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Reforming the UK Constitution

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 10:32:23 AM EST

The Brexit debacle has given rise to a lot of discussion of the UK "Constitution", unwritten as it is, and the need to reform key aspects of it to prevent the abuse of power. It would be helpful if there were a written codified version of it, so at least we could all agree on what it says. Instead we have a tangled web of precedents, conventions, "gentlemen's agreements", case law and statutory instruments giving huge scope for disagreement and uncertainty as to what is, and is not "constitutional".

A convention is only a convention until it isn't, and a precedent only a precedent until it is broken. Different judges come to different conclusions as to what is permissible, and there appear to be huge gaps in statutory law. The US experience has shown that a written Constitution is no guarantee against abuse and wilful misinterpretation - see the second amendment to the US Constitution, where reference to "a well regulated Militia" has not been allowed to restrict individuals to bear arms in their own right.

So while accepting that no constitution is ever perfect, what changes would you like to see to the current UK constitution?


For me, the list is quite a long one:

1. A Written Constitution

It may be a long and arduous task, but a "Constitutional Convention" to codify and bring together in one document all the bits of convention and legislation said to make up the current Constitution into one draft Constitution would seem to me to be a good start. At least it would generate a lively debate on what the constitution should, and should not contain.

Citizen engagement, information, and consent seem to me to be important democratic values in themselves, and the process of defining what the constitution should be is almost as important as the outcome of those deliberations. It can be argued that keeping the constitution unwritten and somewhat mysterious is the elite's way of keeping the process of defining it to themselves and preventing popular engagement.

There is then a price to pay in public alienation and ignorance.

2. Referenda

At the moment referenda are supposed to be purely advisory in the UK constitution and yet the last one is now held by Brexiteers to be inviolable holy writ. Until the latter half of the twentieth century the concept of a referendum was widely seen in British politics as "unconstitutional" and an "alien device". Only three UK wide referenda have ever been held on EU membership (1975, 2016) and on the voting system (2011). Referenda on devolution have been held in Scotland (1979, 1997) and Wales (1979, 1997, 2011), on Independence for Scotland (2014), and on a United Ireland (1973 - boycotted by nationalists) and the Good Friday Agreement (1998).

As a general rule referenda work best when they are on a precisely defined specific issue and where the implications have been clearly laid out in legislation beforehand. Ideally an independent judicial referendum commission should also be appointed to rule on issues of interpretation and likely implications. When the establishment wants something done, they often just go ahead and do it, by legislation if necessary. Referenda, on the other hand, have often been used as a device to ward off pressure for changes they would rather not see, or to deal with divisive political issues which threaten party unity or electability.

Greater clarity on when, for what purpose, to what effect, and how referenda are to be organised in the future should be included in any constitutional reform to prevent the concept of popular democracy falling into disrepute. In particular, far greater resources need to be set aside for impartial public information campaigns. That said, the role of referenda in promoting public awareness, engagement, and greater social cohesion should not be underestimated. Perhaps a second referendum on Brexit, based on very specific proposals for remaining in or leaving the EU is the only way to begin to heal the rift it has caused in the UK body politic.

3. Appointment of Prime Minister

In most democracies, the head of government is either directly elected by the people (most Presidents) or by parliament (Prime Ministers). I was shocked to discover that in the UK neither was required. Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative party by less than 100,000 members and then Appointed PM by the Queen without having to win a vote of confidence or be elected by the House of Commons first. The folly of this arrangement has been amply demonstrated since - he has yet to win a vote in the House of Commons and is flapping around proclaiming policies he has no hope of seeing implemented. No one - least of all his counterparts on the European Council - can take him seriously as a result and the UK is left without an effective government.

4. Powers of the Prime Minister

That said, the powers of the UK Prime Mister are awesome, bordering on the dictatorial, despite the constitutional fiction that he serves at Her Majesty's Pleasure. He can prorogue parliament for long periods without its consent (subject of current Supreme Court challenge), he can remain in office for up to 14 days despite losing a vote of confidence in the Commons, he can set the date of a general election without Parliamentary approval, and there seems to be no set limit as to how far in the future that date might be.

It is also not clear how a change of government can occur if he refuses to "do the gentlemanly thing" and resign if he loses a vote of confidence but refuses to advise the Queen to appoint someone else, as she appears bound to act on the "advice of her Prime Minister". As the Conservative Party has neglected to elect a deputy leader, it isn't even clear who he might advise her to appoint, if he is determined to refuse that role to the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition.

