Questioning the PM and justice minister on democratic reform

I put it to the PM that his proposals had come "too late" and that such reform should not be announced in a pre-election campaign. Read his reply.

Our guest writer is Anthony Barnett, founder of and editor of ourkingdom

Shortly after Gordon Brown announced in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) that he wanted to see a written constitution in which the sovereignty of parliament is replaced by the sovereignty of the people, Michael Wills gave a paper at a Wilton Park conference.

The justice minister is the person who has done the most to drive what democratic reforms there have been during the last three years. His paper strongly supported the proposal for a referendum on the voting system limited to a choice between the status quo and AV, which Brown also announced when he gave his speech on the constitution.

I put it to the prime minister that his proposals had come “too late” and that such reform should not be announced in a pre-election campaign especially as he had led with them when he became PM but then little had happened; here is his reply. At Wilton Park I made the same point to Wills who said:

“It is never too late.”

John Jackson, a significant figure on the reform scene, responded with a bleak and thorough assessment of what he saw as a profound change of approach between Wills’s call for a new constitutional settlement in 2006 and what he says today. Was it, Jackson asked, an “epitaph” for a genuine democrat who is now leaving the Commons? Wills rebutted Jackson’s claims with a description of how much had been achieved under Brown.

We have run all this in OurKingdom but I have been very struck by the silence across the left blogosphere. Not just in not picking up on the debate but in not picking up on the issue at all. Brown opened his premiership with constitutional renewal as his calling card. He was very popular when he did so. Might there have been a relationship between a leader saying the system stinks and his being popular?

Then the leader opts for detention without charge (aka internment), the management of our identities, saving the bankers, etc. His popularity crashes. Hmm. Could there be something here for those on the left to consider?

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