Brown Commission reforms offer first blueprint for much-needed democratic renewal

Doug Cowan, Head of Digital

Posted on the 6th December 2022

Gordon Brown has now released A New Britain: Renewing our Democracy and Rebuilding our Economy – the findings of his Commission into how to repair our political system. In publishing this report, Keir Starmer is right to recognise that our broken constitutional model has held back our politicians from solving the issues that affect our country.

From abolishing the House of Lords to strengthening devolution and shutting big money donors out of our politics, Brown’s plans represent an important first blueprint for much-needed democratic renewal.

Many of the proposals that appear in the report are ideas that we have been calling for in our recent work, such as Westminster Beyond Brexit: Ending the Politics of Division, and Democracy Made in England: Where Next for English Local Government.

But any new second chamber must be fairly elected to ensure that every voter, as well as every nation, and region is appropriately represented.

The over-centralisation of power in Westminster is holding Britain back, but there is a glaring hole in the proposals for reform. Without addressing the House of Commons, the aims of the commission, to restore faith in politics and move power towards people, can only fall short.

An elected second chamber makes the need for a fairly elected Commons all the more important. But these reforms are by no means the final package. Labour has committed to consulting on these proposals and the plans they’ve set out should be seen as the start of a road to much-needed renewal – not the end.

But with Brown’s review and Labour putting democracy firmly on the agenda, the prospect of the fairer and more equal politics we so desperately need is not all that far away.

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