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British Government in Crisis

By: Christopher Foster
Media of British Government in Crisis
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Published: 15-03-2005
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 336
ISBN: 9781841135496
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £32.99
Online price : £29.69
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Loren Epson

About British Government in Crisis

Why are we badly governed? Why has a system of government - the envy of the world as recently as the 1970s - developed so many defects? Why is there such a gulf between political classes, who seem to believe the position satisfactory or inevitable, and the general public, increasingly disaffected by politics and government?

This book argues that the defects are not attributable to one political party. Some factors are outside politicians' control: the globalization of economic activity; the changes in international politics after the end of Soviet Russia; the adverse consequences of more dominating and competitive media. Some other factors are widely recognized: the decline of the cabinet and the marginalizing of Parliament; the influence of spin on our political culture; the increased role of political and special advisers. But others are not as well understood. Among them are the decline in the authority of many ministers, the undermining of the constitutional position and consequent effectiveness of the civil service, the fragmentation of government and the public sector into a mass of bodies with complex but ill-defined relations between them, and the ramifying of a system of government which, despite its protestations, is less interested in delivering results than managing news.

The book traces these developments, especially over the last 25 years, but most intensively since 1997. It looks to a major change in the ways of government. It doubts whether a change of prime minister or party would remove current defects. It considers other possible alternatives, particularly a constitutional change to a 'presidential' system of government, or the introduction of a legal constitution. It concludes by arguing that, although venturing in new and untried directions might seem attractive, improvement - radical improvement - of the system we have is more likely to achieve better government and restore public confidence.

Table Of Contents

Part 1: The Old Regime
Part 2: First Stages of Revolution
Part 3: Background to the Revolution
Part 4: The Revolution
Part 5: What Next
Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here?


“…serious and well researched.” –  Simon Jenkins, The Sunday Times

“...its analysis is cautious and sensible, and the crisis it describes is real…Sir Christopher Foster tells a fascinating story…He has an administrator's talent for writing a good brief, and a raconteur's ear for a good anecdote.” –  Michael Savage, Culture Wars Website

“...does more than describe and explain how and why things went wrong. Its excellent documentation makes it a work of reference....[Foster's] language has an elegance and simplicity which comes only from scholarship of a high order.” –  A.G. Noorani, Frontline

“His book is a tour de force, and essential for anyone concerned about the institutions and processes of British government...dissection of defects is masterly...he backs his arguments with vivid examples drawn from his personal experience and observation...” –  George Jones, PMPA

“The book is impressive in its scope, historical breadth, detail and the passion with which it describes the problems a fascinating account of some extremely important issues; it should be taken seriously by anyone concerned with the effectiveness of our governmental system - insiders and outsiders alike.” –  William Plowden, The Guardian Public Magazine

“…a wake-up call of a book” –  Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent

“Heretically, I suggest that there are too few, not too many, special advisers in British government. The task is to nurture the likes of…Sir Christopher and get rid of the Bernard Inghams and Alastair Campbells.” –  Iain McLean, Political Studies Review, Vol 4, No 2

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