Draft Constitution

by
Daniel Regan
Daniel Regan | May 8, 2015 | in Your Constitution

The draft constitution is now available for your comments but most importantly, your VOTES.  Please click thumbs up or thumbs down to ratify or reject the draft constitution.

John Hackett May 8, 2015

Just to clarify on the process:

Does a rejection mean a redrafting based on points raised about wording etc, or the absolute rejection of the entire document?

Imogen Galilee May 8, 2015

You've included 'children's rights' in the form that Ian Smith posted after it went into the refinement stage. It received no more votes after that (up or down). The seven votes received by that idea were on the basis of the previous wording.

CGrammaticus May 8, 2015

Do we actually need a Head of State?  I would not be happy with candidates being nominated by an unpsecified "government official" !(Chapter 3). Should be open to all.

"2.12 Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
Every individual is free to have no religion and to express non-religious ideas."

Should add "or to have a religion and to express religious ideas"

Generally, I think this draft is too prescriptive (and too long :) ).  While I personally would agree with, for instance, 2.16 Right to Education (free education extended to higher education, no tax exemptions for non-state institutions and so on), I think these are policies based on political views and the people should have a democratic right to choose whether these should be based in law, or not; they should not be enshrined in the constitution.

This applies to many other sections.  I think the constitution needs to focus on the structures of government (legislature, executive and judiciary) and related institutions (police, military, free press), but say as little as possible about what policies should be enacted.

And I couldn't help spotting some typos (need to switch to UK English in the word processor?):

1.6 "endeavour" for "endeavor"

1.8 "favoured" for "favored"

2.25 "Children's " for "Childrens' "

5.5 "petition" for "petititon"

6.12 "fulfilment" for "fulfillment"

Good work!

Imogen Galilee May 8, 2015

I voted down. There are three reasons I can think of why one might vote 'up'.

(1) It is substantively a good constitution. But I don't agree with plenty of things in there, which I (and others) argued against in the first stage.

(2) It represents a collaborative effort by people who have particular knowledge on these issues. It does not. (I would include myself in that, of course, bar certain topics)

(3) It represents a collaborative effort by people who can be considered representative of normal British people. It does not.

So, unless I'm missing something (I hope I am), I have to vote down.

This was a really interesting project which I'm glad to have been a part of. But it needs to have sorted out exactly what it was trying to achieve. When I read the word 'crowdsourced', I assumed that this would be an initiative to encourage members of the British public to construct a constitution which would better reflect the views of ordinary people generally. I don't see any evidence of that. The community is highly unrepresentative in a number of respects. Education, gender, occupation - quite a few worked in or had worked in politics or the legal profession - and political persuasion (I seriously doubt that our community would've voted the way the British public did yesterday)

This project might have taken the view (thankfully it did not) that we only want "educated" people to participate. But in that case, the project would've just gone straight to the IPA experts who were supposed to eventually draft it. It didn't - the suggestion was that this was going to be a 'bottom-up' initiative, based on the common sense of the crowd. But use of the "crowd" implies that its output has normative significance. Failure to ask: 'who is this crowd, and are they actually representative of the British public?' has meant that its normative significance is next to nothing. It has fallen between two stools.

I still want to know what ordinary working people - of all kinds - think about the way this country ought to be run. Reading the pdf above, I'm none the wiser.

This project was - however - a useful learning experience. I think it's going to be easier, should something like this be done again, to know what problems a project like this is going to face, having been through this exercise. And who knows - if the (~1000) participants of this project could all direct the considerable energy put into this project into practically improving the responsiveness of government, such energy could make a real difference. So the numbers of people interested in this project is reason enough to have hope.

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

hear, hear. 

 

Hugh Ryan May 8, 2015

I also voted down; Imogen has captured my thinking almost exactly.

Users tagged:

Faisal Ahmed May 8, 2015

Hi Imogen,

Whilst I do see where you are coming from, I think you are being a little harsh here.  I accept your point that there are many areas (such removal of the Monarchy) that the broad British Public wouldn't support and the document as a whole is to the left of the majority of British public opinion

However I never took this project as means of creating a final Constitution that you could just cut and paste in to law.  It's primary purpose for me was discussing the issues that need addressing, even if you don't agree with the final outcome.

My biggest concern with the document is that is a bit of a mish-mash of stuff wish should be constitutional and stuff that should be governed by legislation.  Nevertheless I think it has been a very valuable exercise, especially in light of yesterdays election result.

We are looking at the real prospect of the breakup of the union and exiting the EU, the result of years of ignoring underlying concerns by the left and feeding on those fears and insecurities by the right.

A Constitutional convention would address many of those issues, but probably it's too late for us now, but for me it's been great to have been involved in this project.

 

Paul Healey May 8, 2015

I agree with your last sentiment, but I think too many of the less well seasoned thinkers, think of a constitution like Moses commandments rather than defining a set of protocols.

Consider: This constitution of the Republic of _______ confers power to the citizens by the democratic distribution of their interests rights to be set out in the legislation of its protocols;

if the republic wants to stick with a monarch it can, so each person within it is not reduced to some abstract set of laws to be controlled by those who have the power to override them e.g. own a military industrial complex that negates the right to bear or not bear arms!

 

Christopher Lennon May 8, 2015

The "constitution" is largely a plain English and none too precise or dignified statement of existing rights and provisions, with the addition of some thoroughly left wing and illiberal ideas that have no chance of becoming acceptable to the British people.

Unfortunately, the project was hijacked by a minority with an extreme agenda and little understanding of the constitutional privileges they already enjoy. God forbid they or their like ever govern us.

