The New British Constitution Illustrated Edition
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“In explaining how this new British constitution has emerged in the space of a political generation, Bogdanor is not only an insightful but also a congenial companion. His mastery of the subject is conveyed in a conversational style which makes the book a pleasure to read and for this reason The New British Constitution will appeal to the widest possible readership.
I am reluctant to end a review of such a valuable book with a cliché but in this case it is warranted. It is a 'must read' for anyone interested in British politics.” ―The Journal of Legislative Studies, Volume 15, No. 4
“This is a beautifully written book, the language as clear as the thinking, and it could not be more timely.” ―The Economist
“This book is written with a vigorous clarity, with easy expertise and with quiet wit. Bogdanor is himself a part of the constitution, an unacknowledged legislator: the book is a revelation. More, it is a reproach to journalism, that we have not more clearly explained a great shift of the past decade. He has.” ―The Financial Times
“…[Vernon Bogdanor] is well informed, subtle and immensely thorough. This is not just a book to read, it is one to keep on the shelf for reference. Anyone remotely interested in the constitution, including all the main party leaders, should certainly acquire a copy...The New British Constitution is a formidable and invaluable achievement…” ―Times Higher Education
“Vernon Bogdanor offers a fresh insight into the substantial, and still largely underappreciated, changes to the British constitution. He combines the approaches of the political historian, the constitutional lawyer and the political scientist to put the changes into a wider context. It is a must read for anyone interested in British politics.” ―The Times
“This masterly survey charts the rise of the 'New' constitution and expertly explains both how it works and why it matters. Bogdanor is Dicey and Bagehot rolled into one for the twenty-first century” ―Institute for Public Policy Research
“Vernon Bogdanor's The New British Constitution is a timely work…Bogdanor has set himself an ambitious target in writing this book; he is inviting comparison with the great late Victorian analysts – and advocates – of the old constitution of untrammelled parliamentary sovereignty, Bagehot and Dicey. He is worthy of the comparison. The book is an illuminating guide to quite how much of what we used to know about the British constitution has ceased to be applicable in a comparatively short time...One of Bogdanor's similarities with Bagehot (although he is a better scholar by far) is that he writes with an unusual clarity.” ―Progress
“The British Constitution is a mysterious, ramshackle and amorphous beast. Because much of it has never been written down, some people even claim that it doesn't exist. But in hunting this Snark through the thickets of legislation and tradition, there can be no more doughty guide than Vernon Bogdanor…[a] timely and indeed prescient book.” ―Public Servant
“If David Cameron becomes Prime Minister... he should read the thoughts of the Oxford tutor who explained it all to him when he was a student twenty years ago.” ―The Times Literary Supplement
“The scholarship and clarity is impressive.You will look long and hard for as complete a résumé of what has been done... as an analysis of changes which may or may not have a direction but which have certainly changed Bagehot's settlement, this is an important book.” ―Total Politics
“...this work provides a thorough dissection of contemporary political and constitutional issues that merit careful consideration...the book will interest scholars in the field of British constitutional history: past, present, and future.” ―The Law and Politics Book Review, Vol 19, Issue 10
“Bogdanor's book provides a fascinating insight into the constitution that many of us may have thought we didn't have. What makes it successful is Bogdanor's easy ability to make these issues interesting, real and relevant…The clarity Bogdanor brings to the UK's current constitutional halfway house will, for many, be a political and social revelation. The New British Constitution also undoubtedly provides a strong basis for discussion of future change.” ―Public Service Magazine
“The New British Constitution is written with the rare combination of erudition and elegance that places it firmly in the tradition of Dicey and Bagehot.
After four decades of observing and writing about constitutional affairs, Bogdanor has become part of the constitutional furniture. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC once noted that "laws are the autobiography of the nation." If so, then they have a fine biographer in Professor Bogdanor.” ―Judicial Review
“...this is an impressive work which informed and interested people on both sides of the Atlantic should read with care, because it will give them a greater understanding of the issues now facing the united Kingdom as it faces up to a major systemic crisis in her politics and government.” ―The British Politics Group Quarterly, No 138
“Vernon Bogdanor is one of our most astute commentators on constitutional issues. From the discipline of government, he fully engages in legal matters and brings a freshness to public law. This book is written with admirable clarity and is unusually accessible to expert and layman. It is also one of the few works that seek to make sense of contemporary developments in the context of our constitutional history.
