With the general election looming, Richard Gordon QC argues that the price of restored trust in democracy may be a codified constitution
Is it time for the UK to have a written constitution? In suggesting that we had no constitution, the 19th Century French political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville was wrong. Britain does have a constitution but it is old-fashioned, top-down and—as far as the rest of the free, democratic world is concerned—of a fast-disappearing kind.
What causes confusion is that, unlike us, nearly all democratic States have a written (in the sense of codified) constitution. Only Israel and New Zealand join us in relying on a nebulous body of rules, some contained in Acts of Parliament, some in constitutional conventions, some scattered around in the most diverse sources. The expenses scandal and the ensuing loss of trust in politics led many (myself included) to think we needed fundamental change.