Gordon Brown’s long-awaited (really?) constitutional review, was, in a similar manner to the party’s 2017 manifesto, leaked, this time to the Guardian. On the surface, it proposes a radical shakeup of Britain’s uncodified constitution last seen in, erm, Labour’s previous period in office.
The headline announcement is a proposal to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an upper house of nations and regions. The author is, of course, the same Gordon Brown who appointed 34 life peers to the Lords during his tenure in office, with 374 peers created under his predecessor Tony Blair.
Despite devolution arguably putting the wind in the SNP’s sails, Brown wants more of it. He is unperturbed and wants Labour to devolve more economic powers, including on taxation, to the UK nations, where devolved and local administrations would be guaranteed three years of funding. Local people would also have the power to promote bills in Parliament through democratically-elected bills, which, again, hardly seems a stretch from what MPs do.
In a bid to ensure such changes could not be reversed, the report also advocates a “constitutional guarantee” of social and economic rights, including a right to healthcare, education and social protection. Reminiscent of Labour’s 1998 Human Rights Act, it suggested Labour believe such policies would be far from guaranteed when they are next removed from office.
Perhaps most striking of all the reforms is the modern day throwing of rotten tomatoes at politicians in the stocks. How so? Brown proposes a jury of “ordinary citizens” (whatever that means) selected by ballot forming an integrity and ethics commission. They would rule on complaints against MPs and ministers.
But what if one of the “ordinary” civilian members of the integrity and ethics commission then gets into trouble and is caught being naughty? Wouldn’t there need to be an integrity and ethics commission to oversee the work of the integrity and ethics commission?
Round and round it goes, the never-ending range of Gordon Brown schemes to bugger up the constitution.
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