25 Oct

Constitutional Politics and Brown

It cheers me up when politicians try and do big bold long term things, it also scares me.

The Labour governments in the UK under Blair and Brown made some big changes to the UK constitutionally, devolved governments in Wales and Scotland, an elected London Mayor, writing the Human Rights Act into UK law, harmonising the age of consent for all, generally trying to promote regional autonomy (before the locals showed such apathy). Even some of the outcomes of failure have led to some long needed changes such as the separation of the Home Office prison/probation services into a Ministry of Justice.

Of course they also have done some rather nasty insidious things, usually under the banner of counter terrorism. ID cards, detention, banning protest around Parliament, recording all our internet and telephone traffic. But none were constitutional, although I might argue that ID cards are an institutional shift in power between the individual and the state.

So.. what do I think of Brown’s call for a Bill of Rights in addition to the Human Rights Act, and also repealing the ban on demonstrations around Parliament?

I might suspect that part of it is another reflex response to Cameron’s demand to scrap the Human Rights Act in UK law. [[A plan that would put power back in the hands of the judges in Strasbourg that everyone used to berate..]] It’s also includes a strengthening of MP power, some review of judicial appointments, a stiffening of Parliament against the diminishment that both Thatcher and Blair started.

On the other hand, and here I speak subjectively, very few people really care about this stuff, and as such Brown doesn’t have to do it. I hope it’s a real attempt to continue the slow evolution of the British state to one with a more checks and balances approach and less of the organic confusion that is so often resolved by a firm hand and a cross word from whichever ‘tough leader’ is in Number 10.