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Patsy Sergeant

I think Oberon has put it better than anybody in his post above.

Dontmakemelaugh

"In my view, if the Constitutional Monarchy is to survive, it needs a period of activism. I would suggest that we start off with the Monarch choosing judges and bishops without the Prime Minister's advice, and proceed from there. In due course I would propose more specific constitutional arrangements (e.g. having withholding of Assent by the Monarch only available when there is not a 2/3 majority in each House of Parliament, and having the withholding of such assent trigger a referendum). But first we would need to get the public used to the idea of an activist monarch".

I would agree with that activism, Andrew. We have a situation now where the overwhelming majority wants a referendum on the forthcoming EU Constitution proposals, falsely labelled a treaty. The PM refuses to accede to the request
The last attempt to smuggle in a constitution by the EU caused an organised petition whereby individuals submitted such to the Queen asking that she assist in granting a referendum. It could have been her Elizabeth the 1st moment when her namesake made that speech at Tilbury, the inspiration to meet the threat of the Armada and the loss of our freedoms.
However, she never had the chance to show her mettle - Blair cunningly agreeing to a referendum that he knew would never take place aided and abetted by Brown. The Queen now has the chance to rectify that position and she should be petitioned. If the monarchy means anything and has any relevance or use then now is the hour.
Cometh the hour, cometh the woman? If the Monarch shows no interest in who will govern Britain then I will no longer have any interest in the monarchy – there will not be any point.

If the monarchy is to continue it must be based on the hereditary principle - otherwise the term 'royal family' means nothing.
A most appropriate choice of subject, Andrew at this time and you did well to raise it.

I have visted Scotland on several occasions and there is a lot to like about the Scots,
but I cannot abide their politicians who make their way down south; we have had the Revenge for Culloden Part 1 are we going to put up with the Revenge for Culloden Part 2.
Cometh the hour .......

Ash Faulkner

Andrew, I think you're right in saying there's a difference of opinion here as to whether the primary importance is the symbolic or constitutional role. For me, it is the symbolic - though the constitutional role is also important to me.

What I don't understand is, if the constitutional role is the important part to you, why don't you just want a ceremonial presidency? What use is, what is effectively, a president-for-life? I can't make sense of your position on this.

William MacDougall

Dear Andrew,

I was sympathetic with much of what you had to say, until the end where what I thought was a note in favour of Constitutional Monarchy became an argument to replace the Monarch with a President. Presidents, because they are elected not hereditary, are very different beasts, and entirely inappropriate for Britain, given our history. And yes our monarchy is hereditary, with a few regrettable exceptions that prove the rule.

William

John Leonard

Andrew Lilico:

I have found that I am usually in some agreement with your comments but on this I am not. I feel your suggestion appeases Socialist Republicans rather than fighting them head on over matters that are of the utmost importance.

The problem with our country is not the monarchy and it's powers. If anything, as you suggest, they need a more substantial role in our constitution. I will return to this later.

Your suggestion to have the Head of State elected by the House Of Lords seems to me to have the potential to allow 'ratchet' Republicanism by stealth. In fact by allowing what is a political body to determine the Head of State I believe could take us one step closer to Political Dictatorship.

Our Monarch's role is currently politically neutral. A politically elected Head Of State is unlikely to be so.

It suggests to me changes that could lead to the possibility of having King Tony or King Gordon? That is a thought that is truly frightens me.

Whatever else the Head of States role must be one that must be politically neutral. That is a major reason why I support our hereditary monarchy.

The main problem the British people face today is with Parliament and the amount of legislation they have passed (e.g. devolution and European Union) over the past 35 years which has undermined our democracy and our constitution without consulting the people properly.

The last people who should have a say in who the Head of State is, is our party serving, politically dogmatic 'whipped' politicians whether they be in the Lords or not. They have proved in the past 35 years that our unwritten constitution is not safe in their hands.

Parliament requires a major overhaul.

