Some interesting links

1. The Big Society The Canadian media has recently been reporting that the current Conservative Government is considering emulating the UK Coalition Government in adopting David Cameron’s Big Society. Some of what has been written here in Canada is critical of this, which is their perogative, but I found that they often failed to adequately explain the plan. See, for example, this post by Murray Dobbin, in which he dimisses the initiative as “social engineering from the right” and pointing out that the Big Society “scam” has been “widely ridiculed” but makes little effort to explain how it’s supposed to work. I am not argueing for or against this initiative, but I did think some Canadians (and perhaps some Brits) […]

Initial thoughts on the Lords’ Reform proposals

Having had some time to consider the Coalition Government’s White Paper on reforming the House of Lords, I do see a few potential issues that hopefully will be addressed during the consultation process. You can read my blog post summarising the proposals here. 1. Accountability The first is that of accountability. The main argument for an elected House of Lords is that it will be more accountable than is the current appointed House. To address this matter, the White Paper proposes that 80% of the members of the House of Lords, 240 peers, be elected and that they serve one non-renewable term which would, in theory at least, last about 15 years (three “normal” election cycles).  As many others have […]

Justifying constitutional change

Today’s Quote of the day, from Telegraph columnist John McTernan, starts off “Constitutional reform is a waste of time, pure and simple.” While McTernan goes on to explain that this is because constitutional reform rarely achieves what it sets out to do, another argument as to why it may be considered a “waste of time” is that the general public is rarely interested in it and would prefer government focus on issues of a more immediate concern, such as the economy, crime, etc. This point came up several times during Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s unveiling of the Government’s proposals for reform of the House of Lords: Sadiq Khan (Tooting) (Lab): Let us be frank: Lords reform is not near […]

Reforming the House of Lords

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg delivered a ministerial statement today outlining the Coalition’s plans for reform of the House of Lords. A draft bill and accompanying White Paper outlining the government’s proposals, which are based on the recommendations put forward by an all-party committee chaired by Clegg earlier this year, are now available online. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a draft bill, you can read yesterday’s post here. The White Paper and bill combined add up to an impressive 174 pages, most of that being the draft bill, supporting Schedules and explanatory notes. The White Paper itself is roughly 30 pages. I will provide a summary of the key proposals here without offering my immediate thoughts on […]

Some interesting links

1. Constitutional and Political Reform: where does the Coalition go from here? Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appeared before the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee this week and discussed all sorts of interesting issues: lessons learned from the AV referendum, recall legislation, Lords reform, etc.  You can watch the Committee meeting here. 2. It’s my Party Samara, a charitable organization that studies citizen engagement with Canadian democracy, produced a series of reports based on exit interviews with MPs who’d decided not to seek re-election in the 2 May 2011 election. Their third report, “It’s my Party: Political Dysfunction Reconsidered” is particularly interesting as it highlights the frustrations that former MPs felt about the way politics is practiced in Parliament, laying […]

Fixed-term Parliaments – Addendum

A comment on my earlier post suggesting that the reason why the Lords defeated the Fixed-Term Parliaments Bill was because fixed-term parliaments was not a promise made by either the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives in their 2010 manifestos. This, however, is incorrect. Both parties promised fixed-term parliaments. The Lib Dems did not indicate how long the term would be, but the Conservatives do specify a five-year term. Click here for the relevant section of the Lib Dem manifesto (p. 2) and and here for the Conservative promise – it’s the first item listed in the Cleaning Up Politics section. Given that both parties campaigned on this promise, and that it was carried over to the Coalition Programme for Government, […]