The “Disunited Kingdom”

5 April 2018

Book title on the cover of the book

A Cardiff University academic believes the UK may have a limited lifespan due to the absence of “genuinely British party politics”.

Professor Roger Awan-Scully of the Wales Governance Centre concludes political choices across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have become increasingly fragmented, in part because of devolution.

He believes the 2017 General Election vividly illustrated, and further advanced, this “hollowing out of British democracy”.

Professor Awan-Scully said: “Never has the UK experienced a general election where the campaigns across the four nations were so ill-connected; an election which to a large extent operated as four separate and merely coinciding political contests.

“Voters across the UK continue to use general elections to elect representatives to a single House of Commons. But they do so in what increasingly are four separate elections; with separate leaders and separate manifestos producing four sets of simultaneous choices.

“The shared debates and the shared sets of choices that tie a political community together and help to give it a sense of being a coherent and united nation are increasingly absent.”

He added: “If UK general elections continue on their current path, this ultimately is problematic for the long-term unity and integrity of the UK. The end of British party politics could well mean the end of Britain itself.”

Professor Awan-Scully is one of the UK’s foremost experts in devolution, public opinion and party politics. His analysis of the Welsh Political Barometer polls, carried out by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre in collaboration with ITV Cymru-Wales and YouGov, has informed political debate and helped provide an understanding of public opinion in Wales. He has also led the last two Welsh Election Studies, funded by the Economic and Social research Council of the UK. Roger was named Political Studies Communicator of the Year in 2017 by the Political Studies Association.

His latest assessment of the British political scene is detailed in his book, The End of British Party Politics? which is on sale now.