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Title: Co-operation or competition : incentives and obstacles to co-operation between Labour and the Liberal Democrats
Authors: Johnson, Craig
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: While a party system reflects both competitive and co-operative interactions, academic research has largely focused on the competitive interactions of parties. In British politics, while the notion of a solely two-party system is increasingly contested, there has not been sufficient consideration given to party co-operation. However, the party system has changed to the extent that it no longer accurately reflects two-partism, but something more resembling moderate pluralism. This suggests implications for how parties interact. In particular, it suggests that parties might need to contemplate co-operation alongside competition. Alongside this contemporary debate, there has long been a compelling case for studying the manner of interaction between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who have a lengthy and complicated history of competition and co-operation. This thesis explores these issues, and questions the contemporary nature of competition and potential for co-operation between the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. It proposes a theoretical framework of party co-operation to help understand why Labour-Liberal Democrat co-operation may or may not take place. In doing so, it suggests a series of incentives and obstacles that need to be considered by party leaderships based on electoral, ideological and organisational considerations. The thesis then operationalises the framework by examining in detail the contemporary case of the British Labour Party and British Liberal Democrats. While there are incentives for the two parties to consider co-operation, and these incentives have increased in recent years, significant obstacles remain, and despite the changing party system, the potential for co-operation between the two parties remains limited without changes in each party’s strategy.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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