PARLIAMENTARIANS CALL FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION: WILL IT TRANSLATE INTO PLEDGES?

Shortly before Parliament dissolved, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Reform, Decentralisation and Devolution released a legacy report, summarising their work and the conclusions they have reached. They identified nine key areas where problems are likely to arise for the UK in the future, and urged that the next parliament takes action.

The APPG’s recommended course of action? A UK-wide constitutional convention. The cross-party group of MPs and peers believe there is a pressing need for a UK-wide approach to address crucial potential problems regarding how the countries of the UK relate to each other, the powers of local government, and reforms to the electoral system and House of Lords, among other things. They believe that the best, and most democratic way of solving these problems is by a constitutional convention, a tried-and-tested method which has worked within countries in the UK as well as abroad. 

The APPG called for all parties to make the same commitment to a UK-wide constitutional convention, helpfully providing wording for this pledge, to make it easy to include in manifestos:

“We will establish a UK Constitutional Convention to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. The Convention will operate independent of government and will include members of the public as well as representatives of the political parties, local authorities and the nations and regions of the UK. Members of the public will make up more than half of the total membership. Sitting for no longer than a year, the Convention will consider, and publish recommendations on:
1. the relationship between the nations, and all parts within the UK, including their fair representation in the Westminster Parliament
2. arrangements for the governance of England
3. other issues that may require the attention of a successor Convention.

We will bring before Parliament proposals to respond to the recommendations of the Convention within six months of its reporting.”
— http://unlockdemocracy.org.uk/blog/entry/parliamentarians-call-for-constitutional-convention-will-it-translate-into

Here at Unlock Democracy, we agree that a constitutional convention is a pressing need, and so do the 17,000 people who have signed our petition calling for one. Recently, we highlighted its importance in our submission to the PCRC’s consultation on devolution. And like the APPG, we believe the anniversary of the Magna Carta is an ideal time to have this conversation.

With manifestos yet to launch, it remains to be seen whether any of the major parties will heed this call for the democratic intervention the UK needs, or even whether constitutional concerns will be an issue in the upcoming election.