Tuesday, May 26, 2009

David Cameron Will Need to Beat the 'Forces of Conservatism'

David Cameron's speech this morning, which outlined a whole host of reforms designed to make parliament and the political process more relevant, was a welcome one. It contained some truly radical ideas. In fact, some of them are so radical a lot of commentators are having some difficulty believing he really means it. He is accused of making this speech as a knee jerk reaction to the events of the last two weeks. Fine, if you want to be cynical, you'll believe that. But you ignore the fact that several of the proposals he announced this morning were in Ken Clarke's Democracy Task Force.

What Cameron has done is provide leadership - again - in a way which leaves the other parties trailing in his wake. Even better, he will find that many of his proposals will have cross party support. Jack Straw on Sky News, who had been put up to criticise Cameron, did so in an extremely reluctant manner. Subliminally, he seemed rather impressed at the audacity of some of the measures.

My big fear is that if these proposals are all included in a Conservative manifesto, they will come to grief at the hands of what Tony Blair used to call the "Forces of conservatism". Can you imagine how difficult the crusty clerks in the House of Commons will make it for him? They will resist any change to their centuries old traditions and find 20 good reasons why something cannot be changed. So will the whips. So will the civil service. So make no mistake, David Cameron will have a fight on his hands if he is really determined to effect such radical changes.

I am delighted that he has come round to the idea of Fixed Term Parliaments. In October 2007, together with several others, I set up the Fixed Term website as a reaction to Gordon Brown's dithering over calling an election. We put the case for fixed terms, and if this has been accepted by David Cameron, it's a real step forward. I remain of the view that it is totally improper for a Prime Minister to call an election at the time of his or her own political convenience.

On Saturday I wrote a blogpost called How to Revive Parliament. It contained this paragraph...
When you get elected to the House of Commons any form of career planning goes out the window. You're randomly appointed to standing committees on bills you have no knowledge of or interested in. Indeed, if you do have knowledge of the subject you can be sure you won't be appointed to that committee, because heaven forfend that you should wish to table amendments or make a speech in committee. You role is to sit there for hours, preferably mute, and get on with your constituency correspondence, while the front benches do their pre-arranged stuff through the "usual channels". It's this which needs to change as lies at the heart of what's wrong with parliament today.

So when Cameron says he wants to end the "pliant" role of Parliament by giving MPs free votes during the consideration of bills at committee stage and to decide the timetable of bills, forgive me if I let out a little cheer. It's also good that he wants backbench MPs to choose the chairmen of standing committees and members of select committees.

But the one thing which he has announced which will meet firm opposition from Whitehall is to transfer competence for many areas away from Whitehall and back to local government. Just wait for the turf war battles on that one.

Read Camerons's speech HERE.

58 comments:

stuart said...

I'd like to see a new fairer voting system, but this is good stuff from Cameron and will improve our democracy.

I never fail to be astounded by the silence and lack of action from Brown. I mean, where is he? What have we heard from him in recent days? Maybe we'll see him at some point emerge to pin medals on the uniforms of small boys before disappearing once again into Downing Street.

VotR said...

Good luck to him.

At this point, Labour just need to go. If the Tory's make a hash of it if and when they are back in power, then that can be dealt with then.

But for now: Gordon & co, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

upbeatskeptic said...

Isn't it an irony that to make these things happen Mr. Cameron will have to use precisely those powers which, he claims, he wishes to gradually diminish. That is, to be able to push power 'downwards and outwards' Dave will probably, in light of the presumed resistance he will face from all quarters, have to assume as much power over Parliament as any individual PM has in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Agree with fixed terms. How about fixed number of terms for re-elected MPs as well - say maximum of four parliamentary terms, to be generous, for any person in parliament. Can't help thinking when I see the likes of the Wintertons that they had been around too long. I'm sure they've done some good things for their constituencies but inevitably people can get complacent.

Mike Thomas said...

