'Big Bang' Theory over Brown's Premiership ; BLAIR: THE ENDGAME

By Grice, Andrew | The Independent (London, England), September 8, 2006 | Go to article overview
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'Big Bang' Theory over Brown's Premiership ; BLAIR: THE ENDGAME


Grice, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)


What would Gordon Brown do as Prime Minister? It is the biggest unknown in British politics.

Critics claim the inscrutable Mr Brown has deliberately concealed his agenda. Although he has said little about some issues, notably foreign policy, he wants to make maximum impact in his first 100 days if he becomes Prime Minister. But his speeches and statements do provide plenty of clues.

THE BIG BANG?

There are signs that Mr Brown is looking for a landmark announcement like his decision days after the 1997 election to hand control of interest rates to the Bank of England.

It could be a raft of reforms to rebuild the voters' trust in politicians, perhaps through a modern written constitution setting out basic rights and responsibilities for all citizens and the roles of parliament, judiciary and government.

Mr Brown has called for parliament to be given a veto over sending British troops to war. The House of Lords could be reformed, with the 92 remaining hereditary peers removed and at least half of the second chamber being elected by the voters.

To try to draw a line under allegations of "sleaze", an independent watchdog would investigate complaints that ministers have breached their code of conduct. The independence of Whitehall could be safeguarded by a new Civil Service Act and the powers of spin doctors curbed.

Mr Brown may show a surprisingly open mind to reform of the voting system at general elections, possibly by backing the "alternative vote" under which people list candidates in order of preference and the bottom candidate drops out until one has majority support.

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