I'm afraid I cannot agree it was even a worthwhile exercise. More a waste of time, sadly.

paula williams May 8, 2015

I agree with most of The Constitution but there are a few weak areas:

'10.1 We share more values in common with our European neighbours

than with the countries of other continents.'

this suggests a narrow prejudiced view of the world which is not a good

beginning to the development of international understanding.

 

'10.4  iii)  Foreign deployment of military forces shall be permitted only

when authorised by the government.'

I would add, 'and with the agreement of the foreign government involved.'

 

 

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

Cough: are most foreign interventions (commonly known as war) done against the wish of the 'host government by definition. 
If you want a defensive only military wriiten it, it'd need to be explicit. 

 

paula williams May 14, 2015

The UK, often backing the United States, regularly intervenes in foreign civil wars, supporting the side which will further their own interests. Military action for defence, yes , and no intervention in foreign internal affairs. Hope your cough is better   :)

Users tagged:

View all replies (2)

Morgan Saunders May 8, 2015

Issues:  

Minimum voting age 18!

Prisoners should not have the vote 

 

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

Well, its going to be 16 in Scotland for Local and Holyrood elections very soon. 
And prisoners and vote is a political/HR issue. 

 

John Z May 8, 2015

Although I will vote down this draft Constitution for the reasons I will state below, I must say that I am very optimistic for some necessary changes in the future (as evidenced by the election yesterday), as long as the UK remains united.

First and foremost, there are many provisions in this draft that I personally oppose.  But despite that, I will put my personal preferences aside and focus on my next two points.

Second, this draft Constitution will unlikely have public support as it includes some radical ideas supported only by a minority.  For instance, the reference to abolishing the Monarchy will result in the majority of the public rejecting the document without them even reading the remainder of the document.  Considering the public benefit to there being a written Constitution, it would be unfortunate for it to be rejected based on the views of a 20% minority.  The better course of action is to not reference the abolishment of the Monarchy, so the remainder of the document may get its fair reading by the public.

Third, this draft enshrines too many “guarantee’s”  and “must’s” and “obligation’s” upon the government without any concern to cost.  The writers of these provisions must be reminded that “money does not grow on trees”;  the Westminster printing-press can only print so much currency, and the Westminster credit card has been maxed out.  Otherwise, the name “London School of Economics” may just as well change its name to the “Varoufakis School of Economics”, where spending money is no concern.  Yes, we should do our best efforts to have social programs and assist people, but not at the expense of bankrupting the Treasury.    

Despite my objections to some provisions in the document, we are on the right path to change.  There were over 1000+ participants in this project, and we are all better off for having learned from other people’s views in this debate.  This project was an excellent learning experience, and if the topic of a Constitutional Convention becomes an actual political issue amongst the general public and/or Westminster, then the LSE has a document ready to be proposed.     

 

Thank you all. 

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

I agree that there is a disconnect between the views of the participant on e.g. monarchy and the views, so far as they are known, of the population.    That speaks to the unrepresentative nature of the participants. 

And then at the CC there was an issue about whether participants were trying to reflect the views of everyone who participated - or where there as themselves. 

I'm not capable of representing views that I disagree with.  I can state them but I can't argue for them  That's just me. 

Actually, of course, there were too few trying to do too much in too short a timescale. 

(but thanks for the offer of a salaried place on a CC and for a year afterwards in the HoL.  I;ve a problem with the second as the only valid reason I can see for entering the Lords, is to vote to abolish it.)

 

Jake Deans May 8, 2015

There seems to be a lot of discussion over the validity of the project as a basis for voting for the Constitution - but for me this is an irrelevance. If you think it would be a good constitution for the United Kingdom, then vote it up. If you take issue with its contents, vote it down. Personally, I think there are a few slightly indistinct areas and some things could be covered with legislation rather than being constitutional, but for something constructed in the way it was it's surprisingly coherent, and I think a good achievement.

I'm not sure what people expected from this project generally, but I was interested in it because it would produce some sort of meaningful dialogue between people about constitutional matters and test the validity of 'crowdsourcing' as a way of collecting policy ideas. I don't think that the fact that the crowdsourcing process didn't get representative views makes the whole project flawed therefore - it was a test, something to be learned from, and if you think the process was flawed, that's as much of a valid lesson as if it was a 'successful' process. 

Nothing about this was perfect - not the process, and not the outcome - but it was in my mind an experiment, not an attempt to actually create a legally binding constitution - so therefore, I think the project was a success. 

As for my vote, well, that has to be based on the actual contents, and I am as yet undecided. 

Jane Austin May 8, 2015

It is very comprehensive and possibly too long. There is also some duplication and too much detail in some places - getting very specific about tax in one area, for example. The statement about sharing common values and having most in common with European countries is limiting but also absurd. What about the Commonwealth and countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada who are teeming with British descendants and built on British values?

I disagree with the comment about taking into account the costs and affordability of ideas when putting together a Constitution. This is a document that establishes the vision and the principles and therefore should not be constrained by what may be affordable - that becomes a matter of choices made down the track. If for example, free education is a strong principle, it can be funded through higher taxes - Germany, Finland and other countries have all made this choice.

As for the monarchy,why modify the output of those who contributed to the project just because it may be unpalatable?  This project has helped to move me from being a lifelong 'under-stated monarchist' to a republican. I'm over it.  The fish rots from the head and there's something about British adherence to an elite, outmoded, privileged class  that is completely at odds with a truly fair society founded on principles of equality. The Monarchy is the ultimate symbol of this and its tentacles of entitlement reach far and deep into British society.

