Saturday, 12 May 2007

More Power To Parliament, More Power To The People

So, Gordon wants more power for Parliament and for the People, does he? Good for him. Just for a start, he should try the following:

1. The restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law, and the use of this to restore Britain's historic fishing rights;

2. No EU law to apply in the United Kingdom without having gone through exactly the same parliamentary process as if it were a Bill which had originated in our own Parliament;

3. The requirement of British Ministers to adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard;

4. The election of Britain's European Commissioner by the whole electorate from a shortlist of two submitted by a secret ballot of MPs;

5. The disapplication in the United Kingdom of any ruling of the European Court of Justice by resolution of the House of Commons (giving this country the same level of independence as is rightly enjoyed by Germany through her Constitutional Court), and the non-application of any ruling under either the Human Rights Act or the European Convention on Human Rights unless and until ratified by such a resolution;

6. Repeal of the Civil Contingencies Act;

7. Repeal of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act;

8. Restoration of the situation whereby a Bill which runs out of parliamentary time is lost at the end of that session;

9. Repeal of existing erosions of trial by jury, and of existing reversals of the burden of proof;

10. Abolition of majority verdicts (which, by definition, provide for conviction even where there is reasonable doubt), raising of the minimum age for jurors at least to 21, restoration of a minimum property and/or educational qualification for jurors, restoration of the pre-1968 committal powers of the magistracy, and abolition of stipendiary magistrates;

11. Each MP who took his or her seat to be given a tax-free allowance of a fixed sum of money, publicly transferable to the registered political party of that MP's choice, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation (the name of which would then appear in brackets on the ballot paper after the party designation next to that MP's name), with party spending limited to twice the number of MPs multiplied by the amount of this allowance, thus precluding any state funding such as would necessitate state involvement, no doubt through some ghastly commission of the ruling class, both in policy formulation and in candidate selection, which would enable that class to dictate, even more than at present, both what may be discussed, and by whom, with no role for trade unions, i.e., no role for large numbers of working, tax-paying people and their families, the length and breadth of this country;

12. The introduction of a system whereby each constituency party submitted a shortlist of two potential parliamentary candidates to a binding ballot of all registered electors in that constituency, and each party at national level submitted a shortlist of two potential Leaders (i.e., putative Prime Ministers) to a binding ballot of all registered electors throughout the United Kingdom, not least because this would help to protect the First Past The Post electoral system at both national and (therefore) local level;

13. Each branch of each party (including branches of affiliated organisations in Labour's or its successor's case) to suggest up to three policies, with members at branch level to vote for one, with the three receiving the highest numbers of votes from each branch going forward, with the ten highest scorers nationwide then going out to a ballot of the whole electorate, with each voter entitled to vote for up to two, and with the top five then to be included in the subsequent General Election Manifesto;

14. Continual exposure of the ruling class's pathological hatred of local government as in fact an undisguised hatred of people other than themselves, and as expressing itself in the ridiculous view that councils ought to be "commissioners rather than providers" of services, as if efficiency or accountability had somehow been increased by a village primary school's no longer even employing its own caretaker, or by giving private companies unconditional licenses to print public money in return for risk-free "investments" in, say, emptying the bins, or preparing school food, so that the sooner that this whole process of the last 25 years is halted and reversed, the better;

15. Everywhere to be covered by a Parish or Town Council, or an urban or suburban equivalent, with greatly increased powers and resources;

16. Election of the BBC Governors for a fixed term of five years from among those licence-payers in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and each of the nine English regions who are politically independent (sufficient to be eligible in principle for membership of the remuneration panels of local councils), with each licence-payer (including members of political parties) voting for one candidate, the top two per area being elected at the end, and the Chairman being appointed by the Secretary of State with the approval of the relevant Select Committee;

17. No one to be permitted to own or control more than one national daily newspaper, more than one national weekly newspaper, more than one television station (including any of the ITV regional stations), or interests in both sectors, a move which, if made at the start of a Parliament, would just be a fact of life by the time that another General Election came round;

18. As many trade unions as possible to ballot their members as to a potential member of the House of Lords, and then to challenge the Government en bloc to ennoble those thus elected, or else explain in each case what was unacceptable both absolutely and by comparison with Jeffrey Archer, Mike Watson or the Levy Mob;

19. Programmes of one-year House of Commons internships for the highest-scoring A-level candidate at the centre serving each ex-LEA's poorest catchment area who was willing to take them up (most preferably funded by that ex-LEA, and in the office of the local MP) and for a graduate of each of the post-1992 universities (most preferably funded by that university, and in the office of the local MP), thus beating the ruling class at its own game; and

20. The development of an accredited qualification for older "non-graduates" with life experience who aspire to become MPs.

As I say, just for a start.


  1. 1. No point in being in the EU if you pass this. Give the democratically elected European Parliament more power to legislate across the EU.

    2. Let the deomcratically elected EU parliament decide which powers should be national and which continental. Before decision is made have an election for the parliament in which all the parties can tell the electorate where they would draw the lines. Would be a great debate.

