Politics class: The UK’s flexible constitution has had its day
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.
AQA Component 1, Section 184.108.40.206: The nature and sources of the British Constitution
Edexcel Component 2, Section 1.4: The Constitution: debates on further reform
Background: what you need to know
The article argues that the UK constitution’s well-known flexibility is not as advantageous as it is often depicted. Instead, the uncodified nature of the constitution allows governments to change the rules of the system to suit themselves.
It highlights several examples: the ongoing examination of the judiciary’s ability to review executive actions; the lack of clarity surrounding the responsibility of ministers for policy; and the planned abolition of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.
Click to read the articles below and then answer the questions:
Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1
‘The UK’s uncodified constitution is no longer fit for purpose.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]
Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2
Evaluate the view that the UK’s uncodified constitution is in need of reform.
In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK politics and core political ideas. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]
TIP: A relevant Component 1 topic is 3.3: Electoral reform analysis. The First Past the Post electoral system often delivers majorities like the one currently enjoyed by Boris Johnson’s government. Together with the flexibility of the uncodified constitution, this enables a powerful government to make sweeping changes to the UK political system.
Graham Goodlad, St John’s College