Can you imagine how difficult the crusty clerks in the House of Commons will make it for him? They will resist any change to their centuries old traditions and find 20 good reasons why something cannot be changed. So will the whips. So will the civil service. So make no mistake, David Cameron will have a fight on his hands if he is really determined to effect such radical changes.How did they get Capone? Get some former civil servants on your side, get the inside track and then start making these 'vested self-interest' roles redundant and sack them. Those that are left, redefine their role, make them reapply and downgrade their pension to money purchase while they are at it too.

I don't think the public will be that bothered that a jobsworth gets the boot.

What is always guaranteed to raise the ire of the public is pointless the petty officialdom.

If Cameron starts wielding the knife and cutting back the size of the State I'm sure the public will be cheering on.

Anonymous said...

I think it is vital that more power is devolved to local governemnt and local governement is more accountable. That is one of the key differences between the USA and Europe. The US believes in small, local and accountable government; Europe believes in big, central and unaccountable governement. We must adopt the former.

Man in a Shed said...

There is a problem with all this.

Its no good arguing that MPs don't pay enough attention to their electors when you propose policies you haven't asked your party about.

Don't get me wrong - I think David Cameron is doing a fine job, I just don't ever remember hearing discussion of all this before or as a party member being asked.

Anonymous said...

Compare and contrast a speech by Cameron and Brown. Cameron is so interesting to listen to, but Brown just bores me silly repeating the same old rubbish. After a couple of minutes, I've had enough.

Plato said...

Cameron is making an excellent fist of this - I was open-mouthed when I read what he was planning to say in the Guardian.

He is getting a kicking in the comments there but no surprise there.

And where is Brown? It's like he's already on gardening leave.

Max Atkinson said...

It's all very well for Jack Straw to sound 'oh so reasonable' about constitutional reform on the World at One. But it was Blair, Brown, Straw & Co who so dismally failed to bite the bullet when it came to doing something sensible about the House of Lords.

Britain will never be able to take pride in its democracy so long as the House of Lords remains an unelected depositary for sundry cronies, bishops, superannuated MPs and former leaders of Blackburn Council.

Victor, NW Kent said...

So this young twit thinks it a good idea to vote for UKIP, a party that can never have any influence on the EU, even if its elected MEPs bothered to attend.

"We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, pass a law requiring a referendum to approve any further transfers of power to the EU, negotiate the return of powers, and require far more detailed scrutiny in Parliament of EU legislation, regulation and spending.

And we will introduce a British Bill of Rights to strengthen our liberties, spell out the extent and limit of rights more clearly, and ensure proper democratic accountability over the creation of any new rights".

georgeorwellslittlesister said...

Stuart, what a wonderful picture you've painted.
It's a wet and windy afternoon; I've done my fair share of leaflet deliveries for today, so I've earned the right to hunker down and watch "Downfall" again.
And talking of the invisible - where art thou, Tone?
In the bunker giving advice, or holed up in a country lacking an extradition treaty with Britain?

Newmania said...

There real problem of the non representation goes un addressed though
Only 20% are Unionised and they are all Public Sector serfs , they have access to power though the Unions and the routes forged form the Labour Representation committee onwards . At the time the industrial working class was “Ordinary” . It no longer is accounting for only 16 % of output.
The same job of representation the early Labour Party did for ordinary people has to be done again. Where are the Estate Agents , Hairdressers , Builders , and Insurance Brokers ( largest Employer in the South and not a one ), where are the ordinary people ?

On the internet increasingly and naturally raging at the hypocrisy of establishmen . I have great difficulty imagining David Cameron supprting any real change to the People in Parliament , just the colour they happen to be.

Might be worng where can one read his suggestions in full ?

Anonymous said...

Could the man stop talking in a collection of soundbites. Perhaps he needs to realise that joined up thinking may actually need a fwe joined up and connected sentences.

Tomfiglio said...

How can handing back power to the kind of loud-mouth thickos that make up the councils here in South Yorkshire be a good thing? They're never held to account by the sheep who vote for them, and blame central government when things go wrong. It will just lead to southern taxpayers pouring even more money into areas of the north that refuse to stand on their own two feet.

Simon Lewis said...

