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3. The Party System in Westminster
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the party system in Westminster, focusing in particular on two periods: 1945-74 and 1974-2017. As we move through the module, we consider: (i) the percentage of the popular vote claimed by the two major parties between 1945-74; (ii) the gap between the two major parties in this period, and the concept of the post-war consensus; (ii) the decline in the percentage of the popular vote claimed by the two major parties between 1974-2015; (iii) the increase in the percentage of the popular vote claimed by minor parties, including the Liberals/Liberal Democrats, SNP, Greens and UKIP; (iv) the increase in the gap between the two major parties; and (v) the possibility, hinted at in the 2017 and 2019 elections, that we might be seeing a return to two-party politics.
In this course, Professor Paul Webb (University of Sussex) explores the operation and dynamics of the party system – or should that be party systems? – in British politics. In the first module, we introduce the idea of a party system, exploring what the term means and the different levels at which parties operate in the UK. After that, in the second module, we think about the positioning of parties of the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the third module, we think about the party system in Westminster and how it has evolved in the post-war period, before turning in the fourth module to the question of how we might measure the extent to which a political system is truly ‘multi-party’. In the fifth module, we think about whether the General Election of 2017 should be seen as a return to two-party politics, before turning in the sixth module to consider how the issue of Brexit has had an impact on both inter- and intra-party politics.
Paul Webb is Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex, and has held a number of previous and visiting positions in Britain and abroad, including at the Australian National University (Canberra) and Nihon University (Tokyo). His research interests focus on representative democracy, particularly party and electoral p politics. His recent publications include (with Tim Bale and Monica Poletti) Footsoldiers: Party Members in the 21st Century (2019) and (with Susan Scarrow and Thomas Poguntke) Organizing Political Parties: Representation, Participation and Power (2017).
Cite this Lecture
Webb, P. (2020, February 20). The Party System in the United Kingdom - The Party System in Westminster [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-party-system-in-the-united-kingdom/the-party-system-in-westminster
Webb, Paul. "The Party System in the United Kingdom – The Party System in Westminster." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Feb 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-party-system-in-the-united-kingdom/the-party-system-in-westminster