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7. Interest Groups, Advocacy, and Policy-Making  

This chapter describes interest, pressure, or advocacy groups, which organize separately from political parties, seeking to influence public opinion and public policy. It discusses the nature of these groups and what they do, before reviewing the debate on the power of interest groups, in particular whether business has a privileged position. Studies of interest groups show the importance of these groups to the delivery of public policy, which reveals a two-way relationship between groups and the state. There is a complex pattern of governance that makes policy-making complicated and difficult terrain for governments or regional and local agencies. In today's turbulent politics, there is room for new advocacy groups to upset the equilibrium. The very unpredictability of the interest group world and the appearance of actors skilled in the use of social media may provide opportunities to influence the political agenda and to engage in more disruptive politics.

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13. The UK and the outside world  

This chapter starts by asking what are the things that a community regards as fundamental to the well-being of its citizens? They could be economic prosperity, security, or a stable environment. However, a state doesn’t exist in isolation. There is an outside world with which it has to interact with. This chapter explains how both the decisions that the UK takes about external policy and the way in which it takes them are subjects of intense interest and sometimes even controversy. They have consequences for the outside world as well as for the UK. These are two spheres that cannot be totally separated. An important question related to this discussion is: how far should external policy involve the self-interest of the UK? How far should we take into account our wider responsibilities as members of the global community? What powers can the UK wield internationally? To what extend is external policy subject to democratic accountability?

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3. The UK government  

This chapter concentrates on the UK government, the part of the UK political system responsible for creating policy and putting it into effect. The chapter looks at the nature of the UK government, and the way it is made up of ministers, and civil servants and departments. The chapter also looks at the types of ministers, their legal and political powers, and the rules applying to them. The chapter assesses the constitutional position of the civil service, and its relationship with ministers and Parliaments. It also describes the departmental structure of the UK government and the so-called arm’s-length bodies within it. The chapter presents a number of perspectives on the way in which power operates within government and considers how the various ideas play out in reality. The chapter revisits the issue of Brexit but this time in the context of the civil services and ministers.

Book

Cover British Politics
British Politics provides an introduction to British politics with an emphasis on political science to analyse the fundamental features of British politics, and the key changes post-Brexit. Part A looks at constitutional and institutional foundations of the subject. Chapters in this part look at leadership and debating politics and law creation. The second part is about political behaviour and citizenship. Here chapters consider elections, the media, agenda setting, and political turbulence. The final part is about policy-making and delegation. The chapters in this part examine interest groups, advocacy, policy-making, governing through bureaucracy and from below, delegating upwards, and British democracy now.

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10. Delegating Upwards  

Challenges of International Politics

This chapter highlights the challenges presented by international politics. Much of what happens in British politics occurs because of Britain's relationship to the international stage. Relationships to other states, international bodies, and the international economy need to be managed by the UK's political leaders and foreign and defence bureaucracies, to manage how to deploy Britain's voice in international matters. Then there is the delegation of powers to international organizations and the making of treaties. The chapter specifically examines foreign policy and focuses on how functions are delegated to international organizations. It tells the story of the European Union (EU) as one of the most important international delegations culminating in the story of Brexit. This leads to a discussion of the UK's defence and security role. One key theme of the chapter is how success and failure in international politics feed back into domestic politics.

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11. Conclusion  

The State of British Democracy

This concluding chapter presents a summary of the common themes and key points about British politics, which help make sense of current events, such as whether turbulence and instability now characterize British politics, and whether democracy can work well in these conditions. It provides a table containing summaries of each chapter, which relate to the themes of the book: party government and executive power, political turbulence, blunders/policy disasters, and the difficulties of achieving agency. With these and other insights, it is possible to assess whether there is anything left for traditional understandings of British democracy or whether the country is in uncharted waters, without any clearly understood democratic mechanisms and not capable of producing effective policy outcomes. Overall, how does Britain fare as a democracy with its old and new features? The chapter then looks at the debate about the quality of UK democracy.

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8. Governing Through Bureaucracy  

This chapter explores the central government departments, executive agencies, and other public bureaucracies in operation in the UK today, such as those in local and territorial governments. These bodies help make and implement public policies and run public services. The chapter reviews more general work on bureaucracy and public administration, and sets out the theory of politician–bureaucrat relationships (going back to the principal–agent model), before addressing the classic question of civil service influence over public policy. It then takes account of the diversity of bureaucratic organizations operating in Britain today. The chapter also looks at the evidence of how politicians manage to satisfy their political objectives through delegating authority to these bodies.