Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Constitutional Reform

I support both reform of the Upper House and the review which the Boundary Commission has been undertaking to improve the blatantly unfair constitutency boundaries for the House of Commons.

Given the catastrophic economic and fiscal position which the present coalition government inherited from the previous Labour administration, it is unsurprising that this is not top of the public list of concerns, which is headed by bread and butter issues such as the cost of living (especially fuel costs), jobs, and services like the NHS.

However, there is no good time to reform the constitution, but it does need reform.

It is no criticism of the present members of the House of Lords to say that Tony Blair's incomplete "reforms" made the composition of the present chamber indefensible.

Ironically what appears to have happened this summer proves how right the Conservatives were when Blair took most of the hereditary peers out to call for "no stage one without stage two."

Those Labour voices who were serious about reform suggested that the Blair House of Lords was so indefensible that it was bound to be further reformed soon, but Conservatives at the time argued that agreeing reforms was always difficult and we might be stuck with this model for a long time. That was nearly thirteen years ago and the first serious attempt at "stage two" appears to have just failed.

A majority of MPs including most Conservative MPs have consistently voted for reform and it was in the last Conservative manifesto (and those of the other parties) to replace the upper house by a wholly or partly elected upper chamber. Reform of the House of Lords was not a "Lib/Dem" policy, it was supposed to be the policy of all three major parties.

The Clegg proposals were not perfect - a fifteen year term was a bit much, and I detest regional party lists as a system of election, although the open lists proposed were not as undemocratic as the closed party lists introduced by Labour for several kinds of election. But these could and should have been addressed during debate on the bill, and even with these flaws the bill was far preferable to the present system.

I am extremely disappointed that reform has been stalled by an unholy alliance of Conservative rebels and a Labour party which as usual, talked the language of reform while sabotaging it for the most destructive of self-interested sectarian reasons.

I expected nothing better from Ed Miliband - given a range of options you can always rely on Labour to take the worst, and they'll never let you down or display the tiniest atom of principle. Just as John Smith did over Maastrict, Labour have demonstrated that they will fall overthemselves to abandon what they claim to believe if they see the slightest opportunity to damage a non-Labour government no matter how much collateral damage they do to the country.

But I did hope for better from the rebels who, I'm afraid, have played right into Labour's hands. I am sure that Mr Miliband is delighted with himself today, but the rebels should not be.

This is not going to kill the coalition because the country needs this government to last the course in order to finish sorting out Labour's economic mess.

But I hope that everyone in parliament in both the coalition parties will reflect over the summer on what constructive measures can be agreed to re-start the process of reform.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Its difficult to know where to start with this comment. So I guess I can only go in and we will see where we end up.

Firstly, constitutional reform is long overdue in the UK. So we firstly need to figure out who had the right to reform it.

Well it could be the monarch, though as throughout our history the contitution as is was won amongst other things by Magna Carter, establishing that power resides with the people, not the monarch, we can see this would not work.

Lets look to paliament, well here we can see we currently have a represtentetive democarcy system, however, as we do not have a representetive, we only have a party bred pup, who represents a political party not the people, then they are not the right choise either.

So we are left with the only feasible choice, that is We the people. The people are sovereign It is from this self evident fact, we are able to move onwards.

So lets look to constituencys. Well the proprietary rights to change constituency or area borders are the people who reside within that constituency or area. To keep more in with the point here, then the government needs to be changed from a "top down" to a "bottom up" system. Thus the people are able to select which local government should be elected to look after day to day measures.

Of course we still would need a National PM - so great, lets elect one , also lets ensure that they are not also an MP. after all it is the job of parliament to scrutinise the ministers, so you cant possibly have both jobs. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?.

we would also need to ensure that we have a constitutional court to uphold the constitution, and would need to prevent new laws and treaties being back doored into law taking away our power as the people so we would need to ensure no treaty, law or regulation is passed without our permission.

to prevent the type of drastic overspending left to the current government by the last administration then we simply take control of the purse stings. no taxes/ borrowing or spending without consent. This could be simply be an annual referendum on the budget. great - solves that one.

Now I think we are ready for reform so we can now produce a Codified Constitution.


Following that lot then it really no longer matters, the people have taken back the power, which to be honest was never given to Westminster, only stolen. So now well put who ever you like in the upper chamber.