Book Review on John Kingdom's 'Government and Politics in Britain: an Introduction'
While politics remains a 'turn off' subject with the majority of the public, John Kingdom's publication provides a real insight into the workings of the establishment and institutions. It goes far beyond the simplistic and dull image painted for the masses in order to ensnare them into a lack of enthusiasm for the subject, allowing them to 'rest in their beds' (pg 381) with what could be claimed is a false sense of security. Presented in a logical layout, each chapter in this highly impressive book builds upon knowledge imparted to the reader in previous chapters, with cross-references and relevant snippets of quotes as and when required to lighten what is in essence a serious matter.
The current constitution, unlike any other in the Western world, has been through generations of evolution and refinement with no fixed rules. It is often difficult to change written constitutions, having to take the long route of amendment. However, the British constitution and its unwritten nature are open to interpretation through a vast pool of spoken conventions and traditions, and this presents a series of problems and threats to the democratic process. This 'ancient, ambiguous and elusive' (pg 430) constitution places little restraint on the executive, allowing manipulation and abuse of the system by those experienced and intimate with it. In recent times this has led to the Prime Minister strengthening his position, already strong due to centralisation of government; examples being the rearranging of 'Prime Minister's question time' without the consultation of the house, or the Prime Minister's chairing of debates - allowing him to set the agenda and direction of the discussion.
The Prime Minister's authority is further strengthened within his own cabinet under the guise of 'collectiv...