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Should we have a properly written constitution?

(25 Posts)
Grany Thu 08-Oct-20 10:45:41

Parliament should work better not side with the government It be stronge against the government A Head of State should be able to intervene when government gets it wrong. The House of Lords not fit for purpose.

Do we have a properly functioning democracy?

To find out more if you want

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 11:11:31

I’d start with reforming the voting system - FPTP undermines any idea of democracy.

Anniebach Thu 08-Oct-20 11:41:57

Surely a head of state who can intervene a governments decisions means a dictatorship.

lemsip Thu 08-Oct-20 12:27:45

Anniebach, you are right!

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 12:32:59

Like Trump then - good example of an elected head of state who can dictate to the elected members eg stopping the Stimulus Bill

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 12:38:24

And in France the elected Head of State ie the President can dissolve the elected National Assembly. I’m the relationships between elected H of S and elected governments is quite complex and varied between different countries l

Ilovecheese Thu 08-Oct-20 12:41:09

I think it is too late for us to have a written constitution. We have a sort of unwritten constitution which has evolved over centuries. It would take more centuries for us to agree what should be written.
Agree about FPTP though.

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 12:56:14

Written constitutions aren’t that much to write home about imo?

MaizieD Thu 08-Oct-20 13:03:49


Surely a head of state who can intervene a governments decisions means a dictatorship.

The whole point of our current constitution is that the 'government' rules on behalf of our head of state (the monarch) and that PARLIAMENT should be able to act to prevent the government exercising tyranny.

It's the government that is tyrannical if it has no checks on it.

It is very dangerous to believe that the government should go unchecked.

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 13:34:17

In the UK our unelected H of S does whatever the Government tell her to including illegal acts.

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 13:35:48

Actually Maizie I doubt we can have a meaningful decision on this topic.

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 13:55:17

Or discussion even

varian Thu 08-Oct-20 13:56:06

The answer to the OP's question is NO - we certainly do not have a properly functioning democracy.

We live in a sham democracy. Any vestiges of real democracy have, especially over the last five years been totally corrupted by powerful vested interests.

Whether we can ever become a functioning democracy, and how, is another question.

MaizieD Thu 08-Oct-20 13:56:47


In the UK our unelected H of S does whatever the Government tell her to including illegal acts.

That's because technically they are governing on her behalf. I'm not sure that she's ever before been put in in a situation where she's been asked to give her assent to an Act which would enable her government to break international law. If the IM bill passes the Lords unchanged she will be in a very difficult position as she swore to uphold the law in her coronation oath. And that includes international law, I understand.

The checks on the government come from Parliament as a whole because it represents the people as a whole. And, as we saw with the unlawful prorogation, the people can have recourse to judicial review to test the lawfulness of government actions. Though the latest security Bill explicitly tries to put the government above the law. That is terrifying.

MaizieD Thu 08-Oct-20 14:03:00


Actually Maizie I doubt we can have a meaningful decision on this topic.

Why not?

varian Thu 08-Oct-20 14:03:39

Right now, politics doesn’t work for most of us. Decisions are made for people and communities by the small handful of people that have political power. At elections we replace politicians, but the same corrupt system remains.

Instead of Westminster handing down instructions, communities should have a say over their futures. Instead of serving the interests of corporations and the super-rich, politicians could work in the public’s interest.

We’re building a movement of people from all corners of the UK who will demand a democratic society that centres equality and justice for all. We demand that the values we collectively share are enshrined in a new constitution that is built and owned by all of us. The new constitution will set out what rights and freedoms should be protected, and what the government can and can’t do in our name.

This new constitution will be written by and for the people as part of an inclusive, deliberative, and above-all democratic process, including a constitutional convention. We demand that the new constitution permanently rebalances and decentralises power.

If we want a democratic society, we need to start with a democratic political system. Together, we want to rewrite the UK’s entire political system.

MaizieD Thu 08-Oct-20 14:35:46

Too revolutionary, varian.
New constitutions are fiendishly difficult to devise.

