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The Power of the Labour Party in Local Government: A Case Study of Kirklees Council

Ellam, Angela (2015) The Power of the Labour Party in Local Government: A Case Study of Kirklees Council. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Political power has been much contested and debated, culminating in the development and measurement of many distinct and narrow facets of power. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by providing a conceptual and operational framework for researching power in a political system in a relevant, observable, comprehensive and meaningful way. Using this framework to consider the power of the Labour Party in local government, as perceived by practitioners, has provided new insights into existing understandings of power in both theory and practice.
Many different facets of power are relevant to researching the power of the Labour Party in local government. These were brought together using an abstract model of a political system to provide a comprehensive and meaningful framework for researching power. The framework makes it possible to operationalise power by identifying three principal dimensions that are observable - capacity, decision making and power – and connect the different facets together. This framework makes clear the distinction between conceptions of power at micro-level, which concern the capacity to influence others, and macro-level, which concern the capacity to influence outcomes; and the significance of applying the appropriate conception to the research context.
The conceptual and operational framework was used to research the power of the Labour Party in local government through a case study of Kirklees Council. The research was conducted between October 2012 and August 2013 and used a mixed methods approach incorporating a survey of Labour Party councillors, interviews with Labour Party members, and observation of various meetings, this research explores each facet of power. This case study shows that central government controls the capacity of Kirklees Council, but the Labour Party has the potential to influence local political outcomes well beyond the sphere of the Council. In terms of decision making, the Leader dominates the Labour Party, but due to the professional expertise of officers and bargaining power of other political parties has less control over Kirklees Council. Regarding outcomes, the activities of the Labour Party in local government makes marginal differences to the electorate and policies of Kirklees Council, but a significant difference to the Labour Party itself. So, even though political parties dominate the governance of local authorities, this case study shows that local party politics in practice makes only marginald differences in the locality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
Depositing User: Elizabeth Boulton
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2015 15:16
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2016 13:22


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