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The New British Constitution Paperback – 3 Jun 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Hart Publishing (3 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841136719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841136714
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

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. --Peter Riddell, 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. --Guy Lodge, Institute for Public Policy Research

About the Author

Vernon Bogdanor, CBE, Fellow of Brasenose College, is Professor of Government at Oxford University, Gresham Professor of Law, a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. He has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Israel and Slovakia. His books include The People and the Party System, Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution, Power and the People, and Devolution in the United Kingdom. He is a frequent contributor to TV, radio and the press and is a sometime special advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities (1982-83), and the House of Commons Public Service Committee. Most recently he was awarded the Sir Isiaiah Berlin prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies by the Political Studies Association.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after seeing a reference to it in a newspaper and am very glad I did. It is one of the best books I have read on any political topic for a very long time indeed. Bogdanor has a very readable and accessible style of writing. I found it a little difficult to put down at times, which is testament to the quality of prose. Above and beyond its stylistic success, a potentially complex subject is examined dilligently. I learnt a number of very interesting new facts, both on the constitution and general political history, and finished the book with actually a very different interpretation of our consitution than I had when I picked it up.
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Many people in Britain might wonder why the possibility of a hung parliament poped suddenly up before the 2010 general election. If you have read this book, you are not surprised at all anymore. Although nobody seems to take notice, the old constitutional order of Britain is vanishing rapidely, while it is not yet clear what will follow. It would therefore be highly useful to have a public debate on how the British want to shape deliberately their future political system. However, strange enough, nobody except a few politicians from the minor parties seem to care.
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.
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For students who are studying Public Law as part of your law degree at university (Constitutional and Administrative Law), Bogdanor's book is indispensable.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Vernon Bogdanor is a wise man, and this wise book is well researched, thoughtfully argued, and written in a literate style which makes for an easy read. Bogdanor's thorough knowledge of the reasoning of the constitutional 'greats' underpins his explanations of the historical background and its relevance to the modern political imperatives which bring us to the cusp of a revolution in British constitutional history, the abandonment of the unwritten constitution and the recognition that sovereignty is finally residing in the people, not any longer the Queen in Parliament.
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