The Constitution Unit


Meg Russell contributes to new book, 'The Conservative Effect 2010–2024'

27 June 2024

Constitution Unit Director Meg Russell has written a chapter on 'Government, Parliament and the Constitution' in Anthony Seldon and Tom Egerton’s new book, 'The Conservative Effect 2010–2024: 14 Wasted Years?', published today.

A cropped version of the front cover of The Conservative Effect 2010–24.

Buy The Conservative Effect 2010–2024

Read a summary of Meg Russell's contribution

The UK has had five prime ministers since 2010, all Conservative. But what has changed for the better or worse over the past 14 years? This is the question that Anthony Seldon, Tom Egerton and a range of leaders in their fields set out to answer in The Conservative Effect 2010–2024: 14 Wasted Years?, published today, 27 June 2024.

The Director of the Constitution Unit, Professor Meg Russell, is among the various specialists who have contributed chapters to the book. Her chapter, on 'Government, Parliament and the Constitution', summarises the constitutional twists and turns of the past 14 years.

The chapter starts with the domestic context, before reviewing the management of the government machine, parliament (both the House of Commons and Lords) and constitutional standards. It also considers the conflicts over the role of the executive which emerged during this period and an international context of rising populism and 'democratic backsliding'.

Professor Russell argues that much of what happened over the past 14 years was very unconservative, concluding:

While few formal reforms were achieved… Parliament and regulators were weakened, the courts and aspects of the devolution settlement were threatened, and conventions that constrain executive power were quite frequently set aside. In some regards this could be seen as reflecting instincts to return to the 'old' pre-1997 constitution. Had moves in this direction been planned and articulated, and pursued in a transparent way, they might even have been seen as a form of 'conservatism'. But much of what happened between 2010 and 2024 had an effect on government, parliament and the constitution that was very unconservative indeed.

A summary of Professor Russell’s contribution is available on The Constitution Unit Blog. The Conservative Effect 2010–2024 is published by Cambridge University Press and costs £16.99. Further information about the book can be found on the Cambridge University Press website.