So here is an alternative proposal which pulls together a number of the main contemporary constitutional issues but would not undermine the Monarchy in the way your suggestion could and potentially could provide a much stronger, system of Government than we now have.

If the Monarchy is to be active let it oversee an Independent Commission (with extremely limited party political representation)to:

1) Develop a written constitution for the British People which the British people can approve through referendum that enshrines the rights of all individuals.

A key concept being that Parliament is elected to serve not to rule.

Direct control of the constitution would be taken out of the hands of Parliament. They could propose changes to the constitution but the British People would have to approve the changes by referendum.

2) Restructure our Parliamentary system so that all citizens are represented equally resolving the West Lothian Question for once and for all, whilst maintaining the Union (as a confederation?).

3) Review and redefine the relationship between the UK and Europe.

4) Restructure our electoral system to remove the generic political bias from the electoral constituency system (all constituencies to have approximately the same size electorate).

5) Set up an independent (directly elected?)body reporting to the Monarch to safeguard the written constitution and in particular:

- Oversee the electoral voting system
- Oversee and maintain the probity of
Parliament in all its forms
- Safeguard a written Constitution from
parliamentary and political abuse
- Oversee the rules, terms and conditions of
Parliamentary representatives.

This idea needs considerable additional work to complete. However, much that we already have within our unwritten constitution could be re-used and many ideas already in the public arena could be adapted to be included.

It is better to take this on and rectify the current mess than tinker around the edges and further undermine our unwritten Constitutional Monarchy.

In this way the status of the Monarchy is strengthened because it would have a defined constitutional role overseeing the guardianship of the British People's rights without substantively changing the Monarchy's overall power.

Such an approach may even reduce the level of the cynicism relating to politics in this country.

Andrew Lilico

A "president" is a concept precisely in opposition to an elected monarch. Indeed, at the time of the American Revolution (whence the term "president" comes, in the constitutional sense) there was a debate as to whether the head of state should be an elected monarch or a president - a periodically-elected official that presides.

Really, chaps, the suggestion that an elected monarchy is just a presidency or a republic is truly ludicrous! Do you think that the Holy Roman Empire was a presidency or a republic - for the Holy Roman Emperor was elected (yes - that's what all that "Frederick the Elector" and "The Elector of Hanover" business was about). And were you thinking that Harold the Saxon, of Hastings and Stamford Bridge, was a president? For he was *elected* - by the Witan! Is the Pope just a president - somehow similar to George Bush?

Perhaps there are robust ideologues amongst you who will say: Yes! Anglo-Saxon England was a republic, because it's head of state was elected. In which case - have it your way! Call my scheme a republic if you like! But it should be pretty clear to everyone else that what I'm suggesting isn't anything remotely like the republics we normally think of - the US, France, Germany, Italy, and so on.

In addition, my proposal is for what we already *have*. For we just *do* have a selected monarchy, not a hereditary monarch. There's even and Act of Parliament that says who the monarch is, for goodness' sake! So if that's what the Act says, then we can amend the Act and it will say something else. It is Parliament and her laws that determine who is the monarch, not some Salic hereditary principle. If Parliament doesn't fancy the Salic heir, then we have someone else. That's already what we do. I just want to make that process explicit next time and thereafter, with a vote in the Upper Chamber. My assumption would be that normally it would be the hereditary heir that were chosen. Sometimes we might prefer to skip a generation or go for a brother or something. Some day we might just prefer a completely different family (as has happened regularly throughout the history of England). I repeat: that's what already happens. I just want to formalise the process that already happens with a vote in the Upper Chamber - for such a vote will empower the monarch to activism.

John Leonard

'My assumption would be that normally it would be the hereditary heir that were chosen'

Andrew, would you have also assumed that as all three main political parties committed to referendum on the EU Constitution at the last election that we would have got one then?

I'm afraid I am far too cynical about politicians these days to ever believe that they would pass up an opportunity to grab a bit more power!

As with all major constitutional matters, our politically elected representatives have proved they are unfit to decide. What rights they have to fiddle with our constitution should be severely restricted. If that means new legislation so be it.

