Rhodes, R. A. W. The Prime Ministerial Court: Conservative Statecraft in the Twenty-first Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Court politics is about who in British government did what to whom, when, how, why, and with what consequences. This book has two overarching ambitions and a subsidiary one. First, I want to provide not only an accurate description of the court politics of the Conservative governments of the twenty-first century but also to move beyond metaphor and provide an analysis of the everyday practices. Second, I want to show that court politics matter by identifying the varied consequences that flow from court practices, especially the personal, electoral, and governmental consequences. My subsidiary theme is to show that ‘insider’ accounts of court politics that are normally judged unreliable are, in fact, a valuable source of data that will bear secondary analysis.

The heart of the book is my account of the court politics of David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson. Chapters 3-5 describe their practices. I adopt a common structure. For each court, I describe its personnel; the PM’s craft; storytelling; reshuffles, resignations and leadership challenges; the political games of barons, especially lying; informality; infighting; loyalty, betrayal, leaks and revenge; and rituals, focusing on language, gossip, humour and bullying. Each chapter has a short case study of the court in action; namely, the education wars, the 2018 election, and the Covid-19 crisis. I chose each case to illustrate respectively the personal, electoral, and governmental consequences of court politics. The book concludes with a comparison of the three courts and the dilemmas they confront.


Interpretive Political Science (unfunded, continuing since 1997)

With Mark Bevir, I developed an interpretive approach to the study of politics and government. This work continues. Since 2015, there are the following publications:

  • R. A. W. Rhodes, Networks, Governance and the Differentiated Polity. Selected Essays. Volume I (Oxford University Press 2017).
  • R. A. W. Rhodes, Interpretive Political Science. Selected Essays. Volume II Oxford: (Oxford University Press 2017).
  • Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Interpretive Political Science (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2015).
  • Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes (Eds.), Rethinking Governance: Rule, Rationality, Resistance. (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2016)
  • R. A. W. Rhodes, (Ed.) Narrative Policy Analysis: Cases in Decentred Policy. London: Palgrave 2018.
  • Rhodes, R. A. W, Boswell and J. Corbett The Art and Craft of Comparison. (Strategies for Social Inquiry Series). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hardback and eBook October 2019.

In addition, Routledge published a collection of essays commenting on our first book together: N. Turnbull (Ed.), Interpreting Governance, High Politics and Public Policy: Essays Commemorating ‘Interpreting British Governance’ (New York: Routledge, Routledge Studies in Governance and Public Policy, 2016).

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