In the UK, the Conservative Party have published
what they call a new Ministerial Code as a starting point to tackle the glut of
lies and deceit coming out of Whitehall.
Party's Democracy Taskforce, chaired by Kenneth Clarke, has called for a new
Ministerial Code designed to ensure that Government becomes more open,
democratic, and accountable to Parliament.
Conservative Chancellor warned: “A personal, Presidential, off-the-cuff,
accident-prone style of Government has grown enormously under Tony Blair. It
will increase and become more personal and authoritarian under Gordon Brown.”
recommends a new system to entrench a process of collective Cabinet government,
requiring the introduction of a strengthened Ministerial Code, covering the
required procedures for approval of policies by the Cabinet. To give the new
Ministerial Code authority, it should be approved by a Parliamentary
The Taskforce also recommends that responsibility for monitoring the Code
should be taken out of the hands of the Prime Minister and placed in the hands
of a body with powers comparable to those of the National Audit Office, which
reports to a Parliamentary Committee.
In addition, the paper says the Committee on Standards in Public Life should
establish a code of conduct covering government publications and advertising
campaigns; decisions to go to war, or to commit troops to areas of conflict,
should require Parliamentary approval. And decisions on war-making should no
longer rest solely on the unfettered use of the Royal Prerogative by the Prime
And treaties with financial, legal, or territorial implications for the United
Kingdom or its citizens should require Parliamentary approval before
ratification and should no longer involve the use of the Royal Prerogative
The report states: “We believe that in recent years, the combination of an
over-powerful premiership and the dominance of news management within
policy-making have been very damaging to both effective and accountable
“Cabinet government has been all but destroyed. Most ministers have become
little more than the presentational vehicles for the policies of political
appointees in Number Ten. Presentation has led policy. The Civil Service has
been left to carry the blame for policies that have proved impossible to
implement. Parliament has been expected to be the Prime Minister's poodle.”
doesn’t do is give specific undertakings to roll back dangerous and intrusive
legislation, stop the database state in its tracks or to cease the technology
led surveillances of UK citizens. It’s a start, but
there is much more for the Tories to sign up to if they want our trust and
Meanwhile, in the
US, opposition groups have put together a
much more specific Agenda, which they are asking the 2008 presidential
candidates to sign up to.
Ed Brayton writes
Liberty, as US based blog.
I got a call from
Jim Babka of Downsize DC the other day and he mentioned the
announcement of the American
Freedom Agenda by a group of prominent conservatives. It’s an interesting
group: Bruce Fein, former DOJ official under Reagan and prominent legal
scholar; David Keene of the American Conservative Union; Bob Barr, former
Georgia Congressman; and Richard Viguerie, who may not be a well known name but
is probably the man most responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan and the
formation of the modern conservative movement.
What makes it all
the more interesting is the position they are taking: they are pushing a raft
of reforms that would push back Bush’s “unitary executive” agenda and restore
checks and balances to government.
They are taking a
strong stand against a wide range of Bush policies – the warrantless
wiretapping program, the use of presidential signing statements as de facto
vetoes, extraordinary rendition, the use of torture, the military commissions
act, and much more. They are asking 2008 presidential candidates to sign the Freedom
Pledge, the text of which is set out below.
hereby pledge that if elected President of the United States I will undertake
the following to restore the Constitution’s checks and balances, to honor
fundamental protections against injustice, and to eschew usurpations of
legislative or judicial power. These are keystones of national security and
1. No Military Commissions Except on the Battlefield.
I will not employ military commissions to prosecute offences against the laws
of war except in places where active hostilities are ongoing and a battlefield
tribunal is necessary to obtain fresh testimony and to prevent local anarchy or
2. No Evidence Extracted by Torture or Coercion.
I will not permit the use of evidence obtained by torture or coercion to be
admissible in a military commission or other tribunal.
3. No Detaining Citizens as Unlawful Enemy Combatants.
I will not detain any American citizen as an unlawful enemy combatant. Citizens
accused of terrorism-linked crimes will be prosecuted in federal civilian
4. Restoring Habeas Corpus for Suspected Alien Enemy
Combatants. I will detain non-citizens as enemy combatants only
if they have actively participated in actual hostilities against the United States. I will urge Congress to amend the
Military Commissions Act of 2006 to permit any individual detained under the
custody or control of the United States government to file a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus in federal courts.
5. Prohibiting Warrantless Spying by the National
Security Agency in Violation of Law. I will prohibit the
National Security Agency from gathering foreign intelligence except in
conformity with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and end the
NSA’s domestic surveillance program that targets American citizens on American
soil for warrantless electronic surveillance.
6. Renouncing Presidential Signing Statements.
I will not issue presidential signing statements declaring the intent to
disregard provisions of a bill that I have signed into law because I believe
they are unconstitutional. Instead, I will veto any bill that I believe
contains an unconstitutional provision and ask Congress to delete it and
re-pass the legislation.
7. Ending Secret Government by Invoking State Secrets
Privilege. I will not invoke the state secrets privilege to
deny remedies to individuals victimized by constitutional violations
perpetrated by government officials or agents. I will not assert executive
privilege to deny Congress information relevant to oversight or legislation
unless supreme state secrets are involved. In that case, I will submit the
privilege claim to a legislative-executive committee for definitive resolution.
8. Stopping Extraordinary Renditions. I
will order the cessation of extraordinary renditions except where the purpose
of the capture and transportation of the suspected criminal is for prosecution
according to internationally accepted standards of fairness and due process.
9. Stopping Threats to Prosecuting Journalists under the
Espionage Act. I will urge Congress to amend the Espionage Act
to create a journalistic exception for reporting on matters relating to the
national defence. As a matter of prosecutorial discretion, until such an
amendment is enacted I will not prosecute journalists for alleged Espionage Act
violations except for the intentional disclosure of information that threatens
immediate physical harm to American troops or citizens at home or abroad.
10. Ending the Listing of Individuals or Organizations as
Terrorists Based on Secret Evidence. I will not list
individuals or organizations as foreign terrorists or foreign terrorist
organizations for purposes of United States or international law based on secret
evidence. I will issue a public report annually elaborating on how the actions
enumerated in paragraphs 1-10 have strengthened the ability of the United States to defeat international terrorism, secure
fundamental freedoms, and preserve the nation’s democratic dispensation.
extraordinary list of grievances and they are right on every one of them. It’s
interesting that these are all virtually identical to the positions taken by
the ACLU and most liberals and libertarians over the last few years, so it is
certainly refreshing to see such prominent conservatives agreeing with those
positions and joining the fight against the unconstitutional policies of the
Is it possible
that Bush has gone so far that he has actually managed to unite liberals,
conservatives and libertarians in support of the Constitution? One can only
It is becoming
clear that opposition parties are recognising the upswell of public opinion
against the totalitarian moves of Blair, Brown and Bush.
Now we need to
get the Media to get this message across to the public at large, before they no
longer have the right to print what they want.