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The Rejection of Rational Deference (1973–1997)

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Abstract

It is in the 1970s that constitutional discussion comes to the forefront, first because of the constitutional consequences of the United Kingdom joining the EEC in 1973, and second because of the belief that a codified document would be better able to control a domineering executive. The role of the judiciary grew at the same time, mainly in response to the void left by the rejection of deference and because the idea of a codified document slowly took hold. If each of these changes was normal in democratic countries, in Britain this meant that the mechanisms of the constitutional monarchy were exposed to daylight, removing Bagehot’s shrouds of mystery one after the other.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Elliott and Atkinson (1998, p. 53).

  2. 2.

    Norton (1986, pp. 24–25).

  3. 3.

    Hickey (1977, p. 1).

  4. 4.

    Scarman (1974).

  5. 5.

    Hailsham (1976).

  6. 6.

    The Social Democratic Party was founded in 1981 by four members of the Labour Party (Shirley Williams, David Owen, Roy Jenkins and William Rodgers) who were disillusioned with the very left-wing leadership of Michael Foot. The SDP merged with the lingering Liberals to become the Liberal Democrats in 1988. One of the Liberal Democrats’ main aims was to achieve electoral and constitutional reform and to defend the European membership of the United Kingdom.

  7. 7.

    For a summary of the ideas and legacy of Charter 88, see Erdos (2009).

  8. 8.

    Norton (1986, pp. 24–25).

  9. 9.

    Press conference given by General de Gaulle, 14 January 1963, http://www.cvce.eu/obj/press_conference_held_by_general_de_gaulle_14_january_1963-en-5b5d0d35-4266-49bc-b770-b24826858e1f.html, accessed 23 February 2017. The video of the press conference can also be seen at: http://fresques.ina.fr/de-gaulle/parcours/0004/de-gaulle-et-l-europe.html, accessed 23 February 2017.

  10. 10.

    Speech by Hugh Gaitskell against UK membership of the Common Market, 3 October 1962. See http://www.cvce.eu/content/publication/1999/1/1/05f2996b-000b-4576-8b42-8069033a16f9/publishable_en.pdf, accessed 23 February 2017, p. 7.

  11. 11.

    Tomkins (2003a, p. 23).

  12. 12.

    Bogdanor (2009, p. xii).

  13. 13.

    Tomkins (2003a, p. 118).

  14. 14.

    Kavanagh (1971, pp. 333–360).

  15. 15.

    The three main books which came out at the time were: Jessop (2011), Moore (1976), and Newby (1977).

    The following articles (some already mentioned previously) published in the 1970s were as important as the three books mentioned: Ray (1972), Newby (1972), Bell and Newby (1973), Newby (1975), Spring (1976), Pocock (1976), Davis (1976b), and Fisher (1981).

  16. 16.

    On Heath see Kellner (2009, p. 438). On the Financial Times, see Joe Rogaly, ‘Society Today’, Financial Times, 17 March 1976..

  17. 17.

    Joe Rogaly, ‘Society Today’, Financial Times, 17 March 1976.

  18. 18.

    Some thinkers, such as Newby, saw that there was something too drastic in Kavanagh’s desire to get rid of deference altogether as a tool of political analysis.

  19. 19.

    Newby (1975, p. 141).

  20. 20.

    Newby (1977, p. 415).

  21. 21.

    Ibid., pp. 416–417.

  22. 22.

    Newby (1975, p. 145).

  23. 23.

    Ibid., p. 149.

  24. 24.

    Bogdanor (2009, pp. 50–310). The European Communities Act of 1972 may be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/68/section/2, accessed 4 March 2017.

  25. 25.

    To be clear here, one has to remember that European Community law is enforced by the European Court of Justice (in Luxemburg) whereas the European Convention on Human Rights is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights (in Strasbourg). The two are separate: the United Kingdom signed the European Convention on Human Rights at the beginning of the 1950s and was one of its chief instigators, while the United Kingdom joined the EEC in 1973.

  26. 26.

    Factortame is the name given to a number of cases related to the rights of a group of Spanish fishing companies to trawl in British waters recognised in community law but in contradiction with the British Merchant Shipping Act of 1988. The House of Lords which ended up hearing the appeal, acted according to the European Communities Act of 1972 which ruled that UK courts had to enforce community law. The law lords decided to suspend the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act. This meant that a statute of the UK Parliament was set aside by the courts—which was a challenge to Dicey’s principle of parliamentary sovereignty. Factortame has given rise to countless studies some believing that it was all but a scrapping of the doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament, others, attempting to explain that the House of Lords had only acted as a court following Community law—meaning that the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act had only be set aside in community law and not in English law. For two opposing accounts see Wade (1996) and Tomkins (2003a, pp. 112–120).

