Labour demands ‘democratic revolution’ at conference on Britain’s constitutional crisis

Posted on the 2nd September 2019

Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett MP has called for a ‘democratic revolution’ at a landmark conference on Britain’s ‘constitutional crisis’.

In a speech to hundreds of democracy campaigners in Manchester [1] on Saturday – organised by trade union campaign Politics for the Many and the Electoral Reform Society – Jon Trickett MP called for a programme of political reform, renewing Labour’s commitment to a Constitutional Convention.

In a week that has seen uproar over Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament – branded a ‘coup’ by some campaigners – Mr Trickett said it showed the broken nature of Britain’s constitution.,

The calls came as part of a conference marking 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, where many died campaigning for the vote.

Jon Trickett outlined a programme of reforms for Labour, reaffirming the party’s commitment to a Constitutional Convention to set out ‘major transformation’ of the House of Lords and the wider political system. He explicitly backed:

  • “Strict controls over commercial lobbying
  • “An overhaul of our political finance rules to end the influence of dark money;
  • “Strict regulations on the revolving door whereby members of the British Establishment rotate between one privileged position and another on the old English principle of you scratch my back and I scratch yours.
  • “My own view is that lucrative second jobs for Parliamentarians is out of order.”

Jon Trickett MP added:

“Our ambition is to start a democratic revolution in every area of life in this country…Anything less and we will fail to live up to the inspiring legacy of the Peterloo campaigners.”

The conference, which also included speakers such as James Meadway, former economic adviser to John McDonnell; Guardian columnist Dawn Foster and Julie Ward MEP saw discussions on issue ranging including democratising the economy, increasing representation in politics for women, young people and ethnic minorities and empowering local communities through grassroots power.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“We can see from this week that our constitution is at breaking point and our democracy is under threat. But this is not a coup – it’s a natural result of Britain’s corrupting constitution. The scales are tipped against working people – and will remain so without reform. It’s time to put forward a vision for real democracy.

“From scrapping the unelected House of Lords, changing our broken voting system and establishing a constitutional convention which gives citizens the power to guide us political reform needed urgently.

“Our conference saw hundreds gather from across the left and Labour movement to make that call. We’re in a national crisis and the Labour movement can and must play a key role giving people the confidence and hope for change.”

Lynn Henderson, chair of Politics for the Many, said: 

“The astonishing political events this summer tell us that this democracy debate couldn’t come at a more important time.

“There’s a widespread recognition within the trade union movement that the culture and structure of British politics is largely hostile to working people.

“200 years after Peterloo took place on the streets of Manchester, people are once again taking to the streets to demand democracy and make sure our voices are heard.”

Notes to Editors

[1] Politics for the Many is the trade union campaign for political reform. Find out more about the ‘This is What Democracy Looks Like’ conference: https://politicsforthemany.co.uk/event/this-is-what-democracy-looks-like/

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