The United Kingdom: Is there Really an Anglo Model?

Peter John and Colin Copus

in The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199562978
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

The United Kingdom: Is there Really an Anglo Model?

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  • Politics
  • Regional Political Studies
  • Comparative Politics


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Like many aspects of government and politics in the UK, it is a challenge to find one defining moment that shaped the local government systems. This lack of plan reflects the gradual decline of the local government after their heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Part of the problem of the gradual decline of the local governments is the absence of a key event and clear foundation that established this institution. The closest to a defining moment was the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, which democratized the medieval system of the government of towns and cities. While this consolidated the decision-making framework which required the whole council to be responsible for policy making and democratized existing corporations and new corporations, the Act however did not introduce a uniform system of elected local government. Rather, it reflected the lack of codification of local government in the UK which has continued to exist until the present time. This article discusses the system of local government in the UK. It explores the themes of centralization in the overall government system of the UK and how it affects the local government system of the nation. Created centuries ago and deemed significant, the local government however has struggled to maintain an effective and legitimate force in British politics and policy-making. In spite of reform efforts, such as the establishment of the Greater London Authority and the mayor for London, local government nevertheless continues to see its decline and its minimized role within the peripheries of British political life. It has continued to witness its weak visibility, representation, and influence in the centre-fold of the British government.

Keywords: government; politics; UK; local government; Municipal Corporations Act; centralization; British politics; policy-making; Greater London Authority; British government

Article.  8466 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Regional Political Studies ; Comparative Politics

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