There have been few significant changes to the British constitution since 1997. Analyse and evaluate this statement.

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‘There have been few significant changes to the British constitution since 1997.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]

There have been many constitutional changes of various significance introduced since 1997, by both the New Labour government (1997 - 2010) and the Conservative - Liberal Democrat Coalition government (2010 - 2015). By examining a number of key areas we can assess how successful these changes have been, as well as the possible need for further constitutional reform.

One type of constitutional change is that of democratisation, which could be seen as being unsuccessful due to the lack of engagement by the British public. For example, in 2000 the Local Government Act was put into place by the New Labour Government which gave power to local authorities in order to promote economic, social and environmental well being within their boundaries but crucially to introduce directly elected mayors. This may sound reasonable in theory, but in practice it was largely unsuccessful; the majority of cities have rejected this proposal. For example, in 2016 Torbay voted to get rid of the position after approving it in 2005 and 62.5% instead chose to have a leader and cabinet system. The turnout in most of these referendums has generally been atrocious, showing that perhaps people just don’t care too much about local government - only 15% of the electorate voted in the mayoral election in Middlesbrough in 2013. Therefore, surely it would make more sense to have people more informed on and involved with the issues of the locality voting on the leader rather than the general public who, quite clearly, aren't all that bothered? The poor turnout in these types of elections shows the uselessness and thus insignificance of this type of constitutional reform.

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However, you could argue that despite a few problems in smaller and less populated areas, democratisation on the whole has been largely successful. People in larger cities have more autonomy over the way they are governed, and the elections for Mayor of London have had increasingly higher voter turnouts with 42% voting in the 2021 election which Labour candidate Sadiq Khan won. In 2017, prominent Labour politician Andy Burnham was elected as the Mayor of Manchester, with 573,543 people participating. These posts are not ceremonial and they do effect change, proving that these types of positions are necessary for ...

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