Great Britain is currently viewed throughout the world as a parliamentary dictatorship due to the presiding power that the prime minister has over the entire government. In Great Britain the Prime Minister controls both the executive and judicial branches of government through their party having the majority of the seats in the house. With both the executive and legislative branches belonging to the same party the judicial branch loses some of its relative power through the legislative branch’s ability to pass new acts in parliament, which can overturn judicial rule. Afterwards the judicial branch has no power to declare the law as invalid, limiting the role of the judge to a mere law interpreter. In essence the judge would only be able to reflect the view of the legislature through his interpretation of the laws that had been reconfigured by the legislative branch. The current unbalance of power within Great Britain’s government shows how the government can be viewed as a parliamentary-dictatorship due the prominent power that the Prime Minister has over the rest of the government through controlling both the executive branch and parliament, which is composed of both the House of Lords and The Commons.Order now
After more substantial reform the government in the United Kingdom has come to a more unified status; however, there is still arguably a parliamentary dictatorship in Great Britain despite recent reform due to the control of the prime minister though policy making and implementation.
Great Britain is arguably a parliamentary dictatorship due to the immense power that the Prime Minister and his party have over government relative to their opposition. The Prime Minister’s hold of office depends upon his party having the majority of seats within parliament (AIT). In Great Britain, the party in power inherently has more seats than its opposition, which further reinforces the party’s dominance, as they control both the legislative and executive branches of government. With a system that clearly favors the party that is in rule it is relatively easy for the governing party to pass any legislation due to the power of the whip system that reinforces that MPs vote along their party lines. In Great Britain the government typically passes upwards of ninety-percent of the bills that it creates with relative ease****. Between 1997-2005 the Labour party had not lost a single bill under Tony Blair.
Great Britain exhibits characteristics of a parliamentary dictatorship due to the immense power that one party possess’ over the rest of the government. This problem appears more pronounced once we analyze the type of electoral system that Great Britain uses. In the first past the post type of electoral system the candidate with the majority of votes wins, even if they only receive a fraction of the vote. The first past the post system leaves room for many of Great Britain’s citizens to go unheard, as only one party takes the reigns of government with their ability to both create and implement new laws and regulations. The limited powers of parliament lead to a parliamentary dictatorship because the current system diminishes parliamentary sovereignty by enabling a single party to create and implement any regulation or bill that they please. Even though parliament is regarded as a sovereign body within the constitution, there is clearly a single party that controls the majority of the government. Parliament certainly has limited power as recent modifications have decreased parliament’s effectiveness in multiple respects, from holding the executive to account to scrutinizing the executive branch.
The 1911 House of Lords act diminished the power of the lords by preventing them from having any influence on finances. Britain’s role in the European Union further diminishes the government’s power by taking away decisions that would otherwise have been left to parliament to decide upon. In 1997, parliament was uninvolved in the Common Agricultural policy because of their role in the European Union. Pressure groups have also further been used to advance the executive’s agenda by providing even more power to the executive in order to ensure that their agenda is passed. Overtime parliamentary sovereignty has been further undermined through referendums, where the majority party will typically pass a bill due to their overwhelming dominance in the house.
The vast majority of the issues that lead to a parliamentary dictatorship are created through the fusion of both the executive and legislative branches of government making the process of implementing bills and regulations as simple as possible. Through Britain’s declining parliamentary sovereignty one can clearly see how their system of governance behaves in a similar manor to a parliamentary dictatorship due to the overwhelming power that is possessed by the Prime Minister.
Under Tony Blair rule the government could be increasingly seen as a parliamentary dictatorship due to changes within parliament that give more power to the Prime Minister over the rest of the cabinet. Since 1997, Tony Blair has continued to show how the Prime Minister is able to dominate British politics through his ability to pass laws with relative ease. Tony Blair’s style, which can be seen as similar to that of a dictator, is well depicted through Blair’s cabinet management. Tony Blair holds short meetings infrequently in order to attain as much control over the government as he possibly can. In general the less that Tony Blair needs to explain, the better it is for him. It is not uncommon for Tony Blair to make important decisions without consulting the cabinet, as is the case when Tony Blair decided to engage in the Iraq war; although, the majority of his cabinet disagreed with his decision (Telegraph). After viewing the minutes from the two cabinet meetings prior to deciding upon the Iraq war it became clear that there had been rather little effort in the way of parliament opposing the Iraq war. Robin Cook and Clare Short had been the only two members of parliament to speak out against the Iraq war debating whether or not it was just. Following Tony Blair’s decision to engage in the Iraq war both Robin Cook and Clare Short resigned (Sparrow).
Another Example of a parliamentary dictatorship can arguably be seen through Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister.
Margaret Thatcher also exhibited many of the same characteristics as Blair, as she attempted to control the government with little influence from parliament. Margaret Thatcher went against the cabinet in many critical decisions, specifically the poll tax. Britain has arguably been a parliamentary dictatorship since the Thatcher administration because of the overwhelming influence that the Prime Minister has over the rest of the government. The primary function of committees is to perform as system of checks and balances that ensure that no decisions are being made without just cause and reason; however, under the Thatcher administration that deemed rather difficult due to the limited power possessed by the committees. Initially in the 1980’s select committees had established themselves as important contributors to parliament through their impact on the executive; however, modifications, poor resources, and insufficient time significantly reduced the impact of the committees on the executive branch (Benton).
Even though Great Britain can be seen as a parliamentary dictatorship in many respects, there are still some aspects of Britain’s political system that aim to increase parliamentary sovereignty. For instance, the presence of a collective cabinet responsibility requires that the cabinet side with government policies, meaning that the cabinet supports the decision of the Prime Minister. In between elections the government is still held accountable, and a vote of no confidence can be put into place within parliament. If passed, every government official and minister drawn from parliament automatically resign, and the entire executive is dismissed. The House of Lords further acts as a control on the executive branch by aiding in the legislative process by having the ability to amend, delay, and reject bills (Norton 157). The control of the executive branch is exercised through Prime Ministers question time, opposition days, and back-bench rebellions; “Questions are required to be precisely that… they are not necessarily information-seeking but rather means of raising issues and criticizing (or praising) ministers (Norton 121).”
Great Britain currently has some limitations in place that prevent the Prime Minister from having complete control over the government; however, despite this the Prime Minister still has a overwhelming influence on how the government operates. As the executive branch continues to grow in strength the potential of abuse increases exponentially, as a single person gains more control over both the legislative and executive branches. As one can clearly see through Tony Blair’s decision to engage in the Iraq war and Margaret Thatcher’s decision on the poll tax, Prime Minister’s do not necessarily listen to their respective parliaments and can typically pass what they please with relative ease. Although Great-Britain claims to be an elected democracy, the overwhelming power that a single person, The Prime Minister, has over the entire government can lead one to question whether it is really a parliamentary dictatorship due to the Prime Ministers abilities to pass practically any law they deem fit with their majority rule throughout the government.