Public opinion and government policy in Britain: a case of congruence, amplification or dampening?

This article examines postwar government policy in Britain, as reflected in annual budget speeches. Like previous research, it aims to content-analyse these speeches to derive estimates of actual, as opposed to intended, government policy stances. Unlike previous research, it also aims to capture an... Deskribapen osoa

Egile nagusia: Warwick, Paul V.
Formatua: Artikulua
Hizkuntza: Ingelesa
Argitaratua: Wiley-Blackwell 2015
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Laburpena: This article examines postwar government policy in Britain, as reflected in annual budget speeches. Like previous research, it aims to content-analyse these speeches to derive estimates of actual, as opposed to intended, government policy stances. Unlike previous research, it also aims to capture and measure the gap between intentions (as represented in electoral manifestos) and actual policy. This gap cannot be assessed from the final output of the Wordscores content analysis programme (in either the original version or the Martin-Vanberg variation), but it can be teased out of the raw output. This teasing-out process reveals the gap to be very small: there is no evidence that British governments either moderate or amplify their left-right stances when in office.This new measurement of government position is then used to cast further light on policy representation in Britain.The findings show that policy positions respond significantly to changes in public opinion as well as to electoral turnover, but do not exhibit or even approach the ideological congruence anticipated by the "median mandate" interpretation of representative democracy.