So we could be left with the extreme situation where an unscrupulous PM remains in Office, despite having lost a vote of no confidence, refuses to make way, and instead schedules a general election for some date long into the future once 14 days have elapsed. It is not even clear whether the 14 day period, specified in the Fixed Term Parliament Act, refers to calender days or Parliamentary sitting days, in which case he could further frustrate the succession process by proroguing Parliament for a lengthy period.

The UK political establishment might well guffaw at such a seemingly extreme scenario, saying that would never happen in Great Britain, but it is precisely by exploiting such loopholes that dictators have consolidated their hold on power in the past. When you hear Government Ministers openly speculate about ignoring laws duly passed by Parliament, or inventing all sorts of devices to delay or neutralise their effect, you know you are some way down the road to dictatorial rule even though the Queen is in her palace and many of the other ceremonial niceties of democracy are being observed.

5. Free Speech

The fact that much of the UK media has remained schtum or even supportive while these "constitutional outrages" are being perpetrated underlines the fact that free speech has become a myth in an era where most of the media are owned and controlled by a very few oligarchs and shadowy corporate entities with very clear political agendas and interests of their own.

A constitutional requirement or law which limits any one owner or connected set of legal entities to a 5% stake in only one newspaper, TV, radio or online publication is an absolute necessity if a very few voices are not to drown out all others. Citizens are supposed to be equal before the law and have equal rights to have their opinions heard, and yet a very few, very rich people, often tax resident abroad, are allowed almost monopoly control of public goods such as radio frequency channels, TV channels, and online content distribution channels. It has to stop.

6. Abolition of the House of Lords

Any constitutional convention has to review the efficacy of existing institutions in upholding democratic norms and values. The House of Lords has proved itself to be utterly useless in the current crisis. Theresa May's recent resignation honours list has included the usual coterie of party hacks, personal friends, political fixers, nefarious media operatives and donors to the Conservative Party with a few worthy people thrown in to lend an air of respectability to the whole exercise. It is little more than an organised bribery scam perpetuating a class system based on snobbery and privilege. It is beyond reform. Abolish it.

7. The Monarchy

Arguably the same point can be made about the Monarchy. The Pomp and ritual surrounding all things Royal seems to be in inverse proportion to the actual powers the Queen wields. You might say that is for the best given that she is unelected, but the UK needs a functioning Head of State to resolve constitutional disputes in a crisis. The recent resolution of the governmental crisis in Italy is a good case in point where an elected President with significant powers was able to step in and help resolve matters without recourse to another early election.

Democracy is not about having an election every time elected politicians fail to do their job. The people elect politicians to run the country for 4 or 5 year periods and it should be a very exceptional event or circumstance when an election has to be called outside of that cycle. The system simply isn't working properly if every crisis is no more than an opportunity for one side or other to seek to use it for electoral advantage. The system should be designed to solve problems not exacerbate them. What problems did the 2017 UK election solve?

So simply relying on "gentlemen being gentlemen" or "Ladies being Ladies"; on traditional values of honourable behaviour, precedent, and convention is no longer an option. Give the Queen a job to do, or make her redundant. A bit of pageantry, pomp, and ceremony may be no harm, particularly for the fashion, film and tourist industries, but it can do great damage if it disguises a hole at the very centre of UK life.

It is increasingly clear that class, regional, national, generational, and economic inequalities are tearing apart the fabric of UK society and that the Queen, as the embodiment of property, privilege and entitlement is not well placed to heal these divides. Many may wish to cling onto her as a symbol of the UK as it once was, but nostalgia, obsequiousness, and deference to traditional authority are not going to be of much help as the UK faces into the challenges of the future, Brexit or no Brexit.

Display:
The British ruling class will never voluntarily write down their "constitution" (sic.)  It is too convenient to and for their continued domination of the UK.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 03:58:10 PM EST
Is Adams in the hot tub and other burning questions from the SF think-in
Understandably, the shocking news that Boris Johnson may have told lies to her majesty the queen when requesting her to shut down the mother of all parliaments cast an immediate and terrible pall over proceedings at Sinn Féin's think-in on Wednesday.

The ashen faced Shinners, lost for words, struggled to cope when they learned of the British prime minister's impertinence in the fragrant presence of Elizabeth ll (93), her charming husband (98) and their flatulent corgis, gawd bless 'em all.

It put a terrible damper on their special pre-Dáil away day in Dundalk. Still, spirits should rally when they all go to the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday.

Not!

