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"Constitutional reform has been one of the major achievements of the Government since 1997"

So says the deeply, deeply odious Keith, or Nigel as he was born, Vaz.

I suppose I should not be surprised that the man has absolutely no shame, given previous entries in his biography, but anyone willing to persevere with the excerpted Hansard quotes on proposals for a written constitution will need a strong stomach.

Having namechecked Magna Carta, he then talks of "a single Bill of Rights and Responsibilities". Which sounds like the kind of thing a primary school teacher might draw up for his or her charges. Bathos exemplified, perhaps.

The quote in the headline continues, "devolution to Scotland (and hasn't that misfired for your party, let alone the Union), Wales (Ditto. Almost) and Northern Ireland (No negotiations with terrorists, eh?), a Mayor and Assembly for London (We shall see. Note no mention of England), the process of removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords (and stuffing it full of placemen and women of less than independent mind), the creation of a Ministry of Justice (changing the nameplate), the creation of a Supreme Court (changing the nameplate), the creation of a body to appoint judges independently, and the incorporation of the European convention on human rights via the Human Rights Act 1998 (Another simply *huge* success) . This has been the collective work of the Government. However, I should like to recognise in particular two Ministers who have been at the forefront of the process—Lord Irvine of Lairg and Lord Falcolner of Thoroton, who were both distinguished Lord Chancellors ( You don't have to suck up to either of them - they are part of the ancien regime and now non-persons)

It gets better, however, "All these reforms have been substantive changes to our unwritten and ancient constitutional tapestry, and have been remarkably successful. Even more remarkable is the lack of attention that these reforms attracted". Does he never read anything other than his bank statements?

And so on, "However, my focus in this debate will be the suggestion by the Prime Minister that we move away from our largely unwritten constitution and towards a single document that codifies the rights and responsibilities of those living in Britain. With reference to other countries with unwritten constitutions, I understand that only New Zealand, Canada and Israel share the United Kingdom’s status".

For a law graduate, he can be remarkably ignorant of the nature of constitutional law. I had always been led to believe that we shared the status of having an unwritten constitution (what he means, I hope, is a constitution that is not contained in a single document. But I doubt it) with our Kiwi and Israeli friends, and a little light googling proves me right and Nigel wrong. Let it also be added to the record that Sudan, North Korea, Burma and various other veritable shangri-las do have single document constitutions. Hands up all who who think that the states without single document constitutions are despotates?

More bathos:

"[The Bill of Rights] was a remarkable text limiting the powers of the monarch and setting out the great freedoms that we as citizens still enjoy today, such as the freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, the freedom of speech in Parliament, the freedom from taxation by royal prerogative, and the freedom to elect Members of Parliament without interference from the sovereign"...."but it is not clear enough to the individual where his or her rights and duties lie, and where the Government’s begin. In an age of concern about antisocial behaviour and crime, we need a document embodying the guiding values that we share as a nation. Above all, a constitution would clarify not only the collective power of the Government, but the powers of a neighbourhood, community group or family to correct antisocial behaviour".

And the ne plus ultra: "Is the Minister ready to be remembered as the Benjamin Franklin of a future British constitution?"

I would go on but I have been overcome with nausea.

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Blogger Ed said... 9:19 am

Thanks, C. You have whipped me into a desk-bound rage of the sort that would be banned from landing on this island if I was a dog.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 9:25 am

Sorry Ed. Breath deeply and just remember that Parliament cannot bind its successors.  

Blogger Guthrum said... 11:13 am

A truly odious man, thin on research even thinner on the facts if he thinks this Government has done anything other than introduce more restictions and laws, and proposals like ID cards designed to ensure the State is supreme over the individual. He is typical of the lickspittles left in the Rump Parliament

A Constitution is needed to protect us from the likes of an executive that contains the likes of him.  

Blogger Ed said... 11:38 am

But what a constitution they would draft for us!

It would have things like:

- No law shall be passed which prevents members of the Inner Party from jumping queues
- No law shall be passed questioning the intentions of members of the Inner Party or their spouses
- No citizen shall attempt to undermine the power and authority of the State  

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