Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Truly radical?

I'm actually not opposed to many of the potential changes that Nick Clegg outlined in his speech earlier today - but to claim that the package amounts to the biggest shake-up of our democracy for nearly 200-years is ludicrous in the extreme ... power has clearly already gone to the man's head :-(

Here's a brief list of the main items of constitutional reforms that have been achieved between 1997 and 2010:
  • devolution to Scotland, via referendum, and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament
  • devolution to Wales, via referendum, and the establishment of the Welsh Assembly
  • devolution to Northern Ireland, via referendum, and the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly
  • devolution to London and the establishment of the Greater London Assembly (GLA) and the post of Mayor of London
  • almost all of the above tiers of Government now use a proportional electoral system (AMS in Scotland/Wales - STV in Northern Ireland - AMS for the GLA)
  • the election of the Mayor of London is undertaken by the Supplementary Vote
  • Scottish Local Government is now (since 2007) also elected by STV
  • European Parliament elections are now undertaken using a proportional Party List system
  • Freedom of Information Acts have been introduced in England, Scotland and Wales
  • The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) was incorporated into UK-legislation
  • The vast majority of Hereditary Peers were abolished from the House of Lords
  • Significant House of Commons reform enacted

And here's what the new Tory/Lib Government are proposing:

  • a referendum (not definite implementation) on the electoral system for the House of Commons to change it to AV - another majoritarian (not proportional) system
  • a Committee (yes, a Committee!) to look at the possibility of wholly, or mainly, electing the House of Lords by a proportional system
  • fixed term Parliaments (hooray to that one!) but with a 'super majority' clause for any dissolution of Parliament
  • a host of civil liberty measures, many of which I welcome

It's all good stuff - as far as it goes ... but, as the text above illustrates, to claim its the biggest shake-up since 1832 is pretty crass.

I safely predict that not even the majority of Clegg's proposals will see the statute book by 2015, and that he'll be hoist by the his own rhetoric from today's speech.

Truly radical - I think not.

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