The British Constitution (Paperback)
  • The British Constitution (Paperback)
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The British Constitution (Paperback)

(author)
£30.49
Paperback 450 Pages / Published: 24/09/2009
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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 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. 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 a distinguished 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 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-were's and never-could-possibly-be's'. The book is a Bagehot for the twenty-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.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199576982
Number of pages: 450
Weight: 675 g
Dimensions: 233 x 155 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Review from previous edition ...[an] admirable book...an addition to the great canon of learned commentaries on the British constitution * Stein Ringen, TLS *
readable and illuminating * David Runciman, London Review of Books *
compelling new book * Philip Johnston, The Daily Telegraph *
I have worked with Tony King on many election nights. His knowledge of British politics is profound and his insights into the workings of our curiously informal system of government invaluable. No one is better equipped to assess the nature of our constitution and the changes needed to it. This is a fascinating and thought provoking book from a master of the subject. The Prime Minister should have it by his bedside. * David Dimbleby *
It's very hard to get the British Constitution to rise up and walk and talk. Tony King succeeds magnificently. There's shrewdness, wryness and insight on every page. This is a terrific book. * Peter Hennessy *
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 local government. 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 *

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