In spite of my reservations, I'm giving it a thumbs up. Mainly because in a depressing sea of unquestioning dross, this document emerges as something of a vision, flawed as it is. Its day may not be now, but it WILL come.

Stewart Mac Coll May 8, 2015

This is a very comprehensive document which would enshrine the rights/responsibilities of citizens of this country. I feel that it sets a very simple, jargon free framework for State and citizens. I particularly like that the constitution refers to an elected Head of State. If the current Head of state wants to offer herself as a candidate for election this would give her some legitimacy - certainly more so than the current arrangement where an individual has to be a member of the 'Windsor' family to qualify to head the country

Mark Jones May 9, 2015

The draft constitution is a good starting point but in articles 1.8 & 2.12 does tend to repeat itself with regard to religious rights and equality, also the article of 1.9 is at odds with the head of state which is flawed. I agree with regard to banning hereditary titles for British heads of state, but with regard to the aristocracy, it should be down to the recipient and their family on whether to pass on any titles, while the titles themselves should be courtesy titles and have no political or civil power other than that of a private individual.  And titles are also honours so how can a head of state grant an honour that is also banned by the constitution. As for the head of state, what the draft constitution is proposing is an elected version of the present monarchy and seven years is too long between elections. this should be 4 -5yrs at most and as for being ceremonial, any ceremonial head of state should have no political power or office other than the right to vote while in office unless in a state of emergency where the well being of the nation is at risk from foreign or domestic enemies and it is for the people to decide in a referendum, whether they want a ceremonial or an executive head of state     

Michael Kenning May 9, 2015

It is concise, and I like it.

There is only one thing that I have a problem with. The concept of race, the one which says that the human species is divided biologically, is wrong. It is gratified by its use in 2.15.

There is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that races exist. European countries have made gains recently to wipe its use from legislation; where they haven't they have at least clarified in their definitions that the idea that the human species is divided into 'races' is wrong.

I understand the intention, of course. But I fill that condemning discrimination on the basis of sex, colour, language, religion, sexual orientation, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status is enough to recognise the various types of discrimination and hatred in our world. We shouldn't be gratifying racists who believe that skin colour is a suitable way to discriminate the human species into categories.

Replace it with 'ethnicity'. This more accurately describes what is the amalgamation of skin colour, culture and national origin.

(It doesn't carry the baggage with it that race does, which implies there are superior and inferior races.)

We don't need to include or validate a concept that has been widely discredited by the scientific community. We have an obligation to not use it considering the concept's use in totalitarian, despotic, and sometimes even democratic states. It was the main drive behind imperialism and the race society of South Africa.

Jeremy Wells May 9, 2015

I will vote this draft document up because I believe it represents the first seeds of what I hope becomes the instrument of engagement through which the public will begin to understand the need for change in the way this country conducts itself. A written constitution becomes the point of reference for everybody and a tool by which the people can begin to familiarise themselves with the process of government from the moment they enter the educational process until they leave this world. 

The recent election has if nothing else brought into sharp relief the absurdities of the electoral process in this country and how very inadequate it is in supporting and subsequently reflecting the clear shift in the political landscape that is taking place. Comments have been made here about the elitist nature of this project but I would simply say thank goodness the LSE is facilitating this much needed debate so its fruits can be developed and taken to the country's wider public, (note I don't use the term 'UK' because 'United' we clearly are not  and 'Kingdom' we shouldn't be!).

There are inevitably aspects of the draft that definitely need refinement, forinstance I am in principle uncomfortable about the concept of referenda. The four yearly frequency of a general election provides the people with sufficient control on who makes decisions on their behalf. A government who goes to the nation during a four year period to hold a referendum is a weak government in my view. Similarly a public that demands a referendum means that insufficient thought has gone into the voting at an election. If there has to be a provision for referenda then it should be much harder to get it proposed and the eventual decision one way or another would have to represent a higher percentage of the total vote, say 75% for it to provoke any action obligatory or otherwise.

I agree with another contributor here about the statement under Head of State 'a government official shall nominate candidates' which doesn't seem to address how short lists are drawn up for such a position in an impartial way free from the usual political horsetrading. A more precise and mechanism is required here involving perhaps an able committee not directly involved in the duties of government. 

Under Parliament, 'all hereditary peers and spiritual peers shall not sit in such a chamber' is unnecessary as the constitution states earlier that all such titles and privileges will be abolished.

It needs work but it is a very good start !

 

 

 

I think an individual should have a legal obligation to vote even if it is only to tick the box 'none of the above' as this promotes engagement in the important process of elections and it would also better record the levels of disengagement/disenchantment across the nation.

 

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

Very sympathetic to this. 

We are in 'interesting times' and we need radical thinking on how we are governed. 

I switched last year from being rather against Independence in Scotland to bein in favour.  That position is hardening, partly due to the political rhetoric from Labour and Tories regarding the SNP (and I'm Green with serious issues with the SNP on a  range of issues).

Our current arrangements are mince : they have to change.  Federalism is worth a shot but I think that Scotland will be independent in my lifetime and I'd put money on <10 years.    But federalism is needed for rUK anyway and if the legacy of Scotland is that sharing of power in rUK, that will be a great parting gift. 

 

Edward Jones May 9, 2015

I voted it down. This is way too detailed, and free HE enshrined in the constitution? Madness. Separation of powers and continuation of parliamentary government seems incompatible, and en elected Head of State an uneccessary waste of time and resources and causes friction with the parliamentary system. Too many pet projects rather than a minimalist framework for te operation of UK government.

i think a future version of this project should start by drafting a codified version of our current constitution and work from there (a hard enough things to do in itself), rather than try and work something up from scratch.

