Democratic Audit: Good Governance, Human Rights, War against Terror

Blick, Andrew; Byrne, Iain; Weir, Stuart
April 2005
Parliamentary Affairs;Apr2005, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p408
Academic Journal
Major constitutional changes from the 1980s onwards have not generally been informed by a vision of good governance, constitutionality or democratic principle. The Labour government's reform programme since 1997 has retained central powers on which 'elective dictatorship' or Jack Straw's 'executive democracy' depends. This article surveys the largely unconstrained use of these powers in 2003, in particular the Prime Minister's decision to commit the UK to the invasion of Iraq. The article questions the legality of this decision, and the means of announcing it; points up the weakness of Parliament; expresses concerns about the central and unaccountable role of special advisers in No.10 Downing Street. It also examines the limited effects of the Human Rights Act, surveys the Home Secretary's post-9/11 challenge to civil and political rights in the UK, considers the difficulties of protecting asylum-seekers from destitution, and reports on the proportionality and pluralism of the May devolved elections.


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