Fraid the forces may be in the Tory party as well against this change. The centralisation of power came about in the 80s and it should never have happened then. I also do not believe that we will get fixed term parliaments. No way will that get support in the Tory party, it will never get through. I also do not believe in it as you may get a govt losing it's majority and you can get paralysis for a number of years.

Working Class Tory said...

I'm afraid I don't agree with fixed term parliaments at all. Obviously if it became law, you couldn't reverse it, because it would be such a fundamental change to our constitution.

My reasoning is:
1. The ability for a Prime Minister to call an election whenever he or she wants keeps the Opposition on its toes, always trying to formulate good policy. This is in contrast to an approach where by Opposition parties would only need to introduce popular policies in the 18 months or so leading up to an election, and could do what they like at the beginning of each term. This is inherently more democratic as it gives the voter more choice, rather than having an Opposition bereft of solid policies and principles.

2. Conversely, the party in government has the power to call an election whenever they want, and could use it to renew a mandate, or to gain an advantage over the Opposition.
2a). If the party in Opposition is in freefall, it's their look-out and the party in government, whether they be Labour or Conservative, has a right, and indeed a duty to maximise their vote share.
2b). If the ruling party wants to renew, or gain a new mandate, they can do so. Gordon Brown, had he called an election in 2007, would have stood on a fairly admirable platform of improving hospitals and public services etc etc - so it would have given his premiership a mandate, instead of this sorry excuse for an un-elected government.

EnCrYpTeD said...

Cameron's speech sounded great, just what the people of this country want.

The only problem is that it is just words, soundbites. Easy to say when you are not in power.

What will actually happen when the Tory's are elected?

Will Cameron keep his word, or will he like so many before him just keep the status quo and tinker around the edges.

Will we look back in 5 years and look back at promises that meant nothing?

Anonymous said...

Good stuff on fixed term parliaments, Iain.

I say make Magna Carta Day (15 June) the day of all regular elections on a fixed term basis.

Harry said...

Hmmm, I'll believe fixed term Parliaments unbder a Tory administration when I see it.

And dismissing PR out of hand as eltist, even though the Scottish experience shows that a majority of those who voted got the government they wanted and in two cases got the majority of their manifestos, via a colaition deal, too.
Sound sall too self serving to dismiss PR I'm afraid, just as it has been cowardly of Labour to bury theor own Jenkins Report until now.

But to tun a speech that would NEVER have been given, were it not for the expenses scandal at Westminster, into a slating of the EU (as if it has a separate life from teh Governemnts that created and sustain it) and judges, is just silly.

He's needs to look closer to home at stop tilting at those populist windmills in the first instance.

p smith said...

Please. More warm words and nice soundbites which he is very good at. Look carefully though and you will not find a single concrete commitment.

If I can draw a parallel it's like the Lisbon treaty. Cameron wants you have to the impression that he will offer you a vote on it but he won't actually give that commitment.

The true test is this. If Cameron comes into office and does f*ck all about fixed terms, whipped votes and the House of Lords, will he have broken a concrete promise? The answer is no.

pol-e-tics said...

Returning power from Brussels to Britain and from judges to the people are just two ambitions that stretch credibility. And local councillors have suggested to me NOT to put more power in petty councillors' hands.

However, as a political platform to fire the imagination and stir the voters it scores high marks.

Yes, we can

neil craig said...

I'm not sure that truly fixed terms are possible in a Parliamentary as opposed to Predidential system. If the government loses a vote of confidence & another government can't be formed you have to have an election to break the deadlock, The PM can thus choose a dissolution simply by not opposing such a vote.

The big power to the common people issue is PR & I can see Alan Johnson riding it into a 4th term if the Conservatives don't endorse it first.

johnny floating-voter said...

Someone asks where is Gordon, but we all know he is paralysed by the idea of an election.

If, in the wake of June 4th, Johnson gets the chance to run with the PR referendum idea, he will find it is very popular with the electorate.

So will Dave.

Boo said...

Have to say the more I see of this man the more I like.

Of cause with PM handing away power. I will rejoice when it's done.

