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    Hey Everyone! I have been given this question to do at uni and am stuck so please help me answer it.


    "The role of Constitutional Conventions in our present system of government means that those in power can choose whether to adhere to constitutional rules or can change them on a whim. This is not acceptable in a democratic society."

    I need to include the following in my answer:

    • whether you agree or disagree with this comment
    • reasons for your position
    • sources that support your position e.g. cases
    • possible counter arguments and how you would deal with them
    • academic support for your position


    Thank you.
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    bump... anyone?
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    (Original post by rhana666)
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    Nobody is going to write your essay for you. Explain your thoughts and some people might comment.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Nobody is going to write your essay for you. Explain your thoughts and some people might comment.
    Ok, I thought that I should set out the essay as follows:

    1. state that I don't think that conventions can be changed on a whim but that I do believe that the govt can choose whether to adhere to them or not.
    define the term "constitution"- preferably give an academic definition of this term
    2. define the term "constitutional conventions"
    3. give 2 examples of constitutional conventions

    I thought that parliamentary sovereignity and cases such as Factortame are relevant but can't see where they would fit in.
    I have no idea what else to add.
    I would appeciate some suggestions on points 1-3 and any additional points I can look into.
    Thank you
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    anyone else please feel free to comment on what I have written (above) and to suggest any additional points.
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    (Original post by rhana666)
    Ok, I thought that I should set out the essay as follows:

    1. state that I don't think that conventions can be changed on a whim but that I do believe that the govt can choose whether to adhere to them or not.
    define the term "constitution"- preferably give an academic definition of this term
    2. define the term "constitutional conventions"
    3. give 2 examples of constitutional conventions

    I thought that parliamentary sovereignity and cases such as Factortame are relevant but can't see where they would fit in.
    I have no idea what else to add.
    I would appeciate some suggestions on points 1-3 and any additional points I can look into.
    Thank you
    It is fine to define constitution and constitutional convention. You can even define whim if you like. You have done everything except answer the question.

    "The role of Constitutional Conventions in our present system of government means that those in power can choose whether to adhere to constitutional rules or can change them on a whim.
    Is your answer "yes" or "no"? What are your reasons.

    This is not acceptable in a democratic society."
    Is your answer "yes" or "no"? What are your reasons. Please note that the answer that it is not acceptable does not automatically follow from a finding that it can be changed on a whim. The electorate may have wanted the government to change constitutional conventions in a crisis.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    It is fine to define constitution and constitutional convention. You can even define whim if you like. You have done everything except answer the question.



    Is your answer "yes" or "no"? What are your reasons.

    My answer is yes as the govt has chosen to adhere the same convention in some circumstances and ignore the same convention in other circumstances. I was thinking of giving the example of collective ministerial responsibility and individual ministerial responsibility.
    The convention of collective ministerial responsibility is an example of a convention that the government has set aside for a particular purpose, for a defined period of time and for a specific matter,
    The convention of collective ministerial responsibility had 2 elements:
    The first is that when a decision had been reached in the cabinet, that decision is bining on all government ministers who must irrespective o their personal feelings about the matter support the decision in public.

    Second that cabinet discussions are absolutely confidential and may never be disclosed without prime ministerial authority.

    In two situations the doctrine had been “waived” in order to respond effectively to political circumstance.
    In 1932, a coalition govt was in office. Following cabinet disagreements over economic policy, the govt adopted an “agreement to differ” whereby members of the cabinet were free to express their divergent views both in Parliament and in public. Within months, the dissident members resigned from the cabinet and collective responsibility was reinstated.

    In 1975, the labour govt was divided as to the benefits of continued membership of the European community. It was decided that the matter should be put to the electorate in a referendum. The cabinet itself was deeply divided on the question an the prime minister decided to lift the convention of collective responsibility in order to facilitate full and free public debate. Thus a convention was set aside or a particular purpose, or a defined period of time and for a specific matter.

    Another example of a convention that the govt can choose whether to follow or not is the convention of individual ministerial responsibility.

