Charter 88 – Ten constitutional demands

We have had less freedom than we believed. That which we have enjoyed has been too dependent on the benevolence of our rulers. Our freedoms have remained their possession, rationed out to us as subjects rather than being our own inalienable possession as citizens. To make real the freedoms we once took for granted means for the first time to take them for ourselves.

The time has come to demand political, civil and human rights in the United Kingdom. We call, therefore, for a new constitutional settlement which will:-

  1. Enshrine by means of a Bill of Rights, such civil liberties as the right to peaceful assembly, to freedom of association, to freedom from discrimination, to freedom from detention without trail, to trial by jury, to privacy and to freedom of expression.
  2. Subject executive powers and prerogatives, by whomsoever exercised, to the rule of law.
  3. Establish freedom of information and open government.
  4. Create a fair electoral system of proportional representation.
  5. Reform the upper house to establish a democratic, non-hereditary second chamber.
  6. Place the executive under the power of a democratically renewed parliament and all agencies of the state under the rule of law.
  7. Ensure the independence of a reformed judiciary.
  8. Provide legal remedies for all abuses of power by the state and by officials of central and local government.
  9. Guarantee an equitable distribution of power between the nations of the United Kingdom and between local, regional and central government.
  10. Draw up a written constitution, anchored in the idea of universal citizenship, which incorporates these reforms.

The inscription of laws does not guarantee their realisation. Only people themselves can ensure freedom, democracy and equality before the law. Nonetheless, such ends are far better demanded, and more effectively obtained and guarded, once they belong to everyone by inalienable right.

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