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Beyond Magna Carta

A Constitution for the United Kingdom

By: Andrew Blick
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Published: 30-04-2015
Format: EPUB eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 314
ISBN: 9781849469647
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £36.00
Online price : £28.80
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About Beyond Magna Carta

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta falls in June 2015. In this work Dr Blick argues that this event should be the occasion for a reassessment of the past, present and future of the UK constitution. He draws on his experience as research fellow to the first ever parliamentary inquiry into the possibility of a written constitution for the UK. Dr Blick considers a series of English and UK historical texts from Anglo-Saxon times onwards, among which Magna Carta is the most prominent, which sought to set out arrangements for the governance of England and later the UK as a whole. He argues that they comprise a powerful tradition of written constitutional documents, and stresses the importance of the European dimension to their introduction and content. The author then considers the present nature of the UK constitution, describing the period of immense flux through which it has passed in recent decades, and the implications of this phase of change. Dr Blick identifies a need for a full written constitution for the UK as the next appropriate step. Finally, he discusses the democratic processes suitable to devising such a text, and what its contents might be.

'With this book Andrew Blick has made a major contribution to our understanding of how our system of government has worked in the past, how it is working – or not working – now, and what it could be in the future. Combing the centuries, he challenges many misconceptions and makes a powerful case for a written constitution. This volume is absolutely essential to anyone who wants to appreciate the real meaning of Magna Carta and why we should celebrate it.'
Graham Allen MP, Chair, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

'Beyond Magna Carta brings together the utility of a road map with the fascination of a changing cartography of political thought – all part of the constitutional development of these islands from the Great Charter of 1215 to the confusing aftermath of the Scottish Referendum of 2014. It is a superb work of explanation capped by intriguing suggestions of future possibilities.'
Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield, FBA, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction
The ' Vow '
Constitutional Perceptions
PART I: The Written Constitutional Tradition
2. Before Magna Carta: Early Law Codes and Charters
The Ethelbert Law Code
Anglo-Saxon Codes After Ethelbert
Post-Conquest Texts
3. Magna Carta: The Life, Death and Afterlife of a Text
The Magna Carta Moment
The 1215 Text
Magna Carta After 1215
The Global Status of Magna Carta
4. Revolutionary Century
The Petition of Right 1628
Blueprints: The Army and the Levellers
Constitutions Under Cromwell
The Bill of Rights 1689
The Act of Settlement 1701: Alternative Constitutional Model ?
5. Union and Parliament
The Creation of a Union
Great Britain and Ireland
Albert Venn Dicey and Parliamentary Sovereignty
The Parliament Act 1911
PART II: A System in Turmoil
6. The Dynamic Constitution
Constitution and Society
The Civil Service
The Process of Change
7. European Integration and its Consequences on and the UK Constitution
The European Communities Act 1972
The Rise of the Referendum: 1975 to the Present
The Fracturing of Collective Responsibility
8. The Multination State
Devolution and its Implications
England Left Behind
Local Government in England
The English Question
9. The Rule of Law, Human Rights and Constitutional Conflict
The Rule of Law in the United Kingdom
The Human Rights Act
Protected Rights, their Limitations and their Impact
A Clash of Models
10. Direction of Travel
Codifying Convention and Limiting the Royal Prerogative
A New Model ?
A Written Constitution: Proposals and Drafts
Practical Steps: Gordon Brown and Beyond
PART III: A Constitution for the United Kingdom
11. Advocating and Creating a Written Constitution
The Positive Case for a Written Constitution
The Negative Case for a Written Constitution
Creating a Constitution
Preparatory Steps and Composition of a Convention
Remit, Working Methods and Ratification of the Text
12. The Constitution
Presentation, Writing Style and Preamble
A Federal Union
The UK Executive
Parliament After Sovereignty
The Composition of Parliament
Electing Parliament
Parliament and Accountability
Fundamental Rights
The Courts, the Legal System and Constitutional Review
Changing the Constitution
13. Conclusion


“...a valuable and meticulously researched study which should be read both by those who favour a written constitution - and those who do not...the book is a valuable contribution to the corpus of literature and analysis on UK constitutional history.” –  Phillip Taylor MBE, Elizabeth Taylor, The Clapham Omnibus, Summer 2015

“Andrew Blick's highly intelligent Beyond Magna Carta combines a re-assessment of this ancient text with an argument for new constitutional writing in the UK in the future...” –  Linda Colley, Times Literary Supplement

“I recommend this book to all with an interest in British and Canadian history, political science or constitutional law.” –  Sandra Geddes, Canadian Law Library Review

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