Constitutional change?

I will soon be submitting some thoughts to the government on possible constitutional reform.

The last Parliament submitted our constitution to a battering, as an alliance of MPs from all the Opposition parties aided by a few Conservatives who subsequently left the party worked with the Speaker and the law courts to delay or prevent Brexit. In acting in this way they opposed the decision of the majority in the referendum which most of them had previously pledged to honour. The Labour and former Conservative ones  also reneged on or redefined their promise to see Brexit through, made to win the 2017 election.

The main issues that arise include:

Fixed Term Parliament Act

This became a major problem, preventing a government from  holding an early election to resolve the tensions Parliament could not sort out. The Act also showed it was eventually meaningless, as we held three elections in four years under a law designed to limit elections to once every five years.

It should be repealed, leaving the power to hold an election at any time up to 5 years in the hands of the majority in the Commons. The Commons needs to have this option, as it also has the option of expressing or withdrawing confidence in any given government.

Powers of the courts to settle political and Parliamentary issues

The decision of the Supreme Court to delay Brexit by nine months  to require an Act of Parliament prior to sending  a letter necessitated by the referendum result was unhelpful and very costly to the country.

The decision of the Supreme Court to prevent a prorogation of Parliament which was only slightly longer than the normal September recess was seen by many as  a partisan decision as it was designed to allow those who wanted to stop Brexit more time to debate and vote on it.

These two decisions were damaging to our constitution. It is most important most people more of the time believe in the impartiality of the court system and believe the judgements are fair and reasonable.  Major issues of constitutional significance need to be decided by Parliament so both sides can put their case and the decision is made by majority vote, reflecting the votes of the people in a previous election.

These decisions were seen by many Brexiteers as being decisions to delay or prevent Brexit, however good the legal reasoning . It would have been better if the Supreme court had said in both cases they were not matters for a court but matters for Parliament to resolve, or a for a General election to settle.

The respective roles of  government, Parliament and courts in prerogative matters needs clarifying, with more protection of the courts by removing their competence in matters relating to how Parliament conducts its business or how government with Parliament  undertakes its Treaty roles and international negotiations.

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192 Comments

  1. Len Peel
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Both supreme court decisions did no more and no less than protect parluament from an overmighty and arrogant government. That you oppose empowering parliament shows what a dangerous man you are. Please do not pretend to be a democrat sir, you have revealed your true colours

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      What drivel. What is democratic about the appalling and hugely expensive decisions of the Supreme Court? What was democratic about the appointment of the Justices?

      • jerry
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        @LL; For that matter what is democratic about the appointment if a PM, Boris is not an elected PM, he is appointment by his party, even after the GE…

        What total democracy, fine, but stop trying to cherry pick just the bits you want!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Tories led by May got 9% & fifth place – led by Boris a few months later he gets a rather large Majority – this even though he is rather a climate alarmist pushing lefty who has even given Carney a job.

          So fairly democratic.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          He is an elected MP and elected head of his party.

          • jerry
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; But he has never been elected as PM, only as an MP, a far narrower test of the electorate.

            It is only party rules that stop one PM being replaced by someone else immediately after a GE, those rules could be set aside and thus the electorate get a PM who has a totally different manifesto to the one given a mandate by the general public.

            Tell me would you have been happy if the Labour party were to be elected to govern whilst having a very right of centre, right leader but as soon as the party had a safe majority for the next 5 years it replaced that now PM with someone from the hard far left, who they knew would never command the support of the nation, of course not, you like many would be bleating about how undemocratic it all was – no one voted for that new PM…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

            We have never elected any Prime Minister in the way you require.
            That includes Labour Prime Ministers.
            It is the way our democracy is arranged.
            We vote for a local MP.
            The party with the most MPs forms a majority government.
            The leader of that party becomes PM.

          • jerry
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Indeed, that was MY POINT, we have never elected our PM’s. but we have never elected our Judges either, both have always been appointed.

            What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander, unless there is another agenda…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            PMs are not appointed.
            They get chosen by a local constituency party and stand for election.
            If successful they become an MP
            After many years they might get elected leader of their party.
            If their party becomes the majority one at another general election then they become Prime Minister.
            I think you know this Jerry.

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            @Edward2: Your endless repeating of a lie doesn’t make it any truer…

            What do you think would have happened had Boris lost his seat at the last GE, like the LD leader did, would there have been another GE or would the Tory party have simply chosen a new leader, just like they did when previous party leaders resigned from their post as leader, same happened with the Labour party when Wilson resigned in 1976.

            The clue is in the words “Prime Minister”, it is an appointed post, as all Minsters are.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            Lie?
            Gosh that is rather unnecessary Jerry.

            I’m just pointing out how the UK Prime Minister gets to be the Prime Minister.

            You first claimed that Prime Ministers are not elected and now you ruin your argument by saying if they fail to get elected at a general election they fail to be Prime Minister

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; There’s non so blind as those who refuse to open their eyes I guess.

            Care to point out were on our ballot papers there was the option to elect a PM for the UK at the last GE? Even those who live in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency did not have an option to choose a PM, only a local MP.

            Why do you think the leader of the majority party, and in some cases the largest minority party, is summonsed to attend Buckingham Palace, so that the Monarch can invite him or her to form a govt.

            When Alec Douglas-Home become leader of the Tory party in mid Oct 1963, then becoming PM the next day, Douglas-Home wasn’t even an elected MP! What is more for 20 days, having renounced his peerage, he was neither a member of the Lords or Commons but was Prime Minster…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            You have the last word Jerry
            We all know it is important to you.
            Your opening comment is correct and unintentionally ironic.

        • SM
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          jerry, out of curiosity, is there a democratic system in place that gives the electorate the opportunity to vote once for the Party they choose, and once (separately) for the Prime Minister they want?

          • jerry
            Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

            @SM; Not a PM as far as I’m aware but there are many countries that elect a President, thus the President can be from one party but the majority in the legislative chamber be from another party – the USA currently has a Rep President but a Dem majority in the HoR.

            Do I want such a system here in the UK, not really, my comment was about some objecting to appointed judges but not appointed PM’s.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

            The PM stands for election every few years.
            The judges are appointed for life.

          • jerry
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Your point being what?…

            A judge can be sacked, should they abuse their powers, it could take FIVE years before the electorate gets a chance to sack the PM for doing the same unless their party decides to intervene…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

            Very very few judges in the last century have been sacked.
            Most governments have lasted way less than five years before another election happens.

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; “Very very few judges in the last century have been sacked [for abusing their powers/post].”

            Have you stopped beating your wife yet?…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            You said judges can be sacked in an weak attempt to say they are just like a Prime Minister.
            Which is an absurd argument.
            Judges are not elected they are appointed for life.
            The PM is an elected MP and then elected to lead his or her party.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        I think that Len’s point is very valid.

        This country doesn’t really have a Constitution. Those that do generally require super majorities in a constitutional convention to change it.

        Here, a government elected by just fourteen million of around seventy million people – that is, about one-in-five of them, yet having a majority of eighty, can just make it up as they go along on a half-plus-one basis..

        One rule that they seem to fancy is making the government pretty well unaccountable in law.

        It’s just as well that we’re leaving the European Union – we’d be thrown out anyway with shenanigans like this.

        Members must all subscribe to the rule of law.

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure a Corbyn win would have been just fine by you.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

          That is a very odd argument martin.
          We have some simple rules regarding voting.
          You need to be a citizen and be over 18 years of age.
          If you add up the votes for every single party except the winning party then they will inevitably have more votes.
          A majority is a majority.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            Yes, and in rational, enlightened, civilised countries constitutions cannot be altered by a simple majority, either of the people or of the parliament – and for a very good reason.

            It means that parties cannot use people’s fundamental rights as political footballs.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

            What alteration of the constitution in the UK are you alluding to.
            I remember Blair creating the Supreme Court.
            Is that what you mean.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

            I don’t know why you join in conversations where you haven’t grasped the basic vocabulary.

            Search is free.

            I suggest that you look up and understand these terms, and come back later.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            You tempt me with your faceless claims and then you dodge answering with a reply which is a personal attack.
            Like here.
            It makes me think you cannot back up what to say

          • jerry
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            Edward2; You appear either woefully ignorant or confused by the three main players, and their rolls;

            1/. The Executive (Govt.)
            2/, Parliament (MPs)
            3/. The SCOTUK

            The change MiC, I guess, is referring to are the changes the Executive attempted to make to the powers of the Royal prerogative – to use them for political purpose beyond that intended by our written and unwritten constitution.

            There was no other purpose to the prorogation other than to frustrate debate by parliament, the excuse that there needed to be a Queens speech might well have been true, but it does not take 5 weeks to prepare one!

            Also, Tony Blair did not change our constitution, he merely moved the Law Lords out of the HoL, their constitutional powers remained unchanged.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

            Never a post without an insult from you Jerry.
            But you carry on with your endless pedantic posts.
            Have the last word.

