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Presentation on theme: "UK Political Parties ARE CITIZENS IN BRITAIN DISENGAGED FROM THE POLITICAL SYSTEM? week 7 Joy Johnson."— Presentation transcript:


2 Key texts Anthony King, The British Constitution James Morrison, Public Affairs Coalition Agreement Chris Mullins, Decline and Fall Richard Heffernan, Philip Cowley & Colin Hay, Developments in British Politics Tony Wright, Doing Politics 2

3 Democracy System of government by elected representatives where parliament is made up of freely elected representatives who represent the will of the people; a government that reflects the will of the people and is answerable to an elected legislature (or is separately elected). Independent judiciary Rights: freedom of expression/opinion/association 3

4 Main Political Parties in UK Conservative & Unionist Party (full title but it is rarely used. Tories (alternative name for Conservatives) Natural party of government (most of 20c) ‘One Nation Toryism – post-war consensus Margaret Thatcher swung the party back to a more right wing free market approach to the economy and welfare Cameron – modernised the party but adhered to Thatcherite principles with a determination to shrink the state Cameron faced with rebellious backbenchers 4

5 Labour Party Born out of the trade union movement post industrial revolution Socialist roots/Social democracy Clause Four – public ownership means of production (ditched by Tony Blair in 1995) Mixed Economy Gang of Four broke away (SDP later to join Liberal Party to form Liberal Democrats) Blairite – New Labour in power from 1997 - 2010 Beyond New Labour Ed Miliband – One Nation Labour 2012, predatory capitalism 2011 5

6 Liberal Democrats Federal party Traditionally centrist Pro-welfare state but also belief in free markets Appealed to left and right Orange Book (current Lib Dem leadership) collection of essays stressing free market Had positioned itself to the left of Labour on issues such as war in Iraq and tuition fees but now in Coalition with Conservatives. First time in power for eighty years Liberal Democrats being punished by the electorate – slump in party fortunes 6

7 Margaret Thatcher/Tony Blair Thatcher changed the political landscape and the country Was eventually forced out – even though she had won 3 terms Blair changed his party but largely accepted the Thatcherite accommodation. First term brought in devolution (he was always lukewarm) successful interventions in Bosnia and Sierra Leone in the shadow of the war in Iraq Only Labour leader to secure victory 3 times Left before his term was up 7

8 Thatcher’s last speech in the House of Commons g g 8

9 Blair’s last day Y Y 9

10 Choosing a leader - Conservatives Candidates put their names up – voted on by MPs until left with two David Cameron and David Davis fought six week campaign to win a postal ballot of 253,600 Conservative members. Cameron had support of the membership and the Parliamentary party 10

11 Choosing a leader – Labour After a long campaign with hustings by all the candidates Ed Miliband was chosen by an electoral college He won by1% from former foreign secretary David after second, third and fourth preference votes came into play. Ed Balls was third, Andy Burnham fourth and Diane Abbott last in the ballot of MPs, members and trade unionists. 11

12 How they voted Round 1: David Miliband 37.78%, Ed Miliband 34.33% Diane Abbott eliminated Round 2: David Miliband 38.89%, Ed Miliband 37.47%. Andy Burnham eliminated Round 3: David Miliband 42.72%, Ed Miliband 41.26%, Ed Balls eliminated Round 4: David Miliband 49.35%, Ed Miliband 50.65%. Ed Miliband wins. 12

13 How they voted David won a majority of support from Labour's MPs at Westminster and party members, but Ed was ahead among members of trade unions and affiliated organisations in Labour's electoral college voting system. After four rounds of voting Ed Miliband won with 175,519 votes, while David Miliband received 147,220 votes. 13

14 Liberal Democrats - Nick Clegg Mr Clegg, an ex-journalist and former Euro MP, won 20,988 votes Chris Huhne won 20,477 votes cast 14

15 Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg is the party's third leader in two years Charles Kennedy quit in January 2006, forced out by a frontbench rebellion after admitting a drink problem. Sir Menzies resigned in October, blaming an age-obsessed media. 15

16 Conservatives Cameron followed 3 leaders – William Hague – never got over photo ops – wearing a baseball hat and drinking from a coconut at Notting Hill Carnival, 2001 campaign – Save the Pound Ian Duncan Smith – told conference the quiet man was turning up the volume within weeks he was out Michael Howard despite a coronation – suffered from Anne Widdecombe’s comment while he was Home Secretary as ‘something of the night about him’ 16

17 Party machines Day to day bureaucracy – organising conferences etc. Come into play at election times Campaigning Air wars – appealing to the voters through the airwaves Ground wars – Getting the vote out mobilising on the ground 17