DC is right to reject PR for the commons. I see what coalitions have done in Europe and do not want it. I also like to know the person representing me.

That being said PR might be useful for the house of Lords as long as it is a strictly a moderating chamber, scrutinising bills and investigating the government. Here PR could be of great value in holding the executive to check.

Blackacre said...

I do not see how de-whipping is enforceable - I am sure any government will find a way of indicating which way it expects its loyal yet independent MPs to vote. No sign of PR - a sure way to a more powerful House with a greater say in what is going on.

Paul Halsall said...

David Cameron today has been hailed for the "leadership" of speech on a new political deal. But he ducked the central crack in his party's internal politicals - the European Union.

Who in the Tory Party is willing to Defend the EU? Charles Clarke seems willing, but the rest of leadership, including Cameron just waffle. Above all, I doubt they want an election now - an election in October after the Irish have approved the Lisbon Treaty would in all probability suit them fine.

I once had some sympathy with the left wing/Bennite critique of the EU - i.e. that it represents a supranational power that cannot properly be controlled withing the parameters of representative democracy because the "European-wide Electorate" does not exist given the language and historical divergences of the Continent.

But now I think a winder historical perspective is worthwhile. After an 1600 year history of more or less continuous warfare, Europe achieved a high degree of peace and stability after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. But that Concert of Europe" was unable to deal the rising power of Germany, which initiated three major wars in 1870, 1914, and 1939.

The European Union has improved on the Concert of Europe by tying the continent together economically, and by spreading and maintaining a human rights agenda which has indeed given minorities protections they lacked in the narrow ethnic Nation-States of the 19th century.

Indeed, it has become one of the major engines of peace, prosperity, and co-operation in world history.

I can quite understand why educated Tories such as Cameron support it, but I find it annoying that neither they nor most Labour politicians will openly praise the EU for what it has achieved. Here all the heavy lifting is done by the LibDems (plus SNP and PC I suppose.)

I am quite willing to have a straight up and down referendum on "staying in Europe/leaving Europe" with a six month serious campaign.

Cameron's refusal to defend an EU that he actually seems to agree with seems to me to indicate his basic weakness as a leader.

http://englisheclectic.blogspot.com/2009/05/david-cameron-leadership-and-european.html

kasou said...

Yes lets have PR, like the EU, more backroom selected M'u 'P 'ets, a few more quangos..then even GB can get a new job when his scottish pals throw him out...WAY TO GO PR or PURE RUBBISH... thats hat we get from the EU..

Oh ...maybe thats what we already have in the UK.........PR----PURE RUBBISH

Johnny Norfolk said...

Those that stand in his way to carry out the clear will of the people should be warned and then sacked if they do not jump to.

Roger Thornhill said...

Cameron's proposals will enlarge government, not shrink it, I suspect.

It is one thing being lorded over by 646 Westminster idiots, but even worse is being lorded over by 64,600 Village Idiots...on your doorstep.

I do suspect that Cameron will be an unwitting stooge (if he is benign) or an out and out traitor (if willing) in handing over more authority to the Regions. Wait for it, for his army of dim-bulb no-nothing "useful idiots" will be persuaded by some Federast to move power to the Regions and let them sort it out.

He will NOT, I repeat NOT be able to relocate ANY powers WHATSOEVER from the EU machine back to the UK UNLESS he leaves the EU. He will not, so any talk is pointless.

So, Cameron is going to move power from Westminster to the Regions (I suspect), who are EU lickspittles and beholden to the Brussels coin while not moving ANY powers back to Westminster.

It will be hollowed out.

Once the process begins, the call for each region to match the Scottish, NI and Welsh Regoinal Assemblies will become incessant - all funded, look you, with OUR money! OUR money used to fund the theft of OUR sovereignty and more of OUR money.

School For Scoundrels, in fact.

james said...

I think Cameron's doing a great job, but I'm afraid I don't agree with him about fixed term parliaments.

Could someone please explain to me the logic of calling for fixed term parliaments whilst simultaneously calling for an early election!? Maybe I'm missing something.

