The Spectator

Brown, constitutional conservative or radical?

Brown, constitutional conservative or radical?
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Gordon Brown’s constitutional proposals receive a generally good press this morning. Interestingly, everyone has decided to concentrate on the bits they like rather than the bits they don’t: The Sun fronts Brown’s call for the flag to be flown from public buildings, Jonathan Freedland praises the radicalism of the proposals while Simon Heffer is impressed by their conservative emphasis on the primacy of Parliament.

Freedland explains the thinking behind the changes thus “Brown reckons that the surest way for a politician to win back the public trust is to give away power...If people can be persuaded to believe once more in the legitimacy of government, then Brown can get on with deploying it as a tool for political change.”

Yet, Heffer is surely right that no constitutional reform program can simply pass on the West Lothian question. As Heffer argues, if the Tories win a majority of the seats in England but not in the country and Labour go on passing legislation on devolved matters with Scottish and Welsh votes, we’ll be plunged into the kind of constitutional crisis we haven’t seen since 1911.