    • jerry
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      @Len Reel; Wow, that’s a bit harsh, our host has hardly proposed abolishing elections! I do not agree with his ideas but even if they do come about they will merely return the UK to a pre 2009 position. One that many a previous parliament were happy with, few called those Govts or MPs “dangerous” or undemocratic.

      If our host was truly dangerous and/or undemocratic person you claim your comment would have vanished into the ether, just as critical comments do in certain other parts of the world…

      • hefner
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, how do you know that some comment(s) might not have vanished into the ether?

        • NickC
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Hefner, Jerry’s point was that the particular critical comment did not vanish.

      • margaret howard
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        But we pride ourselves that our systems are better than those of many other nations not put ourselves on the same level.

        I agree with Len Peel – his democratic credentials seem a sham.

        • NickC
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Margaret H, So which of us elected Ursula von der Leyen?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            What does it matter?

            She is no more our ruling President than is the equally unelected President of the UK Law Commission, or the many other UK presidents.

            The supreme authority in the European Union is the council of the twenty-eight nations’ leaders.

            She was approved by our elected European Union Parliament, however, unlike May, and Johnson first time, wasn’t she?

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

            What does it matter?
            Well one of the most powerful people in Europe wasn’t elected by anyone on Europe.
            You rage against a lack of democracy on here every day, yet in your beloved EU you have a complete blind spot about it.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      If you recall, the matter was taken to an English court first and those opposing the government lost as the judges stated that this was a political matter. And it was. They then went to the Supreme Court because they did not get the judgement they wanted.

      The proroguing of covered the conference season so many MP’s would not be in the House. Further. The length of that parliament was the longest in our nation’s history, I do not remember anyone ever taking the government to court over that ! Parliament has had more than enough time to debate BREXIT so, was not being denied anything.

      • jerry
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        @Mark B; But the original court judgement was found to be wrong! If no court case should be allowed to go to appeal, fine, but how many wrongly convicted people will that affect. Stop trying cherry picking what suits you -politically- the law either allows court judgements to be appealed or it doesn’t.

        If the law is an ass then parliament can change the law, not stifle the judiciary from using the current laws…

        • Mark B
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          So what law did they break ?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            The Government broke the constitutional law that Parliament is sovereign, i.e. above the Executive.

            The will of Parliament was not to be prorogued.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            There is no such law.

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; There doesn’t need to be a “law”, just constitutional conventions, that’s the price for not having a consolidated written constitution.

            There seems to be some annoyance that SCOTUK judges are appointed, but then so were the Law Lords! Had the SCOTUK never existed the (so called) Miller II & Miller/Cherry cases last year would have been heard by the appointed Law Lords with very much likely the same outcome…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            So first the claim is that there is a law and now Jerry you agree that there was no law and no law was broken.
            During the few extra days Parliament had to sit nothing exciting happened anyway.

            It was in my opinion a political judgement rather than a legal judgement.

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; There is constitutional law, but it is not LAW as you seem to think of it – ie. ‘legal’ as in criminal or civil.

            “It was in my opinion a political judgement”

            Well the moon can also be made of cheese in your opinion, doesn’t mean it is!

          • Edward2
            Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

            So there is and there isn’t constitutional law.
            Nice one Jerry.

            Point two
            That is exactly what an opinion is Jerry.
            But I realise we must all agree with your opinions or have long pedantic posts from you.

        • Andy
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          But it does not allow a Court to rip up the Bill of Rights which is what the Supreme Court did. The judgement in the Prorogue case was arrant nonsense: would they have made the same judgement had Her Majesty driven in State and prorogued Parliament in person ?

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

            @Andy (?); Yes, for that is what the SCOTUK did do (under the constitution), Her Majesty might not have attended in person but legally she was present by way of her Lords Commissioners.

    • Pud
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Both decisions by an overmighty and arrogant supreme court stopped the government carrying out its wishes. We voted for the government, we did not vote for the supreme court judges who aided those who tried to stop the democratically expressed wish of the people to leave the EU.

    • mickc
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I entirely disagree. A prerogative is exactly that…a prerogative exercisable as the holder sees fit. It is not subject to judicial oversight, as the Court of Appeal so correctly adjudged.

      As for Parliament, it was composed of those who were elected on the promise they would comply with the democratic will of the people as expressed in the Referendum. It then proceeded to ignore, and indeed overturn the will of the people, and, even more heinous, refuse an election when it was apparent to all that it was essential that one be held.

      Parliament is the servant of the people, and exists only so long as it has the confidence and consent of the people. That confidence and consent had ceased.

      When a Parliament has effectively become a rump, there must be a means for it to be dissolved. That means, an election, was thwarted and the use of the prerogative entirely right. The alternative is, of course, Cromwell’s solution.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Over mighty government? Like when Parliament took control of the oder paper and foisted legislation on the Executive?

      • Mark B
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Another thing that must be stopped from happening ever again.

      • Len Peel
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Parliament makes law. That is its (only) job. Do you really not understand that? Thank the supreme court for protecting our constitution

    • Robert McDonald
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      You are talking about the last government in power, are you ? Arrogant ? please tell me who, apart from the speaker and the anti Brexit tories plus of course Swinson and the SNP were being arrogant ? And over mighty !!!! Beyond belief that you can say that considering the reason we had to fight to get an election was because the opposition to leaving was overmighty. Supreme Court was the arrogant and indeed ignorant entity in this saga, keeping parliament from being prorogued by a couple of days less … during which time NOTHING was achieved in the parliament.

    • Alison
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Replying to Mr Peel, As I remember, the government in question had a threadbare majority, if that , because MPs had crossed the floor to other parties, with different policies to those on which those MPs had been elected.
      That’s not an overmighty government.
      It seemed to many that the courts were being used to defy the expessed will of the people.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      The Government is voted in by the electors and will be judged at the next election, which is never far away.
      The Supreme Court is not elected and can do what it likes with no regard for the electors views.
      Yet Len, you think the Government is the overmighty and arrogant one.
      Very odd logic in my opinion.

    • acorn
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      The UK is in this mess because it has no written Constitution. Changing the form of government by a 52 to 48 vote referendum, would be impossible in most modern jurisdictions.

      The UK and Ireland are the only two member states that have Common Law. The rest use Civil Law. The latter has a lot of statutes, the UK has a lot of both types of Law and a lot of well paid Lawyers. UK Common Law has absorbed a lot of EU Law precedents; and a lot has been codified in UK statutes, as required by EU membership. Best of luck untangling that lot over the next decade or so.

      To quote Britannica. [Common Law] England and the United States have so many legal differences that they are sometimes described as “two countries separated by a common law.” The most striking differences are found in the area of public law. England has no written constitution and restricts judicial review, whereas every court in the United States possesses the power to pass judgment on the conformity of legislation and on other official actions to constitutional norms.

      “Powers of the courts to settle political and Parliamentary issues”. Don’t be surprised if the UK ends up looking more like North Korea than the US or the EU. Remember, Democracy must never be allowed to interfere with Profits!

    • steve
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Len Peel

      “That you [JR] oppose empowering parliament shows what a dangerous man you are.”

      So he opposes a parliament that was hell bent on oppressing the rights of the people to serve the interests of hostile foreign powers.

      Quite frankly I think he should be given a medal for having the guts to stand firm against hundreds of very dangerous people in the HoC and elsewhere.

      Were it not for Mr Redwood and those like him your country would be in dangerous times.

    • L Jones
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      ”… you have revealed your true colours…”
      So have you, Mr Peel.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Yes, he has.

        But there is nothing wrong with them, is there, if you believe that no one is above the law?

        • Edward2
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

          Who makes the law?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            Parliament make statute law, judges in the High Court and above can make common law, provided that it does not clash with precedent.

            Statute law trumps common law, since Parliament is supreme.

            Various entities can propose law to Parliament besides the Government, e.g. MPs, and the Law Commission.

            If you need to ask questions like that, then you really should refrain from commenting, I think.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

            Parliament makes the law.
            And as you keep telling us, Parliament is supreme.
            Yet when the Supreme Court stretches itself to overrule Parliament you are all in favour.
            Make your mind up and stop commenting twenty times a day.

          • jerry
            Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; But it was not “parliament” who prorogued its self, it was the executive (govt.), the then executive could not have won such a vote had there been one, so they miss-used the royal prerogative to prevent parliament taking control of the order paper…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

            The Government has the power to prorougue.
            That us their decision.
            If Parliament dislikes it the can call a vote of confidence.
            The Supreme Court exceeded their powers to interfere in Government decisions.
            However the few extra days Parliament was open they did nothing significant.
            The voters have now given their decision and we now have a huge Conservative majority.

    • ChrisS
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      We must remember that the events of the last three years were exceptional :

      An unhealthy coalition of Parliamentarians in both houses, including the most partisan Speaker we have ever seen, business leaders, the Civil Service and the supposedly great and good, all conspired together to try and thwart the legitimate decision made by the people in the 2016 referendum.

      The fact that they ultimately failed is proof that the British Constitution is robust, although at some points in 2019 it was a close call.

