Constitutional Monarchy and the Third Way in UK

A constitutional monarchy is a type of a constitutional government, where either an elected or hereditary monarch is a head of state, unlike in an absolute monarchy where the king or queen is an absolute ruler not bound by the constitution. Most of the constitutional monarchs have a parliamentary system where legislation is passed and the monarch is the head of state with a prime minister as the head of government elected directly by parliament or appointed by the monarchy. This generally separates the official and head of state duties of the monarchy from party politics making the monarchy politically neutral thus can not vote. This provides political stability, continuity and national focus despite a change in government. The sovereign head governs according to the national laws and regulations stipulated in the constitution. However the UK does not have a written constitution but it’s governed by convections which are non statutory rules and are equally binding.

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The monarch is advised by ministers who hail from parliament and it appoints the prime minister, approves legislation and confers honors. As a head of state the monarch is the head of the armed forces. The British monarch (the queen) today has two roles that of head of state and as head of the nation. As the head of sate for Britain she plays an important role in undertaking important constitutional and representational duties. E.g. opening of parliament, approving of the orders in of council, signing acts of parliament plus meeting and conversing with the prime minister and ministers concerning state matters. Other duties include those of representing the state of Britain to the outside world In relation to the government of UK that is headed by a prime minister. The British parliament consists of the monarchy as where the queen is the head, the House of Lords and the House of Commons-which posses the dominant political power hence always supports the government of the day. Her majesty duties involve the opening of new sessions of parliament and addressing it through the queen’s speech. (Drafted by the government and outlines the government agenda), issuance of prorogue, dissolving parliament, assenting to bills and approving orders and proclamations through the Privy Council. Parliament can only meet without a royal summon if the sovereign head has died and parliament is not running. Other duties concern the devolve units of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On April 10th 1998 the Northern Ireland assembly was formed as part of the Good Friday agreement. It has authority over all devolved responsibilities. The assembly has full legislative authority over education, agriculture, health, social services and on wealth creation. Scotland on the other hand has two parliaments. The Westminster assembly legislates on matters that touch on the whole UK as a state while the one in Edinburgh legislates for the devolved domestic matters. The legislation for legislation was taken from Scotland in 1707 and taken to London till the 21st century on September 1997 when the majority of the Scots voted for a Scottish parliament in a plebiscite. The parliament was official opened by the queen on July 1999 and the new building officially opened by the queen in 2004. It has jurisdiction over primary legislation on matters that concern education, police, environment, economic development law and sets the basic rate of income tax among others. The members of parliament of the Scottish parliament take the oath of allegiance to the crown. The parliament’s first minister is appointed by the queen and receives weekly report from the Scottish parliament. This is done under the statutory law that established the parliament. Wales’s power on legislation was devolved in 2006 where the Wales assembly has had power and authority to pass laws to address the local issues in Wales such as on health and education. These acts are passed without the approval of the UK-Parliament. These actions of devolution are clearly in line with the intension to bring the government closer to the people so as to be able to empower the people to be able to govern themselves more closely, a proposition that is in line with the third way philosophers in Britain.

Socialism involves various economic and political theories that advocate for a collective ownership and administration of the means and factors of production as well as the distribution of goods and services through the state. The system has no private ownership of property. It’s a step in the transition of the society between capitalism and socialism according to the Marxist theory. In socialism economic activity is carried out to maximize use value as opposed to exchange value. Socialist are antagonistic to capitalism which they view as concentrating power and wealth to a few elites and it exploits labor leading to formation of a stratified society (class). In recent years there is the notion of democratic socialism that is used to denote the democratic character of the socialist movement. It involves the active participation of the society as whole through workers management of the economy through ideals such as democratic socialism. It proposes the radical reorganization of the state through social and economic order through public ownership. Neo liberalism on the other hand is about economic liberalization based on the neo classical economic theories. Which minimizes the role of the state in the economy to maintenance of law and order and maximizes the private sector’s role? The proponents of this school of thought are referred to as the leftist. Its major effect is seen through the rich growing richer and the poor growing poorer.

Third way in UK’s politics is about the renewal of the social democracy whose vision and mission is to move the state of Britain from the political limbo that it has been in between the leftist who favor the free market ideologies and the right – those who favor the state. There quest is a new form of political ideology that concentrates on adapting economies and the society in general to the forces of globalization (an advanced form of capitalism). Globalization- a step in capitalism development has resulted in inequalities, the misfortunes of social exclusion, isolation, despair, uncertainty, and politics of the extremes under democracy. This has put pressure on the leftist to re think there stand politically and socially in these age of knowledge economy. Third way proponents advocate for new progressive values that has three premises i.e. the need for the government to promote equality, to all while safeguarding the underprivileged, a set of moral standards and principles that promotes mutual responsibility, while resisting the politics of entitlement and the politics of social abandonment. And finally it advocates for a new approach to governance that empowers the people to act for themselves.

The party that was championing this was the new labor party under Tony Blair that shifted from its leftist position and won the British elections of 1997 with a landslide. hence the name ‘new’. Today it’s under Gordon brown. leaving the only leftist party to be the British Fabian society. Third way has been stated to be centrism where it has combined the traditions of the European democrats and the ways of the American economic liberals (proponents of the free market ideology) combining the new right approach to governance and Keynesian theories of economics. The government of the new labor party has been formulating its policies from a number of both leftist think tank bodies like the Fabian society and Demos plus neo liberal think tank bodies coming up with policies that touch on issues like welfare and work etc. This clearly shows that the third way was a compromise between the two.


Anthony G, 1998, The third way: the renewal of social democracy , Wiley-Blackwell.