A great project and learning experience, but not a great constitution.

Bob Stammers May 9, 2015

In addition to the points raised by Imogen above, I think that any constitution needs to be (1) based firmly on principle (2) capable of attracting overwhelming public support. This one includes:-

"Individuals have the right to bodily integrity and shall have the right to terminate their own pregnancies in the first trimester at least. People and institutions that are opposed to abortion should not be forced, through taxation or regulation, to support financially or by association, any abortion services"

The first sentence deliberately blurs the principle; the second sentence is plainly ridiculous for several reasons elaborated in the earlier discussions.

I have some sympathy for the intentions of this clause but the limit, if any, on abortion must be based on some firm rational principle such as "until completion of feature X" or "until the due date". Specifying "first trimester at least" is a bargaining ploy fit only for backroom deals not for a principled constitution.

The "objectors need not pay" clause merely highlights the need to remove this entire clause from the constitution, it will not actually overcome anyone's objection to abortion.

The next attempt at a constitution needs to stipulate at the outset that anything included in the constitution needs to be based on sound rational principled argument and the promoter needs to specify the actual sound rational principled argument.

Claire Finn May 10, 2015

I appreciate your objections, Bob, but I'm curious as to why you haven't objected to the clause that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for certain types of warfare against their conscience?

Bob Stammers May 10, 2015

I didn't comprehensively examine the whole text Claire; the abortion clause struck me as being symptomatic of the document as a whole but you're right, I'd regard the military get-out clause as being equally absurd.

Essentially, I regard this document as fatally flawed as a constitution although I haven't expressed all its failings. If it is intended as a mere discussion draft to provoke further debate the whole thing should obviously be examined in detail clause by clause but as a potentially real document no further analysis is needed.

Hugh Ryan May 11, 2015

I saw this but didn't comment at the time. On reflection this particular clause, plus that on abortion, indicates a more fundamental 'principle' being enshrined - that no-one should be required to fund, via taxation, any government supported initiative to which they have a moral or principled etc objection.

Apart from tying up just about any governmental initiative or action in legal wrangling, it is fundamentally undemocratic.

Claire Finn May 11, 2015

Perhaps it is undemocratic if your view of democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner which of course, in it's purest form, it is. I'd rather concentrate more on letting minorities and individuals (the smallest minority) establish more avenues to assert their rights to abide by their own consciences. I think, in the long run, that will enable people to live and let live and respect their neighbours as people in their own right who are entitled to live their lives as they see fit without the majority interfering.

View all replies (4)

Tom Austin May 9, 2015

I voted 'UP': Yet I await a response to Mr. Hackett's query.

I have enjoyed this process, I am enjoying it still, and, doubtless, there is much more enjoyment to be had. This is hardly the finished article.

As far as this 'draft' seeming too left-wing, well that is to be expected. Any move to curtail and restrain that which is currently free to do entirely as it pleases, is bound to look left-wing. However the very change from 'subject' to 'citizen' confers both great freedoms and great responsibilities, and this is where the true story of a Written Constitution emerges.

What's next?

Claire Finn May 10, 2015

I've voted this draft down. Principally because it guarantees too many positive rights rather than concentrating on our real rights. I also don't believe in getting rid of the Monarchy. I don't think that contributes in anyway to making the UK a more free nation.

I've enjoyed the process immensely and I'm still a fan of the US Constitution but this has convinced me of the dangers of setting things down in stone and not allowing people to pursue different politics in the future. At least until we have thinkers like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison prevalent in the culture again. It has in effect, written socialism and the welfare state into the Constitution. I believe politicians should at least have the opportunity to put more capitalist classical liberal ideas before the voting public.

Also, I think one of the results of having crowd sourced it like this is that certain parts of it contradict each other.

Paul Healey May 11, 2015

Actually they have been putting more classical liberal ideas without the public voting for them for some time. What you get when democratic rights and interests are decided by the corporations is the negation of freedom in favour of a competition for the sake of capital. This ultimately leads to extremism and war as opposed to a rational constitution of moral and ethical values. 

"real rights" go nowhere as they lead to anarchy. All it does is abduct the freedom of others by taking away their rights; real freedom by being stochastic and independent is contradictory. Actual freedom is also logistic and dependent on the relation to others.

What I think we should aim for is a constitution that is not bias towards the corporations or institutions, but democratic congresses of direct interests (as explained in my other posts); so we can avoid the anarchy that real freedom entails! 

Claire Finn May 11, 2015

I'm not aware of any corporations denying me any rights. The government on the other hand .......

Bob Stammers May 11, 2015

http://www.globalexchange.org/corporateHRviolators

 

Claire Finn May 11, 2015

With all due respect, Bob, that's a completely biased left wing document that doesn't list any violation of any classical liberal rights as I see them. A minimum wage, to take one example, is a government measure that some people consider causes unemployment. These are political issues that I as a voter, should have an opportunity (even if very remote) to see debated in Parliament and not, a priori, protected in a Constitution so as to remove any possibility of debate.

Paul Healey May 11, 2015

Maybe not yours or ones that you care about, but unlike other businesses the banks have been allowed to go bankrupt while their CEO's have been rewarded. Incompetence stands shoulder to shoulder with corruption!

More importantly, when you vote for a party and they can be financed by the most powerful corporations it is not the public that can affect the outcome of elections. Why? well when too much power is conferred to them the laws of the state are easily broken resulting in less freedom and more control.

