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The Changing British Policy Style: From Governance to Government?

Abstract

There is a long-standing debate in British political science concerning how best to characterise the British policy process. One school emphasises ‘strong government’ under the adversarial/hierarchical ‘Westminster model’, leading to an impositional policy style. An opposing school emphasises the importance of bargaining and consensus, leading to a more consensual policy style via a process of power sharing between government and interest groups, so-called governance. This article highlights several trends that suggest that the British policy style has shifted towards the impositional end of the policy style spectrum, bringing it more in line with the traditional Westminster model of governing. At the same time, however, these changes might increase the number of policy blunders and failures in British Government unless means are found to access and manage the specialist expertise that interest group possess.

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Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the following for commenting on earlier drafts. Nigel Bowles, Giliberto Capano; Peter Munk Christiansen; Sir Ivor Crewe; Carsten Daugbjerg; Anneliese Dodds,M.E.P.; Geoff Dudley; Dave Marsh; Sonia Mazey; Kent Weaver. I owe a very special debt to my friend and colleague Grant Jordan who has made a major contribution to my thinking on this topic, over several drafts.

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Correspondence to Jeremy Richardson.

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Richardson, J. The Changing British Policy Style: From Governance to Government?. Br Polit 13, 215–233 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41293-017-0051-y

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Keywords

  • Governance
  • Style
  • Impositional
  • Deliberation
  • Blunders