Any decision of this magnitude should be made by the people and not the politicians.

If it's good enough for the Irish then its good enough for us!

Andrew Lilico

[email protected]:13

But, as I have said earlier, I have no intention that it be democratically elected politicians that choose the monarch. It would be the Upper Chamber - which I would oppose having elected.

If, by some disaster, the Upper Chamber were to be completely elected, and this were to be irreversible, then over the long run the Constitutional Monarchy is probably doomed anyway. (Indeed, my guess is that, indeed, the Constitutional Monarchy *is* doomed. But if those, like me, that believe in it do not ever bother to state our "Nay!", then it will certainly be doomed. I might as well argue my case, even though probably almost no-one will agree with me any more. Almost no-one, apart from political scientists, believes in the Constitutional Monarchy these days, or even has the remotest idea of what the arguments in its favour are supposed to be. Perhaps I can change that, at least, a tiny bit...)

Tim Roll-Pickering

John Leonard at 08:22 PM: Your list has some good points - for instance a written constitution that could only be amended by the people would, providing it was well written to start with, provide a better guarentee of checks and balances than convention and could make it harder to introduce new distortions e.g the devolution settlement would have had to consider fairness for England to pass, or at the very least the "unfairness" would have democratic legitimacy in England.

However on point four, the malapportionment, I'm not sure this is totally workable. (On an aside and this isn't relevant to your comment but to others I've seen on CHome I am tired of people confusing "gerrymandering" - drawing boundaries to determine the result - with "malapportionment" - an unequal & unfair ratio of representatives to the represented.) An electoral system based on single member constituencies is only really justified if a) it contributes to stable but replacable government; and b) a decent justification for the definition of the area represented. If MPs are just voting fodder in the Commons then we could go for a system of numeric equality with boundaries that totally ignore existing ties etc.. (anyone fancy being the MP for "Southampton Central & Cowes"?) but if they are representatives for an area then inevitably there will be some distortions in the system so as to accomodate natural ties.

There's currently very little direct malapportionment in the system - maybe a guarentee that Orkney & Shetland will have their own seat(s) and some banding restrictions for the numbers of seats in some parts of the UK.

What causes the current imbalance is a mixture of several factors:

i). Turnout in Conservative seats is higher than in Labour seats.

ii). The general trend of the shifting population is out of the Labour inner cities and into the Conservative suburbs and shires and the boundary reviews are slow to catch up.

iii). The rules and practices the Boundary Commission follow have a tendency towards undersized urban seats. I don't think this is deliberate but rather that it's easier to get ten seats that are all close to the target number in a rural county where the wards are small enough as to make the task easy, whereas in a smaller (review wise) urban area that qualifies for 4.5 seats and has huge wards it's much harder to create seats that get the numbers on target. A county with ten seats with declining population only needs to decline by 6% to lose one. An urban area of four needs to drop near to 20% to lose one.

Of the possible resolutions:

i). Differential turnout will always be a problem. Keeping the register more up to date can do a bit but unless you want to try malapportionment in the other direction then it's either no option or the Australian route of compulsory voting.

ii). The boundary reviews could be more frequent, although think of the chaos if every election we have the seats redrawn and all the problems of rearranging associations, two sitting MPs contesting the same nomination... What could help is allowing the Boundary Commission (or its successor) to take into account trends and projected growth/decline. This won't catch sudden population explosions but could at least try and get the numbers closer at the outset.

iii). In terms of balance, one interesting proposal floating around is that a specific area could be allowed to have oversized or underseized seats but it would have to be made up within the area. So for instance Hampshire and the Isle of Wight could be combined and the latter can either have one oversized seat with Hampshire having undersized seats or two undersized and Hampshire oversized. Another would be to stop using the ward as the lowest unit - perhaps allow polling districts. This would give much more managable building blocks rather than wards of up to 19,000 electors that will take a seat either 10,000 over quota or 9,000 under.

