Labour’s Manifesto Intentions on reforming the UK constitution

In among all the debates which tend to rehash a few familiar points, few people may have read the manifestos. For me, there’s a lot of good stuff in the Labour manifesto about reforming the UK constitutional arrangements to make government work better. I particularly like the idea of an open-ended constitutional convention, similar to the one held in Scotland which influenced the design of the devolved government in Scotland.  Here are some relevant extracts. Find the whole manifesto for download at  http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/BritainCanBeBetter-TheLabourPartyManifesto2015.pdf.

A summary of key points:

Labour will:

  • set up a people-led Constitutional Convention to determine the future of UK’s governance
  • replace the House of Lords with a Senate of the Nations and Regions
  • pass an English Devolution Act, handing £30 billion of resources and powers to our great English city and county regions give new powers for communities to shape their high streets, including   power over payday lenders and the number of fixed-odds betting terminals
  •  meet our promises to devolve further powers to Scotland and Wales
  • give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote
  • create a statutory register of lobbyists
  • ban MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies
  • require large companies to publish their gender pay gap
  • implement the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

Some of the text:

We will reform  government  to give more power  to people  People who live in this country know that too much power is  concentrated in too few hands. Those who make decisions on behalf  of others, whether they are in Westminster, the European Union, in  business, the media, or the public sector, are too often unaccountable. Our  over-centralised system of government has prevented our nations, cities,  county regions and towns from being able to take control and change  things for themselves. We will end a century of centralisation.  Labour believes meaningful and lasting change for the better is only possible  when people are given the power to change things for themselves. Our  governing mission is to break out of the traditional top-down, ‘Westminster  knows best approach’, and devolve power and decision-making to people and  their local communities.

From the City of London to Silicon Valley the world’s best industries tend to be  clustered geographically. And too often economic challenges can be too, from  our coalfields to some of our isolated seaside towns. So a Labour government  will unleash the potential of our city and county regions to drive economic  growth and prosperity. We will reform institutions and devolve power to  deal with the causes of our economic problems, and we will encourage local  authorities to innovate to better serve their communities.  Instead of imposing change on communities, we will give them more control over  schools, health care, policing, skills, housing and transport, making use of their  insights into what works and what does not. We will promote and encourage a  model of citizenship based on participation and shared responsibility.

These measures are the start of big changes in how we govern ourselves as  a union of nations. They will begin to transform the relationship between the  citizen and the state.  We will further develop digital government to enable better communication,  more collaboration, and sharing of data between services. It will make services  and transactions more efficient and simpler for people to use. To create a more  connected society we will support making digital government more inclusive, transparent and accountable. We will continue to back the principle of ‘open  data by default’, releasing public sector performance data wherever possible.

A better politics:

  • We will give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote by May 2016, and improve the curriculum for citizenship education, so young people have the knowledge they  need to play a full part in British society.
  • We will encourage young people’s volunteering and social action by supporting the #iwill campaign of ‘Step up to  Serve’, and the National Citizens Service.
  • Drawing on the work of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, we will take steps to ensure that the move to individual electoral registration does  not leave millions unregistered, nor lead to constituencies that fail to take into  account the people who live in them. This will include block registration by  universities and care homes, extending Northern Ireland’s successful Schools  Initiative, and exploring the scope for an automatic system of registration.Labour remains committed to reforming political party funding and taking the  big money out of politics by capping individual donations to parties and we  will reform the legislative process to strengthen the public’s voice and to better  hold the government to account.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Labour’s Manifesto Intentions on reforming the UK constitution

  1. Just as your next/ last campaigning blog comes in, a wee reply to this one… I agree with your basic premise that there is too much focus on froth and not enough on the substance of what parties are actually committing to or have achieved/ not achieved. But yet… The Labour Party who I used to support continues to support Trident for which I, nor ex-weapons inspector Hans Blix, can find no sensible rationale; doesn’t clearly oppose fracking/ leave it in the ground/ zero carbon policies; has a dubious record on foreign policy; has not said anything to challenge or redefine the standard model of linear economic growth which in the 21st Century is essential to the future of the planet. The path is Green and until parties put the sustainability agenda at the centre of their policy making and sign up for a circular economy then I cannot in all conscience vote other than Green.

  2. Hi Mike
    Yeah I agree that Green is the principled vote. I’ve voted Green in Scottish elections where there is proportional representation and I agree that voting green can let the main parties know that people care about these issues, but you can also do that through single issue pressure groups, publicising scientific research etc. More than one way to influence the country’s future direction but only one way on the table to have a moderately progressive party in government.

    • my hope is that PR is a-coming and that voting Green will help to make it get here quicker and give power to the voices of the single issue pressure groups etc… got to break the cycle.

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