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My Theory

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Assess the significance of constitutional reform since 1997

Significant

1) A dramatic attempt to reduce the CONTROVERSIAL ROYAL PREROGATIVE, now mostly exercised by the PRIME MINISTER, has been the decision to remove Prime Ministers’ right to call a General Election at whatever date they wish. As NICK CLEGG puts it, “The Government is determined that no government should be able to play politics with the date of an election”; which is what, for example, GORDON BROWN did, in 2007 when he considered calling an early General Election only to back down at the last moment. FIXED TERM FIVE YEAR PARLIAMENTS thus significantly reduces Prime Ministerial power, thereby ensuring that no longer can Prime Ministers time a General Election when they think they are most likely to win it!

2) Already, E-Petitions have provoked debate in the Commons on issues such as whether there should be a referendum on our membership of the EU, fuel tax, limits on Bulgarian and Bulgarian immigration and the publication of official documents relating to the Hillsborough Disaster. A “rant” on Facebook that went viral garnered 165,000 signatures for an e petition urging action by the government to “cap” holiday price rises during school vacations.

3) The Coalition’s reform programme was aimed at making the United Kingdom significantly more democratic, with public bodies being made much more accountable to the public. Thus, leading elements of the reform programme included an elected House of Lords.

4) One of the most significant THREATS TO REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY involves the disproportionate influence that POLITICAL LOBBYISTS can wield in Parliament. This therefore means that MPs can end up being more influenced by political lobbying firms than by their constituents.

5) Also the Freedom of Information act also allows for the public access to governmental documentation, this is thought to have been one of the acts successes as it is working towards a more open government

Not significant

1) This has though been criticised since it may encourage “LAZY OPPOSITION” since, when the date of the General Election was in doubt, the Opposition had continually to be prepared to fight an Election and so had to be continually scrutinising government policy and developing manifesto commitments. More controversial is the attempt to make it more difficult for parliament to bring down a government by raising the necessary % to 55%. This will make governments more stable, although it has also been suggested by many, such as JACK STRAW that this is “fundamentally undemocratic” since if a government has lost the confidence of parliament it has therefore lost the support of the country and should therefore resign allowing for fresh a General Election.

2) The introduction of E PETITIONS, by the Coalition, whereby the public can DIRECTLY petition for an issue to be debated at Westminster, has also been controversial. This is aimed at making the legislature significantly more RESPONSIVE TO THE ELECTORATE, PARTICULARLY BETWEEN ELECTIONS when, as LORD HAILSHAM put it, the government is danger of becoming “AN ELECTIVE DICTATORSHIP”. However, they have also proved controversial with not all E Petitions being granted full debate in the House of Commons with some simply being debated inWESTMINSTER HALL. There is also no necessity for there to be a bill to be introduced on an issue raised in an E Petition, while a significant number of E Petitions have been POPULIST, such as those against Romanian and Bulgarian immigration, denying benefits to convicted rioters and demanding a referendum on membership of the EU] or successful because they are associated with a POPULAR CELEBRITY.

3) The Coalition’s proposal to reform the HOUSE OF LORDS has been a significant failure. Liberal Democrats had argued that the Lords needed to be given democratic legitimacy, but there was so much opposition from more traditionalist backbench Conservatives, who argued that the existing Lords are already a highly successful revising chamber, based on the accumulated wisdom it contains. As a result of this opposition, Clegg has admitted that he cannot proceed with the reforms. In response to this defeat the Liberal Democrats, consequently, refused to support PARLIAMENTARY BOUNDARY REFORM designed to create more numerically equal constituencies, thereby providing constituents with fairer representation.

4) DAVID CAMERON has actually called this the next parliamentary scandal waiting to happen and so, in order to better protect our representative democracy, NICK CLEGG is promising “to ensure transparency by introducing a statutory register of lobbyists”. So far, though, the result of this has been the LOBBYING BILL which has been criticised for over impacting on more vulnerable OUTSIDER GROUPS, rather than targeting the Elitist Groups that undermine democracy the most.

5) But today information is so widely available that even our government is scared. Tony Blair said âitâs the worst mistake of my lifeâ. This reference to the Freedom of Information act clearly shows that MPâs cannot voice their true and legit opinions on matter without being scrutinized. They can be scrutinized via the media. The expenses scandal is a prime example. MPâs expenses were shown to the public and the media set off a huge firework and ripped certain MPâs via complete exposure, but from another perspective this can be seen as a positive as the FOIA stops corruption with funds and expenses. The FOIA also brings a few negatives. The easily obtainable information is a large reason to why MPâs donât voice their opinion as they may also be pushed into the hot seat for saying something wrong.…...

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