Citizens and Subjects is an essay on the nature and condition of democracy in Britain at the end of the twentieth century. It looks at the commonly held view that Britain is a model democracy, exposing it as a dangerous myth that inhibits both radical thought and actual constitutional change. The book looks at the tradition of political and constitutional thought in Britain and at contemporary political reality, revealing a wide gulf between the two.
Dr Wright, a respected teacher and academic recently elected a Labour MP, considers Britain's particularly acute form of a general problem of modern government. While the nation thinks of itself as a liberal democracy, its liberalism was in fact in place well before democracy came onto the agenda. From the outset, democracy was seen as a problem by both conservatives and liberals.
Constitutional issues have re-emerged on the political agenda in recent years. Dr Wright discusses the means by which we might move towards a pluralistic, open and participatory democracy; he also argues, however, that practical reforms will not be possible unless they are linked to a new tradition of radical constitutional thought.