Miliband calls for UK Constitutional Convention – and the whole country will have a say, not just politicians

19th September, 2014 2:38 pm

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This morning David Cameron called for a rushed through, Westminster-based, top-down, politician-led approach to solving the questions around UK-wide devolution. I wasn’t impressed. I said that:

This is an unprecedented chance to extend similar powers down from the centre to the whole of the UK. The Labour Party – in every corner of this land – has an important role to play in the renewal of our society and democracy that must take place. We must end top down Westminster control of England and enact the biggest ever decentralisation of power. Miliband has already committed to devolution, but his commitments thus far – laudable as they are – are insufficient for the time and the public mood he will now face. Democracy and transparency must be at the forefront. Giving communities and individuals more power over the decisions that affect them must be our cause.

But how?

A peoples convention for Britain – keeping promises, but also extending promise – can give all of our citizens a say, a stake and an opportunity to take the power from the elites and place it back into their hands.

Miliband has answered that call decisively this afternoon with his first big announcement of conference season – he’s announced proposals for a full Constitutional Convention “rooted in our nations and regions, to address the need for further devolution in England and political reform of Westminster.

Labour sources indicated that they want this to begin before the next election, involving ordinary members of the public and civil society rather than just politicians, with the aim being to deliver a comprehensive new British constitutiuonal settlement for nations, regions and cities alike by in the autumn of 2015. Whilst they will look at plans for “English votes for English MPs”, one senior source suggested Labour would look dimly on “back of a fag packet” plans that appeared more about party management than the needs of the country. This also potential unlocks most of what Jon Cruddas has been working on for Labour’s policy review and makes it viable – and speaks to the hard work than John Denham and others have been doing on English and regional identity.

Each region will produce a report outlining a series of recommendations, covering:

  • how sub-national devolution can be strengthened
  • how the regions can be given more of a voice in our political system
  • how we can give further voice to regional and national culture and identity

Major options on the table include a regional and nationally constituted Senate and a codified UK constitution. As he arrived at Labour Party Conference in Manchester, Miliband made the following statement:

“This referendum has changed Scotland. But it will also change Britain. We know there is deep anger across the UK with Westminster politics from so many people who feel left out and left behind – that our country doesn’t work for them.

“Labour’s plan for Britain means big economic change but it also means change in the way we are governed.

“The passion in this referendum campaign on both sides has shown that politics can still galvanise people, engage the young, bring people out to vote in record turn-outs.

“I want more of that energy, not less. The Labour Party will not now sit back and put up a ‘business as usual’ sign over Westminster.

“Nor will I allow this moment to be used for narrow party political advantage.

“We need a response that matches the scale of this moment.

“That starts with delivering on our promise of further powers to Scotland.

“But other people in Britain, including England, now deserve the chance to shape their own futures with a dynamic devolution settlement.

“This must not be led just by a Westminster elite but be open to every citizen so that they can have their say.

“What is needed is a comprehensive and credible process involving citizens, to take forward a debate about how we are governed.

“Labour has already set out plans to reverse a century of centralisation by devolving tens of billions of funding to the regions and local government.

“But we need further devolution of power within England, we need reform at Westminster, and we need to look seriously at codifying the constitution, following an unprecedented period of constitutional reform and instability.

“These issues can no longer be fixed solely by politicians or Prime Ministers trying to shore up their position in their own party. The people need to be given a voice too.

“In the coming weeks we will set out a process to begin before the next election with every region in the country engaged in a dialogue with the people about how power needs to be dispersed, including in England.

“That process will culminate next year with a Constitutional Convention to discuss how we are governed.

“It will look at new ideas for representation including reforms at Westminster and the case for a Senate of the Nations and Regions.

“This is a Convention for the United Kingdom. It is not a Convention to divide or drive our country apart once more.

“We can mend our broken politics so we are better together by working together.”

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • David Lewis

    Actually I suspect it is more of project to put all the Scottish Labour MP’s out of business in respect of the forthcoming election and I think he could get away with it.

    There is an interesting piece in the Times about it today.

  • Redshift1

    This is good.

  • Amber_Star

    The Tories don’t have enough votes to shove through Cameron’s proposals on the fly. I’d think that none of the other Parties will vote for it to be stitched-up in the way that some of the Tory back-bench appear to be hoping for.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Yep. How the hell is this going to get past the Bufton Tuftons on the Tory bankbenches?
      Besides which, without at least attempting to put an end to 35 years of neo-liberal economic policies this will not really make an impact.

      • treborc1

        Mind you the New labour Progress lot have no come out yet so best not to scream to much at the4 Buffoons.

    • Dez

      Why would it bother any of the minor parties? the SNP for exampe has been supportive of EV4EL.

  • Iain Hill

    Send for RIC. Parties should participate, but not run, or attempt to dominate, the process

  • B. M. K.

    This is the way we should move forward. I think we should aim to have one IDENTICAL form of devolved government for all regions. We can then have contiguity of government with all responsibilities, processes and services being under one region.

