Representational democracy is at the heart of the UK’s political constitution, and the electoral system is central to achieving it. But is the first-past-the-post system used to elect the UK parliament truly representative? To answer that question requires an understanding of several factors: debates over the nature of representation; the evolution of the current electoral system; how first-past-the-post distorts electoral politics; and how else elections might be conducted. Running through all these debates are issues over the representation not only of people but also of places. The book examines all of these issues and focuses on the effect of geography on the operation of the electoral system.
'Politics' with a big 'P' is concerned with how we, individuals and
groups, relate to the state. This book commences with a definition of political
activity with a focus on conflict, and government and democracy. Britain is,
arguably, the oldest democracy in the world, though it took many centuries for
it to evolve into its current 'representative' form. Conflict
resolution depends on the political system involved. The book draws together all
the elements of government, explaining the British system of governance, which
is democracy but utilises representatives. Civil service advises ministers and
carries out the day- to-day running of government. The book then describes the
transformation of the British system of governance from an absolute monarchy to
a representative democracy. It examines how economic changes have affected
Britain over the centuries, and presents some thoughts on the absence of a
modern British revolution. It presents an account of Britain's economic
history, the class developments and differences, and the absence of a modern
revolution despite astonishing levels of income inequality. Factors that might
influence the political culture of Britain are discussed next. The book also
touches upon the sources of British constitution, the process of constitutional
amendments prevailing in the U.S. and Britain, current British politics, and the
development of pressure groups in Britain. Finally, the history of party
government in Britain, and details of the Conservative Party, Labour Party, the
Social and Liberal Democrats, House of Commons, and Britain's international
relations are discussed.
English nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere is the first sustained research that examines the inter-relationships between English nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere. Much initial analysis of Brexit concentrated on the revolt of those ‘left behind’ by globalisation. English nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere analyses the elite project behind Brexit. This project was framed within the political traditions of an expansive English nationalism. Far from being parochial ‘Little Englanders’, elite Brexiteers sought to lessen the rupture of leaving the European Union by suggesting a return to trade and security alliances with ‘true friends’ and ‘traditional allies’ in the Anglosphere. Brexit was thus reassuringly presented as a giant leap into the known. Legitimising this far-reaching change in British and European politics required the re-articulation of a globally oriented Englishness. This politicised Englishness was underpinned by arguments about the United Kingdom’s imperial past and its global future advanced as a critique of its European present. When framing the UK’s EU membership as a European interregnum followed by a global restoration, Brexiteers both invoked and occluded England by asserting the wider categories of belonging that inform contemporary English nationalism.
with currency and trade problems that fuelled temptations to hyperinflation in some states and to deflation in others, neither of which was
domestically or externally conducive to democracy succeeding. In deliberate contrast, the architects of the post-Second World War world
believed that creating an international economy that was safe for representativedemocracy was crucial to the peace. The onset of the Cold War
transformed the geo-politics of the Bretton Woods settlement, and the
European economic crisis of 1947–48 revealed that the post-war pegged
the gradual emergence of the modern state when several European monarchs sought to
establish a monopoly over legitimate violence, and to exclude external
legal intrusion in their affairs. In doing so, the most successful created
states that claimed to rule as single sovereign entities, large territories
inhabited by vast numbers of subjects divided by class, religious faith and
mores. Out of the problems this generated, those who led them eventually turned to the idea of representativedemocracy and nationhood,
only to discover that authority grounded in the idea of
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This is a book about the external economic conditions that have shaped
the success and failure of democratic states. The book begins from the
premise that in the modern world the international economy is central
to the problem of maintaining representativedemocracy as a pressure
that can weaken it and a potential opportunity for strengthening it.
In conception the book starts from a moment of departure in the
world and moves backwards and forwards from that moment. In 1944,
one of direct democracy versus representativedemocracy. The motivation for holding a referendum may be one of political expediency – not least holding together a party (as with the 1975 and 2016 referendums) or a coalition (the 2011 referendum) – but the justification is one of enabling voters to determine the outcome on a key issue of public policy.
The principal argument advanced for referendums is that advanced by Vernon Bogdanor, namely that they supplement, rather than challenge, representative government by seeking the approval of the people. 14 Various
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Bottom–up politics: riots and extraparliamentary participation
Citizen politics is many things, but a major aspect of it is to speak up for
oneself and one’s community. In this chapter I consider a number of different forms of political engagement, all of which share the feature of
being unrelated to representativedemocracy. Citizen government and
involvement include a broad range of activities, legal as well as illegal,
new as well as old. Having looked at
than in the past? And, if so, has that made the world become more democratic? Could it be that referendums are linked with the growth in social movements in recent years and the tendency to use alternative channels to challenge the status quo (see Della Porta 2006 )? Or, conversely, is the undeniable prominence of referendums undermining representativedemocracy, as some (Topaloff 2017 ) have suggested? Or is the growing number of referendums just an indication of a weaker political class prone to miscalculations, as others (Glencross 2016 ) have suggested?
system of law;
to have a directly economic role, as a prime employer, in macro and micro intervention, and in the provision of infrastructure;
more controversially, to have a civilising aim – government reflects the widely held norms and values, but can also help shape them, in the educational system and elsewhere;
to foster regional and transnational alliances and pursue global goals.
Source: Giddens (1998), pp. 47–8.
Representativedemocracy and its requirements
Britain is, arguably, the oldest democracy in the world – though it took many centuries for