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The British Constitution: Continuity and Change

A Festschrift for Vernon Bogdanor

Editor(s): Matt Qvortrup
Media of The British Constitution: Continuity and Change
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Published: 02-08-2013
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 212
ISBN: 9781849463713
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £55.00
Online price : £49.50
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Loren Epson

About The British Constitution: Continuity and Change

Vernon Bogdanor once told The Guardian that he made 'a living of something that doesn't exist'. He also quipped that the British Constitution can be summed up in eight words: 'Whatever the Queen in Parliament decides is law.' That may still be the case, yet in many ways the once elusive British Constitution has now become much more grounded, much more tangible and much more based on written sources than was previously the case. It now exists in a way in which it previously did not.

However, though the changes may seem revolutionary, much of the underlying structure remains unchanged; there are limits to the changes. Where does all this leave the Constitution? Here constitutional experts, political scientists and legal practitioners present up-to-date and in-depth commentaries on their respective areas of expertise. While also a Festschrift in honour of Vernon Bogdanor, this book is above all a comprehensive compendium on the present state of the British Constitution.

'The new constitutional politics has spawned a new constitutional scholarship. This stimulating collection, skilfully put together by Matt Qvortrup, works both as a welcome snapshot of where we are now and as an expert audit, from specialists in law, history and political science, of the deeper issues and of the complex dynamics of continuity and change in the ongoing refashioning of Britain's constitutional architecture.'
Kevin Theakston, Professor of British Government, University of Leeds

'The highly distinguished team of scholars assembled by Matt Qvortrup has produced a deeply thought-provoking collection on the profound constitutional changes that have occurred in the UK over the last twenty years. A book worthy of reaching a very wide readership.'
Roger Scully, Professor of Political Science, Cardiff University

'Vernon Bogdanor understands like few others the connections between history, politics and institutions - and that is what makes him such an authority on the British system of government.'
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister

'I think Vernon's guiding principle at Brasenose was to treat all his students as if they might one day be Prime Minister. At the time, I thought this was a bit over the top, but then a boy studying PPE at Brasenose two years beneath me became Prime Minister.'
Toby Young, The Spectator

Table Of Contents

Author Biographies
Introduction: The British Constitution – Continuity and Change
Matt Qvortrup
1 The Changing Constitution in Context
David Butler
2 Constitutional Reform Since 1997: The Historians' Perspective
Mike Finn and Anthony Seldon
3 The Constitution and the Public – How Voters Forgot the Constitution
Peter Riddell
4 'Let Me Take You to a Foreign Land': The Political and the Legal Constitution
Matt Qvortrup
5 The Politics-Free Dimension to the UK Constitution
Dawn Oliver
6 Constitutional Conventions
David Feldman
7 Continuity and Change in Constitutional Conventions
Joseph Jaconelli
8 'The Three Hundred and Seven Year Itch': Scotland and the 2014 Independence Referendum
Stephen Tierney
9 Constitutional Change and Parliamentary Sovereignty – the Impossible Dialectic
Richard Gordon QC
10 Queen Elizabeth II and the Evolution of the Monarchy
Robert Blackburn
11 Constitutional Justice and Constitutional Politics in France
Denis Baranger


“...a must read [which] deserves a place on the bookshelf of any novice or experienced constitutional explorer.” –  Dr Louise Thompson, Democratic Audit

“The British constitution is both ever-present and deeply mysterious in our politics, deep-rooted and in constant flux: Bogdanor once told the Guardian that he had 'made a loving out of something that doesn't exist'. Fortunately the contributors to this serious book were persuaded to suspend their disbelief and have provided an impressive set of chapters, discussing issues as varied as Scottish independence, the changing role of the monarchy, and the development of constitutional conventions.

...the emphasis on the contested aspects of the constitution – its development and reform – rather than on dry textbook descriptions make for a work which is surprisingly challenging and, in places, trenchant.

...if you have a serious interest in the recent development of the constitution, and want an understanding of the way Britain is governed which doesn't start and end with Dicey, this book will reward your curiosity.

” –  David Green, Progress

“The volume makes for enjoyable reading [and] all in all, [it] is a good book. Exploring the ideas of continuity and change, and considering classic issues of constitutional law through the prisms of other academic disciplines, the book raises new questions on much-discussed issues. The book is an appropriate tribute to Professor Bogdanor's excellent career, and should be considered by all those who have an interest in the workings of the UK's constitution.” –  Philip Murray, Cambridge Law Journal, Volume 73

“Bogdanor condense, avec une simplicite magistrale, les caracteristiques essentielles de la construction britannique” –  Iris Nguyen-Duy, Revue Francaise de droit constitutionnel, Number 3, 2014

“This collection of essays should be enjoyed by anyone who has engaged with the writing of Vernon Bogdanor on the UK constitution. For students, it serves as a helpful commentary on some of Bogdanor's views on the topical constitutional issues in British politics over the past 40 years. For academics, it acts as a highly valuable and highly readable contribution to the scholarly debate about the UK constitution.” –  Peter Munce, Political Studies Review

“Books of essays exist to provoke debate, and The Bristish Constitution will certainly do that...The range and quality of the contributors assembled is impressive...” –  C J S Knight, Law Quarterly Review

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