The datasets that are published on this page are the most recent version available. Each dataset is released with associated variable codebooks. Enquiries relating to this data should be directed to Shaun Bevan or Will Jennings. When using the data in please ensure you cite the corresponding publication from the UK Policy Agendas Project (at a minimum references to the project as a data source should use Peter John, Anthony Bertelli, Will Jennings and Shaun Bevan. 2013. Policy Agendas in British Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).
The Speech from the Throne, the King’s or the Queen’s Speech, sets out executive and legislative priorities of British government in the forthcoming session of parliament. The full text of the speech is coded at the ‘quasi-sentence’ level (a quasi-sentence constitutes an expression of a single policy idea or issue). Transcripts of the speech were blind-coded by two researchers who compared and reconciled their responses; first to ascertain whether each quasi-sentence contained any policy content and then to assign a major topic and sub-topic code to each quasi-sentence. This procedure led to ninety per cent inter-coder reliability for major topics for most years. The coders resolved remaining differences through discussion and project leaders made the final decision in the few cases where coders could not agree.
The short and long titles of Acts of the UK Parliament were blind-coded by two researchers; assigning a major topic code and sub-topic code to each piece of legislation. This procedure led to eighty-five percent inter-coder reliability for major topics. The remaining differences were resolved through discussion by the project leaders.
The short and long titles of Bills and Hearings of the Scottish Parliament were blind-coded by two researchers; assigning a major topic and sub-topic code to each Bill or Hearing. This procedure led to eighty-five percent inter-coder reliability for major topics. The remaining differences were resolved through discussion by the project leaders.
Budgetary data between 1910 and 2007 is compiled using a combination of the UK Blue Book on Government Expenditure and expenditure data reported in Alan T. Peacock and Jack Wiseman (1961, Princeton University Press) The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom.* Budget data from 1951 to 2007 was taken directly from the UK Blue Book on government expenditure recoded to match the policy agendas coding system. Each Blue Book contains several years of data updated to account for inaccuracies and additional expenditures not initially included upon first publication. To obtain a time series of the annual expenditure of British government from 1950 to 2007, data from the Blue Book for 1962, 1971, 1980, 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2008 were used.
Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) was first introduced in 1961 and has become a weekly centrepiece of British political life. Questions were blind-coded by two researchers; assigning a major topic and sub-topic code to each question.
Data on public attention to issues has been compiled from survey questions asked regularly by the survey organizations Gallup and Ipsos-MORI, over the period between 1959 and 2014 about the “most important problem” or “most important issue” facing the country. The original Gallup and Ipsos-MORI categories are re-coded according to the UK Policy Agendas Project coding system, with responses aggregated according to major topic. The datasets are calculated for monthly intervals (if observations are available). Technical details regarding compilation and coding of the Gallup public opinion data are reported in Will Jennings and Christopher Wlezien. (2011). ‘Distinguishing between Most Important Problems and Issues?’ Public Opinion Quarterly 75(3): 545–555. When using this data please also reference Shaun Bevan and Will Jennings. (2014). ‘Representation, Agendas and Institutions’. European Journal of Political Research 53(1): 37-56 as well as the original data sources (Ipsos-MORI and Gallup).
Our data on the media agenda measures the policy content of the front page of The Times of London. Front page news stories are sampled on the Wednesday of each week between 1960 and 2008, with the headlines blind-coded by two researchers according to major topic code, generating a database of 21,854 front page headlines. Due to important changes in the formatting of The Times during period between 1960 and 2008, along with a strike that stopped production for almost a year we strongly suggest that those interested in the media data refer to the dataset codebook.
Party manifestos 1983-2010
Election manifestos of the major British political parties were coded under the supervision of Caterina Froio (Centre d’Etudes Européennes de Sciences Po), as part of the the French Agendas Project (grant ‘ANR-Gouv-055’) led by Emiliano Grossman, and are made available thanks to their generosity. The party manifestos were coded at the quasi-sentence level using the policy content coding system of the UK Policy Agendas Project. The dataset codebook is available here. For additional questions, please contact Caterina Froio or Emiliano Grossman. When using the dataset please reference: Caterina Froio, Shaun Bevan and Will Jennings (2015). ‘Party Mandates and the Politics of Attention: Party platforms, public priorities and the policy agenda in Britain.’ Party Politics, forthcoming, and Caterina Froio (2015). The Politics of Constraints: Electoral promises, pending commitments, public concerns and policy agenda in Denmark, France, Spain and the United Kingdom (1980-2008). PhD Dissertation defended at the European University Institute, January 8th, 2015.
We are aiming to update the Speech from the Throne and Acts of Parliament datasets to 2015 in the near future. We have been undertaking coding work on Prorogation Speeches, which may be added to the datasets soon. Coding of party manifestos and Select Committee Reports has been undertaken by other scholars, with input from the UK project on coding protocols, but release dates for those datasets are unknown.
The replication datasets for published outputs of the UK Policy Agendas Project are made available on the Publications page of this website following the associated citation. For scholars using UK Policy Agendas Project data in original work, please use the most recent dataset releases made available on this page.