Charter 88 and the Constitutional Reform Movement: A Retrospective
Posted: 5 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 2009
This paper argues that Charter 88 was fundamentally both the product and catalyser of an ‘aversive’ constitutionalist reaction on the Left and Centre of British politics to the perceived excesses of Thatcherite Conservative rule. Alongside this, other longer term, secular trends were also important including the growth of a postmaterialist politics and the intellectual collapse of Marxism. However, although a number of Charter 88's domestic reforms were implemented by New Labour post-1997, the complete closing of this ‘aversive’ constitutional moment shortly afterwards proved fatal to the continued dynamism of this movement. Despite this, both the Charter's vision of a genuinely pluralist democracy in Britain and its legacy of a renewed vitality in constitutional debate remain potent within the contemporary constitutional reform landscape.
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