By M. Williams

Main issue and Consensus in British Politics makes a speciality of the cave in of the post-war consensus within the mid Nineteen Seventies situation and the emergence of a brand new consensus within the Nineties. It follows this technique via six key coverage parts together with civil provider reform, privatisation, macro-economic administration and kin with Europe. it truly is designed for college students following classes in glossy historical past, politics and public coverage in addition to normal readers with an curiosity in present affairs.

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Extra resources for Crisis and Consensus in British Politics: From Bagehot to Blair

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Both of the main parties – Conservatives and Labour alike – were prisoners of what might be called the ‘inter-war consensus’ that governments could do little to mitigate unemployment – what Paul Addison has called ‘a consensus to prevent anything unusual happening’ (Addison, 1994: 14). The Conservatives believed that the solution to Britain’s post-war problems was to return to the vanished world of pre-war normality, hence the 1925 return to the Gold Standard at the pre-war parity which simply pushed up export prices and worsened unemployment – and generated a round of wage-cutting that led to the General Strike of 1926.

Without party, governments would be vulnerable to the shifting allegiances of individual Members. Thus the importance of party in the British system of government is a function of the connection between the executive and the legislature and the 28 Crisis and Consensus in British Politics need for the one to control the other. Bagehot was the first to identify this ‘efficient secret’. The Second Reform Act altered the rules of the political game in which governments were made and unmade in the House of Commons and the main skill of the Prime Minister (as under the French Third and Fourth Republics) lay in assembling and maintaining a majority in the House of Commons.

Only the disappearance of the organised working class as a significant political force in the 1980s would permit the rise of a new kind of progressive politics seeking to merge the two traditions on the Left of British politics which bifurcated in the early part of the century. In this sense,’Tony Blair is returning his party to the liberalism of Lloyd George’ (Beer, 1998: 24). By contrast, the Conservative Party was well-placed to benefit from the flight of middle-class voters from the Liberal Party and from their fear of Labour, especially in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and in the climate of post-war working-class militancy which ended only with the defeat of the General Strike in 1926.

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