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British Government and Politics


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Table of Contents

List of boxes; List of tables; Leaders of the two main parties in Britain since 1945; US presidents since 1945; Votes and seats in British general elections since 1945; 1. The Setting of British Politics: British Society and the British People; Introduction; The historical background; British society and the British way of life; Immigration and religion: their impact; Underlying British ideas and values; 2. The Constitution; PART A THE CONSTITUTION; Introduction; The growth of interest in constitutional revision; The characteristics of constitutions; The constitution of the United Kingdom; The Blair government and the Constitution; PART B, THE PROTECTION OF RIGHTS IN BRITAIN; Introduction; The protection of rights in Britain; The case of South Africa; The case of the USA; 3. The Legislature; Introduction; What is the legislature?; The structure of legislatures; The British House of Lords; The main functions of the House of Commons; The House as a watchdog over government; Elected representatives: the duties and responsibilities of British MPs; Parliamentary reform in recent years; The social composition of elected legislators; The pay and conditions of legislators; The case of Denmark; The case of the USA; 4. The Executive; Introduction; The Executive in parliamentary and presidential systems of government; The distribution of power within political executives: the trend towards first ministerial dominance; The British Cabinet; The role of Prime Minister; The debate about prime ministerial power; Constraints on the British Prime Minister; A presidential prime minister?; British ministers and their civil servants; The conventions of Ministerial Responsibility; The case of Holland; The case of the USA; 5. The Judiciary; Introduction; Judicial independence; Judicial neutrality; The growing importance of judicial review; The developing trend towards judicial activism; The politicisation of British judges: growing judicial power; The case of the European Court on Human Rights; The case of the USA; 6. Government Beyond the Centre; Introduction; The devolved United Kingdom; Devolution in Scotland; Devolution in Wales; Is Britain becoming a federal state?; English local government; The case of Spain; The case of the United States; 7. Political Parties; Introduction; The role of political parties and the nature of party systems; The history of the two main parties since 1945; The attitudes and beliefs of political parties: the notions of Left and Right; The British Conservative Party; The Labour Party; Blairism in practice: 1997 onwards; Third and minor parties in Britain and elsewhere; Party membership and finance; Party organisation: general trends; The organisation of British political parties; Party conferences in Britain; Party leaders: how the main British parties choose them; The powers and security of party leaders; The decline of political parties: do they still matter?; The case of Italy; The case of the USA; 8. Pressure Groups; Introduction; Group activity in modern societies: pressure groups and movements; Pressure groups and political parties: their differences and similarities; Classifying pressure groups; The methods employed by pressure groups; The European dimension to British pressure group activity; Pressure groups under recent governments; Factors influencing the success of different groups; The benefits and disadvantages of pressure groups; The case of Scotland; The case of the USA; 9. Voting and Elections; Introduction; Election campaigning; British election campaigns and campaigning; Electoral systems; Types of electoral systems; British experience: the operation of FPTP in the general election of 2010; Some arguments surrounding the debate over FPTP v PR; Voting behaviour; Voting in Britain; Turnout in elections; Turnout in the United Kingdom: the 2010 election; Direct democracy: initiatives and referendums; The use of referendums in the United Kingdom; The case of France: the use of referendums; The case of the USA: election campaigning; 10. Britain and the European Union; Introduction; The development and character of the EU; Democracy and the Union: the 'democratic deficit' it its workings; Britain and the EU: the intergovernmentalist approach in action; The impact of the EU on government and politics in the UK; Political and popular reactions to Europe in EU member states; Europe: a problem area in British politics; Britain, Europe and the future of the EU; Conclusion: Democracy in Theory and Practice; Introduction; The development of democracy; Democracy: its main forms; The characteristics of representative and liberal democracies; British democracy in practice.

About the Author

Duncan Watts has wide experience of teaching and examining, both in Modern History and Government and Politics. Formerly a Head of Department in both Grammar and Comprehensive schools, and Editor of the Politics Association Resource Centre, he is now involved in some part-time tutoring at 'A' Level, but much of his time is spent in writing on aspects of modern political development. Among several other publications, he has written widely on citizenship, political communication, the European Union and American government and politics, as well as producing an extensive range of teaching materials. He is the series editor of Politics Study Guides (EUP).

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