For the first two thirds of the twentieth century, British government was among the most stable in the advanced industrial world. In the last three decades, the governing arrangements have been in turmoil and the country has been a pioneer in economic reform, and in public sector change. In this book, Michael Moran examines and explains the contrast between these two epochs. What turned Britain into a laboratory of political innovation? Britain became a formal democracy at the start of the twentieth century but the practice of government remained oligarchic. From the 1970s this oligarchy collapsed under the pressure of economic crisis. The British regulatory state is being constructed in its place. Moran challenges the prevailing view that this new state is liberal or decentralizing. Instead he argues that it is a new, threatening kind of interventionist state which is colonizing, dominating, and centralizing hitherto independent domains of civil society. The book is essential reading for all those interested in British political development and in the nature and impact of regulation.