Urmstongran Thu 08-Oct-20 14:47:09

No to a written constitution.
And no to proportional representation. When I look at the muddle and mess in the Spanish system - it’s been the same for years. Absolute horror show.

varian Thu 08-Oct-20 14:51:48

The Spanish system can't be that bad UG since you chose to live in Spain

Urmstongran Thu 08-Oct-20 14:58:01

Oh give over.
I’ve explained myself enough now. Stop with the goading.

suziewoozie Thu 08-Oct-20 15:09:58

If we are discussing democracy we need a great deal of information before we can have a sensible debate. PR voting systems are many and varied as is the structure and power and relationships between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. Additionally the powers of H of S and Heads of Government vary enormously. And finally the structure of levels of government - national, regional, local vary hugely. We have a very centralised system - Spain, Switzerland, Germany for example do not. And finally, countries can use one type of PR for one type of election and another type for another. It’s really complex with all sorts of intended and unintended consequences and strengths and weaknesses. I’ll add our over centralised system to our FPTP system as major contraindications to democracy and throw in an unelected H of S and Upper House.

varian Thu 08-Oct-20 16:38:38

Brexit strategy risks UK 'dictatorship', says ex-president of supreme court

varian Thu 08-Oct-20 16:44:00

The government’s Brexit strategy is in danger of driving the UK down a “very slippery slope” towards “dictatorship” or “tyranny”, according to a former president of the supreme court.

Addressing an online meeting of lawyers, Lord Neuberger on Wednesday evening condemned the internal market bill, which enables the government to breach international law and exempts some of its powers from legal challenge.

“Once you deprive people of the right to go to court to challenge the government, you are in a dictatorship, you are in a tyranny,” Neuberger told the webinar. “The right of litigants to go to court to protect their rights and ensure that the government complies with its legal obligation is fundamental to any system … You could be going down a very slippery slope.”

Grany Fri 09-Oct-20 08:33:45

Interesting points made yes we do need a proper democracy written down in one place so our our children can read learn. people can have a say or power will always be in the hands of the few.

The British constitution can be changed by any government that has a willing majority in the Commons, so even our most fundamental rights can be eroded by normal acts of parliament. And that’s why we need a written constitution.

The Commonwealth of Britain Bill was a bill first introduced in 1991 by Tony Benn,[1] then a Labour Member of Parliament in the House of Commons and was seconded by the future Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. It proposed abolishing the British monarchy, with the United Kingdom becoming a "democratic, federal and secular Commonwealth of Britain", or in effect a republic with a codified constitution. It was introduced by Benn a number of times until Benn's retirement in 2001, but never achieved a second reading. Under the Bill:

This is what was tabled

That this House recalls that the Commonwealth of Britain Bill, presented by the Right honourable Member for Chesterfield, has received its first reading and the House has ordered it to be printed; notes that this Bill would, amongst its provisions, establish a democratic and secular Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Wales, each with its own national parliament, provide for fundamental human rights and equal representation for men and women, the election of a President, end the constitutional status of the Crown, the Privy Council and the House of Lords, disestablish the Church of England, terminate British jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and offer a new constitution for the electors to consider, after its passagethrough parliament, in a referendum; welcomes Her Majesty's decision, conveyed through the Home Secretary, to place Her Prerogative and Interest, so far as they may be affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purpose of the Bill; and believes that this House and the people must find time to discuss and decide upon proposals for fundamental democratic reforms in the constitution in order to prepare Britain for its future in the next century.

Our Head of State is constitutionally pointless.
There are thoses working towards a better working democracy and one of those is Republic

Spangler Fri 09-Oct-20 08:45:41


I’d start with reforming the voting system - FPTP undermines any idea of democracy.

Good luck with that. The Alternative Vote referendum on May 5th 2011 produced the following:
Valid votes19,165,73099.41%
Invalid or blank votes113,2920.59%
Total votes19,279,022100.00%
Registered voters/turnout45,684,50142.2%

So on those statistics, 57.8% could care enough to go and do something about the current voting system. Either that, or they are happy to retain first past the post.