Paul Healey May 11, 2015

Maybe not yours, or ones that you care about, but unlike other businesses the banks have been allowed to go bankrupt while their CEO's have been rewarded. Incompetence stands shoulder to shoulder with corruption.

More importantly, when you vote for a party and they can be financed by the most powerful corporations it is not the public that can effect the outcome of elections. Why?, well when too much power is conferred to them the laws of the state are easily broken resulting in less freedom and more control.

Claire Finn May 12, 2015

"when you vote for a party and they can be financed by the most powerful corporations it is not the public that can effect the outcome of elections."

Sorry, but this brings to mind the ridiculous over reaction from some on the left to the recent election results. If you can't persuade voters to vote the way you want that doesn't mean it's not the public who have decided the outcome. The public have decided - just not the way you wanted them to.  Better luck next time - though not if I can help it by trying to persuade other voters of my ideas.

And, no, Paul, it's not that I don't see my own particular rights being affected so I'm alright, Jack. I disagree on what you consider to be rights. Okay? It's not that I agree with you on what rights are but I'm selfish, stupid, evil or brainwashed by Murdoch. I disagree! The left should spend more time trying to persuade others of their ideas rather than coming up with other, spurious, reasons why they failed at the polls.

Paul Healey May 12, 2015

While you and I might have strong convictions, it is not hard to show that most are easily manipulated by the media. Logically, this is not difficult to explain, as most have a very limited knowledge of political science let alone any decent work on the philosophy of its understanding.

Taking advantage of the growing ignorance is how our current system of parliamentary democracy works for corporations and not the citizens. The conservatives might have got away with it, if they hadn't been so greedy; covered their tracts so the empirical evidence would not of been so obvious. For some statistics see: http://linkis.com/blog.lboro.ac.uk/gen/scWYi

So much for the ethics of such a limited democratic model, perhaps you find university research that can be independently verified to dispute the later?

 

Claire Finn May 12, 2015

Being "manipulated" is just another word for "persuaded" by some means or another - not always logical, I grant you. The only alternative is dictatorship and not giving the electorate a choice. It seems hypocritical of the left to complain when their ideas are rife throughout education of all levels and many sources of state and privately owned media sources.

It's clearly evident that most universities are absolute no go areas when it comes to certain ideas so "manipulation" goes both ways.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10565264...in-schools.html

But the Left now want to get rid of the few sources of dissent there are. If you want to get corporations out of politics, the solution is easy; get politics and government out of business. I assure you, they will see no need to lobby the government. They will have nothing to gain.

I'm certainly not going to vote for a constitutional document that takes away any choice I have to even argue in Parliament (through representation) for a more classically liberal agenda.

Paul Healey May 13, 2015

My criticism is not just of Conservative values, but also of Labour ones precisely for the reasons you give. That is, in both cases their special interests are given priority at the cost of others. Note, neither party tried to prevent the financial crisis or the continuing unrest that is gathering pace in the Muslim countries and will probably find its way to Europe! Why? as neither acknowledges the rights of those that think differently from the other party's that can exist within the system! My point being is that recognising the direct interests of other congresses would inform the citizens and most likely result in making better decisions!

What I am arguing for, is that those that have knowledge of their subjects, like politics, education, health and finance etc., should have rights beyond those of the corporations that put capital first. And certainly you should have the right to vote for your liberal ideas, but it mustn't be at the cost of others right to vote otherwise; as with the corporations unethical manipulation of the media! Provide me with a method of how this can be measured; demonstrating that it wasn't the case for the election and your argument will be a better one.

Also, if politicians have the right to present different political systems why shouldn't it be a right of the delegates of other direct interests to vote on it? For it seems to me, that if you think that parliamentary democracy is the best system, you cannot advocate it by denying others a choice; if you really believe in liberty!

 

John Z May 12, 2015

"...most have a very limited knowledge of political science let alone any decent work on the philosophy of its understanding."  Wow, that is a very elitist statement Paul, especially when you call people "ignorant".  

What you don't seem to realize (or maybe you do), is that people have knowledge in some topics, while lacking knowledge in other topics.  I for one lack knowledge in topics such as medicine or auto mechanics, thus I rely on my doctor and my auto mechanic to explain things to me at a level of a novice;  if they use technical terms, I will be lost in the conversation.  Similarly, politicians have to better explain the issues to non-experts in the political arena so they can understand the issues;  that doesn't make people "ignorant".   He or she who does a better job at that likely will win (along with the political winds playing a role in the result).  

So you want to talk about the failures of Labour, why blame the Conservatives;  it is because Labour FAILED in Scotland.  The Conservatives played no role in that.  Labour lost the people there;  they took them for granted.  It wasn't media spin, rather it was their own failure.  But they also failed in England.  

The unions picked Ed Milliband, and he was the wrong person for the job. Perhaps David would have been better, as he had the support of the rank-and-file Labour member.   So you criticize corporations for being to involved in politics and government (for which you are correct), but you didn't mention the unions.

Claire Finn May 12, 2015

"...most have a very limited knowledge of political science let alone any decent work on the philosophy of its understanding."  Wow, that is a very elitist statement Paul, especially when you call people "ignorant".  

Exactly, John, and it is exactly that type of elitism that turned the voters off. Even some Labour supporters have said the display of arrogance displayed after the election could mean many many more electoral victories for the Conservatives.

I, personally, don't find it surprising. The whole premise of Leftist politics is that the little guy is incapable of living his life without regulation and support so why would voting be any different in their view.

