Skip to main content
×
Home

Keeping party programmes on track: the transmission of the policy agendas of executive speeches to legislative outputs in the United Kingdom

  • Shaun Bevan (a1), Peter John (a1) and Will Jennings (a1)
Abstract

In the United Kingdom, the transmission between policy promises and statutes is assumed to be both rapid and efficient because of the tradition of party discipline, relative stability of government, absence of coalitions, and the limited powers of legislative revision in the second chamber. Even in the United Kingdom, the transmission is not perfect since legislative priorities and outputs are susceptible to changes in public opinion or media coverage, unanticipated events in the external world, backbench rebellions, changes in the political parties, and the practical constraints of administering policies or programmes. This paper investigates the strength of the connection between executive priorities and legislative outputs measured by the Speech from the Throne and Acts of Parliament from 1911 to 2008. These are categorized according to the policy content coding system of the UK Policy Agendas Project (www.policyagendas.org.uk). Time series cross-sectional analyses show that there is transmission of the policy agenda from the speech to acts. However, the relationship differs by party, strengthening over time for Conservative governments and declining over time for Labour and other governments.

Copyright
Corresponding author
* E-mail: shaun.bevan@gmail.com
References
Hide All
Anderson C. (1995), Blaming the Government: Citizens and the Economy in Five European Democracies, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Bagehot W. 1872 [1867], The English Constitution, 2nd edn. London: Henry S. King and Company.
Bara J. (2005), ‘A question of trust: implementing party manifestos’, Parliamentary Affairs 58(3): 585599.
Baumgartner F.R. Jones B.D. (1993), Agendas and Instability in American Politics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Beer S. (1965), Modern British Politics, London: Faber.
Blake R. (1985), The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher, London: Methuen.
Brambor T., Roberts Clark W. Golder M. (2006), ‘Understanding interaction models: improving empirical analyses’, Political Analysis 14: 6382.
Breeman G., Chaques L., Green-Pedersen C., Jennings W., Mortensen P.B., Palau A. Timmermans A. (2009), ‘Comparer les Agendas Gouvernementaux: les Discours du Trône aux Pays-Bas, au Royaume-Uni, au Danemark et en Espagne’, Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée: Les Agendas Politiques 16(3): 405422.
Budge I. Hofferbert R.I. (1990), ‘Mandates and policy outputs: U.S. party platforms and federal expenditures’, American Political Science Review 84(1): 111132.
Budge I. Hofferbert R.I. (1992), ‘The Party Mandate and the Westminster Model: party programmes and government spending in Britain, 1948–1985’, British Journal of Political Science 22(2): 151182.
Budge I., Klingeman H.-D., Volkens A., Bara J. Tanenbaum E. (2001), Mapping Policy Preferences. Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments 1945–1998, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Canes-Wrone B. (2001), ‘A theory of presidents’ public agenda setting’, Journal of Theoretical Politics 13(2): 183208.
Canes-Wrone B. (2005), Who Leads Whom? The Policy Effects of Presidents’ Relationship with the Masses, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cohen J.E. (1995), ‘Presidential rhetoric and the public agenda’, American Journal of Political Science 39(1): 87107.
Cohen J.E. (1997), Presidential Responsiveness and Public Policy-Making: The Publics and the Policies That Presidents Choose, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Cox G.W. (1987), The Efficient Secret: The Cabinet and the Development of Political Parties in Victorian England, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cox G. McCubbins M. (2004), Setting the Agenda, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cowley P. (1999), ‘Rebels and rebellions: conservative MPs in the 1992 parliament’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 1(1): 84105.
Cowley P. (2002), Revolts and Rebellions: Parliamentary Voting Under Blair, London: Politicos.
Fearon J.D. (1997), ‘Signaling foreign policy interests: tying hands versus sinking costs’, Journal of Conflict Resolution 41(1): 6890.
Fiorina M.P. (1981), Retrospective Voting in American National Elections, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Foley M. (1993), The Rise of the British Presidency, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Goodin R.E. (1982), ‘Banana time in British politics’, Political Studies 30(1): 4258.
Green-Pedersen C. (2007), ‘The growing importance of issue competition: the changing nature of party competition in Western Europe’, Political Studies 55: 607628.
Hay C. (1994), ‘Labour's Thatcherite Revisionism: playing the “Politics of Catch-Up” ’, Political Studies 42(4): 700707.
Hay C. (2007), ‘Whatever happened to Thatcherism?’, Political Studies Review 5: 183201.
Heclo H. (1978), ‘Issue networks and the executive establishment’, in A. King (ed.), The New American Political System, Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, pp. 87124.
