UK politics. World events. Bureaucrat released.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Compare and contrast - Brown's constitutional reforms

Gordon Brown. On election as Prime Minister. June 2007

"What I propose today is not, and should not be seen as, the final blueprint for a constitutional settlement, but a route map towards it".

"Constitutional change will not be the work of just one Bill or one year or one Parliament"

"I propose that we start the debate and consult on empowering citizens and communities in four areas. The first is powers of initiative, extending the right of the British people to intervene with their elected local representatives to ensure action, through a new community right to call for action and new duties on public bodies to involve local people."

"There are very specific challenges we must meet on engaging young people and improving citizenship education. I hope that there will be all-party support for a commission to review this and make recommendations. Although the voting age has been 18 since 1969, it is right, as part of that debate, to examine, and hear from young people themselves, whether lowering that age would increase participation."

"But just as the Executive must become more accountable to Parliament, Parliament itself must become more accountable. Given the vote in this House in March for major reform of the House of Lords as a second and revising Chamber with provision for democratic election, a statement will be made by the Government before the recess as we press ahead with reform."

"I have heard the need for change. This change cannot be met by the old politics."

THREE YEARS LATER....

Gordon Brown. On campaign trail for re-election as Prime Minister. April 2010

"It is time to see an end to the old politics and to change our politics for good."

"And so I am asking the British people for a mandate to undertake the most comprehensive programme of constitutional reform in this country for a century."

"But I also want to rebuild faith in public life."

"But a new politics does not simply mean constraining the behaviour of individual MPs – it also means strengthening the power of Parliament to hold the executive to account.

"The British people will be given a new right to petition the House of Commons to trigger debates on issues of significant public concern".

And let me say to you today, that Labour’s manifesto will include our commitment to charting a course to a written constitution.

"And, after citizenship education has improved, we will give Parliament a free vote on reducing the voting age to 16.

"And in order to reassure people, in this new century, that the executive will no longer be able to determine when it should put itself forward for the people’s approval, Labour’s manifesto will include a new commitment to fixed term Parliaments."

"On changing the House of Lords root and branch. I want the British people to be served by an elected House of Lords. We will ensure that the hereditary principle is removed from the House of Lords, despite the Conservatives’ determination to block all change in the current Constitutional Reform Bill."

Brown had three years to reform politics. And his grand promises in 2007 led to nothing. They were followed by the most rotten period in British politics for generations. To make this speech today on reforming politics really begs the question: "why not before?".

PREDICTION: Conservative majority of 20.

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