    If we go for local solutions to meet local needs we will end up with a complex confection of systems which will make defining the powers of the centre impossible.

    • PaulHalsall

      What is wrong with a complex confection of systems? That is how evolution works in the bodies of living beings, any house that becomes a home, livable cities, and all known decent political units.

      • B. M. K.

        I live in a small city with high council tax surrounded by a county with a lower council tax. The county council has allowed developers to build around a dozen separate micro estates just outside our city limits. These communities rely upon our city for all their services but they pay for none. Just like in evolutionary systems parasitic relationships develop when there is no imposition of coherence, rationality and system.

        • PaulHalsall

          You have a particular concern (urban-suburban consolidation). The best way to address it is with a particular solution.

          • B. M. K.

            That was a particular example. There are many other serious problems. For example English councils are generally too small and too low skilled, with too little financial muscle to manage inward investment. That is why we used to have powerful regional development agencies.

            The English have attachments that prevent progress. They want democracy but keep the aristocracy and the monarchy. They want to modernise the government but the counties must be kept.

            When you are working in business development it is really frustrating having to learn one set of structures and rules for Wales another for NI another for Scotland then dozens for English cities and counties. We need regions all using the same regulations and structures.

            But I think things will go your way with chaotic systems working inefficiently at cross purposes. The old cities to the North will continue to decline, London will continue to choke and the system will be called free and open.

          • Sylvia

            E.M.K. The English have attachments that prevent progress. They want democracy
            but keep the aristocracy and the monarchy. They want to modernise the
            government but the counties must be kept.”
            I’m English & I do NOt agree with any of this. Don’t foist your ideas on others.

          • B. M. K.

            Having a democratic discussion is clearly new to you. Try spending less time on your knees in servile worship of the titled.

          • gunnerbear

            “….time on your knees in servile worship of the titled.” Probably because I’ve had a few beers…that sounds utterly filthy……has the site got a licence…..for such statements?

          • B. M. K.

            License to thrill.

          • gunnerbear

            If I may say so……top notch!! Brilliant!!

          • Guest

            So you focus on preventing progress, getting your wishes, because you focus on the trivial, which does not prevent progress.

            The counties are long ceremonial. The monarchy rubber stamps the laws passed, etc.

        • gunnerbear

          ” parasitic relationships” – wow, I’d have never gone as far and called the Scots parasites….very brave.

    • gunnerbear

      No – English Votes for English Laws. Dead simple – if Red or Blue want power in enterprising, hard working England so be it – they do it with out the votes of the Scots who demanded divorce and soak up taxpayers cash, Why should Jock MPs vote on immigration laws when immigration doesn’t even effect them?

      • BenM_Kent

        Immigration would undoubtedly remain a UK wide matter.

        This just shows Tory sympathisers have no clue how EVfEL would work.

  • Doug Smith

    The promises made to the Scottish people earlier on this week are now being brushed aside – kicked into the long grass. Instead we have the promise of ‘a peoples convention’ because “the people need to be given a voice too”.

    Well, if that’s what you want why haven’t you already listened to the people? Why did you slap down the conference vote, reflecting public opinion, in favour of taking the railways and Royal Mail back into public ownership? Why do stamp on democracy within the Labour Party, preferring to adopt Tory policies instead of allowing Labour Party members to vote on policy?

    This is the same old Westminster elite up to their usual tricks.

    • telemachus

      So this will chug on to the election next May

      The Prime Minister as the man in charge will be seen as the man who sold the Scots down the river giving the Scots an incentive to maximise Labour MP’s from North of the Border (with Salmond gone the SNP will flounder)

      As Cameron is also regarded as having sold the English down the river with the daily record promise he will deliver more votes to Farage in Tory marginals letting Labour through

      *

      When Miliband takes over Next May he will deliver Devo Max in short order. This will deliver Hollyrood to Labour in 2016. Meanwhile if a properly considered Royal Commission on the Constitution does not deliver recommendations acceptable to Labour they will not get through Westminster

      • Doug Smith

        Any failure to deliver on the pledges made to the Scottish people by the LibLabCon, within the promised timescale, will drive those north of the border even further away from the Establishment parties.

        And by shifting the focus to England Cameron has now comprehensively out-outmaneuvered Miliband. If Miliband objects to Cameron’s plan, Miliband will be seen to be reneging on the eve of referendum pledges.

        Labour naively entered into a coalition with the Tories over the No vote but is now being given a lesson in political hard-ball.

        Cameron has Miliband over a barrel.

        • Ringstone

          Labour is reaping the consequences of their ill thought out constitutional experiments, of which devolution was one. Instead of making Wales and Scotland red forever, that went well in Scotland, the effect may be to lock Labour out of power, if not office, in the other 85% of the union. Well played chaps! The constitutional convention sounds, is, a wonks way of kicking this into the long grass and will not wash with the electorate. How Wallace would try and spin a refusal to give England a distinctive voice I don’t know. I think he’d get slaughtered.

          • gunnerbear

            Yup, the voters will tear Red Ed a new one if fails on EVFEL.

