Brown's wishful thinking?

Lord Tyler

Gordon Brown seems to think he has not 300 days but 300 years to govern.  His attitude now is reminiscent of his predecessor who clung to office claiming he was “getting on with the job”.  “The job’s not done,” Blair used to say, as though his own premiership – with a bit more time – might just bring an end to history and the country could then toddle on quite happily without the need of him or anyone else.

Brown’s approach is to speak loftily of all the things that are going to happen in the future, as though he had a future.  All the evidence is that he doesn’t.

But he could have a legacy of real reform.

The Government at the moment is essentially doing nothing.  The legislative programme is scant, and both Houses have more space in their schedules than ever just to toss around ideas in topical debates. 

In the last 300 days, wouldn’t it be good idea actually to achieve something?  And I have the ideal answer.  My Constitutional Renewal Bill.  That would be a real legacy of reform for Brown to leave behind.

As it is, the PM looks set to introduce a different Bill called “Constitutional Renewal Bill 2” – a pale imitation, second choice and second rate.

We will be debating the real thing – my Bill – tomorrow afternoon in the House of Lords.  A few details about the debate are available in an article I’ve written for Epolitix, here.

7 comments for “Brown's wishful thinking?

  1. Croft
    11/06/2009 at 9:49 am

    I observe Brown’s sudden conversion to reform after 12 years somewhere between amusement and exasperation. However, his proposed reform and Lord Tyler, I’m afraid, yours are both presented with the same problems: legitimacy & credibility.

    The commons may have been humiliated and exposed for its venality in the recent scandal but the Lords has not come out as a shining light either. With this shamed parliament at the fag end and the government getting polling numbers at record breaking depths I don’t think any part of the system has the credibility or legitimacy to enact reforms. It looks too much like the political equivalent of letting the inmates design prison security. The public mood is, on the polling, clearly for an early election and to let those with ‘clean’ hands fix the system. They would have a mandate for reform and the time and distance not to be bounced into a proposal just to sate the baying public or save them from imminent electoral annihilation.

  2. Noodles
    11/06/2009 at 11:15 am

    Lord Tyler,

    I was extremely worried when I heard Gorden Brown thoroughly leak Constitutional Reform plans in the aftermath of dreadful election results for the Labour Party. Once details were confirmed I must admit to being somewhat relieved!

    While I am a supporter of Constitutional Reform, I believe it is well and truely beyond time we tried to measure up where our system now stands after 12 years of a government that has utilised its executive authority fairly regularly (not having a shot there, executive authority, if not necessarily power has increased). I never like the way that it is done.

    Constitutional reform seemed to disappear from the Governments agenda until the expenses sage (although I’m sure Jack Straw for one would have been encouraging it) and now with 12 months to go till the General Election, when Labour are in a bad shape, it has reappeared.

    Hopefully the tentative support Labour members feel after the election will lead them to treading softly and looking for strong cross party support, although whether 12 months before the first competitive election since 1992 its likely to be found… I have my doubts.

  3. Mark Shephard
    11/06/2009 at 1:48 pm

    Having read your link and your point about electoral reform, I am a little concerned that the, ‘The Assembly’s conclusions would be put to a national referendum, so that any new system had broad support from the population at large.’ I think we have been round this one before re: the validity of referenda:

    1) Are they measuring the question in hand or are they measuring popularity of the government/westminster (imagine a vote on electoral reform during a period like this one where other issues such as expenses dominate)
    2) If my pipes burst I call a plumber, not the general public – and surely the same is true of constitutional reform – should we not leave it to our representatives as they should know better than the public? How can we expect the people to make an informed choice? And why do we demand this of the people? They are busy with their own work.
    3) If people split 60:40 in June, they might split 40:60 in July and so do we need consent over time and not just consent at one time before we introduce important constitutional changes?
    4) Trying to introduce multi-stage changes via referenda (e.g. federalism using referenda for multiple regional governments) is asking for trouble and variants of this have failed before. Yet this will be the demand if we use referenda for constitutional change x, then why not for constitutional change y. Ironically, of the major parties, only the SNP (independence) and the Liberal Democrats (federalism) have clean solutions to the West Lothian question and yet these two parties are most unlikely to be in government at Westminster.

    No doubt Lord Norton has more to say on the matter…

    That said, there may be a role for your Assembly…There is no reason why an Assembly could not report their informed opinions to Parliament for their judgements, for example.

  4. 11/06/2009 at 2:16 pm

    Maybe everyone should ignore him until he goes away?

  5. adrian kidney
    11/06/2009 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Just wanted to pipe in and say that the Lib Dem’s proposal of federalism for the UK would certainly solve the West Lothian Question – it would break up the UK. You can’t have a fully federal state when one nation (England) is 83% of the Union.

    I think it would be more sensible for the UK government to continue governing England directly, but a patchwork of regional governments with London-style powers instead. However, this doesn’t have much support among the public.

    • Mark Shephard
      15/06/2009 at 9:21 am

      That rather assumes England would remain one entity. Germany has 16 Lander, something similar could be considered for the UK(???)

  6. Bedd Gelert
    11/06/2009 at 8:15 pm

    “In the last 300 days, wouldn’t it be good idea actually to achieve something? And I have the ideal answer. My Constitutional Renewal Bill. That would be a real legacy of reform for Brown to leave behind. As it is, the PM looks set to introduce a different Bill called “Constitutional Renewal Bill 2” – a pale imitation, second choice and second rate.”

    Oh dear me, Lord Tyler, just because you are having Alan Sugar inflicted on you is no excuse for ditching modesty and starting to sound like a contestant on the ‘Apprentice’…

    Sorry, but “You are fired !” 😉

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