April 21, y
Why Did the Labour Government Introduce a Set of Constitutional Reforms After 1997? How well were they planned?
The Labour party grew increasingly concerned with constitutional reform when it occurred to them that the Conservative party had taken the baton of sovereignty between 1951-64 and 1969-97, and they were not returning it to the Labour party as often as Labour would have liked. As such, by the time the Labour party had returned to power with a landslide majority in 1997 under the leadership of Tony Blair, constitutional reforms centred around the modernisation and the democratisation of the constitution and the restoration of rights, had become part of their agenda. However, the main criticism against them is the unforeseen consequences they invoked, in addition the them having been incoherent, incomplete and unstable. The need to modernise aspects of the constitution was apparent to the Labour party for two reasons. Primarily, the House of Lords is anachronistic in nature, with too many hereditary peers; representing a long outdated system of hierarchy rather than modern meritocracy. Hence, stage 1 of Labour’s 1999 House of Lords Act removed all but 92 hereditary peers and left the chamber made up largely of appointed life peers. Although this legitimises and marginally democratises the second chamber due to life peers being nominated by the executive, it is inconclusive as a result of stage two reform aimed at rendering the second chamber more representative and democratic not having been completed. Additionally, this reform does not decentralise power in any way; perhaps even having the opposite effect. The Labour party also attempted to bring the UK constitution in line with other modern democracies with the adoption of the codified Human Rights Act in 1998. Despite it having been a significant s...