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Rational Switch

Vernon Bogdanor, 17 June 1982

Democracy at the Polls: A Comparative Study of Competitive National Elections 
edited by David Butler, Howard Penniman and Austin Ranney.
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 367 pp., £5.75, March 1982, 0 8447 3403 9
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... It was R. B. McCallum who invented the word ‘psephology’ to describe the study of elections. Yet in 1955 he wrote of the act of voting as the last haven of free choice in an increasingly bureaucratised society, an ultimate redoubt to be defended at all costs against the assault of the social sciences. ‘The secrecy of the ballot, the pencilled cross in the secluded polling booth’, was, he said, ‘the great eleusinian mystery of the democratic state ...

On the Move

Stephen Sedley: Constitutional Moments, 8 October 2009

The New British Constitution 
by Vernon Bogdanor.
Hart, 319 pp., £45, June 2009, 978 1 84113 671 4
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... constitution, because it is always changing, is always new. But the veteran political scientist Vernon Bogdanor goes further. His thesis is that since the election of the Blair government in 1997 the pace and depth of constitutional change have increased to a point where a new shape of the state, though still fuzzy in outline and incomplete in ...
Governing without a Majority 
by David Butler.
Collins, 156 pp., £4.95, May 1983, 9780002170710
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Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution 
by Vernon Bogdanor.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £18.50, May 1983, 0 521 25524 4
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Decade of Dealignment 
by Bo Särlvik, Ivor Crewe, Neil Day and Robert MacDermid.
Cambridge, 393 pp., £27.50, June 1983, 0 521 22674 0
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... around 160 Alliance, 180 Labour and 280 Conservative MPs – and the new books by David Butler and Vernon Bogdanor would have vanished beneath a stampede of eager buyers. As things are, though the distorted election results have robbed them of some of their topicality, they will be very widely and minutely studied by politicians, students of politics and ...


Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... world of Ruling Performance, with David Pannick’s reflections on the English judiciary, or with Vernon Bogdanor’s Encyclopedia of Political Institutions? For one thing, they cast light on the hopes and fears most of us entertain in the face of government activity of all sorts. Realists who think it a considerable achievement to ‘keep the show on ...

Long March

Martin Pugh, 2 June 1983

Renewal: Labour’s Britain in the 1980s 
by Shadow Cabinet, edited by Gerald Kaufman.
Penguin, 201 pp., £2.50, April 1983, 0 14 052351 0
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Socialism in a Cold Climate 
edited by John Griffith.
Allen and Unwin, 230 pp., £2.95, April 1983, 9780043350508
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Liberal Party Politics 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Oxford, 302 pp., £17.50, April 1983, 0 19 827465 3
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... than excluding them still further. The volume of 12 essays on Liberal Party Politics, edited by Vernon Bogdanor, provides the most comprehensive and satisfying recent discussion of the Liberals’ support, organisation, current strategy, ideas and policy. At first sight, it appears more historical and academic than the two other books. Yet although ...

Beyond Proportional Representation

David Marquand, 18 February 1982

The People and the Party System: The Referendum and Electoral Reform in British Politics 
by Vernon Bogdanor.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £20, September 1981, 9780521242073
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... failed to resolve. The most obvious of these contradictions is exposed in masterly fashion in Mr Vernon Bogdanor’s study of the debates over proportional representation and the popular referendum, which have been going on intermittently since the 19th century. The Whig-Radical doctrine of absolute parliamentary sovereignty, which lay at the heart of ...

Can history help?

Linda Colley: The Problem with Winning, 22 March 2018

... least to something halfway productive. In a recent pamphlet on the constitutional ramifications, Vernon Bogdanor has hinted at ways in which Brexit might conceivably have some constructive, albeit unpredictable, effects. As is becoming clear, and as Bogdanor sets out, Ireland represents a major challenge, and not just ...

Highbrow Mother Goose

Colin Kidd: Constitutional Dramas, 22 February 2024

The Cambridge Constitutional History of the United Kingdom 
edited by Peter Cane and Harshan Kumarasingham.
Cambridge, 1178 pp., £160, August 2023, 978 1 108 47421 4
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... with the idea of the popular referendum. Some laws are now recognised to be so fundamental, Vernon Bogdanor suggests, that they require authorisation ‘from the people acting as a third chamber of Parliament’; but, in lieu of an ‘agreed and shared understanding of the British constitution’ in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he ...

Smart Alec

Peter Clarke, 17 October 1996

Alec Douglas-Home 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 540 pp., £25, October 1996, 1 85619 277 6
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... sentiment at such a juncture among the papabile. The old system for choosing a Tory leader, as Vernon Bogdanor has convincingly argued, disguised an efficient purpose behind the dignified euphemisms about waiting for the right name to ‘emerge’. Any system is open to some manipulation; and a master of manipulation like Macmillan was hardly going to ...

A British Bundesrat?

Colin Kidd: Scotland and the Constitution, 17 April 2014

... longer, it seems, is the Act of Union the humble equal of the Dentists Act of 1878. The UK is, as Vernon Bogdanor and Anthony King have recently argued, halfway along the road to a written constitution. But there is still no special recognition of the Treaty of Union which created the British state; no guarantee respecting the status of the component ...

Why Do the Tories Always Have the Luck?

Peter Clarke, 23 February 1995

Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball.
Oxford, 842 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 19 820238 5
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... to its assigned topic; and some go further in staking out challenging interpretations. Vernon Bogdanor, in a combative survey of the selection of the party leader, argues that the Conservatives have always been shrewder in their methods than critics have allowed. In the days when the leader simply ‘emerged’, this reflected a search for ...

The Departed Spirit

Tom Nairn, 30 October 1997

... of the institution. After September, can there be any doubt at all? There are still trusties like Vernon Bogdanor and Clive James who feel that ‘we’ cannot live without the institution, and hence – since this institution is unavoidably genetic – without the well-meaning Charles as a bridge to a brighter future in Prince William’s sun. But such ...

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