  27. 27.

    On whether or not parliamentary sovereignty was fundamentally affected by the European Communities Act of 1972, Tomkins makes a clear case that it was not: Tomkins (2003a, pp. 108–120). Vernon Bogdanor takes a much less definite view, stating that the European Communities Act did have ‘fundamental implications for the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty’ (Bogdanor 2009, p. 273).

  28. 28.

    Bogdanor (2009, p. 273).

  29. 29.

    Crossman (1972, pp. 105–106).

  30. 30.

    In 1973, a specific referendum had taken place in Northern Ireland on whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom—the ‘Northern Ireland border poll’—but the referendum had not taken place over the whole of the United Kingdom. See the analysis of the solicitor Graham Wheeler on the following blog: Wheeler (2017).

  31. 31.

    Bogdanor (2009, p. 173).

  32. 32.

    Margaret Thatcher, EEC Membership (Referendum), HC Deb 11 March 1975 vol 888 cc291–408, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1975/mar/11/eec-membership-referendum, cc. 315, accessed 7 March 2015.

  33. 33.

    Ibid., cc 308, accessed 7 March 2017.

  34. 34.

    Ibid., cc 309.

  35. 35.

    Ibid., cc 317.

  36. 36.

    In the end, 67.2% of the nation (with a 64.5% turnout) voted in favour of remaining a member of the EEC in 1975.

  37. 37.

    Gliddon (2016).

  38. 38.

    Margaret Thatcher, EEC Membership (Referendum), HC Deb 11 March 1975 vol 888 cc291–408, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1975/mar/11/eec-membership-referendum, cc 311, accessed 8 March 2017.

  39. 39.

    Margaret Thatcher, ‘What’s wrong with politics’, Conservative Political Centre, Blackpool, 11 October 1968, http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=101632, accessed 8 March 2017.

  40. 40.

    Ibid.

  41. 41.

    Ibid., Thatcher’s italics.

  42. 42.

    Cannadine (2000, pp. 171–180).

  43. 43.

    Margaret Thatcher, ‘Speech to the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies (“Let Our Children Grow Tall”)’, 15 September 1975, New York, http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=102769, accessed 28 March 2017.

  44. 44.

    Thatcher (1993, pp. 10–11).

  45. 45.

    Margaret Thatcher, ‘ITV Interview for London Weekend Television Weekend World (“Victorian Values”)’, 16 January 1983, http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/105087, accessed 15 March 2017.

  46. 46.

    Thatcher (1993, p. 10).

  47. 47.

    Ibid., p. 11.

  48. 48.

    Cannadine (2000, pp. 174–175).

  49. 49.

    ‘You were taught to work jolly hard, you were taught to improve yourself, you were taught self-reliance, you were taught to live within your income, you were taught that cleanliness was next to godliness. You were taught self-respect, you were taught always to give a hand to your neighbour, you were taught tremendous pride in your country, you were taught to be a good member of your community. All these are Victorian values.’ Thatcher cited in: Campbell (2001/2004, vol. 2, p. 182).

  50. 50.

    Thatcher referred to the ‘Suez syndrome’ of defeat. See Thatcher (1993, p. 8).

  51. 51.

    Cannadine (2000, p. 179).

  52. 52.

    Thatcher (1993, p. 8).

  53. 53.

    Ibid., p. 15.

  54. 54.

    Ibid., p. 10.

  55. 55.

    Marquand (2008, p. 324).

  56. 56.

    Cannadine (2000, p. 173).

  57. 57.

    Hailsham (1976) in Kellner (2009, p. 470).

  58. 58.

    Ibid., p. 469.

  59. 59.

    Gamble (1995, p. 12).

  60. 60.

    Marsh and Rhodes (1992).

  61. 61.

    Gamble (1995, p. 13).

  62. 62.

    Johnson (1977, p. 1).

  63. 63.

    Mount (1992, p. 218).

  64. 64.

    Ibid., p. 256.

  65. 65.

    Ibid., p. 265.

  66. 66.