        • Sylvia

          No!! See my comment below about deal with the Scots first THEN sort out the rest.

      • uglyfatbloke

        I fear it won’t be like that at all. The timetable for devolution is impossibly tight and Gordon Brown has effectively made it impossible for Ed and Cameron to get a 2nd Reading before May. Both parties will be seen as reneging on the ‘vow’ and the 1.6 m. yes voters will turn out for the nats at the GE. Cameron has nothing to lose in Scotland and the glib-dumbs are fekt here anyway; they’re certainly going to retain Ork & Shet and Charlie Kennedy will get back in, but the rest of them are toast.
        I expect Sturgeon will be just as sharp as Salmond and won’t have the same baggage, so the prospect of losing a lot of Scottish Labour MPs is a very real one.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          ufb- just a question outside of your main substantive argument- how confident are you that the Fibs will only get 2 seats in Scotland? Swinson + Danny Alexander both to lose their seats?

          • Sylvia

            Oh please, not more Danny Alexander. If there’s one LibDem I really cannot stand it’s him! Don’t think much of the rest either.

      • Sylvia

        That’s more sensible. Labour can win this one if played right & Ed seems to be on the right track.
        Just one point telemachus – what makes you think the SNP will flounder with Salmond gone? On the contrary. It seems likely Sturgeon will be elected leader & she is a much stronger negotiator than Salmond. She’s also a socialist & more left wing.

        • Doug Smith

          “she is a much stronger negotiator than Salmond. She’s also a socialist & more left wing.”

          Then, if she wins, she can look forward to hoovering up the rest of the Real Labour/social justice vote in Scotland.

          • David Lewis

            And in so doing, ensuring Labour’s destruction in the general election.

      • treborc1

        We will see I suspect both labour and the SNP will have a hard battle on it’s hand to get people to vote for Miliband he’s not seen as being a Gordon Brown, more like Mrs Brown .

        I think the SNP will win but with a smaller majority because the people will just not accept the offer from labour of cuts and more cuts and austerity

    • Monkey_Bach

      It’s a very odd situation since many of the promises regarding devolving more power to Scotland were made by poor old Gordon Brown, who apparently has personally “vowed” to “lock in” the changes floated as sweeteners before the independence referendum was held. How he personally intends to do this sans discernible political power, from the backbenches, is anybody’s guess.

      Everything is as clear as mud and ended in breakdown and confusion.

      Something is going to happen in Scotland and possibly elsewhere but we don’t know what or when, although David Cameron want a double helping of the same sort of thing, whatever that might be, for the English… and maybe for the Welsh… kind of… and possibly for bigger cities… and let’s not forget the regions. Now all we need to discover is precisely what “it” is.

      Eeek.

      • Doug Smith

        “Something is going to happen in Scotland… and possibly elsewhere”

        If the Yes vote had won I would’ve placed £20 on Mebyon Kernow winning a HoC seat in 2015 (at a very tasty 100/1). Because of the grand mess-up perpetrated by the pledges from the Establishment parties I’m now thinking that it’s still worth a go.

        It’s difficult to see how the Establishment parties can emerge from this without becoming even more discredited and despised.

        • David Lewis

          The Tories survived more of less intact, undeserved certainly, but Brown finessed Miliband absolutely. Miliband appears distraught and bewildered as I am sure he absolutely is.

          He was a disaster during the referendum and Cameron’s trap, if successful, will ensure a Labour rout

      • gunnerbear

        “Double helping….” – No, we want EVfEL. Dead simple. No Jocks to vote on anything English. How hard can that be?

        • Monkey_Bach

          Too hard for any British politician apparently. What you mention isn’t and has never been on the table unless Scotland actually left Great Britain. At present only vague notions in respect to devolving certain powers (and we don’t yet know which ones or how completely they will end up devolved) and restricting certain voting rights in Westminster for some UK MPs who, at some point in time, may or may not, gain the ability to pass laws on certain matters in their own countries.

          Eeek.

    • John Ruddy

      Do you actually bother to read anything before commenting? Miliband has been clear this convention is not instead of the agreed timetable for powers for Scotland – its the rest of the UK that needs to have the conversation that has been going on in scotland for many years over devolution. England cannot and should not have something imposed on it in a stitch up by politicians.

      • Doug Smith

        But Miliband is not the PM, he cannot call the shots. Cameron will insist on linkage in order to see off the threat from both UKIP and a number of his own MPs.

        Yet Cameron will need Miliband’s support and Miliband is unable to offer it. So Cameron goes on to portray Miliband as a denier of ‘justice’ for both England and Scotland.

  • PaulHalsall

    An open constitutional convention would be subject to such moulding by the press that it could very well end up as a right-wing goody bag. This is the reason leftwing opinion in the United States is almost universally opposed to efforts to call a new American constitutional convention.

