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Repairing British Politics: A Blueprint for Constitutional Change [Paperback]

Richard Gordon QC
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 18.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 Feb 2010
The constitutional crisis of 2009, sparked by the 'expenses scandal', led rapidly to the questioning of our entire political order. This book presents a major new constitutional analysis of the way we are governed. At the heart of the crisis lay an absence of accountability at the core of government. Repairing British Politics presents some key arguments for constitutional reform focused around a draft written Constitution underpinned by a new principle of constitutional supremacy. This would replace parliamentary sovereignty, which makes accountability more difficult. A written Constitution is not merely desirable; it is a constitutional necessity if Britain is to have true representative democracy. It would change our lives for the better by defining the over-arching values which we consider inviolable. The result would be a more rational, humane and inclusive society based on greater citizen involvement. Without a clear focus, constitutional reform will not happen. The approach taken here is therefore essentially practical and designed to provide a focal point around which a wider debate might be centred. Written in an easily accessible style and including a Glossary of Essential Terms Repairing British Politics is intended as much for the intelligent general reader as for those professionally interested in law and politics. Part 1 sets out a number of arguments in favour of a written Constitution, as well as the most common objections. Part 2 presents a working draft in the form of one possible model for a Constitution. Observations and explanatory notes are attached to each section of this draft Constitution. This model Constitution is intended as the first stage in a public debate, designed to provoke further discussion about the content and method of legislating into law a written Constitution. Part 3 contains the draft of the Act of Parliament that would be needed to introduce any form of constitutional change. We are currently facing a crisis of trust in British politics. Whichever party forms the government the questions raised in Repairing British Politics will not go away.

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Repairing British Politics: A Blueprint for Constitutional Change + The Foundations of Public Law: Principles and Problems of Power in the British Constitution
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Product details

  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: Hart Publishing (22 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849460493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849460491
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 827,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

...the book is a must-read for anyone who wants to get a modern grip of our constitutional angst. Gordon's punchy 35-page scene-setting narrative and critique of our system of parliamentary supremacy (motif: nobody ever voted for it), should be mandatory reading for those who want to think about this issue properly. --Ian Caplin, Times Online, May 6, 2010<br /><br />...a coherent and well constructed argument in favour of a written constitution. It is a succinct yet masterful combination of politics, philosophy, constitutional theory, law and history, accessible to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. It is a must read for anyone interested in the future of the UK constitution...the real meat of Repairing British Politics is Gordon s draft constitution, with accompanying observations and explanatory notes, which certainly leave the reader with much to chew on...Richard Gordon has initiated a timely and much needed debate in legal and political circles over the future of the UK constitution. He makes a reasoned and persuasive case on the need for change. He posits a well-drafted proposal with explanations. Despite suggesting the disbanding of certain existing political bonds not least parliamentary sovereignty he does so with a justified cause, namely the promotion of real democracy. Although by no means perfect or indeed complete, the draft is good starting point from which to take this debate forwards. Like Paine before him, Gordon offers us a way forward by re-depositing the ultimate power of society in the people themselves. Gordon s very own Republic is a platform for debate in classrooms, canteens and the Commons itself. --Qudsi Rasheed, Legal Officer (Human Rights), JUSTICE, Volume 7, Number 1, 2010<br /><br />In this work Gordon combines his expertise as a QC - specialising in administrative and public law and human rights - with an historical approach, to produce an argument about the need for change in the UK constitution, and a set of proposals about what it should become...it is informative and enjoyable to read, and fulfils its purpose well, in that it makes an effective case for a written constitution and could form a useful basis for discussions of what such an entity should comprise. I recommend it to anyone interested in the way we are governed, including those who (unlike myself) do not agree with its central arguments. --Andrew Blick, Open Democracy, 19th March 2010

...Richard Gordon s thoughtful contribution to the debate is both timely and worthy of very careful study. Repairing British Politics is a cautiously ambitious book: Gordon has gone to the considerable effort of drafting a constitution for the United Kingdom, and has even included a helpful glossary of terms at the beginning to help readers who are not lawyers or professional followers of politics...the real point of buying the book is the draft Constitution itself. It should be said at the outset that Gordon has produced an outstanding piece of constitutional scholarship in that he has codified a considerable amount of constitutional law and produced a coherent and comprehensive structure to both existing and new constitutional principles...It should also be noted that the Observations and Explanatory Notes Gordon provides after each part of the Constitution are immensely helpful in clarifying the thinking behind some of the choices made and the drafting used, and represent a real work of learning in themselves...Repairing British Politics does not contain all the answers and will not be the final word. It is not meant to be. But it will be impossible for anyone to seriously engage with the debate about moving to a written constitution without having digested and considered Richard Gordon s work. That is an achievement of which to be very proud. --C.J.S. Knight, Public Law, Issue 3, July 2010

In this work Gordon combines his expertise as a QC - specialising in administrative and public law and human rights - with an historical approach, to produce an argument about the need for change in the UK constitution, and a set of proposals about what it should become...it is informative and enjoyable to read, and fulfils its purpose well, in that it makes an effective case for a written constitution and could form a useful basis for discussions of what such an entity should comprise. I recommend it to anyone interested in the way we are governed, including those who (unlike myself) do not agree with its central arguments. --Andrew Blick, Open Democracy, 19th March 2010

About the Author

Richard Gordon QC, a member of Brick Court Chambers, London, is recognised as one of the UK's leading silks in administrative and public law and human rights. He is a Visiting Professor at University College London and at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has acted in many of the most important public law and human rights cases in recent years, and appears regularly before the House of Lords and Court of Appeal and in foreign jurisdictions as well as before the ECJ and European Court of Human Rights.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable exercise 17 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback
Richard Gordon (RG below) contributes to an important debate: what to make of the UK's governance at a time when parliament is in disrepute, no doubt in large part because it is formally sovereign, but in reality in thrall to the executive or largely unacknowledged limitations.

His approach is eclectic, tidying up the monarchy and the attorney general, part-reforming the House of Lords (renamed "Senate"), and introducing a "citizen's branch" to make extemporaneous proposals. His experience should be taken seriously--he has drafted constitutions and has a distinguished career in the field. He modestly says that he offers his book to start a debate.

RG dispels the misapprehension that Britain has never had a written constitution: Cromwell had two; and he draws attention to the uncertain character of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, with some jurists claiming that it falls out of common law and thus becomes fully subject to judicial interpretation.

This takes us to the central problem of our constitutional dilemma--there are no de jure limits on our legislature, Parliament, but that it has been captured by the executive for generations (as far back as the forties, Harold Wilson got his first in PPE by writing an essay on the topic), also surrendering powers by treaty, in particular to the European Union but also to a piecemeal programme of judicial intervention. This hotchpotch was intended by no-one, leaves many confused and dissatisfied, so opening the door to proposals like those from RG. Do they do the trick? That's hardly the point: after all RG makes it clear that he is trying to provoke a debate. So just a couple of points.
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