Tag Archives: constitution

Lord William Wallace writes: How do we renew our battered democracy?

This is as huge a constitutional crisis as anyone could imagine. A Prime Minister without a parliamentary majority has attempted to avoid parliamentary scrutiny by closing Parliament for all but the last two weeks before we are due to leave the EU, with or without a deal.

The Supreme Court has defended the sovereignty of Parliament against a Prime Minister who lacks a parliamentary majority. Lady Hale’s judgement was very firm: ‘the effect on the fundamental democracy of our country is extreme’. Parliamentary accountability – the continuing process of dialogue and scrutiny of government policy – is ‘at the heart …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Referendums: Getting it right next time

No one needs any help demonstrating the problems with the current ad–hoc manner in which the UK conducts referendums.

But while it might be tempting to argue that the best solution is simply to stop having them, there are problems with that approach. 

First, I’m not at all sure it is politically sensible, or intellectually honest, to say that since lies, fraud, and gross misconduct constituted the bulk of the Brexit campaign the solution is simply to have no more referendums. There have been lies, fraud, and misconduct in political campaigns since electoral politics began. The solution has always been to find better ways to conduct the campaigns, not to scrap the practice.

The Liberal Democrats are a party fundamentally committed to opening up political discourse, and to doing so responsibly. Referendums are fraught with peril and, ironically, run the risk of being distinctly undemocratic, but that does not mean there cannot be a role for them as part of a broader expansion of legitimate political expression.

And as recent votes in Ireland have shown, to take one example, referendums can play a crucial role in securing progressive social gains.

As another example, here in Massachusetts, where I now live, voters last November defeated by an overwhelming majority an attempt by fundamentalist Christian groups to repeal a law designed to protect transgender people by allowing them to use the restroom of their choice in any building open to the public.

By permitting the question and conducting the referendum, voters had the opportunity to affirm the actions of their legislature and governor and stop in its tracks the type of hate and fear that festers when it can pretend to a legitimacy it does not possess.

Wary of referendums as I am, I’m not proposing a radical overhaul of the UK political system to allow for the types of confirmatory votes we hold here in Massachusetts, where we can also vote by referendum to instruct the legislature to introduce legislation.

Massachusetts, incidentally, makes it much harder to initiate a referendum question than do many U.S. states and, in many cases, and wisely so as the government problems caused in referendum-happy states such as California help demonstrate.

Referendums shouldn’t happen often.

They should only happen with good reason.

But there are times when they might well be appropriate.

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It’s time for a Constitutional Convention

We are now facing the reality of life outside the EU and with it the prospect of a new United Kingdom. With the result of the referendum so close it is essential that the path we move forward on as a country is determined by a wide range of views: those who voted in and those who voted out; the young and the old; people from the left, the right and centre; voices from all parts of the United Kingdom.

We have a chance to take this huge, albeit unwanted, change in our relationship with the world and turn it into …

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Will North West Region choose to become a state party?

The Liberal Democrats are a growing party and week on week new colleagues join us in the battle to create a democratic and liberal nation in which success is founded on merit, policy is founded on evidence and citizens are treated equally.

This party has always championed the concept of subsidiarity, decisions being taken as close as possible to the people they affect. We were the party that pressed hardest for a North West Regional Parliament, and we are the party that in government delivered Devo-Manc and real prospect of Devo-Merseyside. It is not our preferred option of devolution and it does not devolve enough powers, but it is a beginning in the quest to achieve the Liberal Democrat ambition of a Federal United Kingdom within a Federal European Union.

The North West Region finds more General Election candidates than the Party in Scotland, the Party in Wales or the Party in any other region in England. We not only fill our own seats but we also export candidates to other regions and train candidates for other regions.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

We’re all “Preamble Lib Dems”

There has been a very minor outbreak of people using the label “Preamble Lib Dem” to describe themselves.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 104 Comments

Cameron needs to stop the BS, remember his studies and behave like a statesman/person

It’s ten o’clock and the polls have just closed all over the country. From St Agnes island hall in the south to North Unst Public Hall in the north, the presiding officers have just locked the doors and are preparing the ballot boxes for transportation to the local counting centre. I can now say what I like!

There has been much dangerous talk in the election campaign. David Cameron has implied that a government with the tacit support of Scottish MPs would somehow be illegitimate. He has accused Ed Miliband of preparing a “con trick” to enter Downing Street with the support of the SNP. Even Nick Clegg has joined in by referring to a “coalition of the losers” – being a possible bloc of MPs led by the leader of the second largest party.

All this sort of talk must now stop.

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On May 8th, could David Cameron just lock the doors of Downing Street and stay put?

24 days ago, I wrote that We’re heading for a Labour minority government backed by the SNP.

Since then, there have been thousands more people polled, millions more pounds spent on campaigning and millions more words written/said about the election. So, I now have a ++BREAKING NEWS++ update!

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Farce in the Lords

Any interested fellow citizen who was told how the latest recruit to their Parliament was chosen would be first baffled, then outraged.  Is it any wonder that there are more electors who favour the complete abolition of the House of Lords than support retention of the existing arrangements?

The provisions for the replacement of one of our hereditary Peers, when deceased, are confusing, complicated and downright contradictory.

