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The Coalition and the Constitution

By: Vernon Bogdanor
Media of The Coalition and the Constitution
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Published: 25-03-2011
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 162
ISBN: 9781849461580
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £35.00
Online price : £31.50
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Loren Epson

About The Coalition and the Constitution

`England', Benjamin Disraeli famously said, `does not love coalitions'. But 2010 saw the first peace-time coalition in Britain since the 1930s. The coalition, moreover, may well not be an aberration. For there are signs that, with the rise in strength of third parties, hung parliaments are more likely to recur than in the past. Perhaps, therefore, the era of single-party majority government, to which we have become accustomed since 1945, is coming to an end. But is the British constitution equipped to deal with coalition? Are alterations in the procedures of parliament or government needed to cope with it?

The inter-party agreement between the coalition partners proposes a wide ranging series of constitutional reforms, the most important of which are fixed-term parliaments and a referendum on the alternative vote electoral system, to be held in May 2011. The coalition is also proposing measures to reduce the size of the House of Commons, to directly elect the House of Lords and to strengthen localism. These reforms, if implemented, could permanently alter the way we are governed.

This book analyses the significance of coalition government for Britain and of the momentous constitutional reforms which the coalition is proposing. In doing so it seeks to penetrate the cloud of polemic and partisanship to provide an objective analysis for the informed citizen.

Table Of Contents

1. The General Election of 2010 and the Formation of the Coalition
I . Outcome of the Election
II . A Hung Parliament
III . A Hung Parliament and the Constitution
2. Formation of the Coalition
I . The Politics of Coalition Formation
II . The Electoral Geography of Coalition Formation
3. Governing with a Coalition
I . The Structure of the Coalition
II . Agreements to Differ
III . The Coalition and the Civil Service
I V. Types of Coalition
4. 'England Does Not Love Coalitions'
I . Coalitions in Peacetime
II . Electoral Pacts
III . Grass-Roots Hostility to Coalitions
5. Electoral Reform and the Alternative Vote
I . Reducing the Number of MPs
II . More Frequent Boundary Reviews
III . The Referendum on the Alternative Vote
I V. The Working of the Alternative Vote
V. Some Possible Consequences of the Alternative Vote
6. Fixed-Term Parliaments
I . Experience of Fixed-Term Parliaments
II . Thresholds for Dissolution
III . The Constructive Vote of No Confidence
I V. Effects of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act
7. A New World? Multi-Party Politics and Coalition Government
I . A Series of Hung Parliaments?
II . Consequences of Hung Parliaments
III . A Directly Elected Second Chamber
I V. A Constitution for a Post-Bureaucratic Age

Reviews

“Bogdanor's short and readable critique of proposals such as the alternative vote and fixed-term parliaments is to the high standard one has come to expect from him.” –  Tim L. Oliver, International Affairs, Volume 88, No. 2

“This is a book, which one hopes will be published in paperback so that many students of British politics can have it close at hand. It offers basic information about elections and coalitions to which one will want to turn to, time and again.” –  T. P. Wolf, British Politics Group Quarterly

“... this book offers many interesting insights into the workings of the British constitution, how far the negotiations to create the coalition conform to expected constitutional norms, and how far the government has altered or seeks to alter the constitution.” –  Dr Julie Smith, The Journal of Liberal History, Issue 72

“Professor Bogdanor is an expert in constitutional history so it is no surprise to find that one of the strengths of the book is the depth of its historical comparisons.” –  Roger Smith, JUSTICE Journal

“[Vernon Bogdanor] is undoubtedly a considerable authority on constitutions generally and the British one in particular...this is probably the best short introduction in the bookshops to our current constitutional debates.” –  Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator

“Vernon Bogdanor is the leading academic authority on the strange jumble of customs, laws and myths known as the British constitution. To that role he brings formidable learning, a relentless appetite for sniffing out self-serving humbug and a quiet, but insistent radicalism. He deploys all of these to startling effect in this short book. In form it is an analytical study of the coalition's impact on the constitution; in fact, it is the literary equivalent of a mortar shell fired at the Cameron-Clegg command centre.” –  David Marquand, The Guardian

“Picking his way delicately through this tangled web of constitutional traditions, unspoken arrangements, tacit agreements, political alliances, grudges and festering feuds is constitutional expert Professor Vernon Bogdanor. And there is no more skilled disentangle of a political cat's cradle than Bogdanor. His latest book sheds much-needed light, and a historical perspective, on the potential implications of the UK's first peace-time coalition since the 1930s.” –  Alison Thomas, Public Servant

“This book tells students of British politics all that they need to know about the constitutional implications of the coalition government formed after the 2010 general election.” –  Paul Whiteley, Times Higher Education

“The history, the politics and the future of coalition government, and the implications of AV and the rest of the programme for constitutional reform, are analysed with clarity and insight by Vernon Bogdanor in his indispensable new book, The Coalition and the Constitution” –  David Pannick, The Times

“Bogdanor's excellent study focuses largely on the constitutional implications of the coalition government.” –  Andrew Adonis, New Statesman

“…[Vernon Bogdanor's] political writings are admirably objective and scholarly, and a book he has just published, The Coalition and the Constitution, is no exception.” –  Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph

“The country faces a string of tinkering changes. The unintended consequences will be many. This shrewd, short book explains why.” –  The Economist

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