    All constitutions, written or not, have to develop organically to be stable, and I think that for the most part stability is a prerequisite of both liberty and economic justice. New countries, of course, need constitutions, but make-do solutions often work better. The evolving Basic Laws have worked better in Germany, for example, than the written constitutions of France (not to mention their repeated failure in countries where colonialism has ended.) Back of a fag packet solutions often work out well.

    Above all, at the moment, it looks like Miliband and Cameron are trying to wriggle out of the assurances Gordon Brown was authorised to make to Scotland. If that happens, the SNP might very well, and deservedly, sweep Scottish seats in the UK General Election.

  • swatnan

    Looks like the 3 Amigos (and Gordon) and their ‘Peace in our Time’ scrap of paper hoodwinked many of the NOes, especially women.
    ‘You can fool most of people … all of the time…’ seems to still hold.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Miliband has just walked straight into a trap. Scenario: Cameron publishes a bill to implement the pre-referendum bribe regardless of labour or libdem opposition. Ties it into removing the right of MPs to vote on matters devolved to their own national parliament or assembly, and the calling of a constitutional convention. (A real one, not a ‘peoples’ one. That thought is straight out of the students union theory of life).

    SNP will support this, leaving labour and the libdems to vote it down. In the coming general election, labour get slaughtered in Scotland by the SNP for welshing on their vow, The tories are not there to get slaughtered, but the libdems are. Labour get severely damaged in England by UKIP who become the party of protest for labour voters who see Miliband is going to shaft them financially to keep his beloved devolved MPs in play. Cameron remains the largest party leader as now, if he doesn’t get an overall majority, but with the SNP MPs will force it through.

    We lose in all scenarios.

    He has got to go. And now. Even Diane Abbot could have done better.

    • Dez

      Spot on.

    • gunnerbear

      One tiny error – it wasn’t Ol’ Cast Iron who thought this out – it was the quiet men and women of the ’22 Mob.

      • Steve Stubbs

        NO, it was me. I wish to copyright this plan. Are you saying it is being actively pushed elsewhere? Do tell where, so I can apply for my advice fee.

        • Ringstone

          Ah, a brilliant idea but no idea on how to monetize it. Such a British ( English) failing!

          • Dave Postles

            He should use Creative Commons here.

    • Monkey_Bach

      Surely the Scots aren’t so easily led and quite that daft? Eeek.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Fortunately, you can’t add unrelated matters together in a bill.

  • Paul Adams

    I suppose all this constitutional navel-gazing is unavoidable now ( and we certainly have to stop the monstrosity that would be an “English Parliament” in its tracks ) but I hope this won’t side-track the next Labour government from more important things like scrapping the Bedroom Tax, re-nationalisng the railways and saving the NHS.

    Otherwise Miliband may as well pledge an EU referendum – if the next few years are going to be dominated by constitutional reform arguments anyway, may as well reap the electoral advantages of that.

    • Thomas Jones

      “…and we certainly have to stop the monstrosity that would be an “English Parliament” in its tracks )”

      Ah yes, can’t let that evil and horribly racist nation the English have their own assembly, can we?
      Milliband has walked right into this one, and will take Labour down with him!

    • gunnerbear

      “next Labour government from more important things like scrapping the Bedroom Tax, re-nationalisng the railways and saving the NHS.” Err…the Spare Room Subsidy would be a national affair – thus no Scots MP should vote on English matters, transport is a devolved matter to Scotland so should be in England – it would be up to English MPs to nationalise it……or not…….and the NHS is a Scottish matter for the Scots administration – there is no way any Jock MP should vote on the English NHS.

  • thewash

    Whatever happens the Tories must not be allowed to hijack the devolution debate to suit their purposes. If a ‘peoples’ convention’ will both involve the people and politicians and ensure an equitable arrangement for all four countries that is acceptable to a majority of the people than that is what we should be aiming for.

    • Dez

      You mean put an end to the existing Labour hijack?

      • Monkey_Bach

        You mean like David Cameron ending up Prime Minister when only 22% of eligible voters supported the Conservative Party? Eeek.

        • Ringstone

          Oddly enough that’s roughly the proportion of the electorate that got Blair into power with a thumping majority. Eeeek!
          With the atrophy of party politics we’re petty much in Banana Republic territory whichever team wins.
          We should use the current focus to consider change o the voting system as well as devolution. I distrust PR and party lists – the man who controls the list controls who gets elected for his team, not the people. I’m for transferable vote, RON and recall – identifiable constituencies who can sack their MP and the requirement to get at least the aquiescence of 51% to get the gig. We need something to keep the oddballs, chancers and overpromoted amateurs who make up our political “elite” honest and focussed on the people they perport to represent.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Actually, no. For example, in 1997 there was a 71.3% turnout with Labour winning 43.2% of the ballot hence winning (43.2/100 x 71.3/100)% ≈ 31% of available votes which isn’t “roughly” equal to 22%.

            Eeek.

          • Ringstone

            Last election with a clear majority – 2005 – Blair took 35.2% of a 61.4% turnout which is 21.6% of the registered electorate That’s close enough to 22% for the purposes of the argument I think.