Looking at 'The Case' at fixedterm.org.uk, I see that the argument begins by implying that governments produce generous budgets before elections. Which is all well and good, but surely it would happen with fixed terms too?

Chris Saunders said...

I'm not a cynic but this is a load of poorly thought out bollocks that will enthuse nobody(yourself and ilk excepted).
What I expect from Cameron is tough, decisive leadership, not more of this condescending spin. He's learnt bugger all from the past two weeks and missed a golden opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Working class Tory: Well said. Clear and reasoned.

The Grim Reaper said...

You'd be right - Cameron would have a tough fight getting a lot of these measures through. But it's a fight he must be prepared to take part in.

Let's be having more radical ideas from him, please.

TonyHendo said...

I think one of the big challenges here is sorting out local councils. I have lived in the hardest of hard core Labour areas, the North East, and now live in a hard core Tory area, Surrey, and frankly its difficult to spot the difference.
My local council has increased council tax by above inflation and a neighbouring authority has imposed huge car parking charges for its town centre at the same time as shops are closing leaving the place like a ghost town. The impression is that both councils are being driven by unelected officers, who are paid huge salaries and simply want to milk local businesses and council tax payers to fund their pet projects. The controlling Tory groups are either to lazy to controll the officers or are happy to milk people. We come back to the problem that not enough people vote in local elections and many who can vote don't directly pay to fund the councils. I also suspect the quality of many councillors is poor. Cameron needs a root and branch overall of local authorities and the whole system they operate in before he passes more control and funding to them.

Andrew K said...

@ Paul Halsall

"I once had some sympathy with the left wing/Bennite critique of the EU"

Translation: I was against the EU when that was Party policy.

"But now I think a winder (sic) historical perspective is worthwhile."

Translation: but the Party has changed it's mind, and the Party is infinitely wiser than I am.

"Cameron's refusal to defend an EU that he actually seems to agree with seems to me to indicate his basic weakness as a leader."

Translation: and whatever position the Conservative's take is wrong, even if I have to hedge my bet's a little.

Cynic said...

"But the one thing which he has announced which will meet firm opposition from Whitehall is to transfer competence for many areas away from Whitehall "


...presumably with a real large cut in civil service numbers. That's the real prize - a 20% cut would go a significant way to helping the debt repayments, although many of them would find it difficult to get work elsewhere

Cynic said...

But the problem with this decentralisation reform is that it needs wholesale reform of local government too. We need a wholly new model that will make local politics worthwhile and attract in political talent. Given the average IQ of some local councillors( and their propensity for small town hand in the till cronyism) we need root and branch reform across the entire system.

That could be an election winner. But have the Tories got the balls for it?

ALan

ranger1640 said...

If Dave thinks this will placate public anger over MP's expenses and the separation of politicos form the public, he obviously still isn’t getting it.

We need a mechanism to sack MP’s.

We need an elected upper house.

MP’s need to be given more power to scrutinize government legislation.

We need reform of how the commons works and cut the amount of MP's holidays. No worker in the UK gets 3 months off the gather in the Harvest, like MP’s do!

We need the public to give their input into committees and have there submissions considered.

We require fixed term parliaments.

We need the power to elect chief constables.

We demand the end of absolute laws.

We demand an end to Stealth Taxes.

We demand an end to the Surveillance society CCTV and ID Cards, an end to the E-mail, phone, Text, DNA databases.

We demand we ge a referendum's on the issues above with an independent commission to set the referendum wording!

This would be a start Dave!!!!

Ulster unionist & Conservative

Ulster Till Idie

Glynne said...

We seem to be getting diverted from the Euro Elections.

Wonder if Brown covertly released the expenses to divert the media from his crass mismanagement of our affairs.

However - while Cameron's proposals for making executive power more democratically accessible are welcome.

We were promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Failure to deliver is a key part of the distrust of Brown and our politicians in general.

We need a Referendum to draw the poison - and for many it is the single issue for the Euro elections.

It has become a fundamental measure of honesty for many electors.

