Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair


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Iain McLean

European Politics. Theories of Comparative Politics.

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“Repeal of the Corn Laws: Lessons for 2016?”

Winter Term, Summer Samuel H. Donald E. And finally, a key institutional change that advanced Repeal was the Reform Act, which enfranchised the middle class, thereby enhancing the representation of free trade interests in Parliament. For Iain, the leaders mattered more than the followers.


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For me, no leader can succeed without followers so the interesting part of Repeal is how Peel managed to convince one-third of the Conservative party to reverse the traditional Conservative support for agricultural protection. But, we also differ on the balance between ideas, interests and institutions.

Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and - Iain McLean - Google книги

For me, economic interests provided the necessary context for Repeal to occur, but ideas and institutions are essential for understanding when and how it finally happened. So, what lessons might one learn from Repeal—particularly lessons that shed light on contemporary debates in politics and political economy?


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My contribution to these two current debates in contemporary politics is that, whatever the stature and motivation of leaders, ultimately it is the followers who are persuaded or not to follow the direction offered by leaders. This is particularly true when the outcome depends on the votes of millions whether in a general election or in a referendum.

Rhetoric is not just rhetorical

McLean, I. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Schonhardt-Bailey, C. Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey is Professor in Political Science in the Government Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she teaches courses in the politics of economic policy and legislative politics.

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She said that there is no alternative and dumbfounded critics within and without. The lesson Thatcher offers is a peculiar one: how to govern, win elections even, without changing core attitudes. That's statecraft. The measure of a politician's quality then lies in bending electors and fellow politicians to act against their earlier judgments.

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The latter persuaded a parliament stuffed with landowners to pass the repeal of the Corn Laws in - which was certain to do them in. In Disraeli secured a reform act from a parliament with no wish to extend democracy; he made the world safe for conservatism for 30 years. And thanks to Gladstone's pusillanimity the country continued to be governed by aristocrats sitting in an unelected House of Lords.

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So one of the great puzzles of Labour's first term, in historical perspective, has to be why it botched reform of the Lords. Lloyd George had managed to persuade the electorate that, as he put it, men chosen accidentally from the ranks of the unemployed should not override the judgment of millions. But his assault on the power of the peers was incomplete.

As recently as the Wakeham report has shown it is possible to produce a defence of these presumptions that contains no appeal to reason whatever but merely the argument 'it may seem odd to you, but it works'. Lords aside, New Labour has had it easy in parliament. But look at the chart. It shows the top 10 post elections ranked in terms of the proportion of total votes secured by the winning party.

Measured that way, only just scrapes into the top 10 victories. Anthony Eden in was the greater unifier, winning a fraction under half the popular vote. The disparity between vote share and Commons seats is of course a result of winner take all. And these figures should not detract from the Blairites' achievement in making Labour, as Anthony Heath and colleagues put it, the "catchall" party appealing right across the social spectrum. Perhaps because it is conscious of its minority share of the national vote, Labour has cultivated the Sun and the Mail.

Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair
Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair
Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair
Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair
Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair
Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair

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