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Plaid Cymru and Green Party back call for constitutional reform

The Centre has received two immediate and very positive responses to its call for constitutional reform from two leading political parties.

Statement from Leanne Wood AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru:

“As Leader of Plaid Cymru I have called for a Welsh constitution to be written by the people of Wales, based on a citizen participation process. Such a process would lead to the creation of a living document setting out rights and responsibilities of citizens, and breaking down barriers between the people and elites. This would include a fundamental principle that decisions about Wales should be made in Wales, and that we should choose which decisions we want to share with other countries.

“A similar proposal for a process to write a UK constitution would have merit. There is a growing desire to avoid an over-concentration of power at Westminster. I welcome the campaign’s willingness to engage with a wide range of voices, and look forward to making proposals for the multi-national nature of the UK to be recognised, and for self-determination for the constituent nations to be included as a principle.”

Caroline Lucas MP & Jonathan Bartley, Co-Leaders of the Green Party said:

"As co-leaders of the Green Party of England & Wales, we are writing in response to your letter of 22 January, to set out our support for your call for a Citizens’ Convention on a written constitution, as a first step towards a new constitutional settlement between the people and government of the UK.

"In common with the signatories to your letter, we are sickened by the grotesque inequality evident in our society today, by the prevalence of insecure work, exploitation and low pay, by the demonisation and impoverishment of disabled people and the unemployed, and by the ideological privatisation of the NHS and destruction of the welfare state. Since the financial crisis of 2008, most people have seen their living standards fall, while the top one per cent have increased their already obscene wealth. Millions of families are living in poverty, in fear of want.

"Tragically, our current political system – dominated by a small group and the enormous power of vested interests – is rooted in the past, and is failing to realise the potential of the world’s sixth-richest economy. Our Parliament looks back to feudal times rather than forward to democratic times; we cling to 18 as the age of political maturity despite young people’s growing sophistication and capacity to make decisions for themselves; we legitimise corruption through unfair funding of political parties; and our MPs pay more attention to their parties than to the people when it comes to voting.

"To put this right, the Green Party is committed to, for example:

  • Developing a written constitution with a comprehensive Bill of Rights;
  • Introducing a system of proportional representation, using the Additional Member System, for parliamentary elections;
  • Extending the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds;
  • Reforming the House of Lords to become a fully elected body chosen by proportional representation;
  • Establishing a fair system of state funding for political parties so that there is no longer a need for reliance on private and trade union donations; 
  • and Aspiring to a 50:50 Parliament, with equal numbers of women and men, by 2025.

"We are therefore delighted to support your call for a Citizens Convention on a written constitution for the UK."

Next steps

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform said:

"It is heartening to see such a rapid and positive response to our call for a new constitution for the UK.

"Leanne Wood is surely correct in asserting that any modern constitution for the United Kingdom must clarify the right to self-determination of its constituent nations. Likewise Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley are right that we cannot separate growing social injustice in the UK from our elitist and London-centric constitution.

"The Centre will continue to work with its allies to seek responses from other political parties while inviting other organisations to join our campaign. At this early stage our priority must be to identify the widest possible alliance of those who can see the benefit of fundamental reform in our constitutional arrangements. We can then begin to engage people in conversations about the design of a suitable Citizens Convention. None of this will be easy or quick; but it is a process that has now begun."