This event has been cancelled.


Much has been written by political scientists - and increasingly by constitutional lawyers - about populism and government. Populism is widely believed to be a reaction to neo-liberalism. But to what end? Is it a movement, an ideology or a leadership style?  To such questions, the literature offers no settled answers; just some themes, not all of which are unique to populism.

In this presentation, Professor Keith Ewing will assess the constitutional implications of the United Kingdom’s populist turn.  In particular, by considering the following key themes and concerns: 

  • electoral manipulation
  • the claim of government to embody the General Will and the problem of competing expressions of popular sovereignty (referendum v representative government)
  • the tendency and justification (if any) of government governing without Parliament
  • an opportunistic relationship to the Rule of Law revealed in disrespect for legal process and human rights.    

This paper is part of a new book project with a working title 'Economic Liberalism, Populism and the Constitution: Power and the Rule of Law in Modern Politics'.

Presenter Biography

Keith Ewing is professor of public law at King’s College London.  His books include:

  • MI5, the Cold War and the Rule of Law (OUP, 2020)
  • Labour Law (2nd ed with Collins and McColgan, CUP, 2019)
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law (17th ed with Bradley and Knight, Pearson, 2018)
  • The Bonfire of the Liberties (OUP, 2010)
  • The Cost of Democracy (Hart, 2007)
  • The Right to Strike (OUP, 1991)
  • The Funding of Political Parties in Britain (CUP, 1987).

Keith has been a visitor at many common law schools, including twice at the University of Queensland.  He formerly taught at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge and currently also teaches into the Melbourne LLM and in Barcelona.  

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