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

Who Holds Power in the United Kingdom Today?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Who Holds Power in the United Kingdom Today? To approach this question it is essential to consider both the definitions of power and the various different domains within which they work. As power is central to the understanding of politics, it evokes fierce controversy over its meaning. Academics have argued that politics strives to resolve conflict by producing consensus over the issues in question. In contrast, the practice of politics may also be seen solely as a means of execising power, be it through particular coercive forces or a legitimate authoratitive body. Political activity is omnipresent, existing on both micro level (as seen in the relationship between teacher and student) and on a macro level, meaning the state. Consequently, this brings us to make a necessary distinction between 'power' and 'influence'. The former can be seen as an ability to make significant political decisions which facilitates the control over others. e.g.the power of government over society. In contrast, the latter implies the potential to transform any component part of these decisions via some form of external pressure. For instance, this may include anything from rational debating within Parliament, to open intimidation such as armed police forces. Liberal democratic politics dictate the political agenda of the British political system. The 'liberal' element advocates the support for a multitude of different networks within the state as well as a number of different groups working seprate from the state. For example, N.G.Os, a Bill of Rights, an autonomous judiciary and finally, a complex system of 'checks and balances' within the institutions of government. ...read more.

Middle

This is because the state is the result of the class system and its main concern is to conserve and defend both class domination and exploitation. Lenin makes reference to the state by claiming that it is 'an instrument for the oppression of the exploitated class'. Of course, it is certainly recognisable that both elitists and Marxists alike share some similarities. This is illustrated in the view that cohesive political elites are predominant in the U.K, and that democratic institutions are artificial. However, although we must realise that both Marxists and Elitists have indeed reached the same conclusions, it is vital that we also realise that they fervently differ on the means in which they reach such conclusions. Marxism proposes the notion that the root of the problem lies in the economic structure of society, suggesting that the elite (or the 'ruling class') only holds power because it controls and owns capital. Of course, the Elitists argue against this by insisting that hierarchy is a natural process and will always inevitably emerge from any given situation and thus the domination of elites is psychological, not artificial. In short, Marxists believe that capitalism exists only to serve the interest of the bourgeoisie, the ruling class, and as a result the proletariat will be inextricably oppressed. A striking example of the Marxist theory put into practice would be that of the tobacco industry, where multi-international financial transactions are taking place amongst an elite few (which are, in turn accumulating great wealth) ...read more.

Conclusion

We like to deceive ourselves that we live in a 'democracy' but because of our archaic voting system of 'first-past-the-post', the government cannot represent views of the majority. Also, in a true democracy the War in Iraq would not have happened, considering the huge number of people that turned up to protest against it. Unfortunately, even under the Secret Ballot Act of 1872 whereby we are suposed to have the right to vote annonymously, we are not even entitled to that freedom because the ballot papers are either numbered or colour coded allowing scope for whoever is in power to check how you voted. Consequently, if our representative form of democracy is not democratic, by implication we must live under the rule of a state elite. And if it is the case that such an elite must strive in every way possible to promote big business in order to uphold social cohesion, then surely it is impossible to deny that capitalist interests are the basis of all governmental decisions. It would only be logical to conclude that the concept of who holds power in the U.K today is merely a guise with government being a necessary shadow passed over society by the interests of big business. The reason this stlye of government has endured for so long is perhaps mans neccessity to believe that he has some control over his own destiny or as Thomas Paine so eloquently put it in the "Rights of Man" (1789), "Society is in every state a blessing, but, government in its best state is but a necessary evil". Mikaela Lee-Willson ...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. Evaluate the extent to which the United Kingdom Parliament is sovereign. Consider both legal ...

    In 1925 the Housing Act had slightly different terms, and it was argued that in fact this later Act could be ineffective because it also applied to subsequent acts. This was struck down by the courts, who argued that the legislature cannot bind subsequent Parliaments.

  2. How Is Power Distributed In The United Kingdom?

    The Judiciary is the court system within the UK. Juries within courts are made up of Citizens picked at random. Whereas Judges are usually highly educated officials who are paid a salary as it is their job.

  1. Conflict Analysis: Angola

    2002, p31f 8 Jedrzej George Frynas and Geoffrey Wood, 'Oil & War in Angola', ROAPE, No.90 (2000) especially p594 9 ibid. 10 Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment: Southern Africa, December 2001-May 2002, p3 11 Christine Gordon, 'Angola: between war and peace', Jane's Intelligence Review, May 2000, p39ff 12 HRWWP 2001, p

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

    This could also be seen as an advantage as the use of referendums would surely then strengthen representative government by weakening a party system that frequently fails to represent the will of the public. Some people argue that parliamentary sovereignty could be threatened by the establishment of an alternative means

  1. The Impact of Electoral Design on the Legislature.

    Australia is divided into 148 single-member constituencies. Instead of a simple 'X', voters rank their preferences among candidate (1,2,3...). To win, candidates need an absolute majority of votes. Where no-one gets over 50 per cent after first preferences are counted, then the candidate at the bottom of the pile with the lowest share of the vote is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed amongst the other candidates.

  2. Politics A: Analysing Theories of the State and Individual - Evaluation of Pluralism.

    Pluralism is used as an explanation of how democracy works in the complex liberal democracies of the developed world we know today. The fundamental ideas are about democracy as a representative form of government. It recognizes that direct access to political power does not exist, but people's needs are met due to representation provided by other centres of power.

  1. How has the role and impact of military rulers and civilian politicians differed in ...

    although he had to face a serious reaction from the Islamic orthodox parties in Pakistan. 10.3 Developments on the Economic Front Pakistan has been unfortunate in the sense that the majority of politicians it got were never serious for Pakistan.

  2. Citizenship - participating in society

    Laptop: We used a laptop to show them the PowerPoint presentation which I created. We used paper, scissors felt-tips, glue and coloured paper which the pupils in year 7 used to create a poster. We also used word searches for a starter.

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