Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Thursday, June 29, 2006
It ain't as simple as just walking away.

JEM writes,

While not resiling from Tim Worstall's concerns about the EU, or yours, it really has to be pointed out that our present entirely home-grown government is doing a pretty effective job of ending or debauching "... our juries and the rights bequeathed to us through 800 years of evolution of the Common Law..." in any case, without any help from our continental neighbours. Indeed you could reasonably argue that one of the few constraints that prevent our even more rapid descent into a new dark age is the restrictions on UK domestic legislation imposed by the European human rights conventions.

It is also worth pointing out that differences in legal systems are not necessarily a fatal flaw. For instance, the law of the State of Louisiana is based on the French legal system [Hey, that's my factiod! - NS] but nevertheless works well enough within the United States, as does the French-based system of Quebec within Canada. Indeed, the legal system of Scotland, which is not Common Law but Roman Law, works well enough inside the UK context.

In short, to coin a phrase, the present arrangements here and with the EU are not fit for purpose.

However there is no simple or quick way to fend off these serious dangers to our liberties. Departing from the EU might even make things worse, and it is in fact possible to live with different legal systems within a larger entity. In my view one of the fundament problems with the EU is that despite being a much less homogenous collection of nations and peoples, it attempts to bind them much more closely together in so many ways than does the United States does with its individual states.

I have come to the personal conclusion that the only answer to Britain's real problem is a written Constitution, Bill of Rights and Supreme Court that cannot be over-ruled by Parliament. And a second chamber (which I would rename 'Senate' so that people would take it seriously) that is entirely elected, probably by proportional representation and on longish fixed terms such as six or eight years, and has the power to veto the Commons -- just as the Commons should have the power to veto the Senate.

Paralysis, you say? Laws would not get passed? Government would be less powerful, less effective? Power would pass from whips to individual MPs and Senators? You have a problem with this?

But this would... could not... happen quickly or easily. It would take time.

And it ain't as simple as just walking away from the EU.


I too wish we had a written constitution - but I am frightened to get one now. If our Constitution had been written when the Americans wrote theirs it would be, as theirs is, a tightly drawn specification for an arena in which politics can take place. If our first few amendments had been made when the Americans made theirs, British schoolchildren would recite sentences beginning Parliament shall make no law ...

A constitution written in these dismal times would be, as the proposed EU constitution was, an attempt to set managed social democracy in stone. The right to a job. Freedom from offensive speech. The right to be protected from yourself.

Basically, I only want a constitution if it can be old. In fact old and dead. Pretty much dead, anyway, the way the captain is in Dark Star, only woken up for important stuff. A "living constitution" is no constitution at all. If I want something that will grow, change, exhibit volition and excrete all over my floor, I'll get a puppy.