      It is unlikely that we will ever again see such a concerted attempt to subvert the will of the people. Nevertheless, action does need to be taken to guard against such an eventuality.

      At the very least, the role of the Supreme Court and the court of sessions in Scotland need to be more clearly defined.

    • Richard Mortimer
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Len,

      Sorry, you are not facing facts. The baseline fact is: both the major parties promised to honour the referendum result. So, the majority, you speak of, was the problem. They reneged on their promise and did all they could to frustrate what they had promised.

      It is the people who are sovereign, not parliament. This is really, one of the key arguments for Brexit: a restoration of the sovereignty of the people.

      So, in fact, you disprove your own argument!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 27, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        No, the near non-existent British Constitution says only one thing.

        Parliament is sovereign.

        There is no mention of the people, unlike in the French, American etc. ones.

        You apparently detest your country and its Constitution, then.

        • Andy
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

          Define ‘Parliament’.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

          Yet above you say our supreme Parliament can be properly overruled by the courts.
          Make your mind up.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Exactly right. What is particularly worrying was the unanimity of the clearly political Supreme Court. But then these people are all lawyers who usually suffer from the typical Lawyer group think. So the more laws, courts level, delays, costs, legal uncertainty and ambiguity the better for lawyers in their often/usually extremely parasitic profession. Unlike industry they have very little incentive to make the legal system efficient for the users of it quite the reverse.

    Also these Justices were all selected under PMs Blair, Brown, Cameron, May who were all pro EU and as all have been since the dire Ted Heath took us in without the people’s consent. Nearly all socialist in essence too. This same bias can been seen in the generally appalling people who are elevated to the Lords. Nearly all have the usual delusions wanting ever more government, more taxation, more climate alarmism, ever more monopoly NHS, more EU, less democracy and ever more rules and red tape. The same as all the BBC delusions in fact.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      correct.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Excellent comment LL.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    A good piece on this topic in the telegraph by Dan Hannan today:- Repair the constitution, or let Labour destroy it

    Also Janet Daley:- The BBC is panicking at the public’s rejection of its Left-liberal arrogance
    The patronising world view of the broadcast media has been smashed, and may never recover.

    Not that the BBC has changed at all even now, still all the same biases pro EU, insufferably PV, left wing and completely bonkers on climate alarmism with their Attenborough and Packham types.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      The BBC doesn’t care if a lecturing, politically correct Dr Who slumps. It gets its money whatever happens.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Indeed. Clearly the licence tax is unfair competition but what annoys me most is the absurd political bias of the BBC particularly on the EU, everything PC, the non existent (other than by choice) gender pay gap and worse of all on Climate Alarmism.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes the BBC is still giving a platform to Gauke, Soubry Heseltine and co, even though they have no mandate.

      • Lester Beedell
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        The Supreme Court have no right to become involved with politics, they obviously disagreed with Brexit and did everything that they could to frustrate the referendum, very dangerous!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        They have a great deal of experience and learning in government and in public office..

        How much of a mandate does, say Tim Martin have?

        And how much of one will Farage have after getting the shove on Friday?

        • Edward2
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

          You mention two ordinary citizens who are entitled to their opinions.
          Very different to the Supreme Court appointees.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    To believe in the impartiality of the court system one would have to be rather dope, know nothing about the subject or not have looked at many of their more insane decisions. Judges also know what is required of them to get ahead in their professions,

    Lawyers as a group generally suffer from Lawyer group think, they often come from similar backgrounds, rarely understand much business, economics or science and the jobs they do distorts their views. Just as a GP sees hypochondriacs and ill people rather more than the healthy ones it distorts their views of humanity. Similarly MPs get a rather distorted view from their MPs surgeries.

    Judges also like to grap power and to invent, distort or even invent new laws.

    Something that allows you to legally break in to a building to put out a fire being then being used to defend environmental protesters who were committing criminal acts for example. Or absurd equally gender pay act claims by comparing totally different jobs.

    • steve
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      “Judges also like to grab power and to invent, distort or even invent new laws.”

      ….the most recent offenders being the left wing in the HoC, aided by Bercow.

      “Just as a GP sees hypochondriacs and ill people rather more than the healthy ones”

      ……well in my experience, LL, GP’s waste their time on people who have nothing wrong with them, and send those who are genuinely ill to the local pharmacist – who is of course not a qualified doctor.

      Moreover GP’s who can actually diagnose the exact cause of a problem are a rare breed these days. You could go to the doctors with a limb hanging off and come away with nothing more effective than infant’s amoxycillin.

      I have a set of old medical books, when I get ill or injured I refer to them instead. You’d be surprised how often you can fix yourself up with the right information at hand, rather than waste time listening to hums, hars, and indecisiveness of GP’s. This way I also do my bit to ease NHS (self imposed) congestion.

  5. Shirley
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    We need more direct democracy. The proof is in the last 3 years, where Parliament and the judiciary worked together to disrespect a democratic decision. A decision that Parliament gave to the people in the first place.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      We do indeed. The public after all should know what they want. Electing an MP every five years (usually voting for the least bad of the two who have any chance) many of whom once elected will do the complete opposite of what they promised is not real democracy. Cameron for example was elected by claiming to be a cast iron Eurosceptic and a low tax at heart Conservative. He was the complete reverse. Many Conservatives (and Labour) MP who promised to deliver Brexit even voted for the treachery of the Benn act. Many still endlessly on the BBC too.

      A bit like choosing a taxi driver agreeing a destination and price but then he takes you in the opposite direction and over a cliff. With the internet we can have far more direct democracy very easily and at low cost. The absurd citizens’ assembly where the 110 (specially filtered) members of the public are told they can only think one way and even have to listen to David Attenborough is particularly nausea inducing.

      Lord Adonis defending HS2 yesterday on the week in Westminster. What more proof of the total insanity of this project does the government need?

    • Peter Wood
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Shirley,
      I agree, you are spot on with that accusation; the question is WHY did they do so? A Parliament of democratic minded people, elected in the normal way who presumably wish to uphold democratic systems and norms, and a judiciary that has, as a matter of ancient practise if not policy, not interfered in the political realm. They, as a class, tuned against a properly conducted democratic decision and tried by many, some foul, ways to overturn it. It’s as though there was a sudden madness that overtook the ‘intellectual classes’ of W1 and environs.
      Should we look deeper for motives, Sir John?

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      More Direct Democracy

      Yes, I certainly agree with that. Successive governments have tied us into awful treaties, for example with the UN on subjects relating to immigrants.
      Most people it seems do not want parliament to have unlimited powers without consent.

      There are treaties that need to be reviewed, and certainly some we should get out of. An open discussion on this subject would help democracy no end, but I’m mainly suggesting greater voter involvement in major decisions that affect us all.

      • Shirley
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • jerry
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      @Shirley; Swaziland has direct democracy, whilst they are not a member of the EU the country is politically & economically tied to the EU by way of their EFTA membership, something the people approved.

      I will leave this thought hanging, if the hard line eurosceptics really thought they could carry the people in a direct vote on our future relationship (or non) with the EU why did they oppose any and all suggestions of a second referendum, even though it would not have changed the original Leave decision – or even if it had, after all the people should be free to change their minds, no?…

      • Edward2
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Depends what the question would be in this second referendum.
        Most proponents wanted to have a question which left the original leave option iff the ballot paper and offer two forms of remain.

        • Shirley
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. They would be happy to insult the electorate and manipulate democracy by giving a new referendum which excluded the very thing that the electorate voted for.

      • steve
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        jerry

        “why did they oppose any and all suggestions of a second referendum”

        Because Europhiles have a history of re running referenda until they get the result they want. They think that is how it works, but only when they lose.

        That is exactly what they did in RoI.

        It is also likely a second referendum would have been rigged.

      • jerry
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        😳 Sorry for the obvious, spiel chucking, typo there!

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Shirley

      Spot on

  6. agricola
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, put an end to the Fixed Term Parliament Act. It has proved more of a hindrance to democracy than a help.

    Parliament should be the ultimate arbiter of the law. The courts are there to carry it out. I can understand to an extent the confusion within the law administrators in that there was the confusion of having more than one source of law. This confusion should end on 29th January. We should absolutely prevent a partial legal profession fighting a clandestine war because they do not agree with Brexit.

    We should consider a case against Germany for blocking, by refusing to supply components, the sale of Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia. They are reneging on a contract for the political thoughts of the German Government. A government becoming ever closer to Putin’s Russia due to their dependency on Russian gas. A sum in excess of 5 billion is involved. If they cannot see the legality of this we should deduct the sum from any final payment we make to the EU. The lesson is, do not get involved in any further joint ventures with the EU. They are a customer not a partner.

    • hefner
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      … and the £300m 1976 Chieftain contract with Iran?

    • Fred H
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      The biggest mistake is selling arms to the Saudis in the first place.

