Citizens and Subjects: An Essay on British Politics by Tony Wright

By Tony Wright

Voters and topics is an essay at the nature and situation of democracy in Britain on the finish of the 20th century. It appears on the mostly held view that Britain is a version democracy, exposing it as a perilous fable that inhibits either radical suggestion and genuine constitutional switch. The ebook appears to be like on the culture of political and constitutional concept in Britain and at modern political fact, revealing a large gulf among the 2. Dr Wright, a revered instructor and educational lately elected a Labour MP, considers Britain's really acute type of a basic challenge of contemporary executive. whereas the kingdom thinks of itself as a liberal democracy, its liberalism used to be in reality in position good sooner than democracy got here onto the schedule. From the outset, democracy used to be visible as an issue by way of either conservatives and liberals. Constitutional concerns have re-emerged at the political time table in recent times. Dr Wright discusses the capability in which we would circulation in the direction of a pluralistic, open and participatory democracy; he additionally argues, despite the fact that, that sensible reforms are usually not attainable except they're associated with a brand new culture of radical constitutional concept.

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The recent demand to constitutionalize British government is an oddly old-fashioned demand, explicable in terms of an odd constitutional and political history but, at best, necessary rather than sufficient as an account of a contemporary project of democratization in relation to the ‘extended political system’11 with which we are faced. It is at least a nice irony, though, that one of the unanticipated consequences of Thatcherism has been a renewed and radical attention to the political system which made it possible.

Responsible government revisited 47 This is why the subject of parliamentary reform is, like the weather, always with us, and why, also like the weather, nothing very much ever gets done about it. It has generally been a matter of pressing another definition of Parliament’s role, involving an enhanced scrutiny of government, alongside the adversarial and party version of what responsible government entails. Even though reformers have generally been careful to present their proposals as consistent with the essential character of British government, rejecting any suggestion of an alternative approach,5 this has not prevented these proposals from getting firmly stuck in the constitutional mud.

A two-party system seemed rooted in—and the expression of—a competitive struggle between parties representing class blocs which defined the entire electorate (for a quarter of a century after 1945 the combined Conservative and Labour vote scarcely dipped below 90 per cent) and an electoral system which translated this social and political bi-polarity into sharp alternatives, clear majorities and strong governments. An electoral system without the individualist distractions of rigid proportionality enabled a society to give effect to its essential character and to make its collective choices.

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