 2000), recommended a House of
550 members, with a minority of members elected from the different parts of
the UK. It responded to the Royal Commission report with a White Paper,
The House of Lords: Completing the Reform (HM Government 2001),
recommending that 20 per cent of the members be elected. The commission
recognised the importance of the functions of the second chamber and also
said that it was an error to suppose that the chamber's authority could
stem only from democratic election. The government, in its response, The
House of Lords: Completing the Reform, essentially endorsed the
recommendations and rationale of the Royal Commission. The proposal for
reform of the House is thus to achieve a balance, having some members
elected while preserving the attributes of the existing House.
The United Kingdom has a parliamentary system of government. The House of Lords
is the second chamber of Parliament. As with the House of Commons, there was no
specific date on which we can say it came into existence. The House of Lords has
its origins in the courts of medieval kings, starting with the Anglo-Saxon
Witenagemot and its Norman successor, the Curia Regis. It is distinctive for
three reasons. The first is the very fact of its existence as a second chamber.
Its second distinctive feature is to be found in its origins and its longevity.
The third distinctive feature is that the members of the House are not elected.
In this, the House is not unique. Several nations, including Canada, have
appointed second chambers. The fact that members of the House of Lords are not
elected is core also to understanding the debate on reform of the House. In
order to give shape to the debate, the book adopts four approaches to reform:
the four Rs of retain (keep the House as an appointed chamber), reform (have a
minority of members elected), replace (have most or all members elected), and
remove altogether (abolish the House and have a unicameral Parliament). It looks
at the origins and development of the House of Lords and the reforms
implemented, or proposed, in the period since 1911. The book draws out the
problems inherent in trying to discern the future of the House of Lords.