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British Government and Politics

A Comparative Guide

Duncan Watts

Edition: 2

eBook (ePub) i
eBook (PDF) i

Your handy guide to the British political system

Praise for the first edition

'A straightforward, well-written and conventional review of the institutional landscape.'

Times Higher Education

New for this edition

  • Updated throughout to reflect the outcome of the 2010 General Election
  • All relevant case studies and tables replaced with new data
  • Brand new chapter on Britain and the EU

This one-stop textbook introduction examines the institutions and practices integral to the British political systems and makes comparisons with the experience of other countries.

Topics include:

  • The Constitution
  • The Legislature
  • The Executive
  • The Judiciary
  • Government Beyond the Centre
  • Political Parties
  • Pressure Groups
  • Voting and Elections
  • Democracy in Theory and Practice
  • Britain and the European Union


List of boxes
List of tables
Leaders of the two main parties in Britain since 1945
US presidents since 1945
Votes and seats in British general elections since 1945
1. The Setting of British Politics: British Society and the British People
The historical background
British society and the British way of life
Immigration and religion: their impact
Underlying British ideas and values
2. The Constitution

The growth of interest in constitutional revision
The characteristics of constitutions
The constitution of the United Kingdom
The Blair government and the Constitution
The protection of rights in Britain
The case of South Africa
The case of the USA
3. The Legislature
What is the legislature?
The structure of legislatures
The British House of Lords
The main functions of the House of Commons
The House as a watchdog over government
Elected representatives: the duties and responsibilities of British MPs
Parliamentary reform in recent years
The social composition of elected legislators
The pay and conditions of legislators
The case of Denmark
The case of the USA
4. The Executive
The Executive in parliamentary and presidential systems of government
The distribution of power within political executives: the trend towards first ministerial dominance
The British Cabinet
The role of Prime Minister
The debate about prime ministerial power
Constraints on the British Prime Minister
A presidential prime minister?
British ministers and their civil servants
The conventions of Ministerial Responsibility
The case of Holland

The case of the USA
5. The Judiciary
Judicial independence
Judicial neutrality
The growing importance of judicial review
The developing trend towards judicial activism
The politicisation of British judges: growing judicial power
The case of the European Court on Human

About the Author

Duncan Watts has wide experience of teaching and examining, both in Modern History and Government and Politics. Formerly a Head of Department in both Grammar and Comprehensive schools, and Editor of the Politics Association Resource Centre, he is now involved in some part-time tutoring at 'A' Level, but much of his time is spent in writing on aspects of modern political development. Among several other publications, he has written widely on citizenship, political communication, the European Union and American government and politics, as well as producing an extensive range of teaching materials. He is the series editor of Politics Study Guides (EUP).

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