Political Parties

  • Bill Coxall


Parties have already been encountered at several points in this book. In Chapter 4 we saw that democratic government was basically party government and in Chapter 5 it was noted that, although unknown to the British Constitution, these voluntary organisations were in fact essential to its working. In Chapter 6, we examined the role of party in government and, in Chapter 10, the functions and organisation of the parties in parliament, with special reference to their tasks in opposition. Chapter 12 will consider the role of parties in the electoral system and how they organise for general elections. This chapter focuses on the parties themselves, dealing with such important matters as their internal organisation, their financing and membership as well as recent trends in their support and some major interpretations of the changing party system. Before launching into these themes, however, we briefly summarise the major functions of party in the British political system. These are: first, to provide government and opposition; second, to serve as agencies of representation; and third, alongside other methods such as pressure groups, to enable popular participation in politics to take place.


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Further Reading

  1. Arthur, P. (1983) The Government and Politics of Northern Ireland, London, Longman.Google Scholar
  2. Beer, S. H. (1969) Modern British Politics, London, Faber, 2nd edn.Google Scholar
  3. Bogdanor, V. (1983) Liberal Party Politics, Oxford, University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bradley, I. (1981) Breaking the Mould? The Birth and Prospects of the SDP, Oxford, Martin Robertson.Google Scholar
  5. Callaghan, J. (1987) The Far Left in English Politics, Oxford, Blackwell.Google Scholar
  6. Drucker, H. and Brown, G. (1980) The Politics of Nationalism and Devolution, London, Longman.Google Scholar
  7. Finer, S. E. (1980) The Changing Party System, 1945–1979, Washington DC, American Enterprise Institute.Google Scholar
  8. Kavanagh, D. (ed.) (1982) The Politics of the Labour Party, London, Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  9. Norton, P. and Aughey, A. (1981) Conservatives and Conservatism, Hounslow, Temple Smith.Google Scholar
  10. Rose, R. (1974) The Problem of Party Government, London, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Rose, R. (1980) Do Parties Make a Difference?, London, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Taylor, S. (1982) The National Front in English Politics, London, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Bill Coxall and Lynton Robins 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Coxall

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