Time For a Constitutional Revolution

Polly Toynbee has it exactly right:

Seize this moment to make real constitutional change, bring in proportional representation for the Commons, a fully elected Lords and clean party funding. It’s too late now for a fag-end government to command the power to do it. Hubris and the arrogance of a huge majority caused Blair to abandon reform in the early days. Now it would smack of last-gasp gerrymandering to save parliament’s sorry necks. But a formidable array of reformers is gathering to demand a referendum on the principle of PR and Lords reform to be added to the ballot paper at the next election. Let the people decide if they want to blow fresh air into parliament. It means ­coalition governments instead of de facto coalitions inside the shells of the old parties, whose sham unity disguises differences as wide as Alan Milburn on the right to Jeremy Corbyn on the left. Your vote should determine the colour of the coalition.

Voting reform must now be a top priority for anyone seriously claiming to represent the will of the British people. This lot have had opportunity after opportunity to reform themselves, but have conclusively blown it. Only PR and an elected House of Lords/Senate can now possibly bring this crisis to an end. I would personally prefer moves towards a written constitution, with the necessary constitutional convention bringing in all voices currently excluded from the political process into mainstream politics, but these two measures are surely needed as the barest minimum right now to get the people back on board the political process. The alternative, as George Monbiot shows, is more of the same:

Any politics that does not endorse the liberal economic consensus, which challenges the concentration of wealth or power, or which doesn’t accept that growth and consumerism can be sustained indefinitely, is off-limits. Just as the suffragettes were repressed because their ideas – not their actions – presented a threat to the state, the government and the police must suppress a new set of dangerous truths. By treating protesters as domestic extremists, the state marginalises their concerns: if people are extremists, their views must be extreme. Repression, in a nominal democracy, cannot operate accountably, so the state uses police units which are exempt from public scrutiny.

The potential to continue down this road to disaster remains: ID cards, governmental data sharing, precriminalisation, police behaving like unaccountable militias, superdatabases are all hanging over our heads as a means of ‘protection’, yet they do nothing of the sort – they perpetuate the attitudes which caused the economic collapse and led to the current political collapse. If we really are fed up with this drive towards ever more illiberal means of of control, the solution is obvious (and now perhaps politically unavoidable) – a decade-overdue constitutional revolution. It’s time for a new settlement to guarantee the right people in with progressive priorities, not the current, illiberal, dishonest rabble.


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