The Open Manifesto On Constitutional Reform
We propose major reforms to the constitution to make politics more relevant, more efficient, and to improve democratic accountability.
It is incorrect to say that Britain has an unwritten constitution: mostly, the constitution is written down in various Acts of Parliament and in manuals such as Erskine May. But there should be a consolidated constitution, with everything in one document. This consolidated constitution should incorporate by reference the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Direct Elections to the Cabinet.
We propose that the Government should be directly elected, with 22 members of the Cabinet elected as a single slate in a single national ballot using the Alternative Vote. These people will not have their own constituencies, will sit directly in the House of Commons ex officio where they may speak and will answer questions but will not be entitled to vote. The Government will therefore always be elected by a majority of the popular vote. The Government will control two-thirds of Parliamentary time.
Parliamentary elections will be by proportional representation, which – although much more democratic than first-past-the-post – can give undue undemocratic influence to minority parties holding the balance of power. Direct elections to the executive will ensure that the government itself always has full democratic legitimacy.
Parliamentary Elections to the House of Commons
We propose that elections to the House of Commons should be by the Single Transferable Vote, with multi-member geographical constituencies. This will give a broadly representative and proportional House of Commons with members chosen by voters, not just by party activists.
Parliamentary Elections to the House of Lords
We propose that elections to the House of Lords should be by the Single Transferable Vote, with multi-member non-geographical constituencies. Non-geographical constituencies will preserve a clear distinction between the Lords and Commons and provide an open and democratic mechanism by which special expertise and interests can be represented in Parliament.
Every elector will choose three non-geographical constituencies in which to vote for members the House of Lords, and will have the right to a vote in each. Some constituencies might restrict the right to vote in them to (say) members of a particular profession, or trades union, others – even – to followers of a particular faith; but many will be open to all. Every non-geographical Lords constituency will be allocated a number of seats according to the number of its electors.
We will abolish the right of MPs to employ staff on expenses; instead, we will provide (at taxpayers’ expense) all MPs with secretarial staff both in Parliament and in their constituencies. These staff will be civil servants subject to the Civil Service code.
The monarchy is a cruel, expensive anachronism; but while it commands overwhelming popular support it is democratically justifiable. It is cruellest to its members and those drawn into its net. We believe that even the extraordinary wealth they enjoy is far from being sufficient compensation for life in the distorting goldfish bowl of publicity as lived by members of the Royal Family; it is for their sake, as much as for ridding the core of our society of such obsolete notions as inherited power and status, that we should – as soon as we have public opinion on our side – abolish it. The Crown is a symbol of the sovereignty of the British People; it does not need to be worn by a real person.