    The ministerial code provides that the minister in charge of a department is soley accountable to parliament for the exercise of the powers on which the administration of the department depends.

    In some situations the minister in question has resigned in other situations he has not.
    For example in 1989 Mrs Edwina Currie resigned over the furore caused b her claim that the majority of eggs in the UK were infected by the Salmonella virus.

    Whereas (I thought I would give an example of where a minister has not resigned despite a breach of individual ministerial responsibility.


    Can the govt change conventions on a whim?

    My answer is yes but I don't know what reasoning to give.



    Is your answer "yes" or "no"? What are your reasons. Please note that the answer that it is not acceptable does not automatically follow from a finding that it can be changed on a whim. The electorate may have wanted the government to change constitutional conventions in a crisis.

    My answer is yes it is acceptable in a democratic society, but I'm drawing a blank on what reasons to give.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Nobody is going to write your essay for you. Explain your thoughts and some people might comment.


    Hi, I tried to quoted your latest comment with what I have come up with so far but I wasn't sure if I had quoted it correctly so I thought I would quote this comment, just so you know I have replied to you.
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    (Original post by rhana666)
    My answer is yes it is acceptable in a democratic society, but I'm drawing a blank on what reasons to give.
    In an earlier post you said that you were going to define constitutional convention but what you are doing is giving a couple of stock examples of when constitutional conventions have been ignored/changed.

    I think you need to think a little bit more in the abstract about what a constitutional convention is. If you thinking about the acceptability or otherwise of one being changed or breached, I think you also have to think about those conventions that haven't yet been breached and whether it would be acceptable to breach them in a democratic society.

    It is a constitutional convention that the Chancellor of the Exchequer sits in the Commons. would it be acceptable for George Osborne's replacement to be a peer? To answer that you have to think why the Chancellor has always been in the Commons even in the days when the Prime Minister was frequently a member of the House of Lords.

    The Lord Chancellor was a member of the House of Lords for several hundreds of years until Ken Clarke was appointed in 2010. Was that acceptable in a democratic society?
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    In an earlier post you said that you were going to define constitutional convention but what you are doing is giving a couple of stock examples of when constitutional conventions have been ignored/changed.

    I think you need to think a little bit more in the abstract about what a constitutional convention is. If you thinking about the acceptability or otherwise of one being changed or breached, I think you also have to think about those conventions that haven't yet been breached and whether it would be acceptable to breach them in a democratic society.

    It is a constitutional convention that the Chancellor of the Exchequer sits in the Commons. would it be acceptable for George Osborne's replacement to be a peer? To answer that you have to think why the Chancellor has always been in the Commons even in the days when the Prime Minister was frequently a member of the House of Lords.

    The Lord Chancellor was a member of the House of Lords for several hundreds of years until Ken Clarke was appointed in 2010. Was that acceptable in a democratic society?
    1.So if I was to start by saying that I do believe that the govt can adhere and change conventions on a whim.
    2.Then define the term "constitution" and the term "constitutional conventions".
    3.Then give say that govt can choose when to adhere to conventions as shown by the conventions of collective ministerial responsibility and individual ministerial responsibility (basically say what I said in my earlier post today).
    4.Then give examples of conventions that haven't been breached and whether it would be acceptable to breach them in a democratic society.
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    (Original post by rhana666)
    1.So if I was to start by saying that I do believe that the govt can adhere and change conventions on a whim.
    2.Then define the term "constitution" and the term "constitutional conventions".
    3.Then give say that govt can choose when to adhere to conventions as shown by the conventions of collective ministerial responsibility and individual ministerial responsibility (basically say what I said in my earlier post today).
    4.Then give examples of conventions that haven't been breached and whether it would be acceptable to breach them in a democratic society.
    That has a lot more structure to it
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    That has a lot more structure to it
    1. We have been told to use cases and authority e.g. academic opinion.
    What cases do you think I could menton?

