46. THE POLITICS OF THE NEXT ELECTION

OF all democracies, Britain is possessed of the strongest executive. In the France of the Third Republic the multiparty system and the absence of any power of dissolution combined to prevent the acquisition of power by a Cabinet and to destroy the possibility either of the coherent discipline of a British administration supported by a Parliamentary majority, or the formal offer of an alternative Government afforded by a Parliamentary Opposition on the British model. Under the written constitution of the United States the legal division of power coupled with the conventional exclusion of the executive from membership of Congress effectively limit the powers of Government even under a two-party system. Where President and Congress each possess a separate mandate circumstances force each to observe the proper frontiers.

In Britain we enjoy the safeguard neither of a dominant Chamber, nor of legally divided powers. Whilst it would be an exaggeration to say that the Cabinet controls the House of Commons, it would be a good deal less than true to pretend that we still live in the days when the House of Commons controlled the Cabinet. Huge Parliamentary majorities accurately reflecting the discipline of great party organisations, the immense power implied in the prerogative of dissolution, and the absolute control of parliamentary time ensured by Mr. Gladstone's procedural reform, as modified and extended under successive Governments, bring us nearer to dictatorship than we know--or at least than we readily admit. At least in no other democracy is the executive so strong.

This strength has proved in the past and on the balance an unmitigated blessing. We could not have survived in the two great wars of the twentieth century had Government not been possessed of these powers. More, without the great driving force conferred by the two-party system on the British Cabinet, British institutions would have proved incapable of controlling the vast mass of administrative detail necessitated by modern government. The British on the whole prefer to see a strong government of which they disapprove, rather than a weak government

-303-

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The Case for Conservatism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Part I. Preliminary 7
  • 1. the Philosophy of Conservatism 7
  • Part II. Basic Conservative Ideas 16
  • 2. the Religious Basis of Society 16
  • 3. the Organic Theory of Society 24
  • 4. Country 31
  • 5. Commonwealth and Empire 36
  • 6. International Order 41
  • 7. Authority 44
  • 8. the Liberal Heresy 48
  • 9. the Socialist Heresy 54
  • 10. Liberty 60
  • 11. the Idea of Law 68
  • 12. Natural Law 70
  • 13. the Rule of Law 76
  • 14. Progress 83
  • 15. Continuity 86
  • 16. Enterprise 89
  • 17. Incentives, Liberal and Socialist 91
  • 18. Property 97
  • 19. Trading for Profit 103
  • 20. Competition, Big Business and Public Ownership 107
  • 21. the Land 119
  • 22. Trade Unions and Co-Operatives 125
  • 23. the Politics of Abundance 133
  • 24. Education 143
  • Part III. the Socialist Case Examined 147
  • 25. Introduction to Part III 147
  • 26. Profit and Use 150
  • 27. Public Ownership 154
  • 28. Planning 163
  • 29. Inequality of Income 167
  • 30. Inequality of Wealth 174
  • 31. Poverty--Its Cause and Cure 181
  • 32. War 189
  • 33. Standard of Life 192
  • 34. Housing 197
  • 35. Public Health 200
  • 36. Social Insurance 202
  • 37. Unemployment--The Facts 207
  • 38. Unemployment--Cause and Cure 213
  • Part IV. Policy To-Day and To-Morrow 225
  • 39. General Election, 1945 225
  • 40. Foreign Affairs 235
  • 41. Social Policy 250
  • 42. Economic Policy 260
  • 43. Food and Agriculture 277
  • 44. Nationalisation 284
  • 45. Britain at the Cross Roads 296
  • 46. the Politics of the Next Election 303
  • 47. Epilogue 311
  • Index 315
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