Citizens and Subjects is an essay on the nature and condition of democracy in Britain at the end of the twentieth century. It looks at the commonly held view that Britain is a model democracy, exposing it as a dangerous myth that inhibits both radical thought and actual constitutional change. The book looks at the tradition of political and constitutional thought in Britain and at contemporary political reality, revealing a wide gulf between the two.
Dr Wright, a respected teacher and academic recently elected a Labour MP, considers Britain's particularly acute form of a general problem of modern government. While the nation thinks of itself as a liberal democracy, its liberalism was in fact in place well before democracy came onto the agenda. From the outset, democracy was seen as a problem by both conservatives and liberals.
Constitutional issues have re-emerged on the political agenda in recent years. Dr Wright discusses the means by which we might move towards a pluralistic, open and participatory democracy; he also argues, however, that practical reforms will not be possible unless they are linked to a new tradition of radical constitutional thought.
`In this gloomy period for those who wish to see the British state modernised, this essay from Tony Wright comes as a refreshing read.' - Financial Times
`Wright … argues persausively for the urgent need to give a "contemporary meaning to the democratic idea" - a meaning that can be articulated in a public philosophy and put to work in political practice'. - Stuart Weir, New Statesman and Society
`… a book that will surely be numbered among the few classic essays on the British constitution.' - Bernard Crick, Political Quarterly
`… a sparkling essay on the problems of the current poitical order… moving upwards and outwards from where Hailsham left off in his Dimbeleby lecture.' - Parliamentary Affairs
`… a highly seminal work on the the most important political problem facing Britain at the end of the twentieth century… should be compulsory reading for all politicians and everyone concerned with their country's future wellbeing. We can expect to hear reverberations from it for many years.' - Representation
`Both students and teachers will find it a thought provoking essay and parts of it have already produced some interesting debates among my own students.' - Talking Politics
`… examines some of the traditionally held views about the nature of British politics and offers some cogent and alarming conclusions.' - Sunday Times
`… this book has caught the breeze that heralds the storms to come.' - Tribune