A sound assessment

May 30, 2003

I take issue on behalf of my co-authors with Vernon Bogdanor's conclusion that our book, Democracy under Blair ("Charter 88 checklist posing as a critique", THES , May 23) breaches the Trades Description Act.

Conducting an assessment of a country's democracy is a judgemental exercise. What is important is that the normative principles of judgement should be transparent and the evidence on which they are based should be sound. Some disagreements with the former, and one or two points where the evidence is less abundant than one might wish, are to be expected, but do not invalidate the exercise.

As part of an international project, the questions we sought to answer have been through a rigorous process of international peer review and do not represent any narrow British agenda, much less a Charter 88 one. Readers should be allowed to judge for themselves.

David Beetham
University of Leeds

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