Paul Healey May 13, 2015

You might think others are ignorant, but not being a jack of all trades doesn't make me one! That is, I have respect for those that can do their job well, so I find the idea of a politician who has such a general knowledge absurd. Rather it is patronizing to talk to the voters as if they comprehend the value of parliamentary democracy when in fact they have not studied it! It is therefore not a question of people being ignorant, but being manipulated by propaganda; just as someone not familiar with a trade can be ripped off by a rogue trader when they are not careful to consider other traders. Just as you would expect regulators to protect our financial system from such traders, shouldn't we expect the media coverage of elections to be fair?

Unions work within corporations, so while they are supposed to protect the rights of the worker they also benefit from their employment. E.g. if fracking pays well, why give a dame about the consequences?

More importantly, if the proposed constitution does not constitute the rights of direct interests over that of the corporations, its only solution to the source of extremism (fed by arms sales) will be more drones and secrecy laws together will less freedom? If this is what you want, why not just drug the public like in the movie Equilibrium? 

Claire Finn May 13, 2015

So lets put an "expert" from government in charge of who can own media and what they can publish ...... that'll end well.

Paul Healey May 13, 2015

There is no "expert" recognised by other direct interests, and that's why it isn't going to end well---just look at the failure of the polls to predict the results versus the bookies:

https://twitter.com/hashtag/indyref?src=hash 

Others like yourself cannot provide any evidence to the contrary; as there the plan to tackle many serious problems is carry on doing the same!

John Z May 13, 2015

Also, can you give an example of how the Conservatives "manipulated" the public to vote for them in this election?  How about Labour unsuccessfully trying to "manipulate" the public by accusing the Tories of passing a "bedroom tax".  What a farce. 

A "tax" is defined as:  "a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers' income and business profits or added to the cost of some goods sold, services, and transactions".  Based on this definition, how exactly was it a "bedroom tax"?   The social sector tenants didn't earn this housing by working for it;  if it was earned, then this penalty could be a "tax", but it was NOT earned.  On the contrary, social housing is more like a legislated gift.  The majority of the public saw through this scam, and did not vote for Labour.   

Perhaps in the 2020 election, Labour may be more honest with the voters.  Unlike this year when Milliband put his foot (and a bacon sandwich) in his mouth.

Paul Healey May 13, 2015

The elections have never been about honesty for either party. Rather they have always been about promises and legislation intended to benefit their own special interests. So what any proposed legislation should do, as a bare minimum is include reasons why parliamentary democracy is such a great force for change, if in fact it is. You have not persuaded this proposal or any other is such a force, which constitutes those values which can take us beyond the financial crisis, the European one and the conflicts that are spreading towards it. 

View all replies (17)

Trevyn Case May 10, 2015

Well, I had a great time with this. If I were to write a constitution, this definitely wouldn't be what I'd write, too policy in it as many have stated, as well as ambiguities and outright contradictions. However I'll vote up, for 1 simple reason, there was a time provided in which Parliament could fix it easily. It is unlikely that a large portion of the population of any country will often be interested in a project like this, though people in charge should still try and get people to join, and going through Parliament is probably the best way to get the people's opinion on this subject. Ultimately, though, I vote up more so because I hope that it will awaken the public to this topic a bit more and if this is repeated, get a few more than 1.5K participants, a few hundred of which are really active. So I'm more voting up this project, of which I see this constitution as the fruits of (not everyone will be happy, many of the policies I disagree with, but not everyone can be happy).

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

:-)

 

Angela Roberts May 11, 2015

As it stands the draft document is a good basis to start with but more work is required.

If voting it up - is this a vote for further refining? It needs more work, so should I be voting up to go to the next stage?

For eg I see that the animal rights issue has now moved to Rights and Duties (from values) - which is good - but surely it now needs re-wording in a more rights/duties based approach.

It has been an interesting process, given all of the differing views I'm pleased to see a draft document which tries to take account of them. Is it time to have more expert/legal input? How will the final wording be decided on?

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

This is about where I am. 
There is value in what has been achieved - but its 'choppy' to say the least. 
Great detail in some areas - but scant in others.

So I;ve voted down - largely due to the word ratify which to me is final. 

Now I take some responsibility for that.  Devolution (which should be Federalism or Power lies at the lowest possible level) is way too short.  good principles - so far as it goes - but nothing as a foundation for how its implemented. 

steveg33 May 13, 2015

 

The document gets 5/10 from my point of view – I have therefore voted it down

 

 

On the plus side it is well structured and attempts to frame the ideas in a ‘constitution-like’ manner. However in doing so I think a lot has been lost in translation. I suspect given the timescales it was put together rather too quickly. I also felt that during the Convention, it was evident that a number of groups deviated from the brief to ‘consolidate and condense’ and rather saw their role as continuing to vet and edit (out) ideas which they did not favour. An example of this is my idea

 

 

 

Defining National Resources for the Benefit of the People”

 

 

 … Which achieved a not-insignificant +10 votes and yet was massively watered down from its central thrust of constraining governments from squandering/ opening to global exploitation, those things that inherently ‘belong’ to the country and should benefit its citizens (details of  everything in the draft that relates to resources are shown below)

 

Page 2:

 

“The Government must endeavor to manage the whole economy in such a way as to promote

 

sustainable and balanced economic activity and use of resources for the benefit of current and also future generations.”

 

 This is fine, but is only general principles in the preamble

 

 Page 16:

 

“The Government has a duty of stewardship in perpetuity over the nation’s resources.