This book has already received deservedly wide attention and will continue to do so.” ―Public Law
“Bogdanor's background as a political scientist shows in the keen insight he brings into the interplay of politics with constitutional principle that colour the context within which the constitutional reforms he discusses take place. His conclusions are bold and ... this is a compelling book on a topical subject.” ―Cambridge Law Journal, Volume 69, Part 2
“Vernon Bogdanor is an acknowledged expert in political science and constitutional law. He also writes very well in a style which engages the reader. He offers fresh insights into both the changes which have taken place since 1997 and into the unknown future. The New British Constitution will be of value to everyone with an interest in politics or public law and is highly recommended.” ―SCOLAG Legal Journal, Issue 394
“Bogdanor...magisterially lays out the formal-legal details of recent constitutional change in Britain that lead him to see a "new British constitution" in the making... he does that with admirable clarity and precision.
It is a must-read for anyone concerned with the constitutional ferment in Britain.” ―The Journal of the Review of Politics, Volume 73
About the Author
- Publisher : Hart Publishing; Illustrated edition (June 8, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1841136719
- ISBN-13 : 978-1841136714
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 0.71 x 9.28 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,180,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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For Americans this is puzzling and confusing as English Common Law helps to shape and form so much of our society. While the Westminster system of unifying the legislative and executive branches is a bit alien to Americans the idea of scrapping what has worked for England for centuries seems an odd idea indeed. Why fix what isn't broke? But the reality, as pointed out by Bogdanor, is that Britain is trying to move with the times. Joining the European Economic Community in 1973 set Britain on the path towards modernizing its constitution as more power flowed towards Brussels. But Bogdanor argues that the piecemeal changes occurring since that time have failed to revive and rejuvenate British politics, but have instead redistributed power rather than democratizing the political process. Bogdanor argues for divesting power to the people and is clearly a fan of proportional representation, arguing for primaries to select parliamentary candidates as opposed to the old first-past-the-post rule, increasing use of referendums and the use of citizens' assemblies. While that sounds good on paper one need only look at the mess California has gotten into thanks to the referendum process. And while the primary process would make elections somewhat more democratic it would be the death of typically quick British elections as witnessed by the marathon contests here in America.
While the timing of "The New British Constitution" couldn't have been better, and it is quite well written, it remains a polemic with a clear agenda. Bogdanor is clearly looking to establish a dialog and makes persuasive arguments, but the reality is there are equally persuasive counterarguments which aren't made here. As Americans regularly groan about the inefficiency of our country's political system it boggles the mind why Britain would want to adopt some of the same processes. The Westminster system cannot be that badly broken to warrant such an injudicious fix.
Top reviews from other countries
Other resources are more suitable for laying down the framework of the (semi-unwritten) British Constitution (the prime principles of Parliamentary Sovereignty, Rule of Law, Conventions, ...), but this book weaves together these constitutional principles and forecasts what is happening next.
Chapter 4 is especially useful for those who are studying 'Devolution' as part of their Public Law syllabus. It talks about the justification for initiating devolution (for Scotland, it is to maintain the unitary structure. For Northern Ireland, it is to create channels of discussion between the unionists and nationalists), the 'West Lothian'/English question, and suggests what may happen in the future.
Chapter 11 is truly incredible. Never have I been so interested in public law as a subject, and as a whole. If you are going to read just one chapter from this book, this is the chapter you should read. Bogdanor tracks down the nature of Parliamentary Sovereignty as a principle, and how it is under assault due to constitutional reform (ECA, HRA, devolution, Constitutional Reform Act 2005, ...), and talks about the death of Bagehot's conception of the constitution ('near complete fusion'), and the declining nature of the Diceyan prime principle of Parliamentary sovereignty.
Chapter 11 on its own can be used to answer exam questions on parliamentary sovereignty. That is, if you understand the key foundation of the principle.
'The New British Constitution' is not a textbook. It cannot help you to achieve a high mark, as you need theory (and the requisite understanding) for that.
However, it is a fantastic supplement, that clears up the key constitutional principles, and charts the changes over the recent decades, and forecasts the future.
If I started off my Public Law course by reading 'Chapter 11' of this book, my attitude towards the subject would have been completely different. I would have been less reluctant to study the subject. Shame that I discovered this book two nights before the exam. Nevertheless, I think it saved me for the one question that asked about P.S. (in light of constitutional changes such as the ECA).
The University of Oxford professor Vernon Bogdanor explaines in a clear, easy to read way what's going on and why this happens. There is no hope that the Conservatives under a seemingly ignorant David Cameron can restore the old order, as it has already gone under several constitutional changes by New Labour (Devolution!) and by the integration in die EU in the 1970s. So, lets talk about the new constitution! Bogdanor makes a brilliant start.