If all else fails it might be time to bite the bullet and consider another voting system. Despite the claims of many First Past The Post does not in and of itself deliver "stable party government that the electors can reject if they wish" - look at other countries where it has either entrenched one party rule or else delivered a series of unstable coalitions. In this country FPTP has traditionally delivered "stable party government that the electors can reject if they wish" because it operates in combination with a voter distribution that gives two parties a realistic chance of winning an outright majority in the Commons. Recent changes amongst the electorate have resulted in one party having an immense advantage over the other (the point of comparison is the seat difference at the point of vote parity and since the mid 1990s this has been heavily in Labour's favour) and it is legitimate to question whether FPTP is still "working" - how would we feel if at the next election the Conservatives have a majority of the vote but Labour still have a majority of the seats (and let's ignore the West Lothian Question for argument's sake)?

Pete

In principle I support the continuation of the monarchy, but only if Charles gets off his hands to defend this country against the EU coup d'etat. If he sits back on that then there really is no point - let's just accept President Barosso or President Bliar.

John Leonard

[email protected]:20

I understand that but whether the Upper Chamber is elected or not it is still partially under the whip and appointments to the upper house are significantly influenced by the political parties.

Furthermore, you cannot guarantee that having formalised the rules on accession to the throne that the upper house is not reformed.

I think it does leave the back door open for those who would undermine the monarchy.

As you may have gathered I do not believe that the political parties/ elected representatives should have much influence on the constitution without the people's direct mandate and that includes the choice of Head of State.

The only way I could accept your view was if it was formalised that it had to be the royal bloodline or put to the electorate. There cannot be room for assumptions.

There must be no chance that a political appointee can be foisted on the country by stealth (or for that matter some idiot celebrity).

As you will likely have seen above my views are far less likely to gain any acceptance than yours but I too must fight my corner!

In my view all constitutional matters should be controlled independently of the Government, Parliament and political parties.

I do think you are wrong when you say hardly anybody believes in a Constitutional Monarchy anymore. It may be true that it has been taken for granted.

Many people may not understand the phrase but I think that if politicians continue to manipulate our constitution the way they are currently, they will get a nasty shock and tinkering with the Monarchy could be the last straw that pushes the people to give Government / Parliament that shock.

Just as our constitutional monarchy maybe in question, I suspect the validity of our political system is increasingly in question.

I suggest there are more people actively disillusioned with our politicians than are disillusioned with the Monarchy.

Anyway interesting debate - I will look and see if there is more comment tomorrow. I must go now...

Patsy Sergeant

Andrew Lilico - I would be interested to know how and when you think that the Upper Chamber that you talk about might come into being, because what we have at the moment would not be 'fit for the purpose' that you keep suggesting should be assigned to it! As I said before a fair number of the inhabitants at the moment have been shoe-horned into the HoL's for reasons that suited the PM of the time, rather than for any ability or knowledge of constitutional law or history. And if the Upper Chamber, in such a debate showed any signs of not being up to the job, then the 'Lower Chamber' would get involved, which at some point in your discourse you said you would not agree with.

The Monarchy is so associated with the stability of this country, that just voting it away is not an option. I think that John Leonard has a good idea of the upheaval that might be involved and his sentence -- 'I suggest there are more people actively disillusioned with our politicians than are disillusioned with the Monarchy' is entirely accurate!

Chris Palmer

Stop attempting to fiddle with what is not broken - that is what Labour have been doing to this country for the past 10 years; the House of Lords being a prime example.

The problem with our system is not the Monarchy, which, as many have pointed out above is key to safeguarding our constitution and democratic processes. The problem is the politicians and the European Union measures which are merely rubber-stamped through Parliament with little or no scrutiny.

Dontmakemelaugh

The problem with our system is not the Monarchy, which, as many have pointed out above is key to safeguarding our constitution and democratic processes. The problem is the politicians and the European Union measures which are merely rubber-stamped through Parliament with little or no scrutiny.

