Book

The British Constitution

Anthony King

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199576982
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702235 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199576982.001.0001
The British Constitution

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In the latter part of the 19th century, Walter Bagehot wrote a classic account of the British constitution as it had developed during Queen Victoria's reign. He argued that the late Victorian constitution was not at all what people thought it was. In this book, the author argues that the same is true at the beginning of this century. Most people are aware that a series of major constitutional changes has taken place, but few recognize that their cumulative effect has been to change entirely the nature of Britain's constitutional structure. The old constitution has gone. The author insists that the new constitution is a mess, but one that we should probably try to make the best of. This book is neither a reference book nor a textbook. Like Bagehot's classic, it is written with wit and mordant humour — by someone who is a journalist and political commentator as well as a distinguished academic. Highly charged issues that remain to be settled concern the relations between Scotland and England and the future of the House of Lords. A reformed House of Lords, the author fears, could wind up comprising ‘a miscellaneous assemblage of party hacks, political careerists, clapped-out retired or defeated MPs, has-beens, never-weres and never-could-possibly-bes’. The book is the product of a lifetime's reflection on British politics and essential reading for anyone interested in how the British system has changed and how it is likely to change in future.

Keywords: British Constitution; constitutional change; British politics; House of Lords; political system; constitutional structure; Scotland; England

Book.  464 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: UK Politics

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Table of Contents

What <i>Is</i> a ‘Constitution’? in The British Constitution

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The Canonical Sextet in The British Constitution

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Britain’s Traditional Constitution in The British Constitution

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The Impetus to Change in The British Constitution

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Britain’s Near Abroad in The British Constitution

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The Judges Come Out in The British Constitution

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The Ghost of Local Government in The British Constitution

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John Bull’s Other Lands in The British Constitution

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Mandarins as Managers in The British Constitution

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Democracy Rampant in The British Constitution

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