    • gunnerbear

      Dead simple – English votes for English laws – how hard can be it be?

  • Keith Budden

    This should all be resolved before the General Election or we will all suffer the consequences. The three amigos promised the Scottish people ‘devo max’ in their panic knee jerk reaction to opinion polls. Now the Scots have swallowed the bait and voted no, Milliband should deliver and quickly or the whole uk’s trust in Westminster of whichever party will be lost and we hand UKIP and right wing Tories general election victory on a plate. To defer until late 2015 will be seen to be all puff and no substance

  • Barry_Edwards

    We need devolution, not just to Edinburgh (with Cardiff and Belfast calling for some as well) but down to local areas. We need local authorities with real powers elected by a formula that allows stable administrations but also representation of all sizeable groups of support (perhaps a top-up system like that of the GLA).

    Also, whilst I am usually opposed to the big shiny toys (usually with a big price tag) that many boy politicians like, I think we need something to show that it is not business as usual. I think it is time to move parliament from London. Many countries have their political capital separate from their commercial/financial capital and
    this would relieve the pressure on London housing and other resources as well as invigorating another part of the country.

    But where? I would combine the moving of our political capital with the replacing of the plan to buy up masses of land for HS2 by reinstating Britain’s first high-speed line, Edward Watkin’s Great Central Railway from London, via Rugby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield to Manchester. We could call it HS0. I would build the new parliament building and associated ministries in and around Sheffield and consider the need for building a new line from there northwards to Scotland.

    • gunnerbear

      Why does it have to be a big rich city? Why not Grimsby or Louth or Scunthorpe?

      • Barry_Edwards

        I don’t think south Yorkshire is very rich but it is very central, unlike a place on the coast.

  • Dez

    ‘Miliband has answered that call decisively this afternoon with his first big announcement of conference season – he’s announced proposals for a full Constitutional Convention’

    In plain English,Miliband has reneged on his vow of last week & kicked it into the long grass.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    I have a depressing feeling that despite all arrogance and incompetence, Cameron has discovered that he is the big winner of the Scottish referendum. By luck, not by planning.

    There is now the focus on English votes for English laws, to which a simplistic answer is to ban Scots, Welsh and Irish MPs from voting on matters devolved to their administrations. At a stroke, if implemented, that removes towards 100 MPs who of whatever party, are unlikely to have sided with the Tories. The loss of support of about ten Ulster Unionists and Welsh/Scottish Tories is still a great gain for Cameron.

    All Cameron has to do is to ensure that the English votes only on Mondays measure is carried, and to refuse to allow more regional devolution than deciding on the paint scheme of Northern Buses and the times of selling Cornish ice cream is devolved, and he has changed the landscape of British politics for a generation. Often, people on LL make a good point that Scotland is not vital to Labour (even if it is useful), but losing Scottish, Welsh and those Northern Ireland anti Tory votes makes the task much harder.

    And yet, the West Lothian Question has to be answered.

    • Sylvia

      But if Cameron tried to get such a pro-Tory vote through parliament, it won’t succeed. All the others will vote against & he will lose. Anyway when is he going to have the time to do this before May 2015?

      • David Lewis

        He is committed to complete this before the end of March. He has the numbers to carry the vote and if all this happens there will never be another Labour government, heavens be praised, and that would herald the last rites of the Labour Party which has had little modern relevance for a long time now anyway – still fighting Margaret Thatcher and the poll tax while the world moved on.

        • Sylvia

          Good to know you are a died in the wool Tory. Labour will win the 2015 election whether you like it or not.

          • David Lewis

            Prejudice and conjecture. I do not vote Conservative.

            However I am a realist. There was a great deal of doubt about the ability of Miliband to win the forthcoming general election up until the referendum but now, he has been completely finessed by Cameron and his chance of becoming PM is in my view infinitesimally small.

            He has been put into a position where he cannot possibly escape.

          • BenM_Kent

            The idea that a technocratic debate about the constitution is a Tory trump card is utterly fanciful and you are truly delusional to think it will carry your shrivelling Party the GE2015,

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You seem to being doing your best to lose.

            I speak as a left winger, who Labour has actively and repeatedly repelled. (The restrospective workfare legislation was the last straw)

      • gunnerbear

        What English MP would stand against EVFEL? They wouldn’t dare.

      • gunnerbear

        Time…..if DC’s got the stones he’d force it on 1 / 10 / 14.

  • Graeme Hancocks

    Agreed. Cameron nearly lost the union through ill thought out, knee jerk policies that looked good to him at the time/git him out of the most immediate scrape. Dave’s primary concern is that many of his back benches are furious with how he has handled whole Scotland thing and his panic last week. That will become more of a problem given the thing that has had to be forgotten in the panic over possible secession of Scotland from union – ukip and a little by election in Claxton. The media will be back on that and Tory civil war resume shortly.

  • Jenny Smith

    The referendum reflects the feelings of the whole of the UK. We don’t need more scattered elite politics. we just need to be listened to, half the country is being ignored and left behind by the westminster elite. Wake up politicians or it will be your undoing if the country falls to its knees divided.