18 Funding Opposition parties in Parliament receive some funding to carry out their duties Debate over whether there should be state funding for parties Conservatives – receive donations from business Labour largely from trade unions Liberal Democrats – seek money from business as well 18

19 Funding raising Party machines seek to raise money Funding a vexed question Conservatives – Ashcroft millions (see Morrison p154) Blair controversial donation from Bernie Ecclestone at the beginning of his tenure (ibid) 19

20 controversies Lobbygate – cash for questions Cash for honours (loans for peerages) In the event no charges brought. MPs expenses scandal Tory vice chairman selling access to PM for donations And Labour sell themselves 20

21 21 Democracy in action in South Africa … … and Britain

22 22 BRITAIN’S ‘CRISIS OF ENGAGEMENT’: POLITICIANS Helena Kennedy (2006) We need to “… save British democracy from meltdown” David Cameron (May 2006) “ … our democratic system isn't working … public faith in our political institutions is draining away and being replaced by a progressive and debilitating alienation.”

23 The Coalition’s view “The Government believes that our political system is broken. We urgently need fundamental political reform, including a referendum on electoral reform, much greater co-operation across party lines, and changes to our political system to make it far more transparent and accountable.” (Coalition Agreement May 2010) 23

24 Political Reform (Coalition Agreement) Fixed term Parliaments Referendum on the voting system (went against AV) Recall of MPs – allow voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents z/commons-select/political-and-constitutional-reform- committee/news/recal-gov-response/ z/commons-select/political-and-constitutional-reform- committee/news/recal-gov-response 24

25 Clegg loses out Nick Clegg lost out on the PR referendum Lost out on House of Lords reform Boundary changes in the balance (Clegg blocked the move) 25

26 Clegg loses out on House of Lords reform _dems_not_pursuing_lords_reform _dems_not_pursuing_lords_reform 26

27 27 WHAT IS POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT? BEHAVIOUR Voting Member of party Member of group Go on march Write to MP Boycott goods Donate money ATTITUDES Support for political system Support for political actors/institutions Political interest

28 28 ARE PEOPLE MOVING AWAY FROM ELECTORAL POLITICS? Fuel protests (2000) Countryside march (2002): 400,000 Iraq war march (2003): 1,000,000 Make Poverty History (2005): 200,000 Occupy movements

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31 31 TRUST IN GOVERNMENT “How much do you trust British governments of any party to place the needs of the nation above the interests of their own political party? - Just about always - Most of the time - Only some of the time - Almost never”

32 Possible reasons War in Iraq? Expenses scandal? Single issue politics? Decline in trade unions? Voting system? “Queasy ride on the ideological big-dipper” ‘Them and us’ syndrome Feelings of Powerlessness 32

33 Electorate want moderation A large majority were somewhere in the political ‘centre’ – or, at any rate, not at either extreme. A few held genuinely centrist views. The views of others were an untidy mixture of left – and right-wing views...Most voters, perhaps nearly all, instinctively inclined towards moderation. ( King, The British Constitution p 75) 33

34 Power Commission The disquiet is really about having no say. It is about feeling disconnected because voting once every four or five years does not feel like real engagement...Politics and government are increasingly slipping back into the hands of privileged elites as if democracy has run out of steam... Developments in British Politics p161/2 34

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38 MPs didn’t get it VS7iI VS7iI 38

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41 And those that did “A massive new feeding frenzy. The Telegraph has got its hands on a computer disc of our unexpurgated expenses and his morning it has begun to publish highlights. Page after unedifying page...The damage is incalculable. Not just to us, but to the entire parliamentary system. We are sinking in a great swamp of derision and loathing.” (Chris Mullin Decline and Fall, p 327) 41

42 Expenses – anger but voters still turned out Despite fears that the MPs expenses scandal of the previous year would engender widespread cynicism amongst the electorate – and thus a reluctance to vote at all - turnout increased by four points to 65.3%. A. Park, J. Curtice, K. Thomson, M. Phillips, E. Clery and S. Butt (eds), British Social Attitudes: The 26 th Report (London: Sage, 2010). 42

43 Voters changed their mind on MPs caught up in the scandal 43

44 Ipsos Mori research Impact of the expenses scandal recedes Published:4 April 2010 Fieldwork:19 - 22 March 2010 Theme: Politicians 44

45 Turnout – an explanation Between 1922 and 1997 turnout had never been lower than 70%, before falling precipitately to just 59% in 2001 and 61% in 2005. While the anticipated closeness of the election (2010) outcome might have helped bring some voters to the polls, it would appear that the British electorate can no longer be relied upon to vote simply out of duty or habit. 45

