• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Are we witnessing the demise of the 'WestminsterModel' in the UK?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Are we witnessing the demise of the 'Westminster Model' in the UK? Klaudia Loretti 07/11/2003 GV 101 Group Mr. Stijn The 'Westminster model,' so-called after the area where the Houses of Parliament stand, is used to describe the form of representative democracy present in the United Kingdom. It is often referred to as the majoritarian model due to the fact that it is characterized by a rule of the majority. British politics was only in tight conformity with the traditional, Westminster model from 1945 to 1970, thus for twenty-five years. From 1918, when the admission of women to suffrage initiated the beginning of a fully democratic system, until 1945 and then again in the period since 1970, there have been very significant deviations from the majoritarian model.1 Almost all of its main characteristics are not valid today. We are witnessing a demise of the Westminster model as one party and bare majority cabinets disappear, the fusion of power and cabinet power crumbles, the two party system is threatened, the one-dimensional party system falls with voting behaviour changes, devolution divides the IK, as the state is decentralised and multi-level governance arises, the European Union limits the UK's sovereignty, proportional representation initiates, referendums are brought forth, the House of Lords is reformed, the constitution is rewritten, and as the Labour and Conservative parties become closer. The first aspect that presents the demise of the majoritarian model is the fact that one-party and bare majority cabinets were very rare in the recent past. ...read more.

Middle

Appearing cleavages and the downfall of the one-dimensional party system is also relevant to this topic. In the old model, the principal political difference that divided the British and their parties was disagreement about socioeconomic policies. The labour party represented the left-of the-centre and was supported by working class voters. The Conservative was right-of-the-center and was supported by the middle-class. British society used to be highly homogenous and the above issues were the only dimension that caused Parties to diverge.8 Yet now, the UK has become a "multi-national state." The social class is no longer the only dimension of differentiation. Ethinicity and religion have become important determinants of voting behaviour also.9 This leads us on to the notion of multi-level governance, which proves to undermine the traditional governmental model. The British political system was previously characterized as unitary, with a strong central base. At the present time, "the structure of the government is fragmented into a maze of institutions and organizations." The model in particular fails to capture the complex reality of the British system. There is not only one centre of power. In practice, there are many centers and diverse links between many agencies of government at local, regional, national levels and also links with the EU. There is a very complicated architecture to systems of government. 10 'Devolution' is also key when discussing the demise of the system. ...read more.

Conclusion

Today, only 12 law lords and peers who have held high judicial office undertake exercise specialist tasks in this branch of Parliament.18 Thus, the House of Lords' power has been significantly curbed and its influence in politics decreased. The fact that Labour and the Conservatives have set aside their distinctive ideologies also undermines the traditional Westminster model. The transformation of the Labour into the New Labour Party marked the beginning of a drawing together, thus towards the centre, of the policies of the two distinct parties. New Labour altered Clause Four and rejected old left-wing socialism and 'labourism,' and began to appeal more to the middle class. 19 The demise of the Westminster model is also being witnessed in the area of constitutional reform programme that the Labour party wants to carry out. Among the key issues on the reform agenda are such as the change voting system, radical freedom of information, or the emergence of the second chamber of the House of Lords. If the constitutional reform programme delivers change in each of these sphere, the old Westminster model will be transformed.20 Most people still use the old term 'Westminster model' in order to describe the form of government present in the United Kingdom. Yet we see that as time passes by, politics also go through radical changes and transformations and with it, terms also have to be altered. All elements of the old political model of the UK have been challenged and the system is rapidly breaking down. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. Is Britain a two-party or a multi party system, or something else?

    "...Labour has only twice, in 1945 and 1966, recorded decisive election victories, and at no time has the party managed to serve two consecutive full terms in office...[they] did not succeed in breaking the mould of twentieth-century politics". However, despite the fact that Labour has since won an unprecedented three

  2. Arguments for and Against the use of Referendums in the UK

    were followed, there would be less room for criticism and more chance for direct democracy. Referendums shouldn't be used to simply side-step parliamentary procedures, and they should not be a substitute for parliamentary democracy; they should be used whenever the public show they have strong views on an issue, either through petitions or pressure groups.

  1. Malta at the turn of the 19th Century.

    This system blockaded all the British trade in Europe and brought discontent around Europe. However, for Malta this brought prosperity, in fact Malta had become the main artery of contraband gods in the Mediterranean. Many ships were coming to Malta buying goods, thus more warehouses were needed, together with an

  2. Influences on Voting Behaviour

    Opinion polls are carried out in order to discover voters' intentions in the run up to elections. These opinion polls are conducted by organizations such as ICM, Gallup, Harris and MORI and the results are published in the press. Reflecting or directing?: Some sociologists have suggested that the results of

  1. WWI, The Twenty-One Demands and The May Fourth Movement

    and the loans for the construction of railways, in Eastern Inner Mongolia, which is similar to the agreement in Manchuria relating to the matters of the same kind, may be replaced by the phrase "to consult with the Japanese capitalists."

  2. In this essay I will explain the distinctive features of the Scottish political system, ...

    They have little to do directly with politics but certainly support the idea that Scotland is different. In recent elections Scotland has grown apart from England. Labour domination in Scottish Politics increased in 1987 the party held 50 out of 72 seats.

  1. Free essay

    Outline the principal sources of authority available to US presidents. How similar is executive ...

    their limited resources of authority; much depends upon the skill with which a president is able to bring political influence and persuasion to bear. However, the most important controlling factor of the president's level of authority is his relationship with other key political actors.

  2. The constitutional change in the House of Lords

    On the other hand, the Commission had recommended three options for selecting the minority of regional members. Model A provides that sixty-five regional members selected by the results of general elections to calculate the proportion of the second chamber seats in each region that should be allocated to each party.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work