  • Jenny Smith

    Maybe its just me but i don’t see any devolution keeping us all united. there is no difference in the way Scotland feel to the way the rest of the country feel. We the people of the UK are already united in our feelings that half of us are ignored. North, South, East and west. more devolution for any of us would lead to even more “We need to learn the lessons” responses when the transparency of more scattered politics is once again muddied. do you trust any of them not to be shrouded in more “mistakes” when there will be more people to go through to find where the buck stops.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Cameron always acts party politically ahead of the national interest. Eeek.

    • gunnerbear

      Delete Cameron – insert the words “Any politician….”

  • swatnan

    Drawing up a written Constitution is best left to Academics.

    • uglyfatbloke

      Unusually (and speaking as a mostly-retired academic), I have to disagree with you on this one. You never met such a pile (with some very honourable exceptions) of idle self-absorbed gits as Social Science academics.

      • swatnan

        I think your Constitutional Law Academics may be of a different sort to your run of the mill Social Science lot.

        • uglyfatbloke

          Sadly this is not really the case – though I would certainly accept that a lot of social science academics are simply place-fillers anyway, but I was really thinking of history, economics and politics rather than media studies and the like.
          To a considerable extent (and again there are honourable exceptions of course) the constitutionalists tend to cite history to support arguments without knowing what they’re talking about (historians do the same with law of course) and they tend to cite precedents, situations and conventions out of context.
          Unlimited sovereignty of parliament is a good example. It is an important, perhaps even vital, part of English constitutional law and practice, but how many of them take a moment to remember – if they ever knew – that it has no counterpart or relevance at all in Scottish law and practice? There is a general tendency to assume that what is law in England is necessarily law elsewhere which -good, bad or indifferent – is simply not the case.

          • Dave Postles

            Never used the word precedent after reading Sir Rupert about a quarter of a century ago – not even in conversation about common law. Instead, I cautiously refer to reasoning by analogy at common law (Michael Lobban) and take great care about the sources of law in the past. Jurisprudential thinkers come up with some surprising stuff, anyway, like Kelsen or the extreme legal realists. A. N. Other Historian.

  • SackTheJuggler

    I don’t see why further devolution for Scotland should not go hand in hand with an attempt to address the English question. Kicking it down the line to some sort of grand ‘constitutional convention’ is simply ducking the issue. If all parties were able to agree major new powers for Scotland, with an Act of parliament pushed through in the time it would normally take to make a Statutory Instrument, then coming up with something workable for England at the same time isn’t too much to ask.

  • David Lewis

    The coalitions forced commitment to new new deal before April creates a trap for Labour from which they could only escape with a decent leader.

    I think Labour is on its first steps to rubble – and not before time many would argue.

    The interesting and telling factor is that Labour never saw it coming.

    Those sad old faces on the opposition benches have consigned Labour to very boring history books.

  • Lee Harris

    It is impossible for Scottish MPs to keep their voting rights at Westminster whilst having their own exclusive ones at Holyrood. Labour face disaster at the General Election in England if it does not realise this.

  • Tokyo Nambu

    I don’t want petty nationalism, even less petty regionalism.

    I want a strong, clear-eyed Labour government running the UK for the good of all its citizens.

    “Local democracy” just legitimises postcode lotteries, and ensures that rich areas in the South East can prosper while the deprived areas of post-Thatcher, post-industrial areas of the north can just rot. The idea that Birmingham City Council would become some beacon of socialist job creation had but they the power is hilarious: they simply don’t have the revenue, because most of their funding is central, and they have no, and would have no, meaningful tax raising powers. Allowing cities to play tax-cut bingo with each other is a race to the bottom for low-pay, low-skill jobs.

    Solidarity is about standing as a country to defend our services, defend our welfare state and help the poor and deprived to have a better future. Regional “democracy” allows rich parts of the country to wash their hands of everyone else. Birmingham is not held back by lack of power; it is held back by lack of investment, historic lack of education (too much “no need to O Levels, there’s always a job at the Austin”) and lack of infrastructure, particularly transport. None of that is fixed with a talking shop; it needs money.

    I was told by a former CLP chairman that you should never listen to anyone who saus they’re an internationalist, because they’re probably a Trotskyite entryist. But that was then: now, we should at least stand as a country, not as some fractious group of city states.

    • SamF

      I cannot agree with you enough.

    • gunnerbear

      “I want a strong, clear-eyed Labour government running the UK for the good of all its citizens.” F**k me that would be radical if any version of HMG did that.
      .

  • Dave Postles

    Vernon Bogdanor – who was Cameron’s tutor at Oxford – on Radio 4 vehemently criticized Cameron’s intentions as impractical – including excluding Scottish MPs from some legislation which has indirect repercussions for the other nations. I hope that he will contribute something to the print media, but it will probably not be carried by the right-wing papers.
    BTW, please sign at http://www.rethinktrident.org.uk

    • David Lewis

      Vernon Bogdanor is a self-regarding cosseted educational lefty who has never been outside the educational establishment in his working life.

