Politics in the UK: Historical Evolution and Political Institutions

I. Political Development

Question: How did GB develop so “peacefully?”

1) Centralization of Authority

wtc     billy the conqueror

                                                                         -William, Duke of Normandy



                         -The Magna Carta, or "Great Charter"



henry viii                  henry wives

      -Henry VIII                                                                        -The many wives of old Henre!


charles     charles in charge

-Charles in Charge                                                        -Charles I and his Queen, Henrietta Maria


execution           oc

                -the execution of Charles I                                      -Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the "new Protectorate"

king james

                                                                 -King James II



w&m      gr

              -William and Mary                              -Presentation of the Declaration of Rights


II. Political Institutions

1. In his classic commentary on the British political system—The English Constitution, published in 1867—constitutional scholar Walter Bagehot described British political institutions as being either “dignified” or “efficient”

bagehot              tec

               -Walter Bagehot                                           -You know...look above


2. Policy-Making Structures

Page of links to all things "officially" British

Parliament: effectively unicameral

a. House of Lords: the House of Lords is the so-called upper house, but really an anachronistic throwback to the days when Britain was ruled by aristocrats

house of lords   lordly behavior


3 kinds of peers:

b. House of Commons: The House of Commons is the more powerful part of Parliament and a primary example of what Bagehot called an “efficient” institution

house of commons'    commons

The Executive: PM and Cabinet (15 ministries)


dc      ukc

-British PM David Cameron                           -Cameron and cabinet

What the PM Says and Does:

Question: Why Appoint? Why is this such a key power?

c. The Monarchy

1952                       2008

-Queen Elizabeth II-1952                                      -Queen Elizabeth II-Today  


charles              w and h

-The Heir to the throne, Prince Charles                            -The King in waiting and his dumbass brother Harry (jk)

Key “Powers”