Regular readers (perhaps there are some of you?) will recall the stories about Gordon Brown’s Stalinist tendencies. Well, yesterday’s statement to Parliament put a stop to that. Aside from some of the right wing and Eurosceptic press still complaining about a referendum on the EU or the West Lothian question, all commentators seem positive.
In fact, they seem stunned. The range of changes are of the sort that many have been lobbying for for many years with little hope of it actually happening. And now it has all come at once. Talk of a written constitution, a bill of rights, reform of the House of Lords, reviewing voting etc. And changes within Parliament and Whitehall too. Gordon Brown has made allies of many who would normally be critics, including some of his own backbenchers and many on the opposition benches such as the Liberal Democrats.
It has often been said that politicians talk about limiting the power of the Executive when in opposition but quickly forget it once they are in power. However, Gordon Brown is an interesting case. He talked about it in opposition, as did the rest of the Labour Party. But it is almost as if, in the past ten years, he has become as frustrated with the power of the Prime Minister as if he were still in opposition. In a sense, perhaps he was. He has certainly been chewing these ideas over for a while.
Just as with the dramatic announcement of the independence of the Bank of England back in 1997, he has shown that he means to change the way in which some things are done. Some of these changes are very quickly and easily made. It will be interesting to watch the debates around some of the bigger constitutional changes take shape. The first rush of enthusiasm may wear off. Students on the MPA in the coming year will certainly need to watch this space.
Read the Governance of Britain Green Paper at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/governanceofbritain.htm