Ed Miliband has announced proposals for a full Constitutional Convention rooted in our nations and regions, to address the need for further devolution in England and political reform of Westminster.
While David Cameron plays to his own backbenchers and the UKIP threat with cheap quick fixes, Ed Miliband has proposed the opening of a huge constutitional debate on devolution within England – one which will reach out far beyond Westminster to give a voice to all citizens.
It is the next stage of Labour’s plan to ensure decisions are taken closer to the families and businesses they affect following proposals for further devolution to Scotland and new devolution to the English regions.
Ed has called for a process to bring about deeper change that involves the people rather than just an elite in Westminster.
In the coming weeks Labour will set out how this should begin before the next election with every nation and region in the country engaged in a dialogue with the people about how power needs to be dispersed, not just in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but in England too.
These debates will bring together MPs and councillors with ordinary citizens and civil society.
Each region will produce a report outlining a series of recommendations, covering for example: how sub-national devolution can be strengthened; how the regions can be given more of a voice in our political system; how we can give further voice to regional and national culture and identity.
This would be followed in the autumn of 2015 with a Constitutional Convention to determine the UK-wide implications of devolution and to bring these recommendations together.
It will discuss the shape and extent of English devolution and what reforms are needed in Westminster, as well as the case for a regionally representative Senate or for codifying the constitution.
Major recommendations would then by debated by Parliament.
As he arrived at Labour Party Conference in Manchester Ed said:
“This referendum has changed Scotland. But it will also change Britain. We know there is deep anger across the UK with Westminster politics from so many people who feel left out and left behind – that our country doesn’t work for them.
“Labour’s plan for Britain means big economic change but it also means change in the way we are governed.
“The passion in this referendum campaign on both sides has shown that politics can still galvanise people, engage the young, bring people out to vote in record turn-outs.
“I want more of that energy, not less. The Labour Party will not now sit back and put up a ‘business as usual’ sign over Westminster.
“Nor will I allow this moment to be used for narrow party political advantage.
“We need a response that matches the scale of this moment.
“That starts with delivering on our promise of further powers to Scotland.
“But other people in Britain, including England, now deserve the chance to shape their own futures with a dynamic devolution settlement.
“This must not be led just by a Westminster elite but be open to every citizen so that they can have their say.
“What is needed is a comprehensive and credible process involving citizens, to take forward a debate about how we are governed.
“Labour has already set out plans to reverse a century of centralisation by devolving tens of billions of funding to the regions and local government.
“But we need further devolution of power within England, we need reform at Westminster, and we need to look seriously at codifying the constitution, following an unprecedented period of constitutional reform and instability.
“These issues can no longer be fixed solely by politicians or Prime Ministers trying to shore up their position in their own party. The people need to be given a voice too.
“In the coming weeks we will set out a process to begin before the next election with every region in the country engaged in a dialogue with the people about how power needs to be dispersed, including in England.
“That process will culminate next year with a Constitutional Convention to discuss how we are governed.
“It will look at new ideas for representation including reforms at Westminster and the case for a Senate of the Nations and Regions.
“This is a Convention for the United Kingdom. It is not a Convention to divide or drive our country apart once more.
“We can mend our broken politics so we are better together by working together.”
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