  7. jerry
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Sir John, a written Constitution would indeed be nice indeed, the last thing most UK govts nor civil service would want to submit to, until then we can not actually have any constitutional changes as we simply have rules and precedents….

    • jerry
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Not sure the FTPA is as bad as you make out. I would amend it, so it can only be used during a period of formal coalition govt, after all it did protect both side from having the rug pulled from under them between 2010 and 2015. As you point out, even under the FTPA if the will of house really is to call an election it can.

      Of course what the FTPA does do at the moment is stop any govt from calling a GE before (known by Downing Street) hard times arrive, or just after a feel good give-a-way budget…

      The Supreme court decisions were not damaging to our (unwritten) constitution, they were damning of an unconstitutional govt! The Supreme Court merely interprets the laws made by Parliament, want a different set of rules then get parliament to change the laws of the land, not abolish judges.

      • Andy
        Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Sorry but I disagree. What the FTPA does is to keep in office a ‘dead’ government, that is to say one that does not have the confidence of the Commons. It also gives far too much power to the Commons who can play the sort of games we saw in the last Parliament. We need to be very wary and remember what happened the last time the Commons could not be dissolved unless by its own consent. That lead to civil war and murder.

        • jerry
          Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

          @Andy (?); No it does not. If there is a majority to call an election then it will be called, under the FTPA or by way of a No Confidence vote. If there is no majority to dissolve parliament the Govt is by definition not ‘dead’, it just can not get certain legislative measures through, but can govern otherwise.

          “We need to be very wary and remember what happened the last time the Commons could not be dissolved unless by its own consent.”

          I assume you are talking about the 1640 ‘Long Parliament’. The problem then was not so much that parliament could not be dissolved, it could have been, the problem was that the govt could not be removed because it and the Crown were one and the same.

    • mickc
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      But written constitutions are the very food and drink of lawyers. The USA is the prime example of this, and indeed is being displayed presently.

      • jerry
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        @mikec; As are unwritten constitutions, how much did the recent Brexit related SCOUK cases cost.

        What price democracy?…

    • steve
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      jerry

      “a written Constitution would indeed be nice indeed”

      …..well according to Martin in Cardiff we already have one.

      • jerry
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        @steve; Well Eurocrat (?) like Martin in Cardiff probably does think that, after all isn’t that what the Lisbon Treat started out to be?…

  8. Stred
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    It would appear that the Supreme Court is entirely composed of judges who worked with the European courts and read the European. Given that the Commission and their opposite numbers in the UK civil service have designed a treaty, now signed by the PM, that still ties us to the ECJ, it would be better to abolish the SC and return to the pre-Blair arrangement.
    Happening to view the part of the debate in the Lords on the withdrawal bill, it seemed obvious that this chamber of failed, aged politicians, civil servants and EU cronies was a grotesque demonstration of what democracy and government should not be. Why not send the SC judges who are not yet nobbled there and then abolish it. A House of Advisors could replace it with 200 qualified persons who wish to put themselves up for a national and regional election, to be re-elected every six years.

  9. GilesB
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    We need to clarify the rules/laws/precedence about the need for Royal Assent before the Commons debates Bills that impact the Royal Prerogative. And the need for a Minister, not backbencher, to introduce a Bill which has financial consequences – a ‘Money Bill’.

    We also need to make politicians keep to their manifesto commitments. Otherwise voting is meaningless. As a minimum MPs should have to resign if they depart significantly: certainly if they switch parties. I would go further and clarify that it is equivalent to breach of the Trade Description Act and a criminal offence for which they would be imprisoned. The only honourable course is to resign as MP first and then switch party.

  10. eeyore
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Sir John wants to give the Commons the power to call and withhold elections. This is not a return to the status quo ante the FTPA, under which calling an election was a prerogative matter.

    We have already seen a minority government held in office, but not in power, by a Commons determined to evade the popular verdict on its behaviour. Surely once is enough.

    Power to call elections must be returned to government. As Sir John says, the Commons can dismiss HMG whenever it likes. But if the Commons can vote down an election, how can the people dismiss the Commons?

    • SM
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t the Sovereign have ultimate power to call an election if the Government of the day does not do so after ?five? years?

  11. Mark B
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    All good things I can agree with but wish to add.

    1) Make ALL referendums legally binding. None of this consultative nonsense.

    2) No referendum can be held twice on the same matter within 25 years or, once in a generation no matter what.

    3) Undo all constitutional reforms implemented by Tony Blair and New Labour.

    4) Abolish the House of Lords and create an elected Senate based on PR.

    5) Any MP that crosses the floor to become either an independent or, join another party must hold a by-election within say 2 months. Failure to do so bars them from the House, stops them their salary and bars them from holding a public office ever again.

    6) If we cannot have an English Parliament, ban all non-English constituency MP’s from voting on English only matters and sitting on English only committees. THIS IS YOUR BIG CHANCE SIR JOHN, DO NOT LET US DOWN !!!!

    7) Make it illegal or against house rules to create a law aimed at specific individual to make the do, or not do, a specific act. ie No more Benn Acts.

    8) Make it illegal for non-government MP’s and Civil Serpents not involved in negotiations to speak to foreign governments or their representatives.

    9) Fixed terms for the Speaker of the House. No more than 10 years or two parliaments. Same too with the PM.

    I probably can thinks of some more but that is enough for now.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      So LL and others get to make multiple posts, with some off-topic, and I get held in moderation because I list something things.

      10) Create a law protecting the freedom of speech.

  12. Old Albion
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    While you’re at it Sir John. Perhaps you would enquire as to when England will be given democratic equality with the rest of the (dis)UK, a parliament of our own.

  13. Nig l
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    No sign of political ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ cronyism then? Give a large donation to the Tory party and get a seat in the Lords where you can sneer/look down with contempt on us ‘populists’ and get a vote.

    Or the Sir Humphrey class automatically knighted/ennobled for public service. Back in the day maybe but with big salaries and better pensions than in the orivare sector, certainly not.

    If you want public service, the farmer in all hours, my refuse men doing an awful job for not much money. Will they ever be considered, of course not. Some animals are more equal than others.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      The Honours System is anything but honourable.

  14. Javelin
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I fear the civil servants are making the new EU trade agreement imbalanced to make up for the losses in revenue to the EU.

    John – who will scrutinise the EU trade agreement and tell the public whether it is balanced or not?

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      It is noted that Canada is already objecting to their trade deal as the EU makes it own rules as it goes along. The EU agreed one thing but still does what it wants. Anything signed by the EU, is for the EU to break and only the EU is permitted to say what of any of it could be wrong.

      Dealing with the EU is not the same as dealing with a democracy. You only deal with a Commission of unelected, unaccountable empire builders.

    • jerry
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      @Javelin; “who will scrutinise the EU trade agreement”

      Sounds like a job for someone like Sir Bill Cash, chairing a Select Committee, helped by senior eurosceptic ex HMT/Business departments Ministers? If needs-be a combined committee of both houses if that is what it takes to get the most experienced people, from both sides of the Brexit divide.

    • Andy
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Nobody scrutinises trade agreements. The government just decides the terms. Parliament has a limited, almost negligible, role.

      They can put in place whatever agreements they like and there is precisely zero you can do about it.

      This is apparently what parliamentary sovereignty and taking back control looks like.

      Incidentally, trade deals agreed by the EU have to be ratified by the European Parliament. So our MEPs got a say in those.

      No more. It’s down to Liz Truss now.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        If they do a bad job you can vote them out at the next election.
        Try doing that with the EU Commission and see how you get on andy.

  15. George Brooks
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The F T P A has to go. It was a simple idea thought up by some simple people and failed completely.

    The Supreme court let themselves and their fellow lawyers down badly and should have acted as described in your penultimate paragraph. I think they might have done so prior to 29 March 2019 but after that the temperature in the Westminster bubble went past boiling point and the thinking was that Brexit was more or less reversed.

    Those in the bubble and in the EU had not got the slightest idea on what the rest of the country were thinking as clearly illustrated on December 12th last.

  16. jerry
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    OT; Before parliament and MPs get bogged down with ‘constitutional’ changes there is a lot of other issues that need to be addressed, for example excessive and silly planning regulations that demand ever more and often totally irrelevant documents and charges.

    I’ve been following a few local applications from their outline stages through to final approval and build, what has struck me is how detailed planning applications appear to require the same third party (drainage, roads, eco etc) reports to be repeatedly provided over and over despite the fact that they were provided in the original application and nothing has changed, why?!

    Even the County Police Force have to be involved, giving a SBD [1] report, which means at least one less person (civilian or force) doing proper back-office crime solving/prosecution related work.

    This nonsense, much of it then used by the NIMBY element to oppose anything, needs to stop.

    [1] SBD, “Secure By Design”. Surely such information is common to all buildings of their type and use, surely common guidelines can be given centrally from Whitehall so SBD becomes a planning issue between developers/owners and their architects

  17. Bryan Harris
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    One can only agree with the above outlining of issues and the conclusions.