Posted by: Chris Palmer | July 18, 2007 at 01:14 AM

I agree with the substance of your comment Chris; the question is will the Monarchy, as guarantor of our freedoms, get involved in supporting a referendum on the EU Constitution alias Treaty?

Chris Palmer

Dontmakemelaugh, you make a good point. The Monarchy has to remain politically neutral so in respect of a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty, it will not be involved.

The Monarchy, I would have thought, is there as constitutional protection from authoritarianism and dictatorial abuse. Imagine, if someone other than a 'neutral' person/party had the privilege of being able to dissolve Parliament.

Not holding a referendum is where the politicians are wrong, not the Monarchy I think - and it doesn't seem to me that Andrew Lilico's idea of replacing the heriditary monarch with an elected or appointed one would make any difference on whether we held it or not.

John Leonard

Tim Roll [email protected]:50 17/7

I have taken on board your interesting and highly valid comments and on further investigation there is far less malappointment of constituencies than I had thought.

If you take a broad-brush average population figure of 90,000 and use a 10% plus or minus variance factor the vast majority of constituencies fall within the range. Whether 10% is an acceptable figure is another question.

As you point out there are certain anomaly constituencies that do fall outside this range (IOW, Orkney & Shetland etc.). On the whole these are so few that they would not justify the sort of review I envisaged.

So based on my original premise point 4 would not be valid. However, in thinking about representation it occurred to me that there is another dimension to this. The question is whether Parliament provides sufficient representation for each individual.

In 1931 each MP represented approximately 75,000 people. In 2011 each MP will represent approximately 93,000 people. If one views that this latter figure is unacceptable and the former is acceptable then Parliament would need to be increased to 807 seats to return it to an approximation of the 1931 ratio.

In my view this increase in voters per representative cannot continue ad infinitum and is probably to high already. Potentially as part of a constitution there should be a recommended figure specified outlining what the ratio of representation should be. In my view that figure should come out of an electoral review.

Furthermore, if you consider the representation across the four nations, there are national imbalances.

For example I noticed that the greater proportion of constituencies in Wales have less than 80,000 voters, below the variance threshold I used initially. By my calculations the current average electorate in Wales is probably around 75,000. As a result to bring it back in line (90,000 per MP) would mean that the number of seats would need to be reduced by around 7 seats (15%).

In 2011, the representation ratio in English constituencies will be over 95,000 constituents per MP and Northern Ireland similar at approx 93,000 per MP. However, Scotland will have approximately 85,000 constituents per MP and Wales still around 75,000 per MP. It is obvious that there is an imbalance in representation levels across the four nations.

If you aimed to set it at the Scottish level then there would be around 45-50 more MP’s in England, 2 more in Northern Ireland and 5 less in Wales. Of course there are infinite ways that this can be addressed. For example, a reduction in the number of Scottish MPs reduces the increase in English MPs required.

This situation is further exacerbated in England’s case by the fact that the other three nations have National Assemblies which if included means that Northern Ireland has 13,000 constituents per representative, Scotland 26,000 constituents per representative and Wales 29,000 constituents per representative. England, effectively, has less than a third of the representation of any of the other 3 nations.

Consequently, whilst the intent behind my original point 4 changes, the review would still be required to rectify imbalances in the electoral system in terms of providing sufficient and equal representation for all constituents.

I know you separated this issue from the West Lothian question, however, in terms of representation I don’t think it is possible because by providing an English Assembly the landscape potentially changes out of recognition.

Tim Roll-Pickering

John Leonard at 09:59 PM: From recollection the undersized seats in Wales stem largely from the difficulties of georgraphy in the north and west, including yet another island (Ynys Môn). Also the electoral quota is calculated separately for each of the four parts of the UK and as the formula is "total number of parliamentary electors divided by the number of *existing* seats" then it does encourage the numbers in a particular area to remain.

