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Title: A road half travelled : a temporal, case study analysis of inter-party co-operation in the British context, 1945-1999
Author: Wager, Alan John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 0150
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis looks at five case studies of attempted co-operation between British political parties. The objective is two-fold: to provide an explanatory framework to better understand instances of potential cooperation within the institutional context of British politics, and to build analytical narratives that shed light on the inter- and intra-party dynamics when co-operation between parties has been mooted in Westminster. It addresses a lacuna in the study of British Politics by providing a temporal comparison of understudied examples of attempted co-operation. This comparison inductively draws out what lessons can be learnt about why co-operation is attempted, and the factors that inhibit it. This framework suggests that these examples of mooted co-operation constitute disruptions of the majoritarian norms which inform the British Political Tradition. It does so through a historical institutionalist lens: the cultural norms of Westminster provide a strategic context, but elite political agents strategically interact with this institutional environment. This tradition is manifested through intra-party pressure against co-operation, and a belief that co-operation is electorally disadvantageous. Equally, actors' interpretation of what is possible or desirable within the perceived constraints of Westminster party politics really matters. This suggests a role for situated agency and strategic leadership, captured through the concept of a disruption/defence of existing institutional equilibrium derived from heresthetics. This thesis contends that the discourse around co-operation holds a rhetorical and performative purpose beyond the success or failure of formal co-operation. Institutional context and memory create incentives for actors to either accentuate or downplay the effect of co-operation, but do not determine the shape and aims of cooperation. As a result, both culture and calculus are all-important to inter-party co-operation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: British political parties ; British politics ; Co-operation ; two-party politics