    The other situations that came to view, in relation to justice, including the powers of the police and courts, was the pursuit of alleged right wing people to bring injustices to our attention. Treatment of such people truly was an injustice, and they were not treated fairly.

    Bias in the police and courts needs to be stamped out – Unless we can rely on them to be impartial then we are lost as a country.

    • jerry
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Except the SCOTUK was not being “biased”, it was making a judgement according to law, if an institution has a weighted mandate or set of appointed members it is very unlikely to come to a unanimous ruling [1] without either resignations or internal descent becoming public.

      [1] as was the case regarding proroguing Parliament.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Except there is no law about proroguing parliament is there.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        This is the excuse all around – Scottish courts were no different

      • steve
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        jerry

        Equally, the Supreme Court could have lawfully judged; ‘this is a political matter and nothing to do with the courts’

        But it didn’t, did it.

        • jerry
          Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          @steve; The SCOUK was asked to interpret our constitution, not the law, can you not understand the difference. Hence why some now want to make changes to our constitution, hence the title of our hosts article!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          It was NOT a political matter.

          It was conduct by the Government, which must be within the law.

          The Government’s impeding of Parliament is absolutely not “Parliamentary business”, any more than dropping stones from bridges is “the running of a railway.”

          If it were then the Court would have erred in law.

          The highest legal authorities in the land were unanimous, however.

          Claim to know better if you wish, and join the rest making fools of themselves.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            They said the length of prorogation was too long.
            No laws were involved.
            They just made a political ruling.
            Way beyond their proper powers.

            Thankfully the UK voters have now overruled them and given the Conservatives a huge majority to get Brexit done.

          • jerry
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; “They just made a political ruling.”

            No they did not, the SCOTUK made a constitutional ruling, as would the Law Lords have done before them.

            As for your final paragraph, no wonder you are so confused, the ruling was about Prorogation, not Brexit!

          • Edward2
            Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            I realise itwas a ruling about prorogation thanks Jerry.
            It was a political stunt by the remainers and their supporters in the establishment to frustrate Brexit.
            And it has totally failed because the people returned a great majority for the Conservatives.
            Not that forcing Parliament to remain open for a few extra days had any real effect.

  18. Olden
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Sky news weather forecast today says “‘It’ will bring in more arctic weather” I looked online and found arctic meant the minimum temperature lasting one hour from 7am Tuesday of 2C or 35.6 Fahrenheit.
    Definitions change don’t they.

  19. Kevin
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    “These decisions were seen by many Brexiteers as being decisions to delay or prevent Brexit”

    Another controversial judicial decision during this period was the ECJ’s ruling, in December 2018, that the UK could unilaterally revoke Article 50. One Brexit Party MEP wrote of an attempt to “derail Brexit at 5 minutes to midnight”. A few days before this judgment was delivered, Jacob Rees-Mogg tweeted that “Article 174 [of the Withdrawal Agreement], keeps the supremacy of the European Court over our own law”. What is more, as if to remove any doubt about this fact, the Conservative Party have repeated the provision of Art. 174(1) in Clause 131 of the Political Declaration on the future relationship. That is to say, both documents provide that, where a dispute (arising under the relevant agreement) raises a question of interpretation of provisions or concepts of EU law, the ECJ shall have jurisdiction to give a binding ruling.

    Given that the ECJ will shortly become an entirely foreign court, this is surely a constitutional change that the Conservative Party is implementing right now – and it is in completely the wrong direction.

  20. Brit
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The Courts?
    There are people dressed up in various guises.

  21. WingsOverTheWorld
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Add to that, the ability to recognise a hostile Speaker, or one who directly colludes to seek a particular outcome, either in the House or outside it.

    • Bob
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      There needs to be a full inquiry into the abuse of the position of Speaker, he must not be allowed to get away with what he has done.

      • steve
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        Bob

        Agreed.

        Actually in times past seven Speakers were executed, and the position of Speaker was accordingly not a popular one. This is why they have the ceremony of dragging a new Speaker to the chair, but they only pretend to be reluctant in keeping with tradition.

        None of the seven were in post when executed, so I guess they must have had their cards marked.

        Though in my opinion one or two recent ones should in the least have been dragged back out of the chair and given the bums rush from the HoC. Preferably televised.

      • rose
        Posted January 27, 2020 at 12:17 am | Permalink

        I think Bernard Jenkin said his committee was going to do just that, having gathered evidence already.

  22. Johnny Dubb
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    I agree with your thoughts today, as I am sure do many others. So that was easy!
    Also, your tweets on “how to negotiate fishing access with the EU” (“just say non”) are a welcome change and good advice to those entrusted with this task, none of whom appear to have negotiation experience. “We’ve got it, you want it” should make things easy, but apparently not. I’d prefer to invite the main fishing nations, especially France, for talks to see how they and their voters react. Why not?
    Finally, I don’t buy this “Cummings Genius” routine. The government have given themselves 2 entirely avoidable problems with the USA, namely 5G & “Tech Tax”. These are predictably being weaponised by the Left, with Marr today relishing the situation. Many thanks for the blog.

  23. steve
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Agree with all you say, JR.

    The Supreme Court was created by Blair the untouchable, for obvious reasons.

    In my opinion it should be scrapped, and it’s politically biased judges themselves imprisoned.

    The Supreme Court is another example of Blair-ite and left wing infiltration of state bodies.

    I suggest this country needs to purge it’s judiciary, state broadcaster, and civil service of all elements that are politically biased and sympathetic to anti-British agenda.

    Of course this would mean the end of the BBC, given the extent of the poison.

    We need to bring back the treason laws which Blair (unsurprisingly) repealed, and they need to be of a capital nature as they once were.

    Sedition should also be reclassified as a serious offence. For example the BBC referring to the Scottish and Welsh assemblies as ‘governments’.

    In general, we don’t need radical change to the constitution. We just need to outlaw conduct which is a threat to our island’s sovereignty and her people’s enshrined rights.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      sitting on the fence, Steve?

    • jerry
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      @steve; “Sedition should also be reclassified as a serious offence. For example the BBC referring to the Scottish and Welsh assemblies as ‘governments’.”

      Err?! But that is what the devolved assemblies are, it would also be quite in order for the MSM to call our LA’s “Government” too [1], it is just the norm in the UK to refer to them as (county or Local) “Councils”.

      Government;
      Noun

      The body with the power to make and/or enforce laws to control a country, land area, people or organization.

      “We just need to outlaw conduct which is a threat to our island’s sovereignty and her people’s enshrined rights.”

      Cough, the very sort of conduct you have suggested in other words, wanting to gerrymander the judiciary, MSM and no doubt the civil service to get what you can not obtain via the ballot box.

      [1] as indeed MPs, Parliament, Downing Street and Whitehall often do…

      • steve
        Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        jerry

        “But that is what the devolved assemblies are”

        Exactly – devolved ASSEMBLIES. People who think the country has three governments only do so because the left wing BBC propagandists keep pumping it out. Or, in some cases because they’re haters with a fixation that goes back centuries.

        If what you say had any credibility, then England should have MP’s in the Scottish and Welsh assemblies, and in the case of the former, reciprocating the level of decorum their MP’s show in our HoC. I have a feeling they wouldn’t like it very much if we did it back.

        “…wanting to gerrymander the judiciary, MSM and no doubt the civil service to get what you can not obtain via the ballot box.”

        Those bodies are already gerrymandered, by your left wing, in case you hadn’t noticed.

        Pray do tell us jerry; if a rogue parliament doing it’s level best to thwart the democratic vote of the people and serve the interests of foreign powers is not wrongful conduct…..then what is ?

        Or perhaps you would tell us it’s perfectly acceptable to have an infiltrated civil service etc as long as it’s your side doing it.

        • jerry
          Posted January 27, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          @steve; Assembly vs Government, you are arguing against the OED not the BBC….

          Also have you never heard Whitehall refer to “Local Government”, they never refer to them as Local Assemblies.

          “in some cases because they’re haters with a fixation that goes back centuries.”

          I take it you are talking about Unionists, treating all but the England as if Colonies, to be ruled from afar?…

          “Pray do tell us jerry; if a rogue parliament doing it’s level best to thwart the democratic vote of the people and serve the interests of foreign powers is not wrongful conduct…..then what is ?”

          But they were not, they were standing by their 2017 GE manifestos, if you recall Mrs May did not have a majority, that is why the Tories had to shack up with the DUP. One of the reason why it was so unwise to call the 2017 GE was because it neutralised the mandate of the referendum given by the 2015 Tory manifesto.

          No future govt or parliament can be held hostage by the decisions of a previous one.

          Also one other point rears its head again when ever you try and claim MPs were not carrying out the peoples instruction, in 2016 we voted to leave, that is all, we have never been directly asked How we wished to leave, BRINO would have still been (legally) leaving – after all Norway, Switzerland, Monaco and Andorra is not members the European Union either.

  24. DOMINIC
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    ‘your party hasn’t the ideological will or depth of belief’

  25. Leaver
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I agree on repealing the fixed term parliament act. A simple majority should be enough to decide an election.

