I am indebted to right_writes for drawing my attention to something which has rather tickled my fancy. I could be spectacularly late to this little party, unfortunately my sorties over the blogosphere has been very limited recently and I’ve let my reading list slip a little, so apologies if this is old news to you.
I’m referring, and have been referred to, the Harrogate Agenda. This sounds like the title of a Jasper Fforde book (and as an aside if you’ve not read any of his work I recommend you go out and buy or download some of it immediately, his Thursday Next series is close to perfection) but it is as well a thought out proposition as I have come across in a long time.
I shall detail it below:
1. The people are sovereign: The sovereignty of the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland shall be recognised by the Crown and the government of our nations. The people in their collective form, by giving their consent, comprise the ultimate authority of their nations and the source of all political power;
2. Local democracy: The foundation of our democracy shall be the counties (or other local units as may be defined), which shall become constitutional bodies exercising under the control of their peoples all powers of legislation, taxation and administration not specifically granted by the people to the national government;
3. Elected Prime Ministers: To enable separation of power, prime ministers shall be elected by popular vote; they shall appoint their own ministers, with the approval of parliament, to assist in the exercise of such powers as may be granted to them by the sovereign people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; no prime ministers or their ministers shall be members of parliament or any legislative assembly;
4. All legislation subject to consent: No legislation or treaty shall take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that no legislation or treaty shall continue to have effect when that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people;
5. No taxes or spending without consent: No tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express permission of the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a properly authenticated budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures;
6. A constitutional convention: Parliament, once members of the executive are excluded, convenes a constitutional convention to draw up a definitive codified constitution for the people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which shall recognise their sovereign status and their inherent, inalienable rights and which shall be subject to their approval.
There’s really nothing I can add to it at all. It seems to stem from Richard North’s blog, but that’s about as much as I know, I’m so far outside this that I may as well be on a different continent.
All I can say is that I support it wholeheartedly, and at the risk of falling into the trap of hyperbole, it does rather put me in mind of a document written by some colonialists prior to a little spat a few years ago. Brevity and clarity, two things that are sadly lacking in political documents today.