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.
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.
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
There manifesto was the agreement of people which favoured the ordinary citizens and wanted them to gain more rights than rich property owners. They organized the Putney debates where army general council met with leveller spokesmen and they agreed that they should break the back of the rank and file agitation. The leveller’s strong influence on the army played a role in the failure as it made it difficult for the army and parliament to agree with one
b) Using your own knowledge as well as the extract, explain why recent reforms can be said to have made the House of Lords more legitimate. Recent reforms have made the House of Lords more legitimate, the 2001 reforms made by Blair’s government meant that that most hereditary peers were no longer part of the Lords – this meant that the people in the Lords were not their because of their blood but because of their expertise and interest in subjects relating to discussing inside the chamber. Blair, by removing hereditary peers made the Lords more accountable and more professional. The Lords become a real discussion based chamber with key figures from around the country invited to discuss and debate topics which meant something to them. However, the Lords have always had a strong hold on the Commons, overriding them more times than the government’s own backbenchers.
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.
TERM LIMITS FOR CONGRESS I believe that term limits should be placed on our Congressmen and women because it would allow for a more efficient Congress. The current Congress is in shambles, a dismal failure and is in desperate need of new ideas, procedures, and influence. With term limits in place, Congress will be more responsible toward their constituents because they themselves will soon be constituents. They will have to live under and abide by the laws they created while in office. They’ll have less time in office to develop money ties to lobbyists and other special interest groups, thereby weakening the threat of lobbyists being able to influence legislation.
Advisers have always received less accountability than MP’s as advisers do not represent constituencies which provide scrutiny, advisers on the other hand funnel accountability onto the Prime Minister such as Tony Blair. With this done, there is increased media attention on the Prime Minister. With increased attention on Prime Ministers, presidential factors such as style of leadership and charm come into play which are not requirements for Prime Ministers. These spin doctors have also been placed as advisers such as Steve Hilton who was known for working for David Cameron as a think tank. By replacing experienced civil servants with appointed advisers David Cameron created a customised department which suits him.
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
To what extent does the Prime Minister dominate the political system in the U.K? The Prime Minister has many formal powers which come from the Royal Prerogative; these are relatively modest compared to the powers of an executive president. The powers include appointment of ministers and other senior figures e.g. top judges and senior bishops, dissolving and recalling Parliament, signing treaties and granting honours. However, there are also informal powers which make Prime Minister much more important than their ‘constitutional’ role suggests.