EU Referendum

The Harrogate Agenda – the provisional list


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Over the several weeks since our Harrogate conference, many thousands of words have been written, on the back of much thinking and discussion. As a result, I am in a position to draft a first attempt at a list of six coherent demands. They are, of course, demands rather than requests, as we are not grovellers who must doff our caps to our masters and ask, pretty please, for some of our powers back. So, without further ado, I offer the following.
We demand that:

1. the people are sovereign: the sovereignty of the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland shall be recognised by the Crown and the governments of our nations, the people in their collective form comprising the ultimate authority of their nations and the source of all political power;

2. local democracy: the fundamental building blocks of our democracy shall be the counties (or other local units as may be defined), which shall be constitutional bodies exercising under the control of their peoples all powers of legislation, taxation and administration not specifically granted by the people to national governments;

3.elected prime ministers: prime ministers shall be elected by popular vote; with the approval of parliament, they shall appoint their own ministers to assist in the exercise of such powers as may be granted to them by the sovereign peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; no prime ministers or their ministers shall be members of parliament or any legislative assembly;

4. no laws, etc., without consent: no treaty, law or regulation shall take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that no treaty, law or regulation shall continue in effect whence that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people;

5. no taxes or spending without consent: no tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express permission of the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a properly authenticated budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures;

6. a constitutional convention: Parliament, once members of the executive are excluded, convenes a constitutional convention with a view to drawing up definitive constitutions for the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which shall, inter alia, recognise their sovereign status and their inherent rights.
The only thing I can guarantee is that this will not please everyone, and there is a risk that the list as a whole will please no one. Hence, it is offered as a provisional list, and comments are welcome on the forum.

I also welcome comments from other blogs, such as this and appreciate the time and effort that so many have put into the exercise. This does make it worthwhile.

For those who might be offended by omissions, or believe that something else should take the place of the points offered, I am completely open to suggestions. But I must ask of contributors whether any other points will get to the root of power and whether, when adopted, will significantly enhance our standing and bring us closer to democracy than the points offered.

Once again, therefore, I must thus reiterate that democracy is about power – people power. The task we set ourselves at Harrogate was to define six demands which would bring us closer to controlling our own destinies and governing for ourselves the great nations of which we are part.

With the focus on bringing power to the people, this offering is a start.