Book

Rational Choice and British Politics

Iain McLean

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780198295297
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599873 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198295294.001.0001

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Rational Choice and British Politics

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A study of rhetoric and manipulation (otherwise known as heresthetics). Rhetoric is the art of making people believe that the world is as you say it is. A recent example is Margaret Thatcher's claim that ‘there is no alternative’ to her economic policies—a claim that she persuaded many to believe was true. Manipulation, or heresthetics, is the art of arranging politics so that you win. It is connected with the number of issue dimensions in politics. If most issues that come up belong in the same dimension, so that people recognize that one bundle of beliefs and practices is ‘left wing’ and another is ‘right wing’, then powerful forces will drive political outcomes towards the favourite issue positions of the median voter. But if politics is multidimensional, it may give rise to chaos, in the technical sense that the social choice may move by successive majority votes from any position to any other and back. In the spirit of W. H. Riker, this book celebrates those British politicians since 1846 who saw further than their contemporaries, and who either succeeded or heroically failed to move majority‐rule politics to a quite new issue position. The politicians mostly discussed are Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, Benjamin Disraeli, W.E. Gladstone, Lord Salisbury, Joseph Chamberlain, Enoch Powell, David Lloyd George, Margaret Thatcher, and Gordon Brown.

Keywords: McClean; Britain; chaos; heresthetics; issue dimensions; manipulation; median voter; politics; rhetoric; W. H. Riker; social choice

Book.  270 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: UK Politics

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Rational Choice and British Politics

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The Great Victorian Realignment in Rational Choice and British Politics

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9 Conclusion in Rational Choice and British Politics

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