Has Charon died..and gone to *Legal Hell*……?

While I am happy to support (any) government against the absurd posturing of the tabloids on law, the rule of law and their agenda to control…[‘UNELECTED JUDGE’ FOUND ON THE MOON yada yada blah] I do wonder, sometimes…. if our modern politicians (who make the laws)… actually know any law / much about law or Constitutional history.

Our prime minister, David Camerondirect (TM), has come up with a few *stunts* in recent months which reveal, to my jaded eye, that law was not an option he took at Oxford or… frankly… which he has been over concerned with in his subsequent quest to lead our Scepter’d Tory-led Coalition fudg’d up isle.  I refer ‘members to  a blog post I made a few moments days ago’…. on privacy, prisoner votes… do I really need to mention any more examples?

Anyway.. there we are… if you want to listen to Professor Vernon Bogdanor on BBC  iPlayer talking about his new book…. The Coalition and the Constitution… without punting relentlessly,  like @Lord_Sugar on strong coffee, (Bogdanor didn’t appear to punt his book at all) … but talking some real…realpolitik…. sense.. try this short 15 minute programme.  You may not agree (and I didn’t agree with all the points) .. but… it was a pleasure to watch and listen to.

Link to BBC iPlayer Prog… may not be up for much longer… but it is tonight


Amusingly… Professor Bogdanor’s Wikipedia entry reports (I cannot verify the veracity of any Wikipedia entry – but, more often than not/ fairly often, they are fairly accurate?)

Professor Bogdanor has, however, expressed reservations about certain policies of Cameron’s, notably his proposal for a British “Bill of Rights”, about which Bogdanor said, “I believe it’s ill thought-out and confused…. He [Cameron] may have forgotten some of the things I’ve taught him. I’d be happy to give him a few more tutorials on civil liberties.”

Bogdanor taught Cameron at Oxford.

2 thoughts on “Has Charon died..and gone to *Legal Hell*……?

  1. Certainly it was interesting, but I can’t help but disagree on a few points with Professor Bogdanor. Firstly, and most importantly, it seems to me he’s hankering after the two-party norm that we have seen after WWII. In that the environment the pre-eminent role of tribal party alliances, manifestos as programmes and the like become the rule. It seems to me that moves the UK from what has historically been a government of representatives to one of delegates. I’d agree with Professor Bogdanor in that the electorate need to be more involved with their MP’s selection. However, it’s one reason I prefer the AV (better termed instant run-off) electoral system to FPTP. I believe it will lead to a situation where MPs are more likely to represent their constituents than the current one where the party rules. (One reason why I detest closed party list PR systems, such as the one we use for European elections). I’d also add that I don’t see how “open primaries”. If there were such, would they be constitutional? That is parties would have to do it, or merely optional? What about independents? Would they be open to anybody in the constituency? Registered party members only? Who would decide the shortlists? If it’s only open to party affiliates, then it doesn’t help with minority representation.

    I also found the bit about opposition to an elected second chamber unconvincing. I know that some will view a fully elected second chamber as a rival to the democratic legitimacy of the House of Commons. However, I see no reason why this has to be so. The second chamber is a revising body which can try and amend or delay legislation. As such, it can act as a check on government measures without, ultimately, having the power to prevent them unless the government cannot maintain the legislation in the HoC.

    I see no reason why an elected second chamber cannot have a similar relationship to the HoC as is currently the case. However, what we would most certainly need is an electoral system which did not lead to a domination of the second chamber by part interests. My solution would be to limit the percentage of second chamber members that could be elected with a stated party affiliation (certainly to less than two-thirds). I’d want a rolling electoral system that put up a certain percentage of representatives at fixed intervals. There would have to be systems to avoid ridiculously long candidate lists, so there is likely to be some geographical element required, deposits plus a pre-qualification system (maybe nominations). I believe in the way a revisionary body could be produced which is not a rival to the HoC.

    Of course the biggest problem in all this might just be voter apathy.

    As an alternative, we could ask Simon Cowell for a system – you never know, it could even be a money earner…

  2. Bogdanor touches on the key worry – the “disconnect” between the people and the politicians. This disconnect is getting worse and will not be assisted by fixed term parliaments and endless coalitions with wheeling and dealing behind closed doors.

    It is also rather ironic that we are seeing the House of Lords getting bigger whilst legislation has been enacted to make the Commons smaller !!

    I do not see why an elected Lords of manageable size with similar powers to the present Lords ought not to be acceptable. The Parliament Acts could continue to apply in such a situation so that the Lords just have a delaying power.

    IF the Lords were to become elected then the names of both Houses should probably alter. What would they be called? Now there is a tricky one !!

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