Saturday, 21 May, 2005

We in the UK are in the strange position of having no formal constitution. Most democratic countries have constitutions. It's essentially a document that defines the social contract between the people and the state. A constitution generally grants inalienable rights to the populus and define the system of Government. In the UK, we have no such document. So what is the British constitution?

I'm am the first to admit that I am no expert in this field, however, I find such issue deeply interesting. The British constitution is a complex breed of many laws. Some laws are very ancient, for example the Bill of Rights became law in 1688. And some principles have been modified very recently, for example, the latest anti-terrorism laws passed only a few months ago have changed our constitution.

One thing is certain, Europe has transformed our constitution. The European Communities act 1972 laid the foundations for entry in to the European union, since then directives handed down from Europe have become national law and these laws have seriously modified the constitution. Most laws are designed to curtail the freedoms of people. In contrast, the Human Rights Act 1998 was one of only a few acts since 1688 to really acknowledge the rights of the citizen in the positive. A soul product of the European project..

People talk about the "European Constitution" as if it just that; a constitution for Europe. The reality is that through previous directives and conventions, such as those relating to Human rights, have a lot more to say than this supposed "Constitution". Most rational people would acknowledge that this harmonisation of policy amounts to a constitution of sorts and these treaties have been in place a while - they predate this "Constitution" considerably

Labour were elected in having lost the popular vote to the Conservatives and yet they still managed to get over fifty percent of the seats. This is incredible considering they only got around thirty-five perecent of the vote. I think it's about time we got ourselves a written constitution and in it, introduce a fairer form of voting.

The children in the US are taught about their constitution in their classes at school. The reason the Americans can do this is because their constituion is single, easily accessible document. It contains lines that are easy to remember, inspiring and philosophically important. My argument for a constitution is that it's important that our youth understand their rights and the accessibility of a single document is central to getting the message across.


00:22:30 GMT | #Randomness | Permalink
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