Why is Cameron tiptoeing round the issue

Victor, NW Kent said...

Paul Halsall

What Charles Clarke may think about the EU is irrelevant to the Conservative Party.

If Labour is so keen on forcing Cameron's hand over Europe then Brown has the remedy - he can call a General Election, as called for, before the Irish are forced to vote again on what they have already rejected.

And, why are they being forced to vote again? Because their political class considers that those who voted No were the great unwashed, a rabble of no account.

Let us remember that several Labour politicians, not including Charles Clarke, have stated that the Treaty is too difficult for the ordinary folk to vote on as we would not understand it. Rather like Caroline Flint , the Minister for Europe and Brian Cowen, the Irish PM. Neither of those have read it. But they are for it!

javelin said...

BE CAREFUL ...

In the seeds of victory lie the ashes of destruction ....

Thatcher's personal financial legacy was killed off by EU finances under Major. Blair's social spending legacy was killed off by expenses hypocrisy with Brown. It's some thing we volunteer into the ERM or Expense Rules.

You see the pattern of defeat? If it is repeated it will be the abuse of individual democracy by a large scale force that will kill off Cameron's successor.

History will repeat itself.

Simon Gibson said...

The principles of this speech and set of proposals is excellent and I agree with the points you make in 'how to revive parliament' My conceern about it all is this:

The appointment of committees that you highlighted is wrong indeed but the same happens often in local government which makes me wonder if the transfer of power to local government from london will have much positive effect as local government has decayed almost to the point of uselessness.

Paul Halsall said...

Victor,

We already voted FOR the EU in 1973.

And then, when people voted for the Tories in 1983 and 1987.

Councillor Gill Cartwright said...

This happens at local level but at the end of the day the tail does not wag the dog!

Brit.in.Aussie said...

Iain Dale:

We put the case for fixed terms, and if this has been accepted by David Cameron, it's a real step forward. I remain of the view that it is totally improper for a Prime Minister to call an election at the time of his or her own political convenience.And it was only a week ago that Iain Dale was calling for a snap election at a time of the Prime Minister's inconvenience.

Shome mishtake shurely?

You can't have it both ways, Iain. Fixed term parliaments mean that snap elections for any reason are out of the question.

Dimoto said...

Ken Clarke on 4News explained that fixed term would have to include provision for parties losing majorities etc. exceptions.

Anyone who has lived in a country with PR could never make the case for PR to replace FPTP with a straight face. It is a system made for corruption.
But the "fairness argument" would sound dangerously plausible to an unsophisticated referendum electorate.

PR is like constitutional monarchy - once you have it, it's virtually impossible to remove it.
(In times past, a failing dynasty could be replaced by revolution, arrangement, civil war or invitation. Now we are stuck with the Windsors whatever nonsense the future heirlings get up to).

Anonymous said...

term Parliaments are a terrible. here in the State of New South Wales we have fixed Parliaments. this has allowed a grossly corrupt and incompetent Labour Party to hang on to office for 4 terms by manipulation of the news cycle. The last election was in 2007 and somehow Labour managed to con enough people to vote it in again, even though it was quite clear that it was useless. In a few short months the State's finaces collapsed and all manner of scandals arose. But we now have to wait until 2011 before we can turf the bastards out.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

I am generally sympathetic to Cameron's campaign, not from any deep love of being a Conservative, but because he is by far the best chance we have of getting rid of Brown and Labour. Better a punch in the stomach than a garrot around the neck. I don't agree with all his ideas in his speech, but glad to see he's adopted MY proposal for local referenda. Not quite sure how his local planning decisions are going to work - will be at a community council level? Also, why do the Tories go on and on about giving parents / patients etc more choice about where they children are educated or their illness treated? People don't want to be bothered to trawl through a list of league tables to pick the best school/hospital. They just want all of them to be run well, and to go to the nearest, with confidence. And finally, what is the terrible pledge by Cameron to safeguard funding in foreign aid whilst cuts in virtually all other areas will continue? Foreign aid would be top of my list for the spending axe!