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48 48 TRUST IN GOVERNMENT: BRITAIN, 1973-2005 Source: Bromley & Curtice (2001); British Social Attitudes

49 49 POLITICAL INTEREST IN BRITAIN, 1973-2005 Source: Electoral Commission, Audit of Political Engagement (2004, 2005, 2006)

50 50 TURNOUT ACROSS WESTERN EUROPE, 1945-2003 Declined Austria Finland France Ireland Luxembourg Netherlands Portugal Spain Switzerland United Kingdom Stayed same Belgium Denmark Germany Greece Iceland Norway Sweden Source: International IDEA

51 51 EXPLAINING TURNOUT DECLINE FEATURE OF CITIZENS Citizens less interested in politics than before Citizens less trusting in politicians than before FEATURE OF ELECTIONS Bland parties Uncompetitive elections

52 52 POLITICAL TRUST AND TURNOUT: 1997 AND 2001 Source: Bromley & Curtice (2001) Table 7.11 High trust Medium trust Low trust

53 53 ELECTORAL COMPETITIVENESS AND TURNOUT, 1964-2005 Source: Curtice (2005) Table 2 10% 16% 20% 14% 5% % Average opinion poll lead 1%

54 54 OTHER EXPLANATIONS OF DECLINING TURNOUT POWER inquiry (2006; chs2-3) Citizens lack influence over political decisions Parties not responsive to public demands Kellner (2004) Politics seen as irrelevant; doesn’t deliver what people want Politics seen as ‘phoney’; politicians don’t tell people the truth.

55 55 FORMS OF NON-ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION Individual/Non-active Donate money Boycott goods; buy ethical goods Sign petition Individual/Active Contact MP or media Collective/Active Go on demonstration Attend political meeting or group

56 56 FREQUENCY OF NON-ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION, 2000 Individual / Non-active Donate money Signed petition 62% 42% Individual / Active Contacted public official Contacted the media 25% 9% Collective / Active Raised money for organisation Gone on demonstration 30% 5% Source: Pattie et al, 2004: Table 3.1

57 57 NON-ELECTORAL AND ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION Turnout in 2001 election 3+ protest actions = 80% No protest actions = 65% Turnout among young (<35 years) 3+ protest actions = 58% No protest actions = 46% Source: Curtice and Seyd, 2003

58 58 CONCLUSION: CONCERN OR OPTIMISM? CONCERNOPTIMISM Declining political trustInterest in politics still high Declining turnout Non-voting due to weak electoral competition Increasing non-electoral participation Skewed to the better resourced Abandoning ballot box for direct participation? Protest is supplement to, not replacement for, voting

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60 What for the future? reading Ch 9 Anti-Politics in Britain, Developments in British Politics Are citizens in Britain becoming disengaged from politics? And what are the consequences? 60

61 Civil Service Morrison p102-109 Collective term for the administrative structure that carries out the work of departments and agencies Whitehall (government ministries) Civil Service neutral Whether Tory/Labour/coalition the civil service carry out the wishes of their master or mistress Provide continuity 61

62 Civil Service Appointments on merit (not cronies) Fair and open competition Senior civil servants (mandarins) Permanent secretaries Principal secretaries Cabinet secretary 62

63 Preparing for coalition government Cabinet Secretary (Gus O’Donnell) prepared for coalition after 2010 elections producing a hung Parliament First draft of a written constitution (denied) Gus O’Donnel now a peer Jeremy Heywood cabinet secretary (plebgate) 63

64 Yes Minister Political neutrality sacrosanct Clive Ponting – passing classified documents to an unauthorised person (Belgrano) Francis Maude Cabinet Office Minister accuses civil servants of blocking reforms 64

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66 Blocking reforms 060/Francis-Maude-The-Civil-Service-must- reform.html 060/Francis-Maude-The-Civil-Service-must- reform.html 66

67 Agencies Executive agencies Quangos Taskforces 67

68 Confidantes Spin doctors Campbell and Mandelson Coulson Spads Whelan 68

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71 Outside of the rules /liam-fox-werritty-special-adviser /liam-fox-werritty-special-adviser sts/matthewd_ancona/5141509/The-Damian- McBride-scandal-shows-just-how-out-of- touch-Labour-is.html sts/matthewd_ancona/5141509/The-Damian- McBride-scandal-shows-just-how-out-of- touch-Labour-is.html 71 liam-fox-werritty-special-adviser

72 Abiding by the rules Parliamentary Ombudsman 72


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