Nonetheless, the riveting constitutional slapstick around Westminister has had an unwelcome knock-on effect for political parties here. Ordinarily, their pre-season windbaggery jaunts to country hotels generates easy publicity in the news starved days before the Dáil returns after summer. But this year, the bottomless political panto playing out across the water has stolen almost all their limelight.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 04:13:51 PM EST
the shocking news that Boris Johnson may have told lies to her majesty

standard of evidence? __________.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 05:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Shinners have their man in the Palace...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:41:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hearsay. Term of art.

;)

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 07:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 07:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boris has demonstrated that Eton and Oxford don't make you a gentleman. So, the implicit "gentleman's agreement" that the UK has in lieu of a constitution is demonstrated to be an absurdity.

It's odd that the various Labour governments respected so scrupulously (as far as I know) these arrangements of the ruling classes, without ever seriously trying to challenge or change them.

But now, the breakdown of precedent and convention is complete, and surely irreversible. Arguably, it was Parliament that started it, under the misrule of May, by refusing to either vote her Brexit or oust her, which were the only two conventional options.

Subsequently, Bercow has been innovating, most creatively, to counter Boris's increasingly devious and perverse attempts at staying in control.

It will get much worse before it gets better. The worst that could happen, with respect to codifying the constitution, would be an election with a clear majority : we paper over the cracks and carry on. A hung Parliament will at least demonstrate the urgent necessity for a clear Framework.

The next worst outcome would be to draw the wrong lessons from the current crisis, and strengthen the executive at the expense of Parliament. That is what happened in France when it turned out that the constitution was dysfunctional in case of cohabitation between a President and Parliament of different political stripes.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 05:11:51 PM EST
Rules were always a big thing with the middle classes and the aspiring middle classes. For the Aristocracy, not so much. In fact rules were for the little people to keep and for them to break. If you were a man you took your spanking and carried on undaunted. It was a badge of honour. Proof you were made of the right stuff...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:47:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are occasional calls for a Constitutiional Convention in the USA and one legislative effort currently underway. My concern is, given the state of understanding of the role of The Bill of Rights, is that the most likely outcome of convening a Constitutional Convention in the USA today would be repeal of the Bill of Rights, aka the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Demographic changes may make more favorable outcomes possible within a decade. But that is a hope.

My fear is that just such a destructive dynamic might play out in the UK or England over the next few years. The need is real, but, IMO, an attempt to formalize the British Constitution could be counter-productive.

There may be scope for some fairly obvious changes. One might be a change in the First Past the Post system. Another might be a fix for the problems in the Fixed Term Parliament Act, specifying a comprehensive list of options in the event of loss of confidence by the government. A third could be a codification of the requirements for referenda, including judicial review prior to approval of submission of a referendum to the people. These changes, together, could provide the stability needed to produce a written constitution - an another ten years.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:19:31 PM EST
IN another ten years.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "Bill of Rights" (1-10) are amendments to Articles of the US Constitution.

The Articles (1-7) construct rudimentary, basic, US republican governments, federal and state. The Articles distribute political authorities ("powers") between the divisions of government specified  by the US Constitution ("separation of powers").

Amendments 1-10 specify civil rights of ("all", "any" ) one person present in and persons incorporated (a "state", an "assembly") by jurisdiction of the US Constitution. Those rights protect (provide for legal defenses) against particularly harmful exercise of constitutional authorities by government officers and agents.

Amendments 11-27 made by the US Congress after 1789 further specify civil rights and government prohibitions.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:57:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amendments 11-27 made by the US Congress after 1789 further specify civil rights and government prohibitions.

The 18th?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 08:23:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Repealed by Congress.

Which principle(s) of US Constitution did it violate?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 08:36:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hint: inspect 10th amendment

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 05:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  • A written constitution (though it may be abused and misconstrued). What matters for the UK (or what will remain of it) is to make a clean sweep of all the tacky, self-congratulatory, exceptionalist bollocks about the wonderful past development of the greatest democracy and the marvellous pageantry of our storied island history (oh look! Black Rod is going to hit Mr Speaker over the head with a frying pan which symbolizes something that happened under George III and that everyone has forgotten). Tabula rasa, write a new page.

  • A republic. The Windsors are filthy rich and can and will fend for themselves.

  • A non-executive president (eg Ireland, Germany).

  • One chamber, or, if two, both elected. Out with the Lords in fancy dress.

  • Curtailing of the Prime Minister's powers, which have been growing constantly over the last half-century.

  • Proportional representation. The two-party system is way past its sell-by date.

  • Referenda under severe control to avoid all-too-easy manipulation.


Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:55:09 PM EST
UK enjoys one too many sovereigns.

Knowledge and belief in the division of the "government" from parliament is political insanity.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 07:04:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pretty much what I was attempting to say in 1,800 words, except (as you may have guessed) I was trying to write an op ed for a more general readership, and so had to be more moderate and measured in tone.