    I can’t agree that the government should be allowed to prorogue parliament at leisure. It looked like a blatantly political move to me. And, while I agreed with the motivation, giving the Prime Minister the power to silence parliament seems a dangerous step.

    The thought of a Jeremy Corbyn type proroguing parliament to force through his anti-capitalist agenda brings me out in cold sweats. No thank you.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Proroguing Parliament for the so-called conference season is a tradition that has been applied over the years, and that is what happened. I would guess the idea is to stop the opposition passing laws in Parliament while others are absent on other business.

      More logical from the perspective of a contributor to MP’s pay, I would suggest these Political jamborees should all be on the same week as one an other and should take while Parliament is in recess for the holiday period.

      The only objection and that is not our(the Peoples) problem – is party conferences would all be vying for media coverage on the same day.

    • eeyore
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Since Parliament began governments have prorogued for political reasons. It is legal, constitutional, necessary and proper – or was till the Supreme Court poked its nose in.

      There is no danger whatever because government’s only source of money is Parliament. A government without Parliament would be bust within days.

      Arrangements that have worked well for centuries do not need amendment. It’s not broke so don’t fix it.

  26. Andy
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The Brexiteers broke our constitution. This is what we need to do to fix it.

    PR
    It is unsustainable for a minority to impose its will on the majority. This governments Brexit plan was just rejected by 57% of the electorate but is being imposed on us all anyway. The era where this is acceptable is over. A vote for a Tory can not be worth 10x as much as a vote for a Lib Dem and 30x as much as vote for a Green. The system needs changing. If the majority is ignored at the ballot box we will find other ways to change it.

    LORDS
    Hereditary peers need to completely go. 2/3 of the chamber should be appointed on a party list system based on the result of the last election. The remaining 1/3 should be experts in their fields – nominated by other Lords and the voted for online by the public.

    PM
    Should be directly elected by the people. Almost presidential. And, yes, this could mean a PM from a different party to the majority in Parliament. They’d have to learn to cooperate. The PM would not be an MP but would be called to answer questions from MPs. Cabinet ministers would need to be selected from the Commons or Lords and their appointment would be subject to Parliamentary approval.

    MONARCHY
    End it on a high – and scrap it when the Queen dies.

    FIXED TERMS
    A fixed four year term for the PM. A fixed six year term for MPs and Lords. Strict term limits – three for PM, two for Parliament. PMs would be allowed to later serve in Parliament and MPs and Lords would be eligible to be PM. Age limit of 70 for all.

    SUPREME COURT
    Gets additional powers of judicial oversight.

    WRITTEN CONSTITUTION
    The basis of our constitution should be written down. Human Rights forming the essential part of if. Rights which are unremovable by Parliament. We have seen with the Brexiteers the dangers of us slipping into an authoritarian state where are rights are removed on the whims of a few extremists.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Straight out of the Green Party’s manifesto.
      Who have one MP.
      Even under an extreme version of PR they would only have about 10 MPs and in the recent election under PR the Conservatives would still have a good working majority
      Your views are not popular with the vast majority of voters.

  27. Stephen
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Sir John,
    The ability to call for the dissolution of Parliament and an election used to be a Royal Prerogative power that was exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. How does repealing the act leave a requirement for a commons majority, as you seem to imply?

    Reply The PM could only exercise the prerogative because he had a majority which would support him! Parliament can amend or override prerogative decisions anytime it likes if the government no longer has a majority.

    • Stephen
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Thank you. It makes me wonder if Boris could have called an election, even under the old rules.
      Anyway, I’m all for changing things back to how they were, in many areas. I’m going to make the case for Regressivism.

    • eeyore
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Before FTPA Parliament could not override a prerogative decision to call an election because the act of calling one automatically dissolved Parliament. The rationale is plain: a Parliament able to refuse an election can, if it wishes, sit in perpetuity.

      In other words, it could transmute itself from an elected legislature into an unelected dictatorship. This it did by unconstitutional means in the 1640s. We were very lucky it did not happen again, but constitutionally, in 2019.

      We have seen much constitutional tinkering since Mr Blair took office, and very little of it desirable. Our constitution is a strong, flexible but exquisitely sensitive web of interlocking parts and powers, not easy to make it better but very easy indeed to make worse. Just stop fiddling.

  28. Iain Moore
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    There remains the major problem of England not having its own Parliament. When Boris is liaising with devolved parliaments on Brexit, who does he speak to representing the English people? Or do we have to content ourselves with the regions none of us want, which we seem to be getting through these Mayoral fiefdoms and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’?

    One unwelcome arrival of late has been this ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ on Climate Change. I deeply deeply resent this. I did not fight for nigh on 30 years to restore our Parliament and get us out of the EU , only to find some Climate Change activists circumvent it, set up some fake assembly which has been selected by ‘Involve’ (who the heck are they?) that will be used to steam roller MPs into agreeing to some very damaging legislation on Climate Change . I was concerned to hear Andrea Leadsom say they would respond to the Citizens Assembly advice, when as a Brexiteers you might have expected her to say ‘We already have a Citizen’s Assembly , its called Parliament!’ .

    With this Glasgow Climate Change Conference I will be surprised if we escape this year unscathed, and not have the Government put some damaging legislation on the books just to show what good hosts they are to this climate circus.

  29. Ian @Barkham
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    I believe in the independency of the Justice system. Their position is to administer the law as it is given to them by Parliament.

    I also believe that in a Free Sovereign Democracy no one can create laws, rules or standards that are not subject to accountability by a democratically elected representative.

    The way we are governed must be subject to scrutiny, it must be able to be amended, changed or removed by means of the same democratically elected representatives.

    The Supreme Court by all criteria that apply in a Democracy became a collective dictatorship, in that it didn’t just interpret the Law it also made Law. It would appear they adopted this principle as that is the way the EU works, and a good chunk of them have their roots in working for the EU commission via the ECJ.

    The Supreme Court had no mandate to make law it is not accountable to the People of the UK. Logic as it stands it has no place in our systems of government.

    The bit I find strange, is that the Law Lords did a better job.

    Daniel Hannan is credited in yesterdays MsM as saying, and I paraphrase, the EU Commission with the ECJ change laws and make them up on the fly to suit what ever situation they find themselves in. This is exactly the same principle the Supreme Court as it stands thinks they have the right to do – they have rendered themselves not fit for purpose. If the had a single ounce of common decency they should resign.

    We are moving to be a Democracy once more, we need a strong independent justice system, this version of a Supreme Court, is biased, above themselves and not accountable so has no place.

  30. Alan Jutson
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    We ought to start with the very simple automatic right of recall, the only point of argument, what should the required numbers be, in order to hold that constituency bye election.

    With fewer Mp’s going Rogue, we should automatically have a more democratic Parliament.

    • Bob
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

  31. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Yep! It’s all about undoing the recent ‘constitutional changes’ and reverting to what we had before. I believe that any Act of Parliament that changes our Constitution must gain a supermajority. The fact that Treaty law was allowed to overturn Constitutional Law, although it was not legally done (Heath did not explicitly repeal those Constitutional Acts that the ‘72 Act contradicted) must be addressed.
    The Limitations of the role of Speaker must also be clearly defined. I don’t mind if he is entitled to a silken noose if he behaves as Bercow did!

  32. Keith Alan
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    “It is most important most people more of the time believe in the impartiality of the court system and believe the judgements are fair and reasonable”.
    Too late because only gullible fools think the legal system in Britain is impartial. Time after time we see decisions to uphold the rights of government and business over people and silence disent. It is a rigged and biased mish mash of badly drafted and contradictory rules designed to control and extort the populace. Common Law on the other hand covers every situation in a very simple way and holds living human beings above any legal constructs as natural justice should.

  33. David Cooper
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    A couple of ways to ensure that the courts did not overstep the mark in future might be: –

    1. Restore the role of Lord Chancellor to what it was before Blair vandalised it.

    2. Remove the need for judicial office candidates at all levels to demonstrate their commitment to “diversity”, aka institutionalised political correctness.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Point 2 is not often mentioned. There are tests of PC wokery which potential judges must pass which is probably the reason we have people like lady hale rising to the top of the system.

  34. rose
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I can see no justification whatever for the Fixed Term. The original Act should just have applied to that one Parliament and I have never understood what the overweening House of Lords was thinking of in letting it past unamended.

    Where the Supreme Court is concerned, you are too kind ins saying:
    “The decision of the Supreme Court to prevent a prorogation of Parliament which was only slightly longer than the normal September recess was seen by many as a partisan decision as it was designed to allow those who wanted to stop Brexit more time to debate and vote on it.”
    It looked to me as if the intention was to humiliate and discredit the Government, and the PM in particular. The Queen was also appallingly badly treated by the Court who gave the impression they were republicans as well as anti Conservative and anti Brexit. They hoped to label the PM a criminal in the common mind and thus prevent his being able to carry through his great undertaking . It was quite obviously done in cahoots with politicians from both Houses. It was as if the Supreme Court was an upper upper chamber with legitimate powers to overrule the lawful decisions of HMG which had been taken in response to our largest democratic vote. It is not and should not ever be. It has to be curtailed.

