The British Constitution

Paperback | November 1, 2009

byAnthony King

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In the latter part of the nineteenth 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. Anthony King argues that the same is trueat 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 thatthe new constitution is a mess, but one that we should probably try to make the best of. The British Constitution 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 adistinguished academic. The author maintains that, although the new British constitution is a mess, there is no going back now. 'As always', he says, 'nostalgia is a good companion but a bad guide.' Highly charged issues that remain to be settled concern the relations between Scotland and Englandand 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-were's and never-could-possibly-be's'. The book is a Bagehot for thetwenty-first century - 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.

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In the latter part of the nineteenth 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. Anthony King argues that the same is trueat the beginning of this century. Most peop...

Anthony King, a Canadian by birth, came to Britain as a Rhodes Scholar. Before moving to the University of Essex in the mid 1960s, he was a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. He has been Professor of Government at Essex since 1969 and has also taught at Princeton and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a member of the Academi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:November 1, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019957698X

ISBN - 13:9780199576982

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Table of Contents

1. What Is a 'Constitution'?2. The Canonical Sextet3. Britain's Traditional Constitution4. The Impetus to Change5. Britain's Near Abroad6. The Judges Come Out7. The Ghost of Local Government8. John Bull's Other Lands9. Mandarins as Managers10. Democracy Rampant11. References to the People12. Their Lordships13. Great British Icons14. Britain's New ConstitutionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This is a very fine book, one Bagehot would have loved. It is learned without ever being pompous, precise but not pedantic, often rude but never crude and bang up to date in a way that will last. Tony King is a rare man, a proper constitutional historian who writes natural, gripping English,and who, though very experienced, remains thoroughly shockable too -- which, given his subject, is useful. This account contains all the tough issues of recent decades, from the change in behaviour of mandarins, through the jangling inconsistencies thrown up by devolution and the crushing of localgovernment. I suspect that Gordon Brown won't fully agree with King about a constitutional convention, but I would be amazed and disappointed if he doesn't read this book." --Andrew Marr