Democratic Drift: Majoritarian Modification and Democratic Anomie in the United Kingdom
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Democratic Drift: Majoritarian Modification and Democratic Anomie in the United Kingdom

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Although there is no doubt that the constitution has been significantly reformed since the election of New Labour in 1997 the degree to which these reforms have altered the nature of democracy in the United Kingdom remains highly contested. A major problem within this debate is that it has become polarized around a binary distinction between power-sharing and power-hoarding models of democracy when the contemporary situation is actually far more complex. This book draws upon theories and methods from comparative political analysis in order to argue and then demonstrate three central and inter-related arguments.

Firstly, that the distinctive element of New Labour's approach to constitutional engineering is not that it has shifted the nature of democracy in the United Kingdom from one model to another but has instead sought to apply different models at the periphery and core: bi-constitutionality.

Secondly, that contemporary evidence of both increasing levels of public disengagement from conventional politics and falling levels of public trust in politicians, political institutions and political processes originate from the 'expectations gap'. This 'gap' is created by the process of political competition artificially increases public expectations; only for these expectations to be dashed as the elected party either seeks to renege upon certain pre-election commitments or fails to achieve them.

Finally, democracy in the United Kingdom is currently drifting. The old rules do not appear to suit the new game, and yet the government continues to insist that the old rules still apply. The critical challenge for any future government, of any political complexion, will be to articulate a new form of constitutional morality with the capacity to clarify exactly what its reforms in the sphere of constitutional reform and democratic renewal are seeking to achieve.

The analysis offered in this book focuses on the evolution of democracy in the United Kingdom since the election of New Labour in 1997. However in order to achieve both depth and breadth this analysis is then located within the contours of much broader longitudinal and comparative analyses. This involves examining the trajectory of democracy in the United Kingdom from 1945 onwards, and then comparing this long-term view within a much broader comparative perspective to examine the degree to which recent developments in the United Kingdom fit within global democratic trends.

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