Britain needs fundamental constitutional reform to localise decision-making, devolve tax raising powers and protect the independence of the media according to The Urgent Future of Constitutional Reform, a paper published today by radical centre think tank, Radix.
The ideas set out in the paper come from a series of lectures earlier in the summer on the lessons from Covid for the UK’s constitutional arrangements. Speakers included: Sir Simon Jenkins, writer, journalist and historian; Charlotte Allldritt, Director of the Centre for Progressive Policy; Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of The Guardian; and Lord Alderdice, the first speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The pamphlet sets out in the speakers’ own words the reforms which they believe are necessary based on their experiences both of Covid and many years in public life. The ideas advanced by one or more of the speakers include:
- New legal powers for cities, districts and parishes, protected within law, including their own fiscal tools such as hotel taxes
- Putting local government in charge of implementing and policing any public health measures design to combat covid.
- The establishment of a people’s convention to draw up plans for a new light touch UK that could subsume nearly-independent UK nations.
- The creation of regional investment funds to keep money local.
- Media literacy lessons for primary school children to teach them to be more sceptical about what they hear and see.
- New funding models for the BBC and truthful, fact-based media to secure their financial and political independence.
Commenting on the publication of the paper Radix fellow, Sir Simon Jenkins, says:
“Localism is the oldest running sore in the British constitution. Unappreciated and under-rated, during the pandemic disastrously so. What it must not be is under-debated, hence this invaluable study.”
In his foreword, RADIX Policy Director, David Boyle, writes:
“Our ability to ask questions of those who rule us is key to the ability of government to act effectively. And without this scrutiny the UK might simply break apart with all the risks associated with those kind of separations, including unrest and civil war.”
While constitutional reform may not feel like a bread and butter issue, the essayists in this paper argue that the stakes are increasingly high.