Returning power to the people

Expected to succeed Tony Blair, Britain’s upcoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown has tabled a suggestion to create Britain’s first Constitution. [link] [link] [blog]

I’m sad. I’ve been proud of Britain’s heritage of scattered writings. As the first culture to restrain authority and maintain the great feature of common law, the civilizing force of living within an average of endless arguments might be at risk if mere statute is elevated over top.

I’m afraid. Drafting a constitution makes room for new ideas. No one says this is an age of profound social cooperation or statesmanship. Most people seem utterly worried and unsure about their neighbors. What if Britain is over run with nerves and inserts a national system to allow a surveillance webcam in every kitchen?

But I mustn’t fret. I should relax in full confidence that our friends in Britain might create a torch that re-lights the world’s willingness to live with each other. Modern Canada achieved a new national charter in 1982. The first line states that Canada is ‘founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law’. Not to worry, it seems that God and Canada’s lawyers agreed to assure several rights and freedoms for everyone else.

I’m still nervous. Can we really trust anyone to tinker with fundamental rights in an age where we can hardly agree if we can keep our shoes on at an airport? Oh yes, I know that soul sole security is only an American matter. Not every western society is cuffed by rude and petty ideologues bureaucracy.

Think Local by The TelegraphBut what will occur in Britain?

The Telegraph has launched a brave venture for a newspaper. It’s building provocative feature stories, online and offline forum, plus several blogs and chats into a national conversation called “ThinkLocal, Who should run Britain?

The hook:

The British public is more disillusioned with politics and disappointed with public services than ever. But here the Telegraph is launching a debate on what is wrong with the way our country is run, and how to fix it, based on the localist idea of returning power to the people.

The features already published argue that “power needs to be devolved to give us all a decisive say in running our lives.” Another feature asserts that “free-market ideas are vital for protecting the environment”. A guest author chimes that the supermarket culture is damaging the planet. Another likely report will show that an organic block of wood and a conventional block of wood each cause the same emissions during delivery. Soon, a panel report will argue that pumping dioxide smog under unused coal mines near the Beatle’s first venue in Liverpool is unconscionable. Within a few short months of open debate, every argument will be on Britain’s table for resolution. Within a few short months, the facade of British civility will tumble. Out of nowhere, a newly formed Constitutional Committee of the Gang of Nine will announce a dramatic reduction in the discretionary money supply causing tens of thousands of restaurants and markets and spa to shut down. The culture will darken. A flaming orator will rise to despotism. The proposed Constitution will be symbolically burned at a beach bonfire rally near Kent. Headlines will shout that an uniformed brigade of armed…. So thus I remain nervous.

I think Britain has done pretty well as a cacophony. About one thousand years of parchment creed and napkin decision making have built a firm and reputed society. Britain’s many many rules and laws are its secret and its secret is its disputes. The thought of repairing a national argument with a national agreement seems too untimely and risky.