    The ten points of the manifesto were the following: ‘Enshrine by means of a Bill of Rights, such civil liberties as the right to peaceful assembly, to freedom of association, to freedom from discrimination, to freedom from detention without trial, to trial by jury, to privacy and to freedom of expression; Subject executive powers and prerogatives, by whomsoever exercised, to the rule of law; Establish freedom of information and open government; Create a fair electoral system of proportional representation; Reform the upper house to establish a democratic, non-hereditary second chamber; Place the executive under the power of a democratically renewed Parliament and all agencies of the state under the rule of law; Ensure the independence of a reformed judiciary; Provide legal remedies for all abuses of power by the state and by officials of central and local government; Guarantee an equitable distribution of power between the nations of the UK and between local, regional and central government; Draw up a written constitution, anchored in the idea of universal citizenship, which incorporates these reforms.’ See Erdos (2009).

  67. 67.

    Scarman (1974).

  68. 68.

    Ibid., pp. 9–27.

  69. 69.

    Ibid., pp. 28–68.

  70. 70.

    Ibid., p. 1.

  71. 71.

    Ibid., p. 88.

  72. 72.

    Ibid., p. 15.

  73. 73.

    Marquand (2008, p. 334).

  74. 74.

    Nairn (1979, p. 49). See also Nairn (1977, pp. 3–61).

  75. 75.

    Ibid.

  76. 76.

    Ibid.

  77. 77.

    Marquand (1988).

  78. 78.

    Hutton (1996).

  79. 79.

    Barnett (1997).

  80. 80.

    Loughlin (2013, p. 12).

  81. 81.

    Rustin (2009).

  82. 82.

    Scarman (1974, pp. 81–82).

  83. 83.

    The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into domestic law through the Human Rights Act of 1998.

  84. 84.

    Michael Oakeshott, ‘Rationalism in Politics’ (1947) in Oakeshott (1991, p. 41).

  85. 85.

    Michael Oakeshott, ‘Political Education’ (1951) in Oakeshott (1991, p. 61).

  86. 86.

    Ibid., p. 62.

  87. 87.

    See his footnote in the essay on ‘Political Education’ in which he refuses the label that his ideas have ‘mystical qualities’. Ibid., p. 61.

  88. 88.

    Ibid., p. 62.

  89. 89.

    The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act of 2010 incorporated into law most of the ideas at the core of the Civil Service Code of 1996. See the present civil service code: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-code/the-civil-service-code, accessed 24 March 2017. See also the present Ministerial Code, with a foreword by Theresa May, which can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/579752/ministerial_code_december_2016.pdf, accessed 24 March 2017.

  90. 90.

    See also Loughlin (2013, pp. 40–41).

  91. 91.

    Billig (1992).

  92. 92.

    Brendon (1986), Wilson (1989a), Nairn (1988), and Haseler (1993).

  93. 93.

    Nairn (1988, p. 126).

  94. 94.

    Ibid., p. 54.

  95. 95.

    Tom Nairn cited by Arblaster (1994, p. 127).

  96. 96.

    One cannot help remarking that even rebel groups with a propensity for self-mutilation and outrageous lyrics end up being swallowed up by the system in Britain.

  97. 97.

    Bogdanor (1997, pp. 172–173).

  98. 98.

    Vide supra. Newby (1977, pp. 416–417).

  99. 99.

    Newby (1975, p. 145).

  100. 100.

    Andrew Marr gives a good summary of these years and how ‘breaking every taboo left in royal circles, [Princess Diana] freely discussed the breakup of her marriage (‘there were three of us’), attacked the Windsors for their cruelty and promised to be “a queen in people’s hearts”’. Andrew Marr, A History of Modern Britain (2007), London, Pan Books, 2009, p. 517, pp. 516–520.

  101. 101.

    Wilson (1997, p. 141).

  102. 102.

    Prochaska (2001, p. 221).

  103. 103.

    The tribute of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to Diana, Princess of Wales, 31 August 1997, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/politics97/diana/blairreact.html, accessed 26 March 2017.

  104. 104.

    Wilson (1997, p. 142).

  105. 105.

    Prochaska (2001, p. 220).

  106. 106.

    Charles Spencer, Funeral Oration at Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral on 6 September 1997, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/politics97/diana/spencerfull.html, accessed 26 March 2017.

  107. 107.

    Fulcher (1995, pp. 481–502).

  108. 108.

    Aughey (2001, p. 52).

  109. 109.

    Bogdanor (1997, pp. 188–189).

  110. 110.

    Roy Hattersley, ‘Monarchs to Measure’, BBC Radio Four, Analysis programme, 27 May 1993. Also cited in Bogdanor (1997, p. 193).

  111. 111.

    Prochaska (2001, p. 224).

  112. 112.

    Bogdanor (1997, p. 197).

  113. 113.

    Rustin (2009).

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      Marshall, C. (2021). The Rejection of Rational Deference (1973–1997). In: Political Deference in a Democratic Age. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62539-9_8

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