      Nobody with any sense outside the Oxford student population has ever taken anything he has ever said with any seriousness.

      • Dave Postles

        Maybe he is, maybe he ain’t, but one things for sure: he’s more of a constitutional expert than you, but you just can’t help yourself.

        • David Lewis

          Conjecture based upon zero knowledge.

          Have you met Mr Bogdanor? NO? I have.

          • Dave Postles

            So what? He’s still more of a constitutional expert than you; indeed, he’s acknowledged as the foremost constitutional expert in the country.

          • David Lewis

            By you? And what do you know about my knowledge? Nothing.

          • Dave Postles

            Hahaha. How absurd.

          • David Lewis

            Really? Tell me and I might be tempted to tell you.

          • Dave Postles

            Preposterous – you regard yourself as more of a constitutional expert than an Oxford emeritus professor and research professor at the ICHR in London. Amazing. I’m sure everyone here will be immensely impressed.

          • David Lewis

            I made no such claim. Conjecture and imagination.

          • Dave Postles

            ‘So what? He’s still more of a constitutional expert than you; indeed,
            he’s acknowledged as the foremost constitutional expert in the country.’
            ‘By you? And what do you know about my knowledge? Nothing.’

          • David Lewis

            You would not make much of a lawyer!

          • Dave Postles

            More wriggles than a maggot on a fishing line. Goodbye.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Bogdanor, whom (unlike Mr. Lewis above) I have never met is generally regarded as an expert on constitutional matters:

            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-camerons-rush-to-rewrite-the-rules-in-wake-of-scottish-referendum-result-is-absurd-says-his-former-oxford-tutor-9746555.html

            Which I agree with. Trying to knock up a new constitution ad hoc by Christmas seems barking mad if not morally bankrupt to me, particularly when Cameron has begun consulting extreme right-wingers like Bernard Jenkin (of all people) privately, over the dinner table, in regard to this hugely important matter. Of course Bogdanor did once call his old pupil David Cameron “one of my ablest students” calling into judgement his opinion as per the academic ability and/or possibly the moral fibre and general quality of former undergraduates he taught at Brasenose College.

            However to try to unilaterally change British democracy itself, without proper consultation and at breakneck speed, is utterly disgraceful. How desperate must David Cameron pull a rat out of the hat like this?

            Eeek.

          • rekrab

            When you met him David, he probably wouldn’t have had the time to tell you his personal history.

            In 1998, he was awarded the CBE for contributions to constitutional history, and, in 2009, he was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.

            He has been a Member of Council of The Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities, Member of the Court of Essex University, adviser (as a member of the Council of Europe and American Bar Association delegations) to the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel and Slovakia on constitutional and electoral reform, member of the Academic Panel of Local Authority Associations, member of the Hansard Society Commission on the Legislative Process, member of the UK Government delegation on Democratic Institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and Conference on the Protection of Minorities, Consultant to Independent Television News(ITN) on the General Election, member of the Economic and Social Research Council’s committee administering the ‘Whitehall’ programme, special adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on the Public Services, member of the Swedish Constitutional Reform Project, member of the Advisory Group to the High Commissioner on National Minorities, adviser to the President of Trinidad on the Constitution of Trinidad, and member of the Economic and Social Research Council’s committee administering the devolution programme.

            Professor Bogdanor is a frequent contributor to television, radio and newspapers. Between 2004 and 2008 he gave public lectures as Professor of Law at Gresham College, London. He continues to give public lectures at the College, now as Visiting Professor of Political History. He has published numerous books and articles. Recently, he edited The British Constitution in the 20th Century (published by Oxford University Press to mark the centenary of the British Academy) and authored The New British Constitution (2009) which analyses constitutional changes under the Labour government since 1997.

          • gunnerbear

            Never done a days work in his life then and rode – still rides – high on the taxpayer funded hog.

          • David Lewis

            That is all recorded history and makes no difference to my point.

          • rekrab

            Isn’t all history in past tense like an after thing?

            He done an article in the Gaurdian Yesterday I believe? and gives a very strong account on his constitutional understanding especially on the referendum and the pandoras box which has opened up devolution for the little England and the rest.

    • wycombewanderer

      and that’s the beuaty of it Cameron doesn’t have to deliver all he needs, and he’s got that now is for Miliband to oppose it.

      May 2015, do you trust the English to make their own laws Mr Miliband ? followed by a half hour of obfuscation and waffle such as he came out with on the Marr show yesterday.

  • Ringstone

    Cameron wants to settle the West Lothian Question while conveniently handing Labour a glass of whisky, a loaded revolver and the keys to the library – that’s politics. Labour want devolved powers conferred on their urban heartlands ( though if they’re as solid as Glasgow just proved to be then Heaven help them) in order to provide bases to queer the pitch for any incoming Tory Government, and to avoid the whisky and revolver – which is also politics.
    The question is, having established these Labour fortresses what happens if one or more goes all Derek Hatton and ends up as the English Detroit? They will be legitimate individual power bases but reflect (possibly disastrously) on Labour nationwide. The current debacle is the result of a Labour constitutional experiment designed to stitch up Scotland and Wales, that went well North of the Tweed, so what will be the unintended consequences of this back of a fag packet constitutional amendment?

