The English Constitution

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Independently Published, Apr 7, 2020 - 164 pages
Bagehot began his book by saying, in effect: do not be fooled by constitutional theories (the 'paper description') and formal institutional continuities ('connected outward sameness') - concentrate instead on the real centres of power and the practical working of the political system ('living reality'). He dismissed the two theories of the division of powers (between legislature, executive and judiciary) and of 'checks and balances' (between the monarchical, aristocratic and democratic elements of the constitution) as 'erroneous'. What was crucial, he insisted, was to understand the difference between the 'dignified parts' of the constitution and the 'efficient parts' (admitting that they were not 'separable with microscopic accuracy'). The former 'excite and preserve the reverence of the population', the latter are 'those by which it, in fact, works and rules'.

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