Northern Ireland is guarenteed "between 16 & 18" constituencies with 17 as the ideal target set in law - although a 17 seat configuration could now be messy (when in 1995 the BC proposed one with many radical changes in Belfast and Counties Down & Armagh to take account of population shifts, it provoked major problems and an 18 seat configuration proved the only solution) whilst IIRC the Assembly legislation now effectively entrenches 18 constituencies (requiring 6 MLAs per constituency - despite there being a case for varying between 5 & 7 for a more equal balance - and 108 overall).

My point for separating the West Lothian Question from this discussion is that for all the talk of "most voters in England voted Conservative", Labour still has the most seats in England and too much of the talk on this confuses the West Lothian Question with the vote/seat imbalance. The over-representation of Scotland & Wales does contribution to the Labour bias overall but unless one is advocating a new voting system, one cannot talk of Labour having "no mandate to rule England" as this is the way the system works, even on a "only English MPs can vote on English matters" rule.

Even on a system where absolutely every single seat has the same number of electors and turnout is uniform there can still be significant distortions between % of votes cast and % of seats won. One can alleviate the problem but not eliminate it completely. (And almost all PR systems are also vulnerable to the "one party gets most votes, another gets most seats" issue - Malta uses STV and until they introduced a top-up mechanism for such a situation there were elections where this happened.)

You're right about the number of representatives, although the area with the single largest number of elected representatives isn't in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland - it's the City of London ward of Farringdon Without (10 councillors, 1 Alderman, 1 constituency GLA member, 11 London wide GLA members, 1 Mayor of London, 1 MP, 9 MEPs - oh and before anyone raises the point of the business franches for the Corporation, this is one of the four predominantly residential wards). This comes down to the "what is an MP (and MSP, MWA, MLA etc...) for?" point that keeps getting overlooked in all the talk. If they're purely a representative of the voters within a particularly body then it doesn't matter if somewhere has only a few or many, depending on the number of tiers of government. (The number of tiers of government may be an issue, but that's a different matter.) But if they're also an advocate, lobbyist and case worker for the area and this takes involves work outside the chamber then you're right that there is a significent imbalance.

(Plus there's the whole mess of just what the top-up members of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Greater London Assembly are for - are they a potential additional champion for an area, a champion for the region as a whole, someone who isn't beholden to parochialism and can take a detached point of view, a way to allow more than one candidate for a constituency to be the "local MSP/MWA/MLA" or just a sop to smaller parties? Constituency elected members have been furious about some of the actions of list members and in a way it does create two classes of representative.)

John Leonard

Tim Roll [email protected]:08

In your knowledgeable response, I think you actually help in justifying my point that a review of the electoral system is needed. If not for the reasons I first inferred but on the basis of equal representation at a national level. I will come back to this.

Anyway to elaborate on my thinking on a few points.

In deciding who to include in the total of representatives I only considered those at a national level (UK parliament and national assemblies). I perceive that there is reasonable similarity in the combined responsibilities of assembly members and MP's in Scotland for example with those of English MP's including all the activities they undertake today.

I did not consider elected local government officials in the same light as they have very little power to influence anything beyond their own area. This may not always have been the case but with the increasing centralisation of Government their role in national issues is increasingly peripheral.
Consequently their representative capability is insignificant in terms of the representation I am referring to.

From my perception the London Assembly even falls into this category even though it is responsible for up to 15% of the population simply because it just does not have sufficient power over issues such as education, health and law & order.

To rationalise and realign Local Government would be another massive exercise and as I am not particularly familiar with the current structure I have not included it in my considerations. Of course it would need to be considered in the review.

Similarly, I excluded MEP's as they represent us at a European level not at a UK/national level. As I suggested in my original post I think this is also separate secondary issue.

Once we have the constitution we want we would then consider how it impacts our involvement in Europe and our related representation.

You are correct to point out the confusion in roles. If it is increasingly unclear for politicians it is likely doubly so for the electorate.

