© Professor Vernon Bogdanor 2013
Tony Benn has been the most prominent modern spokesman of the movement for participatory democracy. It was he who secured the right of hereditary peers to renounce their titles, the right of the people to vote on membership of the Common Market in the referendum of 1975, and the right of Labour Party members to choose their leader and reselect their MPs. Yet, in the Britain of the 21st century, turnout is lower than it has ever been and the desire to participate seems at a discount, especially amongst the young. Did Benn misunderstand the attitudes of the British people?
This is a part of the lecture series, Making the Weather: Six politicians who shaped our age.
Winston Churchill wrote of Joseph Chamberlain, Colonial Secretary at the beginning of the 20th century, that, even though he never became Prime Minister, he 'made the weather', meaning that he played a crucial role in shaping the political agenda of his day. These lectures discuss six postwar politicians, none of whom became Prime Minister, but who, like Joseph Chamberlain, also made the weather and so helped to shape the age in which we live.
The other lectures in this series are as follows:
Aneurin Bevan and the Socialist Ideal
Iain Macleod and Decolonialisation
Roy Jenkins, Europe and the Civilised Society
Enoch Powell and the Sovereignty of Parliament
Sir Keith Joseph and the Market Economy
Vernon Bogdanor CBE is Emeritus Gresham Professor of Law, current Visiting Gresham Professor of Political History, Research Professor at King's College London, a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Prior to 2010, Professor Bogdanor was a Fellow of Brasenose College and Professor of Government at Oxford University.
He has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Israel and Slovakia. His books include The People and the Party System, Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution, Power and the People, and Devolution in the United Kingdom. He is a frequent contributor to TV, radio and the press and is a sometime special advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities (1982-83), and the House of Commons Public Service Committee. Most recently he was awarded the Sir Isaiah Berlin prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies by the Political Studies Association.
Professor Bogdanor continues his Gresham lectures with a new series for the 2015/16 academic year entitled Political Crises Since 1945.
Professor Bogdanor's previous lecture series' are as follows:
2014/15 Six General Elections
2013/14 Britain and Europe
2012/13 Making the Weather: Six Politicians Who Shaped Our Age
2010/12 Britain in the 20th Century
2007/09 From Roosevelt to Bush: The American Presidency: Transformation and Change
All of Professor Bogdanor's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.