A new constitution: “ambitious about a just society”

An LSE project which saw the public draw up a UK constitution to mark the anniversary of the Magna Carta has published its final draft of the document.

The Constitution UK project, initiated in 2013 by the Institute of Public Affairs and led by LSE law professor Conor Gearty, set out to establish a crowd-sourced constitution, comprised of what ordinary citizens believed should exist within a UK constitution, if a constitution were to be codified.

Over two years, the Constitution UK project has, via a series of events around the UK, constant online dialogue and 20 national champions drafted a constitution. The document, available to view here, was assembled democratically, with a voting system to vote in, or vote out, each point.

Gearty, who in 2013 wrote in the Guardian that “we can – and should – do better than a bunch of medieval barons in Runnymede in June 1215” said that the constitution was intended to be a “community intervention” rather than a political or academic project.

He added: “We wanted to try new things and be innovative. For all the talk of the Magna Carta, the discussion around it [at the project’s inception] was stagnant.

“We wanted to have a conversation with ‘the people’ about what they would include in a codified constitution.”

The range of rights within the constitution are wide-reaching and include statements which promote a secular society, universal healthcare and free access to justice at the point of use.

Gearty said: “People were ambitious about a just system but they were not aware of enforcement or the adjudication of rights. The public approached this in a very different way to how a lawyer might.”