    • Tokyo Nambu

      “The question is, having established these Labour fortresses what happens if one or more goes all Derek Hatton and ends up as the English Detroit?”

      It would be a gift to the Tories. They just have to recount the story of Rotherham. A Labour Council and a Labour PCC selected by Labour councillors, with Labour MPs: 1400 children raped.

      • David Lewis

        But the electorate knows all this very well indeed.already.

        • Tokyo Nambu

          I’m not sure that the sad truth that Rotherham is an almost exclusively Labour tragedy has been used by the Tories. They’re probably thinking “there for the grace”. That could change.

          • David Lewis

            It has been mentioned as a subtext which I suspect has not been lost on the electorate.

          • stephen marks

            Indeed, The “Bullfinch’ child grooming scandal in Oxford was the responsibility of the Tory-controlled Oxfordshire County Council, but the media haven’t picked up on that.

    • gunnerbear

      Ends up as an English Detroit? Give up….it’s already happened in Scouseville – home to the benefit soaking, ‘we’re always victims we are’ Liverpudlians.

      • Ringstone

        Don’t look at me, I spent three years in Manchester at university, you can imagine my opinion of the inhabitants if the other end of the East Lancs. I just try not to let my ( entirely justified 🙂 ) prejudices leak onto my online posts!

  • Ringstone

    I’m a people, how do I get into this People’s Convention, can I just turn up or do I have to be invited? It’s utter cobblers, the man who controls the process controls the result; which will undoubtedly be the one the apparatchiks organising the event have already pencilled in.

  • Sylvia

    Having read several of the comments below, you all seem to have forgottten that Gordon Brown’s timetable was ONLY about getting more powers to the SCOTS & thereby getting the NO vote. The ‘Vow’ signed by all leaders including Ed was pretty meaningless, but there was nothing wrong with DevoMax. And it’s DevoMax which needs to be delivered to Gordon’s timetable. All the other constitutional matters which do need to be addressed (from the bottom up, not from Westminster MPs) can be dealt with after the Scots are sorted. Let’s not mix them up.

    • Steve Stubbs

      Labour have had since 1999 to come up with an answer to the West Lothian question, and hadn’t bothered as it would of course impact on it’s voting power. Now the problem is to be compounded by the additional powers (read bribes) to be handed to the Scots Putting anything other in place such as general devolution to regions will take years – anyone who believes a constitutional convention can be put together, convene, decide, have the necessary Acts of Parliament passed and the subsequent referendum held, all with a few months or even two years, is deluded.

      We need an interim fix. It is simple. For devolved matters, |MPs representing devolved constituencies do not vote on the. Scots vote Scots only laws, English vote England only Laws, Wales and Northern Ireland ditto. Laws that affect the whole UK get voted on by all UK MPs. Couldn’t be simpler. A whole raft of spurious objections is being fielded as an attempt to make it all sound difficult. Its not. You seem to want to hang on to the unfair system in place with some sort of open ended timetable – not acceptable. 13 years is enough.

  • leslie48

    I wonder all this ‘devolution’ stuff for the remainder of the UK especially England – Has Cameron created a deliberate political ‘distraction’ for Labour during the last pre-Election conference as well as the Tories to beat the Nationalist drum (pre-Clacton by-election etc). For most voters its bullsh*t, boring and meaningless. After all Austerity is already here at local council levels and services are deteriorating.

    What matters now is what Labour can do to show we are a one-nation on the social and distorted economic policies and that we despise the growing inequality and instability for many people both working class and middle class. That should be the focus and Ed has to sell himself with an anti-Tory Social Democratic discourse as all previous leaders have had to do. But he will need to be bold to get the headlines.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      If Ed actually means it about “One Nation” (and I don’t think he does), he will treat us all as one nation. And that means the English having an equivalent amount of power devolved as do the other three nations (even they are dissimilarly devolved).

      If he tries to maintain a contemptible and deliberately partisan ignorance of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish influence on English affairs, he should be hounded by the media, and exposed as a charlatan at every turn from now until he resigns as Labour’s leader in June 2015.

  • leslie48

    Its a big distraction; waste of time and b*llsh*t to our voters. Spending Cuts at the top – councils at whatever level do the services cuts. period. Labour must sell its stuff not waste time on talking about ‘the politics of politics’ Its totally boring to us never mind Sid and Boris Bonkers. What we deliver to people next May matters not Cameron’s seminars about politics !

  • Jonathan morse

    Rather than Constitutional Convention, which you will need the time and resources to attend, & luck to bepicked to be heard, why not do it all online? Have moderators to keep comments about similar topics together, push the discussion along, looking for novel ideas suggested by mild mannered contributors, to produce final recommendations to put to all contributers to agree to.

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