The British Party System : An introduction book cover
4th Edition

The British Party System
An introduction

ISBN 9780415412353
Published April 3, 2008 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

The history of British political parties tells of change and continuity. But, how and why?

This textbook continues to provide the best introduction currently available on the British political party system, explaining the history, structure, actors and policies of both the main political parties and the minor parties. Substantially revised and updated, this fourth edition contains new material on the:

  • political party system in post-devolution Scotland and Wales
  • media and political parties
  • emergence of minor parties onto the British political landscape
  • replacement of party ideology with political pragmatism.

Stephen Ingle argues that in order to meet formidable national and international challenges the British party system is once more in need of fundamental change, to a less confrontational style of politics. The British Party System is the ideal book for students of British politics wanting a topical and accessible text on political parties in the UK.

Table of Contents

1. Parties and the Party System in Britain  2. Conservative Party Ideology  3. Labour Party ideology  4. Conservative Party Organisation  5. Labour Party Organisation  6. Conservative Politicians, Activists and Supporters  7. The Labour Party, Representatives, Activists and Supporters  8. Liberal Democrats - Always the Bridesmaid?  9. Britain’s Other Parties  10. The British Party System – Fit for Purpose?  Bibliography

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Stephen Ingle was Head of Politics at the University of Stirling during 1991-2002 having previously been Head of Politics at the University of Hull. He was later awarded an Emeritus Professorship in 2006.


'One does not have to delve very far into this book before one is aware of why it deserves a fourth edition. Unlike many textbooks, the writing style is excellent as is the structure of the text.  As he moves from topic to topic, Ingle offers what scholars and others have suggested is the case about political parties. Then he presents empirical information about each topic, demonstrating the similarity and contrast between supposition and fact...Anyone that seeks an introduction to British political parties or is well versed on the topic but wishes to be exposed to a sophisticated connnentary on the subject will benefit from reading this book.' - T.P. Wolf, Indiana University, Southeast, USA

Praise for the 3rd edition:

'Stephen Ingle's book on parties... has rapidly established itself as one of the best available guides to the British party system.' - Andrew Gamble, Political Quarterly

'Refreshingly lightly written...clearly structured...highly recommended.' - John Campbell, Times Literary Supplement