 

Government fiscal accounting shall be based on an 'official unit of account' whose …..” etc etc

 

 … seems to be solely concerned with fiscal accounting,, transferable debt and says nothing about the process for defining resources (eg residential property, woodland, oil & gas etc) and their protection from non-UK exploitation. This was the primary thrust of the original idea which has been completely overlooked !

 

 Page 24:

 

 “It shall be a goal of government policy to promote the utilisation of all natural resources

 

in the country in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all its citizens.”

 

 

… overlooks other finite resources such as building land – again this was a major thrust of the idea which was voted up, but which has been lost in translation

 

Andrew Cullyer May 13, 2015

There are clearly 4 options in regards to what to do with this draft Constitution:

1. Yes,  please make this the final document.

2. Yes, Please make x amendment(s) then this ready

3.  No, Please make Y amendment(s) then I will reconsider

4. No, not under any circumstances.

I would vote for 2 or 3  it would be perfectly possible for the IT to be changed so this was a 4 way vote please can this be done?

Further at 26 pages this is not long by any stretch of the imagination (Germany's is 136 pages, France 42 pages, Spain 53 pages and, Italy 43.) and it contains of a lot of clearly sub constitutional statements so could get even shorter.

More worryingly it is missing certain Ideas that were voted through all stages and  just not discussed at the convention due to lack of time this needs to be looked at again.  

I am abstaining until a clearer voting procedure is implemented.

Further insufficient time has been giving for voting with only 28 votes and a couple of days left I think to have a realistic appreciation of what people feel at least 1/3 -1/2 of people involved in the project need to vote on it one way or another. 

Also voting on comments should probably come back so we know who shares what opinions with whom rather than everyone having to write I agree with so and so. 

In terms of what amendments I propose: I have a very long list which I will spare the comment board and unleash on a further amendments phase if there is one. 

Andrew Cullyer May 13, 2015

Further things that were discussed at the constitutional convention and were voted through all stages and wording was agreed are also absent. 

This undermines the basic principle of the whole project that ideas that came from the crowd would go into the constitution. 

Finally things that were not discussed at the constitutional convention have been put in and not others which is a ridiculous double standard.

Lasarian May 13, 2015

Clearly this document needs refining to be a plausible proposal to the British people, many of whom will have to start this education / discussion process from scratch. I'm really glad I took part however, and have gained much food for thought from everyone's contributions, thank you all. Where else are there online communities for non-political science bods to engage in such aspirational discussions? Seriously, a positive forum like this needs to be a more wide-reaching ongoing process that can draw in new people and organisations / ngo's / charities to the discussions and produce ever stronger drafts at regular intervals. In other words, I don't want it to end here ;) However, as it stands I'd have to vote this draft down till it becomes more credible, and dare I say it more 'inspirational' in it's language.

To take an obvious example of the Head of State that some of the comments here have already addressed. If the prescriptive tone of this draft were presented as it is, we know it would be dismissed by the majority of the public who've never grappled with these issues before - ignorance is bliss. I don't obsess over the form the Head of State should take as some here have (though I'd favour a republic over the status quo) - even after this exercise - and as my comment at the time said, I'd rather the Constitution wasn't instantly rejected by seeking to crystallise around one form either, Monarchy, Republic, whatever. Rather a good constitution should clearly outline the PROCESS by which change CAN occur should the public's collective understanding of the issue change over time. Don't paint yourselves into a corner now or the value of this exercise as a whole will be lost to others.

Also, as others here have said, it's not a good constitution that seeks to express national values to a narrow band of humanity. Where's the universality, the inspiration in that? I guess I'd like to see a good refined draft turned over to a skilled poet or author who can give us a great core message as to national purpose that this Constitution is seeking to answer - a 'Gettysburg Address' moment. Wishful thinking perhaps.

This is a good beginning. Thank you to LSE for undertaking this. I hope it will continue because it's sorely needed.

Jeremy Wells May 13, 2015

I agree with some here that one of the problems 'the ordinary man' has in deciding who should govern is his/her 'ignorance' of the political process. But I would in any case substitute the ugly word 'ignorant' for 'uninformed' or even 'misinformed'. Successive governments have never taken it upon themselves to construct an educational framework whereby the public generally become more sensitised to the machinations of government through the open and frequent dissemination of information. Decades of the two party system has led people to almost unquestioningly believe that this is the model that will always be in place and that any embryo party providing an alternative view must be either crackpot or dangerously extreme. My concern about the EU referendum for instance is that many people in the UK will be asked to vote to stay in or out in year or so's time without having the slightest understanding of or interest in the EU, its structure, its institutions, its strengths and weaknesses. Whenever I find myself in a discussion on the topic the argument against staying in nearly always centres around the 'scandalous amount of money the UK has to contribute' which provokes me to remind those gathered that the UK also receives significant funding from the EU for any number of very worthy initiatives across the country. I know something - certainly not everything - about the EU because I worked within its institutions for many years. I would challenge anyone to say that the majority of the British public are sufficiently well informed about the EU and its workings and therefore able to decide on such an important issue as this. The media we know will only cherry pick among the most controversial aspects of the many facetted EU concept with the result that a decision will be made on emotive rather than rational grounds. 
As I've said in previous mailing I see a written constitution as a potent educational tool which if properly deployed into the educational process in this country would be a very positive step towards engaging this nation in its affairs. The written constitution should not be seen as written in stone but more as a text that can be modified as the country's social model evolves over time as it inevitably will, (I am mindful of the USA's gun law in this regard). 

