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The Politics of Coalition

How the Conservative - Liberal Democrat Government Works

By: Robert Hazell, Ben Yong
Media of The Politics of Coalition
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Published: 15-06-2012
Format: EPUB eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 290
ISBN: 9781847319661
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £31.50
Online price : £25.20
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About The Politics of Coalition

The Politics of Coalition is the tale of two parties embarking on the first coalition government at Westminster for over 60 years. What challenges did they face in the first couple of years, and how did they deal with them?

With the authorisation of Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the then Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Constitution Unit has interviewed over 140 ministers, MPs, Lords, civil servants, party officials and interest groups about the Coalition and the impact coalition government has had upon Westminster and Whitehall.

The Politics of Coalition tells how the Coalition has operated in the different arenas of the British political system: at the Centre; within the Departments; in Parliament; in the parties outside Parliament; and in the media. It will be of interest to politicians, policy makers, academics, students and anyone interested in how the UK Coalition works in practice and not just in theory.

The research for the book was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

'An essential resource for anyone with an interest in the Coalition, its workings behind the scenes, and its prospects for the future. Packed with facts, insights and telling detail.'
Benedict Brogan, The Telegraph

'The Politics of Coalition provides an invaluable route map to the way the Conservative/Liberal Government works - and identifies important lessons to guide politicians, officials and the media if no party wins an overall majority at the next election.'
Rt Hon Peter Riddell, Director, Institute for Government

'This book is pure gold - contemporary history at its best. It will fascinate those inside the Coalition, those who witness its developing emotional geography from Parliament and the general public keen to know how - what is, for the British - a very peculiar practice, is working out.'
Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction: Why Study the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition?
Ben Yong
2. The Experience of Coalition: Domestic and Abroad
Eimear O'Casey
3. Formation of the Coalition
Ben Yong
4. How the Coalition Works at the Centre
Robert Hazell
5. Departments: Ministers and the Civil Service
Peter Waller
6. The Coalition in Parliament
Ben Yong
7. The Political Parties 1
Ben Yong
8. The Coalition and the Media
Brian Walker
9. Case Study I: Constitutional Reform
Robert Hazell
10. Case Studies II: Tuition Fees, NHS Reform, and Nuclear Policy
Peter Waller and Ben Yong
11. Lessons for the Future
Robert Hazell
Appendix 1: Party Breakdown of the Coalition Agreements
Appendix 2: Opinion Polls on the Coalition and the Political Parties, 2010–11
Appendix 3: Coalition Government Chronology, 2010–11
Appendix 4: Coalition Agreement for Stability and Reform
Appendix 5: Letter from Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell on Coalition Government
Appendix 6: Guidance on Liaison between Departments and Coalition Backbenchers, July 2010
Appendix 7: No 10 Policy and Implementation Unit: Who's Who, Summer 2011
Appendix 8: Glossary


“This remarkable book, written by two outstanding experts on British politics associated with the Constitution Unit, provides an excellent account of the way the coalition government was created, its functioning in the first eighteen months or so, and its prospects.

...there cannot be any doubt that this book represents a major contribution to the study of coalition governments and provides original and excellent material analysing the extraordinary British situation.

” –  Gianfranco Pasquino, Political Quarterly, Volume 84, No.2

“The immediate, as well as lasting, value of the book lies in some of the lessons it draws from the process of coalition formation in May 2010 which may be relevant in 2015 or in later parliaments if no single party gains an overall majority.” –  Peter Riddell, Public Law

“...the book provides a useful and highly practical guide to making coalition politics work for parties, government and parliamentary actors, and civil servants.
The book is accessible and should not intimidate readers approaching the topic without a deep prior knowledge of the coalition. However, it also contains a wealth of original insights, and is recommended as both a guide for policy makers exploring the possibilities of coalition government in Britain, and to those whose interest is more academic.
” –  Libby McEnhill, Political Studies Review, Volume 11, Number 3

“This book offers an excellent analysis of how Coalition government has worked in the UK. It explains through a series of succinct case studies how and why the coalition government works, what effect it has had on British politics and what may happen to it in the future. It should be an essential part of any modern British politics course.” –  Dr Ben Worthy, Lecturer in Politics, Birkbeck, University of London,

“Robert Hazell and Ben Yong's fine book The Politics of Coalition has…shown that enforced partnership has helped to revive the working of cabinet government.” –  Philip Collins, The Times

“One expects that, at least for the short term, courses in contemporary British politics will lean heavily on this book to introduce students to what happened after the Gordon Brown Government left office. Again, in the short run, fresh research on the British government and parliament will likely find this book to be a starting point.

This is a remarkable piece of research in that it is based to a considerable degree on interviews with nearly 150 people.

Serious followers of British politics will turn to this book frequently. It offers much structure and process about the operation of the British parliament that is not available in any other single source.

” –  T. P. Wolf, British Politics Group Quarterly

“One really couldn't get much closer to history in the making. Almost before the ink was dry on the coalition agreement, the experts from UCL's Constitution Unit were exploring behind the scenes in Whitehall and Westminster to discover the secrets of this strange new hybrid. The result is The Politics of Coalition, an incisive and insightful study of how the coalition government operates and the implications for party politics and the way Britain is governed. Authors Professor Robert Hazell and Dr Ben Yong were granted unprecedented access to Downing Street, Parliament and Whitehall departments, and conducted some 150 interviews with all and sundry, from ministers and senior civil servants to media commentators. The result is a ring-side seat at the workings of government, drawing some useful lessons for the future.

...there is plenty of food for thought for all the parties in this absorbing book, as the coalition leaves its honeymoon period well and truly behind.

” –  Alison Thomas, Public Servant

“…this is a dry, academic tome, with an avowedly academic voice. But the experiences shared by its varied cast of interviewees lighten its tone, and provide real insight into the detail of how Britain's first peacetime coalition since the war works in practice for its participants. Often lengthy and almost always enlightening, the fact that many quotations are tantalisingly anonymous explains how the authors were able to induce such candour in those close to the heart of a government which is still in power.

… a genuine and significant contribution to serious scholarship has been made here. The analysis of the formation of the coalition and the drafting of the coalition agreement is comprehensive, and will be drawn on in future histories; and if the authors are able to draw on the same cast of characters to write a full obituary of the coalition after its demise, they will be able to produce an authoritative and memorable account. In the meantime, it is well worth reading by those with a serious interest in the way Britain's current government functions.

” –  David Green, Progress

“Robert Hazell and Ben Yong's work, The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works, is a very readable volume, written mostly in the style of an introductory politics textbook and based on extensive interviews with the participants, including at very senior levels. The book is well done, readable, comprehensive and has a few gems lurking in the revelations from all the interviews,...All in all, well worth a read for the lessons for the future, especially as not all the lessons are ones for a post-2015 world.” –  Mark Pack, Liberal Democrat Voice

“…one of the most significant analyses of the dynamics of two-party government in Britain we've seen since 2010. This work is thoroughly rigorous in its approach, eschewing any kind of narrative in favour of academic assessments of various aspects of life in coalition.” –  Alex Stevenson,

“The story behind ministerial doors is told by a remarkable book, The Politics of Coalition…” –  Mark Hennessy, The Irish Times

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