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The UK constitution is no longer fit for purpose Discuss.

The UK constitution is currently very flexible due to its un-codified nature which is said to be both an
advantage and a disadvantage. The constitution creates an over-powerful executive and does not
have many checks on the PM and therefore abuse of power can occur. It is also criticized a lot for its
lack of protection against Human Rights due to anti-terrorism acts and the banning of free protest in
front of parliament. The constitution allows the government to process legislation that infringes on
human rights and liberals would say a codified constitution is needed.
The UK constitution is no longer fit for its purpose because there is now more individual power and
less power towards the monarchy, people in parliament and prerogative powers cannot simply
infringe on individual rights. Since the introduction of the Human Rights act 1998, individuals are
now able to conform to their rights and speak up against parliament and the monarch, which they
would have been killed for. There are more individual rights because the people demanded it and
such is right. However, human rights are being infringed upon due to such anti-terrorism laws as the
Anti-terrorism act 2000 being able to arrest and detain a person only upon suspect of being involved
in a terrorist operation. This lack of individual protection is due to the un-codified nature of the
constitution and the ability for a corrupt government to pass through such legislation that would
undermine human rights. Also, some have argued that there is too much executive power, due to
the lack of checks and balances on placed upon the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has the
power to declare war and dissolve parliament when he wants to call an election. Such powers are
derived from the royal prerogative, powers of the monarch that the PM automatically inherits upon
election and such has become constitutionalised. The Prime Minister can also make decisions
without consent of the cabinet for example, Tony Blair in 1997 granted the bank of England semi-
independence without consent of his cabinet. This lack of checks and balances on the PM makes the
branches of government uneven. In the USA, Congress, the President and the Supreme court adhere
to a strict separation of powers so no one branch of government exceeds their powers, in the UK
however, the executive and the legislature are partially fused, creating this exceeding power within
Also, there is a lack of clarity in the constitution, another reason why reformers say it is not fit for its
purpose. The UK, in its un-codified nature, is made up of many different sources, documents and
legislation, a lot of which is convention and not written down in any single, clearly organised
document or act of parliament such as the convention on ministerial responsibility. Because of this
un-clarity, citizens may not even know if their rights are being eroded. A codified constitution would
be fit because it would set out citizens rights clearly. The US constitution does this in having a bill of
rights which most citizens of the US and some of UK know.
However, traditional Conservationists, who value the importance of history and tradition within
society, would argue that is fit for its purpose because it has been fine for the many years that it has
been in practise and support the argument that if it aint broke dont fix it
The most important argument against reform, and that the constitution is fit for its purpose is due to
its flexibility, in that if it does need to be changed, it can be with easy changed in legislation. It does
not need to be codified because the UK would lose the benefit of it being un-codified. The Dunblane
school massacre the UK led to the government passing legislation on limiting legal gun ownership
but, in the USA, due to their rights to wield a firearm, after the Columbine massacre in Colorado, it
proved very difficult to pass any laws on gun limitation.
Furthermore, the UK constitution is fit for its purpose because it leads to an effective government.
Its flexible nature means that governments are able to pass legislation quickly and easily whereas on
the other hand in the US, with its codified nature and all the checks and balances with the
separation of powers, it has problems when trying to create legislation. This problem has
exacerbated recently as Barak Obama, a Democrat loses majority in congress to Republicans, the
opposition their government, and has become gridlocked, where no progress occurs.
Lastly, the UK constitution is fit for its purpose because it is democratic. Statute law is interpreted by
Parliament, who is elected. Therefore, legislation passed can have legitimate consent of the people
as the government in power, is given legitimate consent by the people through the electorate voting
for them and their manifesto which is promised to be carried out by the party winning government.
In contrast, the USA constitution can only be interpreted by the Supreme Court, who are not elected
and therefore cannot be accountable for their decisions in being unelected or not again re-elected,
to correct this undemocratic nature, it should follow the ideas of a reformed upper house in the UK,
to be elected every 15 years.
The UK constitution does not need to be codified as the flexibility allows legislation to be passed that
modernise it to be fit for purpose. This includes devolution. The people of Scotland and Ireland
demanded devolution and the nature of the UK constitution allowed a referendum and following
devolution to be made, giving Scotland its Parliament as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly both
in 1998, the Welsh assembly and an elected London mayor. Furthermore, electoral reforms have
been made in conjunction with these devolutions, Scottish parliament and the Welsh Assembly both
having AMS and Northern Ireland Assembly using STV, each system differing from the UKs general
election of FPTP in favour of more proportional systems. This has meant that the constitution is able
to modernise and reform without the need to actually become codified and is better in its flexible
In conclusion, the statement has been the centre of debate amongst liberals and conservatives and
people for the increased protection of Human Rights and just the ever protestant activists whos life
revolves around everything needing to be changed saying Human rights are being infringed, has met
equal opposition saying the ECHR has enough protection without the protection being infringing
itself. Lastly, to answer the statement, the UK constitution is about forever changing and being this
evolutionary body that listens and changes to meet societys desires, an arguably more democratic
form of a constitution than that of the USA.