Menu

Open Letter on Constitutional Reform

The Centre for Welfare Reform, working with a broad alliance of different organisations, is calling for a Citizens' Convention in order to develop a better constitution for the UK. At the beginning of 2018 published an open letter calling for change.

We are currently running an ongoing project and you can get involved here.

Open Letter on Constitutional Reform: A new settlement between people and government is needed. We need a written constitution.

We, the undersigned, work to bring about a better, fairer society. However we have come to see that our efforts are compromised by an economic and political system that serves only the interests of the few.

Every day we see grotesque inequality, poverty wages and rising consumer debt, over-powerful banks and energy companies, a housing crisis, and disregard for environmental standards. Worst of all we see a retreating welfare state that inflicts punitive sanctions on some of our most vulnerable people and communities.

Multiple injustices at home are mirrored by a deeply unethical foreign policy. Rather than promote peace, uphold human rights and democratic norms, our foreign policy is dominated by commercial imperatives which include lucrative arms sales to countries with repressive regimes and abysmal human rights records.

None of these crises can be resolved without reference to basic principles of economic, social and environmental justice and these in turn should not be separate from the legislative principles that guide the work of Parliament.

To make this happen, we need a new settlement between people and government in the form of a written constitution that embeds a comprehensive bill of human rights, including economic, social and environmental rights. It must delimit the power of Parliament by devolving real power to the regions and nations that make up the UK and place local government on an independent legal footing. Only then can ordinary people gain real control over their lives and shape their own future. The people, not Parliament, must be the new sovereign and a written constitution is the means to achieve that.

We therefore call for a Citizens’ Convention on a written constitution as the first step towards this goal.

Extracts from letters of support from the political parties

Tom Brake MP of the Liberal Democrats

“I applaud your organisation's initiative...Britain is currently an over-centralised political system with a lack of openness and accountability. ….local government is hobbled by central control, and people feel they have no effective means of making known their concerns and priorities. It’s no wonder people feel frustrated and angry at the system….”

Read the full letter here.

Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley, co-leaders of the Green Party wrote:

"In common with the signatories to your letter, we are sickened by the grotesque inequality evident in our society today… and by the ideological privatisation of the NHS and destruction of the welfare state”.

“....the Green Party is committed to...developing a written constitution with a comprehensive Bill of Rights…. a system of proportional representation, using the Additional Member System, for parliamentary elections...aspiring to a 50:50 Parliament, with equal numbers of women and men, by 2025.”

Read the full letter here

Ian Blackford MP of the Scottish National Party wrote:

“As you will be aware, the SNP has long called for the transfer of power from Westminster to Scotland and we make no secret of the fact that we think the form of government best suited to the needs of people in Scotland is an independent one.”

“The SNP understand the need for ordinary people to take control over their lives and shape their own future. I fully support the principles of what you and others are trying to achieve through a constitutional convention and wish you the best in your efforts.”

Read the full letter here

Leanne Wood AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru

“I welcome the campaign’s willingness to engage with a wide range of voices, and look forward to making proposals for the multi-national nature of the UK to be recognised, and for self-determination for the constituent nations to be included as a principle.”

Read the full letter here

In addition the Centre had support from the Yorkshire Party and the Party for Cornwall.

The full list of signatories:

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform

Doreen Kelly, Director of Beyond Limits

Damian Joseph Bridgeman of Bridgeman Healthcare

Katie Clarke, Director of Bringing Us Together

Dr David Towell of the Centre for Inclusive Futures

Steve Paget MBE Chair & Jane Johnson Chief Executive of disAbility Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Simon Barrow, Director of Ekklesia

Laird Ryan, vice chair of Faiths4Change

Eri Mountbatten, Fellow Centre for Welfare Reform

Clare Hyde, Director of the Foundation for Families

Liz Leach of Imagineer and the National Brokerage Network

Steve Atherton, co-ordinator of Justice and Peace Network, Liverpool

Bob Rhodes, Director of LivesThroughFriends

Professor Mark Gamsu of Local Democracy and Health

Tim Keilty of New Prospects Association

Caroline Molloy, co-editor of Open Democracy

Pete Richmond CEO of Partners for inclusion

Peter Tatchell of Peter Tatchell Foundation

Deborah Harrington and Jessica Ormerod, Directors of Public Matters

Judith Moran, Director of Quaker Social Action

Paul Feldman of Real Democracy Movement

Will Snell of Tax Justice UK

Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK

Catherine Hale, Project Manager of The Chronic Illness Inclusion Project

Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of the Equality Trust

Karen Imogen Senior, Director of the People Focused Group

Ed Straw of Treaty for Government

Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy

Cat Hobbs of We Own It

Les Scaife of West Lancs Peer Support Group

Jenny Engledow of Womens International League for Peace and Freedom

Owen Winter of Youth Parliament for Cornwall (ex member)

Klina Jordan, campaigner for proportional representation

Malcolm Ramsay of Local Sovereignty

Jennifer Forbes of Forbes website

Alain Catzeflis, Fellow of the Centre for Welfare Reform

Dr Claudia Gillberg, Senior Research Associate, National Centre for Lifelong Learning

Pat Onions of Pat's Petition

Mo Stewart, independent disability studies researcher

Ian Scott

Colin Newton, co-founder of Inclusive Solutions

Phil Groom of 5 Quid for Life

Dr Lynne Friedli, Independent Researcher

Steven Preece, Editor and founder Welfare Weekly

Noreen Blanluet of Co-production Network for Wales

Ginnette Hargreaves

Jayne Linney, Disability Activist

Jamie Stanley, founder of electoral reform campaign group NOTA UK

Charmain Larke, Atlantic Energy, Cornwall


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.