I didn't even get into the FPTP electoral system. The Tories and Labour pretty effectively sabotaged that one last time around, and there is little evidence the electorate have wised up since.

You're even going to lose the list system for the EP elections although, while proportional, these have less benefit in encouraging a more collaborative political culture when they don't lead to Executive formation.

The New Zealand and Irish experiences are instructive, but when did Great Britain ever learn from the colonies...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 07:18:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Unprincipled
One might hope the role of the monarchy in the prorogation plot, and then Theresa May's cronies getting honours in her resignation list, might do enough to undermine public confidence in some of the systems that define the British establishment. But the honours list will shortly be further devalued by political muck as Jo Swinson's office is proffering peerages and knighthoods in the dissolution honours to candidates and their constituency chairmen in winnable seats, if they are willing to make way for Blairite entryists like Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger. ...


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 03:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jonathan Friedland had some interesting observations as to the extraordinary events in Parliament in September of 2019, especially about the courage and self sacrifice of the Tory rebels. But his conclusion is concerning:
At stake are the fundamentals of our democratic system: whether our elected parliament is sovereign, whether our rulers are bound by the law. Why do Cummings and Johnson think they can get away with it? Perhaps they saw last month's poll, showing that two-thirds of young voters approve of "strongman" leaders prepared to defy parliament, while a quarter believe democracy is a bad way to run the country. Or perhaps they reflect on how they won the 2016 referendum. That victory was won not during a few weeks of summer campaigning, but after three decades in which the very idea of Europe had been attacked relentlessly.

When you consider how MPs, Westminster, even politics itself, have been mocked and derided for so much longer, perhaps the Downing Street duo believe they can win again. Except this time their target is our democracy itself.

I had thought the chief constituency for Brexit was older voters. Was the poll to which Friedland referred an outlier or did it contain some systematic flaw?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 07:13:10 PM EST
The poll was run for campaigning Conservative Party think-tank Onward. The full report (or rather presentation)is here, and quite interesting in many ways. Worth a scroll through.

The responses to questions on democracy and authoritarian government are surprising. There may be a methodological flaw, maybe not. Possibly this reflects frustration with Theresa May and her long argy-bargy with Parliament, which may to younger voters appear totally out of touch (are they wrong?).

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 11:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the Onward paper: "Hanbury conducted an online smartphone poll of 5,073 people in a representative GB sample between 21 and 29 June 2019."

So the results are based on the differences between the election May called and the vote for the European Parliamentary election in May, 2019. For starters it is not an apples to apples comparison.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 03:12:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an apples to androids comparison?
[sorry. Smartphone poll]


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Sep 16th, 2019 at 10:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If these changes were possible they wouldn't be necessary.

I suspect we won't see them happening without a revolution - probably after a dictatorship.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 07:52:51 PM EST
Last paradigm shift was a world war.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 11:41:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No other reader is willing or able to summarize the "basic law," or constitution, of their country of citizenship?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 10:45:55 PM EST
Constitution of Ireland
No need to replicate a discussion already provided by others...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 11:35:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
which will be addressed in theory or practice and compared to the UK Constitution?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 01:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

--
I had an epiphany after I finally sorted section 13. In plain language for "dummies", MPs designed it to handicap political process, because not one trusts the other.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 02:07:08 AM EST
1.) I don't see why a written constitution should be expected to give that much of an improvement over the current system. The US, Italy, Israel, Russia, Japan, etc. have written constitutions of various ages and types, and all manage to have screwed up governments from time to time.

2.) I don't see where the assumption came from that says the proposed written constitution would describe a democratic system. The rich and powerful run things in any case. To check, though, how about a referendum on the type of government people want, with options ranging from anarchism to communism? If allowed to campaign, I bet the Royal Family could make a pretty good case for hereditary monarchy.

by asdf on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 03:31:33 AM EST
One does not campaign.

One reigns.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 06:02:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"We don't have a written constitution: it relies on convention and precedent, and the spirit within which those conventions and precedents are regarded. And if those conventions and precedents are ignored, overturned, challenged - then the lack of a codified constitution becomes an issue," he said.

"I would agree with those who would say in these circumstances, it may not be that you'd need a written constitution as a whole, but as a minimum, some of the procedures, not least in the Houses of Parliament, are going to have to be codified for clarity on what the rules are. There is no doubt in my mind that we have reached that point."

Another (former) public officer (TOA) shooting his mouth off. To the Tower with him!