    • steve
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Rose

      The judiciary came off worse. In terms of the Supreme Court’s interference, the majority of people supported Boris, and acquired ‘dislike’ of Lady Hale.

      Times are changing, and people will win through eventually because they’re rapidly wising up and won’t tolerate being had over by corrupt establishment for much longer. This is happening across Europe now and the EU knows the game’s over.

      • rose
        Posted January 27, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Steve, I agree. The Speaker, his renegade Conservative friends and accomplices, the broadcasters, and the Supreme Court, all turned out to be recruiting sergeants for the very cause they were trying to kill.

  35. Rule Britannia
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    “It should be repealed, leaving the power to hold an election at any time up to 5 years in the hands of the majority in the Commons. ”

    Errr…. no.

    That would mean a Parliament such as we just had could keep a PM/minority govt locked in place – pretty much what they just did. Please return to the old method of having a PM able to call an election.

    Once a govt loses its majority it cannot be taken prisoner by a coalition of ‘the rest’. I thought we’d all learned that???

    And constitutional change decided by Parliament? Again NO!

    Imagine a Corbyn with a majority pushing through… let’s see… elections every 15 years, then one party State… welcome to Zimbabwe. The Queen’s role would be under strain, since her part in the constitution is to prevent that kind of thing – but refusing Royal Assent is a major step to take for monarchy in the modern world and if one day we had a monarch who is not the brightest and a bit of a rebel instead of the excellent incumbent…. ouch.

    Constitutional change CANNOT be a matter for Parliament – especially in these days when so many MPs are are of very poor quality (one notable Labour MP having ‘left school with more babies than GCSEs’). I’m disappointed in this article, which rather proves my point.

  36. James Freeman
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Reform the House of Lord by removing the power of patronage for politicians to nominate new members. Reduce the number of ex politicians and civil servants, whilst increasing the numbers of engineers, industrialists and scientists.

    Introduce a referendums bill to set out the ground rules for all future referendums. For example only hold them for constitutional issues, formally establish they are ‘once in a generation’ votes, define the winning majority required, etc. Basically making it harder for governments to game future referendums to their advantage.

  37. Donna
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    The other “main issues” which urgently need addressing are:

    1. Fundamental reform (or preferably abolition) of the House of Lords. These unelected, unaccountable donors, cronies, failed/rejected politicians, ex-Whitehall Mandarins and minor celebs did their utmost to prevent Brexit. We need a new Upper Chamber which is not filled by patronage and where members are not there for life, regardless of how they behave (both politically and personally).

    2. Devolution. The English must no longer be second-class citizens in their own country. We need an English Parliament, completely free from interference by Scottish, Welsh and NI MPs.

  38. ChrisS
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Clearly the Fixed Term Parliament Act has to be repealed.

    Looking at other matters, the ultimate responsibility for the Law lies with Parliament : The courts are there only to interpret the laws enacted by Parliament. The Supreme Court clearly exceeded that brief under Lady Hale although it must be remembered that the decision against the prorogation of Parliament was unanimous. In other words, all of the Supreme Court Justices were guilty of exceeding their authority.

    If, in the opinion of the Government, the Supreme Court has exceeded its authority, it is up to the Government to persuade Parliament to pass a new law to clarify the situation. This was impossible during the course of the discredited last parliament.

    As you suggest, to prevent a similar thing happening in a future parliament, the present Government should consider passing legislation clearly limiting the powers of the Supreme Court to interfere is what are clearly political matters. The same must apply to the Court of Session in Scotland. Everyone will then know where they stand.

    The single most important area of the Constitution you did not mention was the future of the House of Lords. With 800 members, the house is far too large and packed with Labour and especially LibDem members who will make it all but impossible to pass legislation that was not included in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

    This has to be addressed during this parliament as will the long-overdue boundary changes. Finally, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that the voice of England is heard through English MPs sitting as an English Parliament.

    With the need to listen far more to the needs of the North of England, there is a real danger of England becoming the victim of “divide and rule” tactics when the inevitable proposition is made to divide England into devolved Regions, each the size of Scotland.

    This must not be allowed to happen as it will greatly diminish our country which had been a single entity since 927AD. England must remain a united Country and adequate arrangements can easily be made for English MPs to sit in regional select committees within the English Parliament.

  39. DavidJ
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Surely it is not acceptable for a court of unelected persons to overrule the democratically elected Parliament?

  40. Tony Sharp
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,
    The Blair creation of the Supeme Court was not simply a transfer of location from the Lords to the old Middlesex Guildhall across Parliament Square, Blair also altered the appointment system. It is now purely like a European system ‘Court de Cassation’ a political court like the US system.
    The majority of Supreme Justices have no practical judicial experience in Common Law and Precedent – Baroness Hale in particular was an academic and had never even been a Lay Magistrate. Most of the others had been involved in EU and International tribunal work ie they regarded Common Law as an exception, although it is the World’s majority system of law and process.
    The Law Lords had held the most senior judicial appointments with decades of Court decisions which had survived Appeals as a mark of qualification to go the the Lords Judicial Committee..

    The appointments procedure needs to revert to previous

    • Iago
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Agree completely.
      We shall see if the new, old mob have any will to do something about this. My feeling is that they are, almost all, bought and that they have none.

  41. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I agree that these reforms are vital and urgent.

    Would just add two more, the de-politisation of the police forces and the CPS, and abolition of Crime Commisioners; along with the creation of a true English parliament preceded by the ending of ‘devolution’ of powers within England through mayors and economic regions. These are a deceit. They are presented as English devolution which they are not, as they are in fact part of a proposal to break up England into small weakened parts.

  42. Lakanal
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    The Supreme Court has been revealed as based on a simplistic notion of the separation of powers. The two Miller cases showed, most surprisingly, that the justices did not understand how the Commons keeps the Executive in check. But who can blame them? Though called “Lord” they are no longer peers, so have no experience of being a legislator. Abolish it, retire the judicial committee of the HL, appoint a real Lord Chancellor (eg, Geoffrey Cox).

    • Lakanal
      Posted January 26, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Sorry – restore, not retire.

  43. Sea Warrior
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    ‘It should be repealed, leaving the power to hold an election at any time up to 5 years in the hands of the majority in the Commons.’ The behaviour of the Commons in the last parliament was such as to show that The Queen should be able to call an election when necessary to resolve gridlock.

  44. John McDonald
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Whether you agreed with Brexit or not, it did show up how undemocratic Parliament was and how the Judiciary was not above Politics. And we point the finger at say Russia.
    Very few in Parliament and the Judiciary challenge the legality of invading another country which had take no hostile action against us (as a country). Parliament took us to war on a Lie not a good record.
    So Yes Sir John do what you can to restore honour and respect for these institutions.
    And perhaps consider the issue of a Parliament for England so we have the same rights as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We need to make the Lords and Parliament UK
    smaller and more efficient to run things after we are not governed by Brussels.

  45. villaking
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,
    The biased and deliberately incorrect interpretation of these constitutional matters is outrageous and needs correction. Your arguments about the FTPA are reasonable, nothing else you say is, indeed most of it is both untrue and misleading. With an extremely powerful executive under our system it seems wholly correct that these powers need to be subjected to judicial scrutiny at times. The SC did not make any “decision to delay Brexit by 9 months”. The Gina Miller case ensured that the executive could not trample over the our elected representatives and established and important principle that prerogative powers can not be used to override legislation that has been effected by primary legislation – our elected parliamentarians trump the executive, this is vitally important. The prorogation case established that the executive can not simply prorogue parliament for a length of time of its choosing for no particular reason (or in this case, for a false reason, we all know Boris lied and did not really require 5 weeks to prepare a Queen’s speech despite what he told Her Majesty). Parliament did not want a no-deal Brexit and it was wholly correct that it was allowed to prevent this and not be trodden on by the executive. One irony here of course is that you and your fellow ERG group stood in the way of Brexit because you did not agree that Mrs May’s way of leaving the EU was the correct one even though the referendum question did not qualify the way in which would would leave, only that we had to leave.

  46. Iain Gill
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    you missed out the representaion of the Englsh people on English issues, and the fact Scots, Welsh and Irish MP’s are still voting on issues which only impact England.

    house of lords needs reform.

    candidate selection of all the main parties needs reform

    • John McDonald
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I prefer the people who live in England not the English People.
      All the best Iain
      John

  47. Richard1
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I’d suggest:-

    – repeal the fixed term parliament act
    – make sure constituencies are approx the same size. (Stick with 650 MPs if need be to stop discussion of the the red herring of ‘saving money’)
    – clamp down on postal vote fraud.
    – require presentation of identity to vote
    – cut the House of Lords down to 500 or even 300. Perhaps limit terms to 15 years.
    – restore the position of lord chancellor and make sure it’s a credible minister with legal training. Make the ‘supreme court’ a higher court of appeal. Ie reverse Blair’s reforms
    – re-define and emphasise article 9 of the bill of rights 1689 – we elect parliament and we want laws made by parliament and the elected govt to govern. We don’t want the likes of supreme court judges determining important questions of public policy
    – (biggest of all) take on the blob. The deeply embedded liberal-left establishment which makes it so difficult to do things like stop HS2, stop Chinese spying through huawei, reform the planning system decriminalise the bbc license fee, etc etc

    A lot of work to do.

