openDemocracyUK

The Unspoken Constitution 2.0

A satirical document spoofing the UK's antiquated constitution is now open to online editing and additions.
Stuart Wilks-Heeg
13 November 2009

A month ago, Democratic Audit teamed up with Unlock Democracy and OurKingdom to launch a new pamphlet, The Unspoken Constitution, satirising the UK’s constitutional arrangements. Inspired by a suggestion made in jest by Graham Allen MP, the document seeks to condense vast tomes of evidence about the UK’s manifold democratic deficiencies into a ‘spoof’ constitution of a few thousand words. Led by Stuart Weir, we sought to produce a text which would be recognised as being authoritative and scholarly as well as critical and funny.

It was a challenging and time-consuming task and we are pleased that The Unspoken Constitution has met with widespread acclaim. But we are also disappointed that we have been subject to so little criticism. After all, what we really wanted to do was to start a debate – and so far it has been a little one-sided.

We’ve had some useful pointers about things we might have missed, most notably about the Duchy of Cornwall. Elsewhere, James Graham expressed a view shared by several others – that the very real democratic deficiencies we exposed were really not very funny at all. Yet, our potential critics have remained remarkably silent – despite our best efforts to ensure that they received copies of the document. Nobody came forward in response to our open invitation for someone out there to offer a defence of the status quo.

But we are determined not to let that be the end of it – we think our document could and should be improved by others. And, of course, an unspoken constitution will need constant updating.

So, we are now launching The Unspoken Constitution 2.0 – a wiki version of the text originally proposed by Rosemary Bechler and produced for us by James Graham at Unlock Democracy. Anyone can add to or amend the text – all we ask is that that anyone joining our team of editors and contributors seeks to capture the reality of our constitutional order in the same irreverent and satirical style in which the original has been composed.

Perhaps we’re being naïve, but we genuinely hope The Unspoken Constitution can become a dynamic and democratic open-source document – refined and revised by a virtual network of constitutional critics, campaigners and citizens. Whatever the end result, it will at least make for an interesting experiment.

The wiki version of The Unspoken Constitution can be accessed at: http://ukconstitution.wikia.com/wiki/The_Unspoken_Constitution

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