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The most radical aspect of new Labour's election manifesto was constitutional reform. This programme included devolution to Scotland and Wales, incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law, the promise of a referendum on proportional representation for elections to the House of Commons, the removal of hereditary peers from the House of Lords, a Freedom of Information Act, and the possibility of an elected mayor for London.
The books under review may be divided very roughly into the descriptive and the prescriptive. In the latter category, we have some books which present their authors' proposals for constitutional change. Two of these are academic, Vernon Bogdanor's Power and the People and the Constitution Unit's Human Rights Legislation, and one from a man of affairs, entitled The Voice of the People. The last of these authors is Robert Alexander, the former barrister turned chairman of one of our major high street banks. As one might imagine Bogdanor is rather more analytic. He goes into great detail over varieties of proportional representation, which I suspect might be too much for the general reader who is meant to be the target reader. The range of issues covered by Bogdanor is narrower than that of Lord Alexander. Their themes are, however, the same -- empowering the people.
One might expect a lawyer to advocate the incorporation of the political and civil …