Democratic Drift: Majoritarian Modification and Democratic Anomie in the United Kingdom

Hardcover | November 29, 2009

byMatthew Flinders

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Although there is no doubt that the constitution has been significantly reformed since the election of New Labour in 1997 the degree to which these reforms have altered the nature of democracy in the United Kingdom remains highly contested. A major problem within this debate is that it hasbecome polarised around a binary distinction between power-sharing and power-hoarding models of democracy when the contemporary situation is actually far more complex. This book draws upon theories and methods from comparative political analysis in order to argue and then demonstrate three centraland inter-related arguments. Firstly, that the distinctive element of New Labour's approach to constitutional engineering is not that it has shifted the nature of democracy in the United Kingdom from one model to another but has instead sought to apply different models at the periphery and core: bi-constitutionality. Secondly, that contemporary evidence of both increasing levels of public disengagement from conventional politics and falling levels of public trust in politicians, political institutions and political processes originate from the 'expectations gap'. This 'gap' is created by the process of politicalcompetition artificially increases public expectations; only for these expectations to be dashed as the elected party either seeks to renege upon certain pre-election commitments or fails to achieve them.Finally, democracy in the United Kingdom is currently drifting. The old rules do not appear to suit the new game, and yet the government continues to insist that the old rules still apply. The critical challenge for any future government, of any political complexion, will be to articulate a new formof constitutional morality with the capacity to clarify exactly what its reforms in the sphere of constitutional reform and democratic renewal are seeking to achieve. The analysis offered in this book focuses on the evolution of democracy in the United Kingdom since the election of New Labour in 1997. However in order to achieve both depth and breadth this analysis is then located within the contours of much broader longitudinal and comparative analyses. Thisinvolves examining the trajectory of democracy in the United Kingdom from 1945 onwards, and then comparing this long-term view within a much broader comparative perspective to examine the degree to which recent developments in the United Kingdom fit within global democratic trends.

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Although there is no doubt that the constitution has been significantly reformed since the election of New Labour in 1997 the degree to which these reforms have altered the nature of democracy in the United Kingdom remains highly contested. A major problem within this debate is that it hasbecome polarised around a binary distinction be...

Matthew Flinders is Professor of Parliamentary Government and Governance at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. In 2002 he won the Harrison Prize, and in 2004 was the inaugural recipient of the Richard Rose Prize (both awarded by the Political Studies Association of the UK). During 2005-2006 he held a Leverhulme Research Fell...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.96 inPublished:November 29, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199271593

ISBN - 13:9780199271597

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Table of Contents

ContentsList of Figures and TablesAcknowledgementsPart I: Concepts, Theory and MethodConstitutional AnomieMeta-Constitutional OrientationsOld Labour, New Labour, 'Blair Paradox'Democratic AnalysisPart II: Dimensions of ReformV1 Party SystemV2 CabinetsV3 Executive-Legislature RelationshipV4 Electoral systemV5 Interest groupsV6 Federal-UnitaryV7 Unicameralism-Bicameralism.V8 Constitutional AmendmentV9 Judicial ReviewV10 Central BankPart III: Analysis and ImplicationsBi-ConstitutionalismDemocratic Drift