Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type



Political science

Publication Details

Author's accepted version:

Woodward, R. (2018) ‘UK governance: from overloading to freeloading’, Political Quarterly, vol. 89, 1, pp. 56-64.

Link to published version:


The UK's ongoing political turbulence has prompted a reprise of debates from the 1970s when many concluded the country was ungovernable. Then, the most influential diagnosis conceptualised the UK's governance problem as one of ‘overloading’ caused by the electorate's excessive expectations. This article argues that these accounts overlooked another phenomenon besieging UK governance during this period. This phenomenon was freeloading: the withering of government capacity deriving from the ability of actors to enjoy the benefits of citizenship without altogether contributing to the cost. In the interim, these problems have become endemic, not least because of the unspoken but discernible policy of successive governments to turn the UK into a tax haven. High-profile scandals involving prominent individuals and corporations, plus the failure to clamp down on them have reinforced the perception that the UK's political system is geared towards the rich and the powerful at the expense of the marginalised majority.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License