The British political system has been the model and the inspiration for many national governments world-wide. Yet it is now at the centre of controversial debate within Britain itself. Over the 130 years since Bagehot wrote his English Constitution, no historian has investigated in depth how it has evolved in all its dimensions, and few political scientists have looked further back than the Second World War. This is the first book to provide a detailed explanation of how the British political system came to acquire the form it has today. Brian Harrison's broad-ranging, authoritative analysis runs continuously from the 1860s to the 1990s. He investigates such topics as civil liberties, pressure groups, parliament, elections and the parties, central and local government, cabinet, and monarchy. He examines the international and cultural influences on the working of the political system, and concludes by surveying current proposals for reform. With an ample guide to further reading, and a full chronology of leading events, this book will be essential reading for students of politics and history.