    2. Is parliamentary sovereignity and cases like Factortame relevant to the question?
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    (Original post by rhana666)
    1. We have been told to use cases and authority e.g. academic opinion.
    What cases do you think I could menton?
    You have to do your own research
    2. Is parliamentary sovereignity and cases like Factortame relevant to the question?
    I can't think why it would be.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    You have to do your own research

    I can't think why it would be.
    Thing is, I've looked in all the recommended text books and got out some from the library, but am still not further forward when it comes to cases. The topic, constitutional conventions does not have any cases that I have seen i my textbooks, lecture notes or seminar notes.
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    (Original post by rhana666)
    Thing is, I've looked in all the recommended text books and got out some from the library, but am still not further forward when it comes to cases. The topic, constitutional conventions does not have any cases that I have seen i my textbooks, lecture notes or seminar notes.
    If you want high marks you have to read more than just recommended text books. Read some academic journals, or find some text books that aren't 'recommended' text books. That way you'll get idea's from more sources and can show you know how to research.

    I don't think there are many cases, but more AoP's.
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    (Original post by rhana666)
    Thing is, I've looked in all the recommended text books and got out some from the library, but am still not further forward when it comes to cases. The topic, constitutional conventions does not have any cases that I have seen i my textbooks, lecture notes or seminar notes.
    If a constitutional convention is not legally binding then wouldn't the result that there are very very few cases on conventions immediately follow? Or put another way, if some rule can be litigated then it is not merely a convention. So a case is only likely to appear if there is doubt about the status of the rule as convention. I can only think of one case off hand where conventions were discussed heavily - Attorney General v Jonathan Cape (which you will surely have come across?)
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    (Original post by rhana666)

    Hey Everyone! I have been given this question to do at uni and am stuck so please help me answer it.


    "The role of Constitutional Conventions in our present system of government means that those in power can choose whether to adhere to constitutional rules or can change them on a whim. This is not acceptable in a democratic society."

    I need to include the following in my answer:

    • whether you agree or disagree with this comment
    • reasons for your position
    • sources that support your position e.g. cases
    • possible counter arguments and how you would deal with them
    • academic support for your position


    Thank you.
    I disagree. I am the queen/king of this country and only I can change the constitution. I have declared the absolutism of my monarchy and I have 44 supporters with water pistols and pointy sticks willing to fight for it. Some might say that if I continue to seek my ambitions that I will be imprisoned but I say I've already drank the poison and nothing happened except for a burp therefore it is clear that the gods support my ascension to the throne. I do not need to provide supporting quotes by professors because by the time you finish grading this paper I will have taken power and have passed a law stating that whatever I say is true and anyone who breaks this law will be beheaded. Having said this I reccomend you give me only A+'s and ensure my transcript displays perfect scores.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    You have to do your own research

    I can't think why it would be.
    Please feel free to comment on my plan below.

    My plan for answering the essay so far is:

    1. State that I agree that the govt can choose whether to adhere to conventions or whether to change them on a whim and that this is acceptable in a democratic society.

    2. Define constitution

    3. Define constitutional conventions

    4. Say that the fact that the govt can choose whether to adhere to conventions is shown by the two conventions of collective and ministerial responsibility and explain situations where those two conventions have been set aside/not followed.

    5.Then give examples of conventions that haven't been breached and explain that it would be acceptable to breach them in a democratic society.

    6.Then give examples of conventions that the govt has changed on a whim and explain how this is acceptable in a democratic society.

    7. Then give examples of conventions that the govt has not changed on a whim e.g they were changed over a period of time. I could give the example of the convention that the general election should take place every 5 years which has been replaced by the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 and can explain that the convention was not changed on a whim and that the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 was debated for months before being given royal assent.

    8. Academic commentary which supports my view that the govt can choose whether to adhere to conventions or whether to change them on a whim and that this is acceptable in a democratic society.

    9. Academic commentary which opposes my view that the govt can choose whether to adhere to conventions or whether to change them on a whim and that this is acceptable in a democratic society.

    10. Compare and contrast the academic views.


    The end.
 
 
 
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