Campaigners are stepping up calls for a ‘Constitutional Convention’ on Britain’s democracy

Sabine McGinley
Author:
Sabine McGinley

Posted on the 9th October 2019

Whichever side of the Brexit debate people are on, one feeling is clear: voters feel disenfranchised and frustrated at Westminster’s chaotic handling of the Brexit process.

One result of the suspension of Parliament in September was the growing recognition that our constitution is not working – and is unable to survive these constant blows.

And the reason is simple: the gentlemen’s agreements that have propped up how Parliament works have totally broken down.

As the ERS pointed out in our recent report, our political set up gives the government of the day too much power. When tensions are running high, this only increases the polarisation between voters and their representatives.

What would a positive response to the current ‘constitutional chaos’ look like?

This week, calls are growing for an overhaul of the constitution in order to bring democracy back to the people.

Recent years have seen the increasing confusion in Westminster albeit within the ‘strong and stable’ voting system of First Past the Post.

According to the Electoral Calculus, there is a strong likelihood that the next General Election will result in a hung parliament. Yet parties remain locked in a ‘majoritarian’ mindset, pretending they can always govern alone.

That is arguably why it took Theresa May two ways to reach across the political divide after failing to win a clear majority in 2017.

MPs from a range of parties have come together to the Electoral Reform Society’s call for a UK wide ‘Constitutional Convention’, that brings together citizens and politicians with the power to make recommendations how we can renew our politics and improve the way the UK is governed.

A Constitutional Convention means directly involving members of the pubic in shaping the democratic future of the country.

Conventions and assemblies on constitutional issues have been held in British Columbia, Iceland and the UK where the Scottish Parliament was formed under the Scottish Constitutional Convention. The design and composition of these conventions reflect the unique geographical, historical and political make-up of each of these areas and the moment in time in which the conventions took place.

Brexit has marked a seminal moment in British history which many argue should trigger a reconfiguration of the British constitution as to what the limits of executive power should be. These constitutional issues need to be made with the input and support of citizens across the UK. Put simply: the public voted for Brexit; therefore it is the public who should have greater involvement in deciding its outcome.

Whatever happens next, it is vital to take power from Westminster and put democracy back at the heart of British politics.

Sign our petition for a Constitutional Convention

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