Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Can Of Worms

Iain Dale and a number of others (collectively the English Constitutional Convention) have co-signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph (here) calling for an English parliament and the resolution of the West Lothian question. I admire the sentiment and understand why calls for constitutional change have arisen. However, simply setting up an English parliament is unlikely to happen without raising a number of other issues.

The constitution of our country has developed over many years and is not enshrined in a single document in the way that it is in the US. In addressing the constitutional issues raised by this group, we are bringing forward the need for one. David Cameron has already called for a separate Bill of Rights and this is part of the same trend. A written constitution will only be as good as the people who draft it. I have absolutely no faith in our politicians to deliver a document that can stand the test of time in the way that the US constitution has, so who would be involved. Clearly, it would have to go to referendum, but who would lead the debate on the issues and how? Can we avoid anything other than a messy compromise? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

While we are debating a written constitution, there are three other areas that will be obvious and likely areas for debate. The first will be the role of the monarch, the second will be the electoral system and the third will be the Union. I welcome this debate and I think there is much that is wrong with the political system, but let's be clear that any changes will be sweeping.

So, let's open the constitutional can of worms, but we need to beware of the consequences.

1 comment:

Voyager said...

The first will be the role of the monarch

and just where is The Stone of Scone ?

John Major already caused that problem !