Paul Hogan said...

The UK is too big a country to be micro managed from London, Cameron is right in theory to try to create smaller central government, Blair made a good start with devolution but left the biggest part; England out. Create an English Parliament with one chamber and a smaller UK Parliament with 2 houses both elected by whatever means, then review it all again in 10 years! And please can we drop the Queen as head of state?

freethinkeruk said...

Cameron set out some bones of ideas for much needed reform of our weak democratic system but very little flesh and I'm still waiting for a little feeling of can I trust him.

He also failed to mention the biggest hurdle of all that stands in the way of true democracy, the monarchial system. Through this stems unaccountability to the electorate and Prime Ministerial power that neither the people or Parliament would grant him/her. The 'Royal Perogative' cannot be watered down, it must be removed altogether and an elected head of state put in place.

Paul Halsall said...

Iain,

You have some pretty odd readers - i.e. those who think they are Tories and yet attack the monarchy.

Surely the proper role of the Tory party in British politics, in or out of government, must always include defending the monarchy, the establishment of the church, and the political union of the four countries. Since Disraeli at least there has been a strong "One Nation" aspect. Even under Mrs. Thatcher, who had here Jacobin edges, you could not be a Tory if you wanted to engage in a all out attack on the British order.

Some of your readers ought to read Edmnund Burke (yes I know he was a Whig) and his considerations on the effects of revolution

witchling said...

I agree, the monarchy in any capacity and the current honours system of peerages etc is root and branch toadying to autocratic, arbitrary power. It makes no sense to keep any of this in place, it's the anithesis of democracy and foments an environment of systematic abuse.

autumnglory said...

Cameron includes 'from the judges to the people'. Don't we have juries any more then? I think he's getting a bit carried away in parts. (It sounds like his Christmas list - 'oh yes, Santa,and can we get rid of the EC too?'!) I rather think we need judges to conduct judicial reviews to preserve the separation of powers. We need a written constitution, of course, to establish what those powers are. A written constitution would ensure that the powers and duties of the state are clearly defined and open to democratic process and judicial review. It would get rid of the 'nod and wink' mentality of Parliament. The ultimate 'nods and winks' that need to go are the constitutional conventions which give the monarch pretend powers as head of state. This proposed radical constitutional reform must include an elected head of state with real powers amenable to democratic process and judicial review.

Meg Green said...

Parliamentary reform begins at the source. However late we may be in coming to the obvious conclusion, now is undoubtedly the time to finally abolish the British monarchy whose indefensible position has ever been one of unearned and unmerited access to priviledge, wealth, influence and honours at the expense of, and built upon the backs of, those British citizens it would claim to represent and protect. The Windsors have remained conspiculously SILENT during this latest round of expenses scandal because they know too well how their own fingers are openly and unapologetically deeper into the public purse than any MP in Parliament. In fact, the Windsors represent nothing more or less than the pinnacle of established abuse of public trust and resources. How does their love of Country compare to their love of the insular, unaccountable and unjustifiable lifestyle? If they would put Britain first, they would be first forward to open a vigorous and meaningful debate leading to an ELECTED HEAD OF STATE whose voice of genuine leadership would bear the stamp of an authentic British democracy. We get what we settle for - we need a British Republic.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise - electoral reform, and monarchy, firmly off limits. More tinkering around the edges. Plus ├ža change .....

Roger Thornhill said...

At May 26, 2009 8:36 PM , Paul Halsall said...
Victor,

We already voted FOR the EU in 1973.


No we did NOT. The British voted for an economic zone, the EEC, with limited or no transfers of sovereignty and robust veto rights.

Will YOU go the way of David Boothroyd?

Please.

Paul Halsall said...

@Roger Thornhill

You seem to forget the Tory campaigns FOR EUROPE in 1983 and 1987, in which fear of leaving Europe was a major Tory theme.

Perhaps you are too young to remember.

But in most elections since 1979 there have been clear pro-Europe and anti-Europe parties.

People rejected Labour when it was anti-Europe and rejected the Tories when they were anti-Europe.