Charter 88 and the Constitutional Reform Movement: A Retrospective

Posted: 5 Oct 2009

See all articles by David Erdos

David Erdos

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; Trinity Hall

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.

Suggested Citation

Erdos, David, Charter 88 and the Constitutional Reform Movement: A Retrospective (October 2009). Parliamentary Affairs, Vol. 62, Issue 4, pp. 537-551, 2009. Available at SSRN: or

David Erdos (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom


Trinity Hall ( email )

University of Cambridge
Trinity Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1TJ
United Kingdom

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