One final comment - I do not understand the idea of being asked to vote down a draft document unless of course you don't agree with the fundamental concept of a written constitution. I'd much rather see contributors to this forum voting up the draft to signal that it is the beginning of a good idea but which obviously needs close scrutiny to arrive at a workable solution. 

Paul Healey May 13, 2015

Regarding your last comment, voting the proposal down simply means in its totality, it is not wanted, not that its ideas are all wrong. Others constitutions can be proposed, but if they are all voted for so they have the same count of votes, how is one to be selected? Even not agreeing with our current complex set of constitutional acts and bills, does not necessarily mean that the disagreement with its concepts, like the limited use of democracy for the benefit of politicians and their particular interests, applies to all of them. Why should we be beholden to the presupposition of their good nature? A lot of the time they get it right, but if the constitution does not advocate an innovative political system and warrants unethical choices, shouldn't we expect irrational decisions with irreversible and undesirable consequences will be made? 

Daniel Gaunt May 13, 2015

I voted down, for many of the same reasons others have,

It's not a Constitution document which could be adopted in current form - there are internal inconsistencies and ambiguities throughout which mean that it would be unlikely to stand the test of time. This is a challenge, especially when you consider the need for it to be written in plain English, but failure to give adequately detailed explanations of the reasons for specific articles leads to future generations being forced to guess at the long-term intentions of the authors (ref particularly the US Second Amendment).

I think if we were going to do this exercise again, I'd be inclined to undertake the drafting in a series of phases. So phase 1 works to agreement on the underlying values and principles, stage 2 the bill of rights (ensuring consistency with stage 1), stage 3 the administrative arrangements (elections, parliament, government, Head of State), and so on. To try and do it all at once is inevitably flawed, because different people are coming at issues related to (for example) rights with totally different perspectives and understanding of what the underlying values are.

Paul Healey May 14, 2015

With one addition, I like this idea of drafting in a series of phases, as those who care will see it through. John's idea of voting either for, against or amending them could then be applied, but a provision should be made so the constitution is dynamic (can keep up with an intelligent process of thinking so as to stay beyond AI control); if someone can present a better case for one of the phases, it can be voted for, against or for amendment if it offers something better. 

Dave Burr May 14, 2015

Some of it is great.  

A lot of it is unacceptable, with some hijacked by the far lefties

we need to comment comprehensively.

You seem to want everything in a rush !   Why ?

Ian Roberts Ba May 14, 2015

The Constitution is largely good but the idea of an elected Head of State is highly unlikely given the overwhelming public support for the Monarchy. The major political parties simply will not support an elected Head of State either, to do so would be electoral and political suicide given the strong public support that the Monarchy has in the UK. As such, on this point, the Constitution should be radically rewritten along with the point regarding the Declaration of War. A declaration of War should be the realm of the Executive not Parliament given the fact that there are serious national security concerns in this area.

One small note, it seems that parts of the Constitution were written in US English rather than UK English. May I suggest rereading the document? 

John Z May 14, 2015

"U.S. English rather than UK English"?  Please clarify! 

Ian Roberts Ba May 14, 2015

Well for a start John, they have missed out the U's in Favour and Endeavour.

Trevyn Case May 15, 2015

You probably know this, but just in case, the British spell certain words differently than we do. 

View all replies (3)

John Z May 14, 2015

It appears that the individual sections/subsections had positive support during the early phases of the project, but for whatever reason the document as a whole is not receiving the same positive support.  Evidently, the individual subparts are greater than the whole.   It would be unfortunate if the LSE cannot present a draft Constitution that has positive support within the LSE, as that lack of internal support will take away from the credibility of even having a Constitution.  What we need to figure out is what specific provisions within the document are problematic.  So my suggestion is that instead of having a “yes/no” vote for the document as a whole, what if the voting options be amended to allow us to vote on each individual provision with the below options:

+  ____ yes

+  ____ no

+  ____ wording needs to be rewritten as follows: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

By giving the participants to this project this option, at least we can figure out why the individual provisions had positive support, and why the document as a whole lacks positive support. 

In light of the fact of the public benefit to having a Constitution, and considering the great effort by the participants to this project, it would be unfortunate if this project becomes nothing more than a footnote or after-thought within LSE history, as opposed to a project that achieved a benefit to the country.  True, if we do this then a final product will not be ready for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, but then again, the Magna Carta of 1215 was not the only Magna Carta as later versions had addendums to the original.  

 

Any thoughts?   

Users tagged:

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

Agreed.  But not while I'm recovering from a General Election - as are others given the heat expressed in some of the comments above. 

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

I apologise for not looking at this earlier or in great detail. 

I've had a read through and we seem to have got a lot of detail that to me is legislative or is better contained in a stand alone (but equally important) Bill of Rights (and I run from the assumption - not shared by the government apparently that we do have the ECHR as an underpinning) if we want to ADD to ECHR, fine.)

The exercise has been interestin but the CC I think would need MUCH longer to get to proper conclusions on each section and then there is a process of reconcilition of each section to be managed. 

e.g. the consequences of a federal structure on the HoL needs considered.  If most decisions are made with the nation/region level, what is the point of a big scrutiny body at this level? 

I note the comments re lefties.

Ian Roberts Ba May 14, 2015

Debra,

 

This staunch Royalist is a strident leftie.

Debra Storr May 14, 2015

Surely a rare combination - and to be treasured for that reason. 

Ian Roberts Ba May 14, 2015

Thank you. I would say a rare combination to some but not to others. George Orwell himself counselled against the removal of the monarchy in "The Lion and the Unicorn".

View all replies (3)
Share