Hobolt S.B. Klemmensen R. (2005), ‘Responsive government? Public opinion and government policy preferences in Britain and Denmark’, Political Studies 53(2): 379402.
Hobolt S.B. Klemmensen R. (2008), ‘Government responsiveness and political competition in comparative perspective’, Comparative Political Studies 41(3): 309337.
Huber J.D. (2000), ‘Delegation to civil servants in parliamentary democracies’, European Journal of Political Research 37: 397413.
Jennings W. John P. (2009), ‘The dynamics of political attention: public opinion and the Queen's Speech in the United Kingdom’, American Journal of Political Science 53(4): 838854.
Jennings W., Bevan S. John P. (2011), ‘The agenda of British Government: the speech from the Throne, 1911–2008’, Political Studies 59(1): 7498.
Jones B.D. Baumgartner F.R. (2005), The Politics of Attention: How Government Prioritizes Problems, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kavanagh D. (1985), ‘Power in British political parties: iron law or special pleading?’, West European Politics 8(3): 522.
Kavanagh D. (1987), Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kavanagh D. Morris P. (1994), Consensus Politics from Attlee to Major, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Kernell S. (1997), Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential Leadership, 3rd edn. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Kingdon J. (1984), Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, New York: HarperCollins.
Klingemann H.-D., Hofferbert R.I. Budge I. (1994), Parties, Policies and Democracy, Boulder: Westview Press.
Laver M. (1999), ‘Divided parties, divided government’, Legislative Studies Quarterly 24: 529.
Lijphart A. (1984), Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in Twenty-one Countries, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Lijphart A. (1999), Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Ludlam S. Smith M. (eds) (1995), Contemporary British Conservatism, London: Macmillan.
Marquand D. (1988), The Unprincipled Society: New Demands and Old Politics, London: Cape.
McDonald M.D. Budge I. (2005), Elections, Parties, Democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McKenzie R.T. (1955), British Political Parties: The Distribution of Power within the Conservative and Labour Parties, London: Heinemann.
Mueller D. (1987), ‘The growth of government. A public choice perspective’, International Monetary Fund 34(1): 115149.
North D.C. Weingast B. (1989), ‘Constitution and commitment: the evolution of institutional governing public choice in seventeenth-century England’, The Journal of Economic History 49(4): 803832.
Norton P. (1975), Dissension in the House of Commons: Intra-Party Dissent in the House of Commons Division Lobbies 1945–74, London: Macmillan.
Norton P. (1978), Conservative Dissidents: Dissent Within the Parliamentary Conservative Party 1970–74, London: Temple-Smith.
Norton P. (1980), Dissension in the House of Commons 1974–79, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pelling H. (1996), A Short History of the Labour Party, London: Macmillan.
Ranney A. (1954), The Doctrine of Responsible Party Government: Its Origins and Present State, Urbana: The University of Illinois Press.
Richardson J. (2000), ‘Government, interest groups and policy change’, Political Studies 48: 10061025.
Rudalevige A. (2002), Managing the President's Program: Presidential Leadership and Legislative Policy Formulation, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Smith M.J. (1994), ‘Understanding the “politics of catch-up”: the modernization of the Labour Party’, Political Studies 42(4): 708715.
Strøm K. (2000), ‘Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies’, European Journal of Political Research 37: 261289.
Strøm K. (2003), ‘Parliamentary democracy and delegation’, in K. Strøm, W. Müller and B. Torbjörn (eds), Delegation and Accountability in Parliamentary Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 55106.
Tsebelis G. (1995), ‘Decision making in political systems: veto players in presidentialism, parliamentariam, multicameralism and multipartyism’, British Journal of Political Science 25(3): 289325.
Volkens A. (2002), Manifesto coding instructions. Discussion Paper FS III 02-201. Berlin: WZB.
Walgrave S. Nuytemans M. (2009), ‘Friction and party manifesto change in 25 countries’, American Journal of Political Science 53(1): 190206.
Ware A. (1992), ‘Activist–leader relations and the structure of political parties: “Exchange” models and vote-seeking behaviour in parties’, British Journal of Political Science 22: 7192.
Wlezien C. (1995), ‘The public as thermostat: dynamics of preferences for spending’, American Journal of Political Science 39: 9811000.
Wlezien C. (1996), ‘Dynamics of representation: the case of U.S. spending on defense’, British Journal of Political Science 26(1): 81103.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

European Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 1755-7739
  • EISSN: 1755-7747
  • URL: /core/journals/european-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 59 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 202 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.