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At a time when constitutional issues are assuming a greater importance in public life than they have held for perhaps 25 years, it seems a particularly apt moment to re-publish Walter Bagehot's classic analysis of the constitution. Major changes to the constitution are promised by the new Labour government, and the political controversy over these suggests that changes generated during the 1997 election campaign have thrust critical analysis of the constitution once more into the limelight.
The English Constitution provides the most lucid and readable account of what has been termed the 'Golden Age' of the nineteenth century constitution, before the advent of universal male suffrage and the rise of party as the overriding force in the British polity. Despite being strongly rooted in its time, Bagehot's work can still provide us with fascinating insights into the basic nature of the constitution and its organic connections with the society within which it functions. In sketching connections between class and political systems, in its use of ideology, in what we would now term its interdisciplinary approach, Bagehot's study provides insights and analysis of sometimes startling modernity.
In this new Introduction, Gavin Phillipson provides a fresh and distinctly contemporary appraisal of Bagehot's famous work. The Introduction clearly elucidates how the actual workings of the constitution have changed since Bagehot's time but powerfully illuminates the strong continuing value and contemporary relevance of his analysis.
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Table of Contents
Advertisement; 1. The cabinet; 2. The pre-requisites of cabinet government; 3. The monarchy; 4. The monarchy (cont.); 5. The House of Lords; 6. The House of Commons; 7. On changes of ministry; 8. Its supposed checks and balances; 9. Its history, and the effects of that history; Appendix.