- responsible government
- As with representative government, the term can be used in several ways in political discussion. Three main meanings can be discerned. (1) Responsiveness: those who are chosen to represent us are expected to be sensitive to the needs, opinions and wishes of the constituents. (2) Accountability: elected officials are obliged to be answerable to the people for their actions or any lack of action (collective responsibility and individual ministerial responsibility are constitutional conventions which seek to make ministers responsible, individually and collectively, in the sense of being answerable for government policy). (3) Moral obligation: holders of high office are expected to be ‘responsible’, in the same way that a nurse cares for a patient, a prison governor for the fate of their prisoners and a teacher for the welfare of their students. In other words, they have to pursue a prudent policy and not behave recklessly or irresponsibly.Many people would wish to see politicians show regard for all three meanings outlined. They want politicians who listen to public opinion, pursue wise and consistent policies and are accountable to the voters. Of course, sometimes the aims may be in conflict. For example, listening to popular demands may not make for a consistent or realistic policy.
Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.