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 05:58:56 AM EST
The truth emerging from the syllabus of these cases is shocking, tbh. Far removed from the press clippings of clear cut partisan game of thrones. Legal challenges to A.50(3) over the course of a year have exposed more significant operating weaknesses in UK institutional "politics" than economic output.

The whole concept of "constitutional monarchy" with quasi-legislative services is disintegrating. Administrative support, really executive functions, from the EU are folding. Bureaucracy is no where near the maturity required to replace those systems. This litigation is about establishing and integrating authorities in civil service that simple don't exist.  

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 09:52:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 10:37:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<whisper>term of art</whisper>

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 11:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is argued in Cherry by MPs that constitutional powers and purpose of prorogation differs for UKNs constituents in Scotland from the constitutional powers and purpose of prorogation for UKNs constituents in England and Wales.

Got that? one "government", three "parliament", one "monarch", two "constitutions".

This is but one example of incoherent legal terminology manifest as "HIGH POLICY AND POLITICAL JUDGMENT" of the UK.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 04:09:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The documentary evidence of the PMs "alien purpose" is scheduling a date with the queen and (their?) Privy Council to request prorogation. 4 memos.

It is argued, this scheduling conflict interferes with 7 months deliberation and passage of "withdrawal agreement" bills (NONE of which address approval of the non-negotiable instrument agreed with EU by the PM-who-cannot-be-named-even-Jane-Doe to "the government") before expiry of the A.50(3) extension period.

## Mental disorder is a communicable disease.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 04:46:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Supreme Court appeal on the legality of proroguing Parliament starts today.

In a similar case, they have already judged that the question is "eminently political" and therefore not in their purview. This, if confirmed on Thursday, underlines the profound brokenness of the current non-Constitution.

I would argue that fundamentally, if written rules do not exist to delimit the powers of the executive and of parliament, then the courts must have a role to decide what is legal. To refuse this role is, in this case, and therefore in future cases, to accept and authorise a rolling coup d'état by the executive, by allowing it to seize the prerogative of a rogue prorogation.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 09:15:55 AM EST
You;d like to think that was true, but I think that both the rulings in the English and Scottish courts were correct, even inf they, supposedly, came to different conclusions.

The first asked whether Parliament had the right to extend prorogation for purely political reasons, to which the high Court said yes.
The scottish court was asked if the Prime minister could have been honest in his dealings with the queen, to which it said no.

You see, it really does depend on how you ask your question and the scottish petitioners were more careful.

Tht said, the Scottish ruling has to be challenged because nobody actually knows what was said by the Prime minister to the Queen. So, I suspect that the Supreme court will uphold the decision in the English court and overturn that of the Scottish. Sadly, the law is right in that regard.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 11:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I don't get is what happens if the Scottish court decides it is illegal, and the English court decides it is legal. In that case does only the English part of parliament get prorogued? While the Scottish members remain seated?

And if so, can the Scottish members pass laws and regulations and rulings that apply across all of GB?

Very confusing.

by asdf on Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 04:34:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supreme Court of Great Britain

Replaced the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary or Law Lords ... pretty archaic for a Parliamentary democracy ... that's why Boris Johnson fits so well as Brexit PM. 😡

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 05:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent discussion of the constitutional situation by Nick Cohen:

The Queen is a sham head of state. She cannot act as a constitutional president and force rival politicians to look for ways out of a national emergency. She cannot insist that the prime minister obeys the rules, because there are too few rules in Britain and too many woozy, unenforceable conventions.


Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2019 at 06:05:05 PM EST
...under the current constitution. Maybe the "if only the Queen would step in and settle this problem that the politicians can't manage" sentiment will lead to an upwards increment in her power under a new constitution...
by asdf on Sun Sep 22nd, 2019 at 05:27:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure I agree this is an adequate discussion. He avoids the most basic question: How could she appoint BoJo as PM without ensuring first that he had a majority in Parliament? And the corollary now: Can she ask BoJo to resign if he is found to have misled her or for the simple fact he has yet to win a vote in the House?

Could Parliament order Black Rod to refuse her admission to the Chamber to deliver "The Queen's Speech" if it has no confidence in the Government which has authored it? A Common's vote against a Queen's Speech is said to be the constitutional equivalent of a VONC, and yet it is not in the form prescribed by the FTP Act to enable a general election be called. So does it actually count?

Any Prime Minister with a shred of self-respect would have resigned by now, especially so if he loses the Supreme Court case. But Johnson shan't. Why should he? After all, its only a convention the PM requires the support of the House. Onward and downward...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 23rd, 2019 at 11:40:13 AM EST
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