Patrick Dunleavy, Colin Hay, Richard Heffernan and Philip Cowley (eds)
Basingstoke: Palgrave (May 2006)
This is the eighth volume of the best-selling Developments in British Politics series, which began in 1983 and has been a key resource on British politics for general readers, teachers and students ever since. Essentially each volume of the book brings together a different collection of expert authors to write critically about the recent past in British politics and to look forward intelligently by detecting trends and changes and showing how they can be theoretically interpreted and understood. This is not a dry factbook renewed years behind the curve like most textbooks, nor the usual weakly edited collection of essays, but instead a coherent volume which focuses hard on current controversies and is always relevant and up to date.
In Developments 8 the focus is firmly on the succession to Tony Blair and the preliminary evolution of his legacy, plus the emerging shape of post-Blair politics and public policies. The opening chapter by the editors reviews the unique state of play in party politics with two new major party leaders in post and an incumbent prime minister who has pledged to bow out before the next election. A theme throughout the volume is the now-decisive erosion of the previous 'Westminster system' model of British governance, under the combined pressure of voters' increasingly conditional and multiple preferences and competition from new kinds of proportional electoral system and differently constituted institutions in London, Scotland, Wales and the European Union.
In his closing chapter, Patrick Dunleavy also shows that the erosion of older institutions and mores is paralleled by the challenge to traditionally British and single-country theories of governance from reformist theories offering a devastating intellectual critique as well as a road map to radically improved democratic institutions for the future.
Patrick Dunleavy is professor of government, LSE
Colin Hay is professor of political analysis, University of Birmingham
Richard Heffernan is reader in government and politics, The Open University
Philip Cowley is reader in parliamentary government, University of Nottingham
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