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This book revisits and re-defines the policy style concept and explores the long-standing debate in British political science concerning how best to characterise the British policy style. The book highlights several trends that suggest that the British policy style has shifted towards the impositional end of the policy style spectrum, bringing it more in line with the traditional Westminster model of governing. However, these changes also reflect a more frenetic policy style which might increase the number of policy blunders and failures in British Government unless means are found to access and manage the specialist expertise that interest groups possess.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Concept of Policy Style

Abstract
The original formulation of the policy style concept in 1982 was designed to help comparative policy analysts to explain the many differences in the ways in which democratic nations handle similar policy problems. In the decades since then, there appears to have been a change in what were termed ‘standard operating procedures’. These changes are best characterised as a more impositional approach to policy-making, with a consequent reduction in the power and influence of interest groups and a general reduction in consensus, and even less anticipatory policy-making, with a shift towards a more frenetic policy style.
Jeremy Richardson

Chapter 2. Policy Styles in Transition: A Cross-National Move Towards a More Impositional Policy Style?

Abstract
There are now several studies which suggest that notions of a weak, ‘hollowed out’, state are misleading and that governments remain dominant in the policy-making process. For example, the 2008 financial crisis inevitably caused a series of policy changes. Even without the financial crisis, governments would have had to address a series of reform deficits, thereby undoing a raft of policy bargains that had been previously negotiated with interest groups. Thus, the ‘policy stability’ thesis needs challenging as the negative consequences of previous policy bargains become more evident. In practice, corporatist and neo-corporatist arrangement appears to have been significantly eroded, even in countries where these arrangements were thought to be embedded. In short, there is much more government and much less governance.
Jeremy Richardson

Chapter 3. The British Policy Style in Transition: From Governance to Government?

Abstract
Over a long period, there have been two main competing models of the British policy process. For decades, the conventional wisdom was that Britain had an adversarial ‘Westminster model’, reflecting and impositional policy style, ‘mandated imposition’. In the late 1970s, a radically different model was proposed, namely a consensual policy style based on a close relationship between government and interest groups. This alternative model emphasised bottom-up/consensual, not top-down/impositional policy-making. It is argued here that, though the consensual model was largely correct up to 1979, the Thatcher Government ushered in quite radical systemic change which has continued on the trajectory set by her to this day. The end result is a quite different British policy style, more impositional, less consensual, often quite frenetic. The most important causes of this major change are the adoption of austerity measures (the ‘austerity turn’), and the addressing of reform deficits not necessarily connected to austerity (the ‘policy reform turn’), changes in ministerial/civil service relations.
Jeremy Richardson

Chapter 4. Government Without Governance: A Difficult and Risky Business?

Abstract
The pace of policy change in Britain is increasingly frenetic, quite the opposite of deliberative policy-making. This policy style presents a high risk of policy blunders, failures and disasters. The ‘pop-up’ policy style excludes the incorporation of key interest groups which, though of course biased, have expert knowledge. Above all they know what will work and what will not. There have been plenty of policy blunders which have arisen as a result of lack of proper consultation and deliberation. A means has to be found to avoid excessive interest group influence, which can lead to reform deficits, whilst mobilising the expertise which interest groups possess.
Jeremy Richardson

Chapter 5. Brexit and the British Policy Style: Back to Governance?

Abstract
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), is turning out to be a classic policy fiasco, whichever side of the remain/leave divide one supports. The actual decision to leave is almost impossible to fit into either of the main policy-making models of UK policy-making outlined in this book. Whilst interest groups played a significant role in getting Britain into the EU, they appear to have played little or no role in getting Britain out of the EU. Neither did Parliament, as such, play much of a role in the decision to leave the EU. Whether Brexit is hard or soft, the government faces a truly massive task in deciding what of the four decades of EU legislation that will become British law on exit day it will keep, abolish, or amend. Expertise on such matters in Whitehall and Westminster is in short supply and so interest groups must be very closely involved in the post-Brexit policy process if a whole series of policy disasters and blunders is to be avoided. Thus, the post-Brexit policy style will need to swing away from the Westminster model, back to bottom-up consensual policy-making.
Jeremy Richardson

Backmatter

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