    3. Fair demand - may not be the best tactic to get it. Ultimately the parliament should replace the council of ministers.

    4.Election is a good idea. MPs shortlisting could mean two from one party! Why shouldn't a charismatic individual run as an independent? Hayley off Corrie for EU commissioner!

    That's enough for now.

  2. "No point in being in the EU if you pass this."


    And no point having a Parliament if we don't.

  3. Sorry to be pedantic but:

    10 - In Scotland we do not have a magistracy as such as most cases in Scotland are disposed of in the Sherrif courts staffed by professional judges.

    The only judicial powers that JPs have in Scotland are sitting in the district courts - which until recently were administered by local councils and operated in the name of the local council and not the crown - where the JP sits on his/her tod and has the power to jail for up to 60 days and levy a £500 fine. And district courts do not exist in Shetland or Orkney as the council does not feel they are necessary - it is up to local councils whether they exist or not.

    Or have stripendiary magistrates. Only Glasgow has appointed such offices and these guys have the power to jail up to six months and levy a £3000 fine - same power as a sherrif sitting on a summary case.

    Majority verdicts are well established in Scotland for centuries and of course the Scottish third verdict - the "bastard verdict" as Walter Scott called it - Not Proven. What do you make of that verdict?

    Of course the workings of the Scottish judiciary are under the control of Holyrood and Brown would be foolish to be heavyhanded with it or the Scottish judiciary to try and get what you desire. Like not so long ago when the Scottish judiciary forced the concession that no criminal appreals would be heard in this proposed British supreme court out of Charlie Falconer - as there is no criminal appeals from Scotland to the Lords as per conditions of the Union.

    19 - Vast majority of Scots do not sit A-levels. We sit Higher Grades. Do you propose to exclude Scotland from your scheme?

    If the Union is so important to you then you should learn a bit more of how the various bits of the UK work. A wee bit less Anglocentricity can go a long way.

  4. I am glad to say the back of Not Proven, as it made no sense. If the case was Not Proven, then accused should have been found Not Guilty. Or you could go back to finding the case Proven or Not Proven, with the same effect.

    Good for you, not having stipendiary magistrates except in Glasgow. You should get rid of them there, as well. And introduce proper Magistrates' Courts throughout Scotland: after all, if not Magistrates' Courts, or if not juries, then why Parliament? Why not have rule by judges, who are, after all, "professionals" and "experts"? See below.

    As for majority verdicts, I don't care how long they've been around, they still, by definition, allow for a conviction where there is reasonable doubt. And that is intolerable.

    I'm not in favour of a Supreme Court, either: the road to krytocracy, as in the US. It is the High Court of Parliament that is supreme, and primacy within it has passed to a House which has itself come to be elected by universal adult suffrage.

    As for 19, the same principle would of course apply to Highers.

  5. I do not think the Scottish judiciary is in a hurry to abolish the sherieval system. Been the lynchpin of the Scottish judicial system since the mists of time and there generally is not any griping about it.

    The Sherrif as mentioned below sits in summary deciding guilt or not and determining sentence. In the cases of an indictment, the sherrif sits with a jury (a criminal jury in Scotland is 15) and has the power to sentence up to five years (until recently it was three) and levy an unlimited fine. Or has the option to refer the guilty to the High Court for sentencing if it is outwith his powers.

    In Scotland the accused does not have the right to decide trial by jury or not. That is up to the Procurator Fiscal (the public prosecutor) and his/her bosses in the Crown Office. The Fiscal prosecutes in the district and sherrif courts (in the case of summary cases in the name of the regional procurator fiscal and in indictments in the name of HM Advocate).

    Prosecutions in the High Court are carried out by the Crown Office directly in the name of HM Advocate. The crown office hires advocates to prosecute cases on their behalf and they are styled Advocate Deputes (beause they are deputies of the Lord Advocate). One notable former Advocate Depute is the present leader of the Lib Dems.

    Concerning your views on the soverignty of Parliament, I refer you to my ealier reply concerning McCormack v HM Advocate and Lord Cooper's ruling.

  6. Anyone who holds any public office in Scotland (as anywhere else in the UK) has already accepted the sovereignty of Parliament simply by doing so, since every such office exists by that authority. Indeed, the same is true of anyone who so much as pays tax, or takes care to keep the law generally.

    This is the case regardless of what a clearly Nationalist (see below), even if not formally SNP, judge might say as he attempts (as is so often judges' wont, alas) to misuse his office to a political end.

    As for the different judicial arrangements, they reflect the more technocratic, oligarchical tradition in Scotland (which, up to a point, can often also be found in provincial England, or in areas with small and close-knit middle and upper-middle classes), which in turn explains the incandescence of that largely Nationalist, if not always formally SNP, techoncratic oligarchy's members whenever anyone dares to question or contradict them, something that is second nature to the English when faced with such figures. No one in Scotland has ever spoken to you like that in your lives, and you have no idea how to react.