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Are Political Parties Fit for Purpose?

When Jun 26, 2015
from 05:00 PM to 06:30 PM
Where St Edmund's College, Garden Room
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In representative democracies political parties serve the function of connecting the public with the political system. Government is carried out by the parties which represent the majority of the electorate and the ballot box gives them the legitimacy to do so. The United Kingdom has long been a stable democracy system dominated by the Conservative and Labour Parties but where other parties also have a place. The first-past-post electoral system has, until recently, ensure that one of these parties has succeeded in forming a government. In recent years, however, this has been difficult to achieve. During the last parliament there was a coalition government, and while the recent election has given the new Conservative government a majority, it is a very slender one. Party membership is declining and the traditional parties are under pressure from new parties such as UKIP and are suffering from a general disillusionment with politics, politicians and the political party system. Baroness Williams will ask the question as to whether the current political parties and the party system itself is fit for purpose, that is, whether they still perform that key function of legitimately representing the nation in its government.

Baroness Williams of Crosby is the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and Professor Emeritus of Elective Politics at Harvard University. This lecture is part of the Themed Lecture Series: 'Ethical Standards in Public Life' co-sponsored by the Von Hugel Institute, Cambridge, St Mary’s University Twickenham and Las Casas Institute, Blackfriars, Oxford.

The audio-recording of this lecture is available here.


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