The Johnson government, and the Prime Minister himself, have been much criticised for their propensity for breaking rules, laws and conventions. Tim Bale argues that the government seems bent on freeing itself from the constraints that we used to take for granted, and has embraced populism in a reckless manner. He calls on ministers to reconsider their attitude to the rules of the constitutional system before it is too late.
I’m no expert on the constitution, the courts or the more arcane aspects of parliamentary procedure. But I can, I suppose, claim to know a bit about the Conservative Party. And I’m growing increasingly concerned.
The party has always been protean – shifting its shape, changing its colours like a chameleon to best suit the conditions in which it finds itself. But there have always been limits.
Margaret Thatcher may have been a disruptor, particularly when it came to undoing the post-war settlement to which her predecessors reluctantly agreed. Yet one always felt she had a basic respect for the conventions of representative democracy and the rule of law, even on those occasions where she and her governments pushed against them.
And the same went for her successors as Conservative premiers, John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May. But Boris Johnson? I’m not so sure.
Wherever you look now, you see a government seemingly bent on freeing itself from the constraints that we used to take for granted – and that, in some ways, our uncodified constitution and parliamentary conventions left us little choice but to take for granted.Continue reading