Constitutional reform
in Understanding British and European political issues

This chapter presents a review of constitutional reform before 1997 and provides an analysis of the reasons behind the Labour reform plan of 1997. Labour had attempted to introduce devolution in the late 1970s but had been foiled by a combination of many factors. The jewel in New Labour's constitutional crown was undoubtedly devolution. However, the introduction of a codified set of rights and reform of the House of Lords followed close behind. New Labour pledged to make reforms to the House of Commons in order to modernise it. The chapter includes a brief description of the events surrounding the introduction of the Human Rights Act. Both the Labour and Liberal parties have long since espoused the cause of electoral reform in the UK. The abolition of the Greater London Council (GLC) by Margaret Thatcher's government was a bitter experience for the Labour party and it left a lasting scar.

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