Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Hidden Treasures

A subsidiary aspect of my current research concerns the influence that Parties have on their Members' actions. It's a subject upon which much has been written - and a matter that many people express concern about. It's pretty important to my research - because whips are usually the people tasked with ensuring that party influence is effective. Some academics have argued that parties and leaders have a minimal impact on legislators' behaviour. If that is so - and I'm carefully thinking about the arguments used - then whips are, to use Bagehot's language - one of the "dignified" parts of the Constitution ('one to excite and preserve the reverence of the population’) rather than an "efficient" part. (which ‘employs that homage in the work of government’).

Back in 1901 Professor Lawrence Lowell published "The influence of parties upon legislation in England and America". I've come across many references to this groundbreaking work, but had never seen the original. I did look for copies on sale - and the average price was about £15, many of which would be printed specifically for the purchaser. That got me thinking - are digital copies available to download for free? Indeed. I found a copy scanned in by the University of California Libraries on The Internet Archive.

There are lots of hidden treasures available on the internet. Project Gutenberg allows you to down free ebooks to an iPad, Kindle or Android.

(Lowell's book is available here)

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