Party Politics and Decolonization: The Conservative Party and British Colonial Policy in Tropical Africa, 1951-1964

By Philip N. Murphy | Go to book overview

1
British Party Politics and the PolicyMaking Process

African Decolonization and Executive Decision-Making

A major theme of contemporary political theory has been the practical restrictions upon executive decision-making which result from central government's dependence on local authorities and non-governmental organizations. It has been argued that with the growth in government activity and the increasing complexity of the tasks which the government is called upon to perform, the ability of politicians to shape policy in line with the ideological commitments of their parties has declined.1 Although elections may determine the composition of governments, government policy is shaped by negotiations with extra-parliamentary interest groups whose co-operation is essential to the successful implementation of that policy.2 This is not to say that government has become merely a political market in which interest groups freely compete to exchange political support for gains in the bargaining process. 'Corporatist' writers in particular have argued that government grants particular groups a privileged role in the decision-making process3 Even some writers who find the term 'corporatist' unhelpful agree that government selects from all the interest groups operating within a particular area a privileged number of 'visible interlocutors, discussion partners and agents through which it may evolve, test and separate its policies'.4

Students of colonial history have long been familiar with the idea that Whitehall's freedom of action was constrained by its need to act through intermediate and often non-governmental agencies. As Ronald Robinson has noted:

____________________
1
A. G. Jordan and J. J. Richardson, Government and Pressure Groups in Britain ( 1987), 236-7.
2
Jordan and Richardson, Government and Pressure Groups, 11-12.
3
Martin Boddy and Christine Lambert, "Corporatist Interest Intermediation: Government-Building Society Relations in the UK", in Colin Crouch and Ronald Dore (eds.), Corporatism and Accountability: Organized Interests in British Public Life ( 1990), 160.
4
Jordan and Richardson, Government and Pressure Groups, 93-4.

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Party Politics and Decolonization: The Conservative Party and British Colonial Policy in Tropical Africa, 1951-1964
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