Martin Loughlin

Martin Loughlin’s most recent book is The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction.

Breaking Point: Militant Constitutionalism

Martin Loughlin, 25 April 2024

In​ 1831, a young French aristocrat, charged by his government with reporting on American prison conditions, spent the year travelling in the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville’s inquiries into the penitentiary and its ideological underpinnings led him also to think about the character of the political regime. He published his reflections as Democracy in America (1835). Tocqueville...


A ‘Hurrah’ Word

13 April 2023

Stephen Sedley’s review of my book Against Constitutionalism focuses on a series of prominent political controversies – from a Trump-engineered US Supreme Court to Modi’s policies in India and Netanyahu’s in Israel – in order to raise a warning (LRB, 13 April). ‘Who can say with confidence that such things couldn’t happen here?’ he asks, impressing on us the vital importance of...

Through​ a failure of statecraft on a scale unmatched since Lord North lost the American colonies, David Cameron has managed to convert a problem of party management into a constitutional crisis. The result of the EU referendum raises serious constitutional issues which haven’t been properly confronted. The media are now comfortably immersed in the political consequences of the result...

Active, Passive, or Dead? Sovereignty

Martin Loughlin, 16 June 2016

In the run-up​ to the EU referendum, the Leave campaign has struggled to win the argument about jobs, prosperity, the value of the pound in your pocket and world peace, but has felt on safer ground invoking the threat to sovereignty. Yet the Leavers’ confident use of the term masks its ambiguity. We understand that Parliament and not the reigning monarch is sovereign, in the sense...

Short Cuts: Tax Credits

Martin Loughlin, 19 November 2015

On 26 October​ the House of Lords considered the government’s new tax credit regulations. A motion to reject them was defeated, an unremarkable event, but then the Lords went on to delay further consideration of the regulations until transitional protections for adversely affected low-income families had been adopted. Suddenly we had a ‘constitutional crisis’ provoked,...

Cloudy Horizon: Constitutional Business

Stephen Sedley, 13 April 2023

It would be naive to ignore the vulnerability of an organic constitution such as the UK’s to capture or erosion from within, when government contempt for both constitutional propriety and legality is...

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Beware Kite-Flyers: The British Constitution

Stephen Sedley, 12 September 2013

The constitution is both a description of how we are governed, and a prescriptive account of how we ought to be governed; in both respects it undergoes constant change.

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