    • dixie
      Posted January 27, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      +1 all the above

  48. formula57
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    The House of Lords seems to have escaped reform because no-one can devise a replacement that is a clear improvement but it surely is well-overdue for some fresh method of selecting members.

    A shift of location to York is inspired and would be a worthwhile reform in itself.

  49. bill brown
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Sir JR,

    there is no doubt in a lot of people’s minds that some of these issues need to be cleared up, but that we probably also need a modern written constitution

  50. John
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Also demand a parliament for England to stop MPs from saying countries and regions. We English do not want to be second class citizens in our own country. Why should MPs from the other countries have a say in English affairs that they cannot influence in their home countries because it is a devolved issue?

  51. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    These Constitutional reforms are inadequate. The reforms needed include measures to chase most Remoaners out of the House of Lords and the Supreme Court. A system of indirect elections – to avoid constitutional clashes with the Commons – should be implemented.

    Fifteen Lords Appointments committee members – say eleven for England, two for Scotland and one each for Wales and Northern Ireland should be elected by universal suffrage. Once this committee was formed, every peer in the present House of Lords would be required to resign. Hopefully, the first task of the committee would be to select 100 Euro-Sceptic peers in order to get the show on the road. Over time, another 100 or more should be added as needed. The maximum number of peers should be limited by statute to 300.

    Similarly, there should be a Supreme Court appointments committee of 15 suitably qualified people, again elected by universal suffrage. Provided that they behaved themselves, existing Supreme Court judges could continue until retirement.

    Lower down, we need more and younger judges. Justice delayed is justice denied. There is a severe backlog in our courts and it is causing injustice. The new, younger judges would be expected to do overtime until the backlog is eliminated. It is a common tactic of big corporations and the rich to aim for hearing after hearing and delay after delay so that their (usually poorer) opponents run out of money. This needs to be stopped; we need a statute law to ensure that all cases come to court within two months and normally proceed in full without further delay.

    The Harry and Meghan affair demonstrates a need to cut the monarchy down to size. Many of us support the monarchy only because it avoids an Executive President a la USA. It mustn’t cost too much. As the Queen has aged, the Royal family has grown like topsy, downwards and outwards as the number of generations increases. ‘Royal duties’ have exhibited a type of Parkinson’s Law, expanding to match the number of Royals available.
    Her Majesty must be persuaded to do something about this before her out of control son becomes King. We don’t need so many New Year gongs, especially those awarded to politicians, luvvies, sportpersons, celebrities and financiers. It would be beneficial to restrict gongs to one useful profession each year – doctors one year, then scientists, then freight forwarders, then miners etc. The Royal Family own too much land and property; they should give some of it up in the way that Queen Anne did to create the London parks.
    Most worthwhile charities and institutions don’t need royal patrons. Financial support should be limited to the monarch, her spouse, her direct blood line descendants and her siblings, any of whom have the right to opt out of ‘royal duties’ and financial support.

    Most people in this country are atheists, agnostics or vague theists yet we have organised religion rammed down our throats constantly. We celebrate Remembrance Sunday with lashings of irrelevant religion – what on each has God got to do with dying on a battlefield or in a building? How about instead making Remembrance Day a public holiday on whatever day of the week it falls? On radio 4 there is a prayer for the day at 5.45 am and a thought for the day (religious) at 7.45 am every single day. In the dying days of the last parliament legislation relating to Northern Ireland was shelved due to lack of time but there was time for questions to the Church Commissioners starring the unlamented Remoaner Caroline Spelman in her swan song. There are still 24 C of E bishops entitled to sit in the Lords. It is bad enough for Her Majesty to be Defender of the Faith, without having her son and heir styling himself ‘Defender of Faith’. What we desperately need is a Defender of No Faith.

  52. Yossarion
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Quite simple if an MP changes His or Her view vastly from their declared point at the time of a General Election they should not be allowed to change party or stand as an independent and be forced into having a Bi Election.
    If they were found guilty of committing a crime and lying to the electorate they would be forced to resign, whats the difference?

  53. David
    Posted January 26, 2020 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    All Acts of Parliament which seek to restrict future policy are wrong.
    The Fixed Term Act should clearly have just applied to the one term as presumably Clegg requited it as insurance against Cameron dissolving parliament mid term.
    The Climate Change Act is an expensive disaster now seen as addressing the wrong target that should go if you are brave enough.
    The minimum foreign aid budget just results in civil servants searching for spending often inappropriate. The government should fund projects with Parliamentary blessing in response to need.
    Sadly our new Prime Minister seems keen on proposing several bills of this type, I despair.

  54. Newmania
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    No surprise to see further attacks on the judiciary,the BBC along with funnelling yet more power to the elected dictatorship. Brexitification, you might call it. If there was any real interest in dragging this despised system out of the gutter we would be addressing it its over centralisation and inability to cope with a multi dimensional political landscape.
    This system is not ancient it has existed since the 1st world war and worked tolerably when capital and Labour competed in the Fordist world of the early 20 century .It does not work now. In the blasted Brexit wasteland some hope must start to coalesce. Perhaps it can do so around electoral reform
    My preference would be for a beefed up second chamber addressing the English question elected partly proportionally.
    We need modernisation not petty spite

    • Edward2
      Posted January 28, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      “elected dictatorship” is a ridiculous nonsensical phrase.

      What you mean is you don’t like the huge majority the voters gave to our Conservative government

  55. Chris S
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The clamour to devalue and break up England as a Country has already started : This morning, Starmer is calling for Regional Assemblies and a Federal settlement for the UK. There can be no doubt that the intention is to divide England into a series of Regions, each roughly the size of Scotland. He is proposing to carry out the express intentions of the EU.

    This must be resisted at all costs. The voices of the English Regions can easily be heard by English MPs sitting as Regional Select Committees thus giving them a method of influencing policy direct into the heart of Government.

  56. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 27, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The fixed term parliament act needs to go. A government that can not pass legislation can not be held hostage by a hostile Parliament just to account.

    I have no issue with the judiciary being used to decide on laws. Lawmakers need to be careful when writing laws that they get it right. We have too many grandstanding, self interested politicians and their minions, we ned protection against them.

    I am no fan of Gina Miller or Kier Starmer but they won, which suggests they were right.

  57. Ron
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    To avoid controversy, and to maintain its’ more valuable parts, the best way to deal with the Fixed Term Parliament Act is to amend it slightly, so that only a simple majority vote in the House if required to call an early election, rather than the existing Super Majority where the opposition can frustrate democracy, simply by abstaining.

    In retrospect, the Supreme Court was arguably correct in its’ judgement that invoking Article 50 required an Act of Parliament. It wasn’t wholly a Treaty issue, and DID affect domestic law.

    It was also the best thing politically, as it put Remainers on the spot, and most of them had to vote to invoke it.

    The Supreme Court however was WRONG, and acted beyond its’ powers in respect of the Prorogation. There is no Statutory or Common Law authority vested in the Supreme Court to interfere with Prorogation.

    Perhaps there should be. But if there is, it MUST be in accordance with rules placed in Statute and NOT on whatever takes the Supreme Court’s fancy.

    As for the House of Lords, it should be replaced by a chamber of people selected at random like we do with trial jurors, a proportion of which are replaced on an annual rolling basis.

    It would be FAR more representative of the public that it is now, whilst simultaneously being much more independent of political parties and vested interests.

    We could still have some non voting Life Peers there to fill Government functions and to tell us they wisdom (such as it is).

  58. Jenny France
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I believe if we are to make some constitutional reforms, we should enforce a by election when MP’s defect to another party or who loose the whip. There were many people in the last parliament who were unrepresented or who found themselves with an MP serving with a minority party – definitely not what they voted for.

  59. John
    Posted January 30, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    John

    Don’t let the Government forget its legacy. It must repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

    But most importantly it must keep telling the people why Brexit was essential, it is the only way to bridge the gap between Remain and Leave:

    “The gap can only be bridged by a concerted campaign by Government to show that Leave had far less funding than Remain, that the Trade and Current Account Deficits with the EU were approaching catastrophic levels and that almost all EU countries are far, far more racist than the UK. The argument can be won by telling the truth now that our Government is not a closet Remain government such as that of Theresa May.

    If the opportunity is missed the Remain voters will develop cast iron beliefs that the Leave side of the Referendum was massively funded and advantaged, that the EU was good for the UK economy and that Remain was somehow an anti-racist stance. If this happens then the victim will be British Democracy.”

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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