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University 18 Yrs + | Constitutional Change

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The Unwritten Constitution – From the 1970s

From the 1970s changes began to happen that brought the traditional constitution into doubt:-

  • From the elections of 1974 the Labour and Conservative parties received a smaller proportion of the vote at general elections and this called into question their right to control a powerful executive. In the 1980s the Thatcher Government was able to push through policies that were highly divisive on the basis of support from 43% of the electorate.
  • Scottish politics was transformed with a growth of Scottish national consciousness and the rise of the Scottish National Party.  As the Conservatives began to lose seats in Scotland despite winning a majority in Parliament the nature of the unitary state was called into question.
  • The importance of the European Union in policy-making in key areas such as the environment and competition policy and the creation of Government Agencies by the Thatcher Government , responsible for detailed policy and implementation,  moved power away from the Central Executive.
  • Society became less deferential  towards politicians and Government and pressure groups, such as Charter 88, promoted the need for democratic reform.
  • As society became more individualistic concern for individual rights grew and cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights showed the limitations of British law.
The build up of these criticisms led the New Labour Government after 1997 to embark on a series of Constitutional Reforms