Published on 14 November 2022
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Not by design: The erratic evolution of the British constitution since 1997

As the history of the past 25 years illustrates, there has been no want of proposals for UK constitutional reform and much has been enacted. Each of the three main UK political parties – the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats – has, at one time or another, espoused reform programmes; there has been no sustained ideological opposition to change per se.

In spite of this, there has been a marked failure to deliver a coherent and enduring outcome. Why is this so? With no written constitution, there are no set guiderails to marshal constitutional change, either in terms of the process to follow or to force systemic coherence. But the lack of a written constitution is more a symptom than a cause. The way in which constitutional change is managed is ultimately a consequence of political culture.

That is the core issue this paper seeks to address – the relationship between the political process and constitutional change – to seek an explanation as to why constitutional change in the UK has been so inchoate, inconsistent and contingent.

Guest paper: Not by design: the erratic evolution of the British constitution since 1997

Blog: Not by design: the erratic evolution of the British constitution since 1997

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Philip Rycroft

Philip Rycroft

Distinguished Honorary Researcher at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy and POLIS

Philip Rycroft worked in DExEU from March 2017 to March 2019, from October 2017 as its Permanent Secretary. He was responsible for leading the department in all its work on the...

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