Journal of Social Policy



Article

MPs' Attitudes to Welfare: A New Consensus?


HUGH BOCHEL a1 and ANDREW DEFTY a2
a1 Department of Policy Studies, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln LN6 7TS email: hbochel@lincoln.ac.uk
a2 Department of Policy Studies, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln LN6 7TS email: adefty@lincoln.ac.uk

Article author query
bochel h   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
defty a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

The post-war ‘consensus’ on welfare was based largely in the perceived agreement of leading politicians of Conservative and Labour parties on the role of the mixed economy and the welfare state. However, from the late 1970s economic and demographic pressures and ideological challenges, particularly from the New Right, led to cuts in spending on welfare, increased private involvement and an emphasis on more individualistic and selectivist approaches to provision. Recently some scholars have begun to discuss the emergence of a ‘new liberal consensus’ around welfare provision. Drawing upon interviews with 10 per cent of the House of Commons, this article examines the extent to which a new political consensus upon welfare can be identified. In addition to analysing responses to questions on welfare issues, it considers the extent to which MPs themselves believe there to be some degree of consensus in approaches to welfare. It also considers whether any consensus exists merely in the political language used in relation to welfare issues, or whether there is a more substantive convergence.

(Published Online December 21 2006)