Stuart Weir (Cambridge, Democratic Audit): The Guardian reported ICM poll results on 23 June showing to no-one's great surprise that education, the NHS and withdrawal from Iraq were people's priorities for a Brown government. They would have been my priorities too, plus remedying Labour's shameful neglect of social housing. However the Guardian went on to contrast these choices with the low vote - just 1 per cent - for 'constitutional reform', as though this were a meaningful comparison. The fact is that the public has long voiced dissatisfaction with the way we are governed in the UK. Large majorities of people support a wide range of specific reforms, as the Rowntree Reform Trust's 'State of the Nation' series of polls since 1992 has shown. For example, broadly three quarters of the population has consistently agreed that Britain should have a written constitution; roughly the same proportion believe in a Bill of Rights which protects social and economic rights alongside civil liberties. I am afraid that the national press reflect the impatience of a political class which has a Panglossian view of our pre-democratic governing arrangements and likes to portray those who want democratic change as nerdy members of some Hampstead set. Yet these majorities are made up of working class people more than professionals, and of most people who live north of Watford.
25 June 2007