Government Revision AS

Government side of the government and politics course. Includes

  • The executive - in depth explanation and analysis (including cabinet, cabinet government, the prime minister, the prime minister's office)
  • Parliament (functions, powers, role)
  • the civil service
  • the judiciary
  • constitutional reform over the centuries (including those of Blair's Labour govt and the 2011 referendum on electoral systems)
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  • Created by: Morag
  • Created on: 29-04-13 13:27
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Politics RAT revision
The Constitution
Constitution: a set of laws that determine what powers and duties the central institutions and offices
of state have what they are to be and how they relate to each other and the public.
Role and functions
Provide a clear set of rules for both government and citizen
Protect freedoms and give limits on the power of government and police
Make clear the underlying principles of the state
Make it clear whether power lies in a federal system
Give legitimacy to the work of the state
For and against the UK's uncodified constitution
For:
It works- `if it aint broke, don't fix it'
Statute and common law and conventions have evolved and been established over time-
creates a `working' constitution
It is flexible- easily adapted
Terrorism/new and developing dangers need to be quickly acted upon
What is best now may not be good in the future; the constitution in its current form can keep up with
changing issues
Cloning/GM foods
Makes us flexible as members of the EU
Adapt to EU law easily
A written constitution would be formed by judges who, in the UK, are unelected- undemocratic
Against:
Eclipsed by EU law
Issues such as the UK having to strike down any law which is in conflict with EU law-
factortame case confirmed the supremacy of EU law over national law, eroded parliamentary
sovereignty
Clarity would be brought with a codified constitution
One document containing laws and rights
Harder for the government to manipulate the constitution in their favour
Outdated parts could be discarded
Royal family serve little constitutional meaning- royal prerogatives to PM
Electoral system needs updating- only 65% voted Conservative or Labour in 2010
The flexibility argument is not sufficient in practise
Constitutional reform is rarely at the forefront of the political agenda. 1911-97 there was
little reform apart from joining the EU in 1972.
Conclusion:
The UK should not continue with an uncodified constitution
Stronger against EU imposition
Clarity and an end to constitutional manipulation
Flexibility/ability to modernise would not be greatly impaired as constitutional reform, even
in its current `flexible' condition, is not a common occurrence.

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Constitutional Reform 1997 onwards
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Modified the office of Lord chancellor so he must be qualified by experience
Established a supreme court as the final court of law and appeal
Registration of Political Parties Act 1998, Local Government Act 2000, Political Parties, Elections
and Referendums Act
Greater democratisation of the political system
Acceptance of the use of referendums, come movement towards electoral reform
o PR widely used in Britain for elections to Scottish parliament, N.…read more

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Referenda for moving to AV vote for elections to the HoC and a democratic and accountable
second chamber
Improved citizenship education for young people followed by a free vote on reducing the
voting age to 16
Fixed term parliaments
Written constitution
Stronger local government
Lib Dems:
PR voting system for MPs- AV referendum
Reducing voting age to 16
Introduce fixed term parliaments
Replace HoL with fully elected upper chamber
Introduce a written constitution
Conservatives:
Make politics more accountable
o Cut ministers' pay
o Reduce MPs…read more

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No real electoral reform, the promise of a referendum on electoral reform was not fulfilled
although PR was used for the elections to N.Irish, Welsh and Greater London Assemblies and
Scottish and European parliament.
NB: There was a referendum on electoral reform- AV- in 2011 as part of the coalition
Decentralisation
No local government reform- promises of `revitalising local government' were not fulfilled
House of Lords reform- removal of hereditary peers was not completed.…read more

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Not true in the UK- by convention, government ministers all sit in Parliament and the Lord
Chancellor/secretary of state for justice has responsibility for the management of the court
system
Responsible government
The government must take responsibility for its actions
The right of citizens to call a minister to account for his or her actions is a vital part of
democracy in the UK
Sources of the UK constitution
Statute law- Acts of parliament: representation of the people act, European Communities Act.…read more

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It concerns principles of rights or justice such as the common law of patient confidentiality in
the NHS which protects people's privacy. Whilst this should be a very important source of the
UK constitution as the protection of people's rights should be paramount, in reality common
law is not the most important source of the constitution.…read more

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The British monarchy- reigns but does not rule. There is a constitutional monarchy- the monarch acts
as head of state within a constitution. There is a triple personality: Hoc, HoL and monarch. The
monarch is never allowed in the Hoc.
Parliamentary government implies the following features:
Parliament is the only source of political authority
The government must be drawn from parliament- either the HoL or HoC
There is, therefore, no strict separation of powers between that of the legislature and that
of the executive.…read more

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Policy maker- responsible for every aspect of national policy- Nick Clegg `going back' on manifesto
promises such as the scrapping of tuition fees.
Parliament- the PM is the head of parliament
Party head- the prime minister is head of a political party. Sometimes this is said to be negative, as
the PM acts in favour of large supporters, financially or in the electorate. Such as Cameron vetoing EU
plans for a European tax in favour of the City who `bank roll' the Tories.…read more

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Can increase power and influence- consistently good polling results added to Blair's strength
in the early years from 1997
Can decrease power and influence- Brown's prestige dropped when opinion polls placed the
conservatives close to Labour in late 2007.…read more

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Can decrease power and influence- unpopular policies and a lack of leadership undermined
any attempts of Hague, Smith and Howard to make any headway against a strong Labour
Party.
Limits on the PM's powers:
The Tory party and MPs rejected Thatcher in 1990, ending her premiership. Major, her
successor, failed to get legislation through the HoC due to lack of MP support. MPs' supports
is therefore crucial and the lack of it can limit the PM's powers.…read more

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