As part of the recommendations for a written constitution, I would expect to see outline specifications of the roles and responsibilities of what the Head Of State, Prime Minister, Cabinet and associated ministers, MP's and assembly members are responsible for and how they relate to each other. In reality the constitution would need to outline all the levels of government and the roles nad relationships of all the elected representatives.

How government works should be one of the core aspects of a written constitution, second only to the basic rights of the individual.

Moving on, as my previous post inferred I recognise that we can never fully harmonise the electoral populations but it should be possible to define the target 'average' population and a variance figure that applies equally to all but a few constituencies.

This will always be dependent on actual population figures and these will naturally always be somewhat out of date as you have previously pointed out. However, as technology improves the time delay in identifying changes in population could be reduced.

The key questions in defining the electoral map would be what should the average electoral population figure be and what should the acceptable variance be?

As I mentioned the current average is approx 90,000 with a variance of approximately +/-10%. Whether that is the right figure would be open to debate. My view is that they are currently too high.

There would still be exceptions but these should be reduced significantly.

In terms of exceptions such as the IOW my tendency would be to over represent rather than under represent. So in my view the IOW would have 2 MP's splitting the island electorate as equally as possible in two. Whilst it falls below the current English average. The Welsh and Scottish Islands would therefore remain as they are.

In terms of the West Lothian Question my primary concern was whether the English electorate has equal representation and not whether it would benefit any party. I was wrong in inferring anything else previously.

I accept that currently Labour would still have a majority of seats in an English Parliament if constituencies for England remained the same.

However, under the sort of review I suggest, the number of seats would depend on the electoral population figure and variance mention above. There may be more or less seats.

The potential voting intention of the electorate should not come into consideration. That would be one of the reasons to justify the independent nature of the review. After all this should be about providing a better system of representation not about addressing political inequalities.

As for the voting system that would be something to be defined. The critical thing is that it is consistent across the UK Government and National Assemblies.

Finally, back to your post. I think the main thing that stands out to me in what you say is the amount of confusion and divergence there is already within the electoral system at national level.

I perceive that much of the divergence is as a result of devolution and the fact it denied England equal representation. Without this legislation the electoral system would have possibly been sustainable without a complete review.

I suspect they avoided an English Parliament due to the realisation that an English Parliament could severely disrupt the effectiveness of the UK parliament under certain circumstances.

Hence we have the dismal regional approach we have now. I believe this always destined to fail because it does not acknowledge national identity (e,g, I am English not South Eastern).

In short, it's increasingly becoming a mess and therefore as part of a full constitutional review there must be a full review of the electoral system.

As it has been significantly skewed over the last 10 years,I think there is a case to start with a blank sheet and redesign our electoral system to best fit the UK's needs for the 21st Century. Of course, there is much that can be re-used from what is currently in place.

To me this is preferable than to persist to tinker around edges of a system that increasingly, due to previous changes and population growth, no longer does the job in the same way it did once.

Whilst, I know it is highly unlikely that a governing political party would ever institute an independent full restructuring of the electoral system and whatever would be proposed would not be perfect, I believe that it may be the only way to prolong our national governmental and electoral structure as it is over the long term.

Indeed it may be, that in having implemented devolution in the way it has been implemented, the opportunity may already have been lost. National assemblies may resist any interference in their own electoral systems. needless to say I would expect there to be prolonged discussions between the four nations.

In which case the only way to resolve the 'English Problem' satisfactorily may eventually lead to or be the result of the break up of the Union.

I hope that isn't the case but it may be inevitable. It may only be then that there is the interest and impetus to improve the English Question that currently exists.

Sandy Wallace

Andrew, behave yourself. No elected monarchy please, no active monarchy. Perhaps some very minor changes that would have no impact for at least 50 years other than removing some offensive if otherwise unimportant discrimination.

Repeal the Act of Settlement to allow the Monarch a wider choice of god bothering faiths to endorse.

The Crown should pass to the eldest child, regardless of gender. of the monarch. This would have no impact upon Charles or William, but requires addressing before the next generation is born to avoid personalising the issue.(or Issue).

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