Tag Archives: constitutional convention

Opinion: Revolution is not a dirty word

 

Revolution is not a dirty word: it is the honorific given to moments of dramatic change by their benefactors, which became suspicious in its connection to the prophecies of Marx’s illiberal inheritors who wished to usher in an era of benevolent totalitarianism.

Constitutional change is a common revolutionary cause. The American Revolution founded the world’s first Democratic Republic out of the writings of Publicus and Thomas Payne; the Revolution in France turned an agrarian feudal monarchy into an Empire in the mould of Rousseau’s Social Contract; and the Glorious Revolution established the supremacy of our Parliament in the vein of Hobbes’s Leviathan, until today.

Devolution, multi-party politics, European governance, and the tide of frustration that has risen since the financial crisis all call into question Britain’s constitutional settlement. Whether EVEL, the EU referendum, fiscal autonomy for Scotland, or electoral reform, Britain’s constitutional settlement has become its most contentious political battlefield.

Posted in Op-eds | 23 Comments

Devo-max for Scotland: what Lib Dem members think

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

On Thursday, the Smith Commission published its recommendations on how to take forward the promise made by all three party leaders to deliver extensive powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote.

As my co-editor Caron noted then: “Federalism was never going to come out of this. It couldn’t, given that you need the co-operation of the rest of the UK to do that. We need to keep campaigning for a proper UK wide constitutional convention after the election.”

Before Lord Smith had reported, though, we tested the water in our survey. How happy were Lib Dem members, most of whom are English, about the priority being afford to the Scots?

Posted in LDV Members poll and Scotland | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

The Independent View: Constitutional reform is back in fashion

ERS logoFor so long, those who care passionately about political reform have been told there are more important things to worry about – that tax, welfare and housing will always take precedence over the constitution and questions of process.

The Scottish independence referendum has almost put an end to that kind of talk. As the Liberal Democrats have always known, politics and the constitution fundamentally shape the collective decisions we make, and are therefore of the utmost importance. The referendum also undermined the old put-down that no one cares about constitutional reform. Try telling that to the 97% of Scots who registered to vote, or the 85% who went to the polls. When the stakes are high enough, people will get involved.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Opinion: A constitutional convention: If not now, when?

As a Jack I owe my life and heritage to Scotland. I totally understood why so many Scots voted yes, but the thought of losing Scotland also filled me with dread. However, whichever side of the debate you sat, I hope we can all agree that the positive outcomes for all of us have been the revitalising of politics in Scotland and the reopening of the question of how as a United Kingdom we should constitute ourselves. We saw graphically the power of having a say in something that really matters. No, the electorate are not apathetic, they are disillusioned and cynical. I don’t think I have ever been out canvassing without at least one comment of “you’re all the same” – to which my reply is generally “if we were all the same why on earth would I be in the Lib Dems?”  We now have a great opportunity to demonstrate that difference, to lead the debate in response to the events of last week.

So, as the call is growing stronger for a Constitutional Convention, I firmly believe this is an issue we as a party should and must take a lead on. Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society and others including the Labour and Green parties, are  calling for a citizen led convention. In my view such a convention must tackle not only the relationship between our four nations and devolution of power from the centre, but also electoral and Lords reform. This is our bread and butter – our opportunity to kill more than a few birds with one stone! For too long reform has been slow and piecemeal. Despite the clear disaffection of so many, the political elite continue to drag their collective ‘vested interest’ hobnail boots. Remember the man in his 70s who was voting for the first time in Scotland?Despite the clear interest and engagement of the people when they have the chance to vote for something that really matters, the threat that this always poses to those who already have power limits progress.

Posted in Op-eds | 42 Comments
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