Browns Aspirin for the British Cancer

Posted: June 11, 2009 in democracy, electoral reform

A quick scan of this announcement –Statement of Constitutional Renewal– from the Priministers Office reveals some typical spin. I just stinks of panicked Labourites.

On the one hand we have:

So as a next step, the Justice Secretary will set out further plans to look at broadening the application of Freedom of Information to include additional bodies which also need to be subject to greater transparency and accountability. This is the public’s money. They should know how it is spent. I should also announce that, as part of extending the availability of official information and as our response to the Dacre Review, we will progressively reduce the time taken to release official documents.

So is the Duchy of Cornwall going to come inside the FOI act? It spends public money and fulfills the roll of a public body, the Crown Estate, in the Duchy i.e Cornwall.

Response:

As the report recommended, we have considered the need to strengthen protection for particularly sensitive material and there will be protection of Royal Family and Cabinet papers as part of strictly limited exemptions. But we will reduce the time for release of all other official documents below the current 30 years, to 20 years.

So no then. Equality but certainly not for all.

Mutterings of electoral reforms can also be found but are they heart felt or just more placatory propaganda to save a dead government walking. Only the un-proportional Alternative Voting system has been mentioned and then no public referendum promised. Surely they must understand that we want a choice along with a firm commitment.
Finally of Cornish interest we have the following: “the Communities and Local Government Secretary will set out how we will strengthen the engagement of citizens in the democratic life of their own communities as we progress the next stage of devolution in England – so we must consider whether we should offer stronger, clearly defined powers to local Government and city-regions and strengthen their accountability to local people”.

The new Unitary authority for the Duchy is in place and it’s a prime candidate for the further devolution of powers. Let the new hands on the wheel in Duchy hall demand devolution. Let’s see an end to the undemocratic quangocracy in the the UK and the unwanted meddling of distant uncaring London in Cornwall’s affairs.
All that can be said is that what’s on offer from Brown is a pretty poor response to the UKs political crisis and seems more like an attempt to save the establishment for the few rather than reform it for the citizens … sorry … subjects.
I hope the Cornish movement lends its support to the Citizens’Convention Bill from Unlock Democracy. It really is the least we all deserve.

The bill received its first reading in the House of Commons on Monday (8 June). Supported by a cross party group of MPs (Martin Caton, David Drew, Jim Dowd, Norman Lamb, Julia Goldsworthy, Norman Lamb, Norman Baker, Douglas Carswell), the bill would establish a citizens’ convention of randomly chosen members of the public to look at ways to make the UK political system more accountable. Among other things, it will bring forward proposals to:
Bring elected representatives to book when they step out of line.

Change the way in which Parliament is run to ensure that the government is properly held to account.

Decide on our electorla system.

To stand a chance of becoming law, the government will have to allow it time in Parliament to be properly debated and scrutinised.

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