openDemocracyUK

The parties and the constitution

Andrew Blick
6 May 2010

If there is no overall winner in today's Westminster elections, the various approaches to the UK constitution taken by the three main parties could be of considerable importance to the kind of government that emerges. There is a breakdown of the various areas of agreement and conflict between them, upon which negotiations could turn, in a paper published today by Democratic Audit. What does this analysis show? That in any possible combination of Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, there would be both potential areas of consensus and disagreement. It also demonstrates that key issues - such as the connection between social and political inequality - are largely overlooked by all three.After thirteen years of continuous and substantial constitutional reform under New Labour there remain major pieces of unfinished business - including over devolution, House of Lords reform, electoral reform and local government. Since none of the parties fully agree with each-other, and since none of their programmes are entirely satisfactory, perhaps it is time to establish a process for determining our constitution that is above the parties (though including their contributions in it) and separated from the outcome of a General Election, the purpose of which should be to determine who forms the government, not the framework within which they govern.

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