The Struggle for the Scepter offers a richly-detailed narrative history of the relationship between the British Parliament and the Crown during the 18th century. Drawing on extensive primary source documents—including political pamphlets, diaries, and correspondence exchanged by major political players of the period—the book traces the gradual decline of the Crown’s power throughout the century, such that by 1800, political power had shifted to what might be called a modern parliamentary system.
The Struggle for the Scepter persuasively links this significant shift to the British nation’s recognition of five principal truths by century’s end:  That unified political parties based on principle rather than personality were here to stay.  That this was a good thing, in part because without party organization and party discipline it proved impossible to manage a House of Commons of roughly 550 Members; and, in part because the notion of a loyal Opposition came to be seen as beneficial, both for the sake of overseeing public administration and checking not only royal power but the power of a parliamentary majority.  That the Monarch must only appoint as ministers those that commanded a majority in the House of Commons.  That with regards to policy the Monarch must accept the dictates of those ministers.  That the organization of the parliamentary majority centered on a First, or Prime, Minister who headed a unified Cabinet; that is, a Cabinet based on collective responsibility and a Cabinet which spoke with one voice, through the Cabinet Minute, to the Monarch.
Clayton Roberts brings his shrewd command of British political history to bear on this meticulously researched and fascinating account of a turbulent and transformative century in British politics. The result is an engaging and insightful work that should appeal to scholars, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates interested in the origins of the British parliamentary system and political history more broadly.