The latest election result, announced by the Lord Speaker on Wednesday afternoon, may seem to be relatively simple:  our new Liberal Democrat colleague will be Raymond Asquith, otherwise known as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith and descendant of the distinguished Liberal Prime Minister.  He was chosen in an AV election, but gained 50%+ on the first count, so no reallocation of the votes of lower scoring candidates was required.

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Strong language from Nick Clegg on more powers for Scotland: This opportunity cannot be hijacked

I had a sneak preview of an article Nick Clegg wrote for today’s Sunday Post. I was a bit disappointed in its blandness. We needed more robust language, I felt. Why? Well, when Cameron had just had almost half of Scots who voted tell him they wanted out of the Union, his main message in response was to pick a fight with Labour on the so-called “West Lothian Question.” Really, Dave, is that what you take from all of this? By making more powers for Scotland seem contingent on resolving the English votes for English laws issues, he exacerbated tensions up here.

Yes supporters were already, entirely understandably, devastated. I only need to think of the anxiety I’ve felt over the last couple of weeks to understand entirely how it feels for them. The last thing these people needed to do was to find themselves in the middle of a scrap between the Tories and Labour over something that was irrelevant to them. There needed to be a very clear message that the powers would be delivered on time. If they aren’t, then, frankly, the three pro-UK parties are completely stuffed. As Ming Campbell memorably put it on the BBC News Channel on Friday night, you might as well hand out free membership of the SNP.

Rather than use his resignation statement to bring people together and soothe people’s emotions, Alex Salmond sought to raise tensions by suggesting that David Cameron had reneged on a commitment to have the Second Reading of the new Scotland Bill by 27th March. That was never part of the deal. As an MP of 20 years’ standing, Salmond should know that even if it had had its second reading by then, it would have fallen as Parliament is due to be dissolved days later. The commitment was to have a Bill ready to be debated by the next Parliament immediately after the election. That’s what the Better Together election poster explicitly said:

Better Together election poster

 

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Opinion: Blast from the Past: Wisdom from the old Liberal Party

Amidst the party’s recent problems, a lot of people have been talking about the party’s principles, and in particular, the preamble to the constitution.

As a statement of principles, it’s fine – I would imagine that most Liberal Democrats can sit through it, nodding in broad agreement. It speaks to my head – but not my heart.

And we mustn’t imagine that it’s set in stone. I recently dug up this beauty: the Preamble to the Constitution of the old Liberal Party, from 1980. It’s stirring stuff, and is really worth a read.

The original preamble was …

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Opinion: an open letter to Tim Farron – “And who made you King, anyway?”

imageIn his recent article in Liberal Democrat Voice, the Liberal Democrat Party President, Tim Farron, refers to a review of the Party’s disciplinary procedures, carried out by a senior barrister, Diya Sen Gupta, and goes on to say;

She has now made recommendations to us and I am determined that we will implement these as quickly as possible.

Now call me a stickler for process if you will, but where does Tim get off making such a statement?

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Opinion: Planning a new constitution for the United Kingdom

This is the time of year when there is much political reflection. The Queen’s Christmas message this year was one of Her Majesty’s best. Whilst not everyone listens avidly to our Monarch’s words, the tone and its conciliatory notes encourage sanguine thoughts.

I wish the Queen long life and look forward to a reign that significantly exceeds that of Queen Victoria, or even Louis le Grand.

The effects on the psyche of the United Kingdom of the Queen’s long reign undoubtedly run deep, especially in providing a canopy of permanence and stability. In today’s ephemeral world of celebrity, it is almost certainly fair …

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Julian Huppert MP writes…..The Preamble, 25 years on

25 years ago, our party agreed its new constitution – and the preamble to that constitution, setting out our core values and vision.

Many of us will know some of it – ‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, … in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance, or conformity’.

This extract – the bit that appears on membership cards – is in my view truly poetic, and captures brilliantly what we are trying to do. We are concerned about people, and empowering them to do what they can and want to do. …

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Lib Dem conference to vote on whether it can ‘no-con’ the party leader

nick-clegg-birmingham conf9.30 am on Saturday morning may not be a prime-time slot, but on 9th March there will be more than usual interest in a constitutional amendment tabled to the Lib Dem spring conference.

Why? Because the amendment will make it possible for the Lib Dem federal conference to pass a vote of no confidence in the party leader to trigger an election.

Here‘s the proposed amendment:

const amend - mar 2013

‘An election for the Leader shall be called upon a vote

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The really important issue at Gateshead is a Constitutional Amendment

Discussion about the Gateshead Spring Conference has mainly focused on the potential row about the NHS Bill, but the Agenda also  contains a Constitutional Amendment  which could have a  huge  impact on our ability to work to with either the Tories or Labour after the next election. The Amendment is   called “Support for a Government which contains other Political Parties” and can be seen here.

This is an update of the “Triple Lock”  dating back to 1998  after Paddy was thought to be getting too close to  Blair’s Labour Party. (Mark Pack has a history of the Triple Lock

Posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters | 21 Comments

Is this the first draft of a UK constitution?

The Cabinet Office have published a book they calling the Draft Cabinet Manual.

You can download a PDF of it.

Here’s a bit of churnalism from the press release.

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged | 8 Comments
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