The United Kingdom is standing before a general election.
Let us see what the major parties' manifestos say on the grand institutional matters.
The Labour Party Manifesto has a chapter 9 entitled “Democratic reform: A new politics: renewing our democracy and rebuilding trust.” Under a subtitle “The next stage of national renewal,” the Labour Party manifests:
- Referenda, held on the same day, for moving to the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons and to a democratic and accountable Second Chamber.
- Improved citizenship education for young people followed by a free vote in Parliament on reducing the voting age to 16.
The Liberal Democrats Manifesto follows suit. In a chapter entitled “your say,” in a section entitled “fairer politics,” amongst the main points are:
- Give the right to vote from age 16.
- Replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber with considerably fewer members than the current House.
Then there is the Conservative Party Manifesto. In a chapter entitled “Change politics” and a section entitled “Make politics more accountable,” the Conservative Party manifests:
We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence.“Conservative” indeed! In this manifesto there is no crazy flirting with minors. However, the House of Lords must go, apparently. Details can be found in a “conservative” PDF document.
The great High Tory Mr. Gerald Warner today sums up the upcoming election in Scotland on Sunday:
Choice is a luxury that is no longer on offer to British voters. The identical programmes of the three main political parties have effectively created a one-party state. It is the great irony of this general election that the expansion of the traditional two-horse race into a three-horse contest has brought not the slightest philosophical broadening of the electoral landscape.Mr. Warner goes on:
It would be more accurate to say that Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats share a homogenous culture. It is possible to detect slight differences in their respective agendas the Liberal Democrats' dissent from the Iraq War would be one instance but these are purely tactical variations in the implementation of a common political culture that Gordon Brown once described as “the Progressive Consensus”. When the advent of David Cameron as Conservative leader absorbed even the Tory Party into that consensus, multi-party democracy became history.Progressive democracy marches onwards. The “solution” to the problems of modern democracy is even more democracy. Nothing is to check the will of the popular majority nor stand in the way of those acting in its name. Liberty and decency be damned.
By the way, anyone care to bet on when universal suffrage is expanded to two-year-olds?