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Repairing British Politics

A Blueprint for Constitutional Change

By: Richard Gordon
Media of Repairing British Politics
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Published: 17-02-2010
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 198
ISBN: 9781849460491
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP : £21.99
 

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Loren Epson

About Repairing British Politics

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.

Table Of Contents

Acknowledgements
Glossary of Essential Terms
1. SETTING THE SCENE
Starting from Scratch
Why We Need a Written Constitution
Outline of the Book
Power to the People
The Origins of Parliamentary Sovereignty
Cromwell and the UK's Two Written Constitutions
No-one Ever Voted for Parliamentary Sovereignty
Why Parliamentary Sovereignty Doesn't Work
The Need for a Public Debate
The Virtues of Representative Democracy
Drafting a Written Constitution: The Practicalities
Repairing British Politics: The Proposals
Towards the Future
2. A DRAFT CONSTITUTION FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM
Preamble
Part 1: The State and the Constitution
Part 2: Lawmaking
Part 3: The House of Representatives
Part 4: The Senate
Part 5: Executive Government
Part 6: Emergency Powers
Part 7: Political Parties
Part 8: The Judiciary
Part 9: Fundamental Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities
Part 10: The Citizens' Branch
Part 11: Other Aspects of Government
Part 12: Constitutional Conventions
Part 13: Constitutional Changes and Referendums
Part 14: Interpretation and Final Matters
3. THE CONSTITUTION OF BRITAIN (REFERENDUMS) ACT
Part 1: Referendum on a Written Constitution
Part 2: Second Referendum on the Content of a Written Constitution
Part 3: Implementation of the Second Referendum
Part 4: Supplementary
Schedules

Reviews

“Although the issue of a written constitution for the UK is not currently high on the political agenda, Gordon makes some interesting suggestions for constitutional change, some of which have been proposed by the coalition. Some, such as the fixed term for the House of Commons, have already been enacted. His observations and explanatory remarks contain some valuable insights. Practitioners and students of law and politics will find much of interest in this book.” –  Jean McFadden, SCOLAG Legal Journal, Issue 409

“...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

“Richard Gordon's Book ... is 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...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.” –  Qudsi Rasheed, JUSTICE Journal, Volume 7, Number 1

“...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

“The questions arising as to the proposals made mean that the value of the book is demonstrated: these are issues that all nations other than the UK, New Zealand and Israel have confronted and which are of such fundamental importance that they should be discussed. Gordon does so in an engaging and interesting manner, which provides a good starting point for the debate... Thoroughly recommended.” –  Kris Gledhill, NZ Lawyer

“It is well written and contains sufficient detail to enable the reader to understand the reasons for the many suggestions which Mr Gordon makes...[An} excellent book... I would recommend it to any reader who, like myself, is interested in this topic and wishes to see our country with better constitutional arrangements than the present executive dominated parliament which claims to have absolute sovereignty.” –  Obiter J

“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

“[an] interesting and thought-provoking book...Creative and imaginative thinking” –  John Jackson, Open Democracy

“This book will enable even those unfamiliar with the complexities of the current system to discuss, and formulate views about, the issues.” –  Dawn Oliver, International Journal of Law in Context, Volume 6, Issue 4

“[An] excellent example of the craft of the legal scholar and the political scientist [which] deserves close reading.” –  Arthur Aughey, Parliamentary Affairs

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