Monday, 17 May 2010

Golwg Column translation: The need for a new constitution

"The people have spoken, but we're not sure what the message is."
The words of Paddy Ashdown on the night of the general election. Underlines perfectly the election results - uncertainty.
The world of nature abhors a vacuum. To some extent so also in the world of politics.
To avoid a vacuum in the world of politics every possibility is discussed and plans are drawn up to meet every eventuality. That is what precisely happened as a consequence of the election results when it became clear that no party had a working majority.
Gus McDonald, the head of the civil service, prepared a paper to let those involved know what would happen. Mr Brown was to stay in office until there was an understanding between the various parties as to how to move ahead.
And the reason for all this, to avoid embarrassment to the Queen.
But as electors we deserve better. It shouldn't be information that is kept within the establishment, but information that is available to us all.
The difficulty arises because live under a regime that sees us as subjects and not citizens. No right to information but merely crumbs to keep us subjects happy.
The discussions and the decisions are made behind close doors according to a pattern determined by the establishment. Its exactly like the decision's occurred in the old Soviet Union. The first that the population knew about any changes was when the leaders came out into the Red square or they read about it in Pravda. Not a clue as to what was going on behind close doors. How different is it in these islands?
In every other country that calls itself democratic, the population knows exactly where it stands after an election. Why? Their constitutions are written on paper so that everyone know the rules and conditions by which they are governed.
But no, not here in the United Kingdom. We pride ourselves on the unwritten nature of our constitution. All is dependent on convention. Of course when all came from the same background, went to the same public school and were members of the same London club, the constitution worked well on a nod and a wink.
But a modern country deserves better. A country can't be run on rules that were devised for the 18th century but are now well past their sell by date.
A new constitution is required for the country. One that recognizes devolution, is codified and is clear. It's not up to some civil servant to decide what happens, but us citizens.
If that requires us to get read of the Queen as head of State, so be it. Its about time we came of age as a country. Free citizens and not subjects, that's the way ahead.

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