It was the manner in which modern democratic systems functioned, Hayek argued, that provided the motive force for the expansion of arbitrary government. The critical issue was the absence of effective limits on what electorates could demand and on what politicians felt able to promise them. Encouraged by democratic mandates, parliaments no longer confined themselves to law-making but had, he argued, taken to directing an increasingly wide area of social life. Such an ‘omnipotent sovereign parliament, not confined to laying down general rules, means that we have an arbitrary government’, he wrote. Not only was it arbitrary, but its power was unlimited, especially in the British context where the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty was supreme. This ‘unlimited government’ was the very essence of imperium.