This is the question asked by London School of Economics lecturer Conor Gearty, an Irish citizen driving the constitutional reform agenda in Britain.
About the Author Mike Robinson Editor
“As we celebrate 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta,” writes Gearty, “many believe that it is time British values were clarified in a codified document for our age.”
“The place to define them could be in a written constitution, given that the UK doesn’t have one,” he writes, promoting the lie.
“But the UK is a melting pot of cultures – with 270 nationalities and 300 different languages spoken in London alone – so these values are not easily defined.”
In fact they are extremely easily defined. They have been defined time and again through the restatement of constitutional principles in document after document. Magna Carta was one such restatement.
Gearty goes on to describe his initiative to crowdsource a new British constitution. Which begs the question, how can the crowd properly source a new constitution when they have no idea about the relationship they have with the state as it is defined by the present one?
Unsurprsingly Gearty doesn’t want to go there.
Further, “As we hack the constitution, we’ve been asking people about what should go into a British Bill of Rights,” he says, denying our current Bill of Rights, itself a further restatement of British values.
Here’s the ultimate irony: “It’s important that the constitutional debate is not hijacked by the elite,” he says.
To understand this irony, perhaps it’s worth looking at who Conor Gearty is.
Conor Gearty is a citizen of Ireland. Quite how that qualifies him to lead one strand of the British constitutional reform agenda is not clear.
He is a founder of the non-elitist Matrix Chambers, and teaches graduate and undergraduate classes at the non-elitist London School of Economics, specialising in Human Rights law; law which is born out of the assumption that humans have no rights.
He studied at University College Dublin, following which he attended the non-elitist Cambridge University.
Gearty’s non-elitist constitutional reform exercise will “culminate in a constitutional convention” hosted by the non-elitist London School of Economics in March.
So as to avoid being elitist, the top 20 “participants” in the croudsourcing exercise will be “invited to help finalise a written, codified constitution” which will then be presented to Parliament.
The original question was, “what happens when we try to hack the constitution?” Based on these arrangements, the answer can only be that a small elite will write a thoroughly un-British document designed to replace 1200 years of British liberty with a modern prohibitive “constitution” designed to fit hand in glove with European and United Nations governance.