To this I would say that the parties may have centralised slightly, but their core values still exist, which is what most people are interested in. For example the conservative party is attempting to decrease benefits, whereas the labour party wants to keep them. Another argument for political parties enhancing democracy is that parties are pluralist. This means they allow party members to influence decisions within the party, including who will be the leader. This pluralism is shown well in the party conference that is held once a year.
Analyse the view that the Labour and Conservative parties are dominated by their respective leaders. In recent years there has been much debate as to whether party leaders have too much power over their parties. Many do believe that the two main party leaders in the UK do not dominate their parties as the structure of their party does not allow them to do so, but many more believe that party leaders have great authority over their parties and are fully committed to driving their parties policy with little delegation or use of their cabinet ministers. Historically the Conservative Party leader has been more powerful than the Labour Party leader. People believe this is down to the party’s history; the Labour Party originated from the trade union movement at the turn of the 20th century and originally had a chairman of the Labour MPs in the House of Commons, but no leader.
It succeeds in this as if a party is not representing the people in the way they said or are not fulfilling their promises then the people can choose another party who they think can represent them in a better way than the previous party. Elections also hold individual MPs to account as well based on their record, and example of this is the 2009 expenses scandal in which many MPs stepped down rather than face the verdict of the voters and so elections fulfil their purpose as they succeed at holding parties and MPs to account. However elections don’t fulfil their purpose as they are failing in the area of participation from the public as the level of turnout over recent times has gradually fallen as in the 2001 general election the turnout was 59.4%, is the lowest it has been since 1918. In the 2005 general election the turnout was 61.4% and in the 2010 general election the turnout
Despite of this, Labour decided not to move ahead with the reforms. This shows that first past the post benefits the government in power because the party has majority of the votes in parliament in which makes it difficult for the other party to be heard if they want changes. Furthermore, tactical voting on first past the post encourages voters to vote for a candidate who has a better chance of winning. It prevents the election of a candidate representing the most disliked party. Example for this is in 1997 many Lib Dem and Labour voter tactically voted to get sitting Conservative
The delegate model of representation poses a threat to the form of representative democracy used on the UK as the public will have more say on issues which undermines the Burkean model. Likewise it undermines parliamentary sovereignty as parliament is already bypassed by the government, referendums only make it worse. An example of this is when Labour were voted in and in their manifesto contained a referendum on devolution however the result didn’t turn out in their favour in contradiction of the government, further undermining their power. Moreover the public may not be well advised/trusted to make decisions on issues such as capital punishment as the polls show a majority in favour of it, however MPs can see the faults in the use of the death penalty and vote against it. Also the public may not be educated on some of the deeper issues such as the role of central banks in relation to a single currency.
Should the Westminster electoral system be reformed? The Westminster electoral system has been a target for reform for a long time. Despite the loss in the 2011 referendum, reform is still wanted by a number of people especially the Liberal Democrats who will benefit the most. First Past the Post is the system that Westminster uses for election to the Houses of Commons it is a simple majority or plurality system that requires a candidate to get more votes than anyone else. One argument that the Westminster electoral system should be reformed is that First Past the Post doesn't give the social representation that other system gives, for example in the Parliament elected in 2010, women, 51% of the population, are represented by 22% of Parliament therefore an under representation, however, university educated are overrepresented, 91% of the Houses of Commons represent 31% of the population but having PR doesn't guarantee that the social composition of Parliament only making the percentage of votes more proportional towards the seats.
This is very important in their job as they will only look for views to help the country, even if those are unpopular. Whereas if there was an elected second chamber their views would always be held accountable, but more importantly then some of their revisions may not be what is best for the country, but what the populous believe to be important, which removes the whole objectivity of the revising chamber. This issue could have been questioned under many unpopular parliamentary decisions such as with the Iraq War in 2003, where many of the voters would likely be against it as seen by the many demonstrations, whereas an expert in the Military in House of Lords may believe that it is possible to win the war, however at the next vote his skills would likely be lost when he wouldn’t be re-elected. A wholly elected upper chamber would also pose several problems in regards to the Lords’ expertise. As at the moment, the upper chamber is comprised of experts in their fields leading to high quality debates, if not higher than in the Commons.
Pressure groups activity in the UK presents a major threat to democracy. Evaluate the arguments in favour of this view (25 marks) Pressure groups aim to influence government policy without seeking election itself. The actions of pressure groups challenge and influence democracy as well as being beneficial to democracy in the UK as pressure groups challenge policies and put pressure on the government to change them. On the other hand pressure groups only represent a minority of people’s views and aren’t considered a major threat to democracy. Robert Dahl and Charles Lindbolm suggest a pluralist view of democracy suggesting that pressure groups are beneficial to democracy.
To what extent should leaders rely on polling results to guide them in voting on legislation? Partially it will depend on how well the pollster informs the public on the Leader’s issues. It is not important to correct the prevailing opinion on popular questions as much as correcting the inaccuracies of polling results. Eighty-one percent say when making "an important decision" government leaders "should pay attention to public opinion polls because this will help them get a sense of the public's views." Only 18 percent of the public said "leaders should not pay attention to public opinion polls because this will distract them from deciding what they think is right."
This is why I believe we need a third political party; a party that will actually have a chance to make it into office; not a green party or libertarian party but an American Party. "Americans don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or the center. The American people want to govern themselves." [Scott Rasmussen ‘In Search of Self Governance’] I believe that the American people crave a representative who will speak on behalf of the whole country not someone from a left or right side, someone who is going to listen to what the people want. We lack political options, and are left only to vote for two candidates, a Democrat or a Republican.