Fascinating call for ideas for a new UK constitution by the LSE has come out today, with more info here.
I’ve been thinking about this idea separately for a while, and couldn’t help but quickly bash together a few proposals. I’m putting up my post here too as otherwise I’ll forget where it is, but it’d be interesting to read any responses should they come. It’s for a federation of British republics, including whoever wants to be separately represented (England, Wales, Scotland, or broken down into cities, regions, whatever, let these fictional future people decide…). It’s presumptuous of course, but having some proposals to hand isn’t necessarily ossifying I hope.
1. Elected head of state, 2 years max service. No re-election.
2. Elected lower chamber of popular representatives, proportionally representing a local community. 2 year maximum with local community having right of recall. Can be re-elected once.
3. Elected upper chamber of experts, based on nomination of popular representatives, working associations, other experts, proportionally split. Re-elected multiple times.
4. Council of constitutional judges or ‘syndics’ as Spinoza called them, elected drawn from either retired experts or representatives, who meet to scrutinise, protect and update the constitution. Re-elected multiple times.
– all forms of organised political party forbidden. Representatives must act in the interests of the community which has nominated them, or from the profession/perspective they represent. Representatives paid a living salary equivalent to the living wage, below.
5. Civil law – public and legal consultation on a public set of laws over several years. Laws to be maintained through a council of elected judges, also nominated from other chambers, who meet to discuss and, where necessary amend or add new laws.
6. Right to free legal representation and aid of one’s choice.
7. Right to education and work training guaranteed without cost up to age of 25, to create a skilled workforce.
8. Systematic definancialisation of the economy, with return on producing domestically. High tariffs imposed on imports to build up manufacturing and high-skill IT production, with additional goal of right to work full employment.
9. Living wage becomes minimum wage. Benefits for sick, disabled, carers retired or unemployed to match this rate.
10. Working week restricted to 35 hours per week maximum. Working longer than this will undermine fellow-citizens, and goes against the model of cooperation rather than cynical competition as is current.
11. Total nationalisation and common ownership of utilities, financial assets, healthcare, policing, prisons, military, banking, land, housing stock. All to be run for the common good and welfare of the citizens of the republic, who are citizens either by birth or in working in the republic for more than two years. Proceeds from nationalisation to be pushed into building public infrastructure: housing, schools, hospitals, cities.
12. Public right to shelter, with all private property abolished. Rents paid to the republic who own property and must maintain it.
13. Decisions and consultations regarding how services run e.g. leisure, policing, devolved to fortnightly community assemblies. These assemblies alone can nominate representatives.
14. Decriminalisation of all drugs, and prescription of safe forms of addictive drugs in controlled rehabilitative spaces. Additional support plunged into treatment and rehabilitation. Substance misuse to become a health and social issue, not legal one.
15. Free childcare for all parents, and vast expenditure in public infrastructure – spaces, services, libraries, paid for in the closure of tax loopholes and restoration of income tax rates to 1945 levels. Abolition of VAT.
16. Abolition of private schools, fee-paying schools and religious education. Local authorities to decide, under federal guidance and monitoring, programmes of education, which must be secular and provide equal access to all.
17. Discrimination based on grounds of race, sex, class, religion or sexual preference forbidden. All religions have right to worship, though without any state subsidy or preference. Freedom of thought and speech fully permitted, provided it does not threaten to undermine the security of the republic (e.g. cabals of bankers and exiled Tories agitating to have some foreign army invade the state).
18. Double the amount of public holidays, and make these compulsory, and named after inspiring figures in the arts or society. Aim to build a civic culture in every city by replacing advertising hoardings with stories and ideas, images and photos by local people, or inspiring words from members of the community or remarkable local people. Ban all forms of advertising except those demonstrating a public good.
19. Recruitment and training of young people for two years’ compulsory service in an area of choice of social/infrastructural benefit: engineering, nursing, overseas aid provision, military combat, etc. Arming and training of a citizen militia to inevitably defend this idealistic republican federation against military aggression from American neighbours probably needed by this point too!
But without any popular desire or threats against the current establishment, this constitution is an ‘unarmed prophet’ and at best a cheery thought-experiment. And there’s the rub…