Students meet Professor AC Grayling

7th December 2017

Students were privilege to meet Professor AC Grayling before his talk at Wolfsen College on the reasons why he thinks the UK should have a written constitution. 

Before the talk students met with Professor AC Grayling, who heads up New College of the Humanities in London, and chatted about education, politics and university life. Following a few photos, they listened to his excellent talk which argued that a written constitution provides a safeguard against potential abuses of power by the government. Of course Brexit was also mentioned!

This was an excellent opportunity for our students and offers yet more experience that they can draw upon when deciding on their future plans.

Of the talk, Y13 student Christan Larsen wrote:

The British philosopher bases most of his argument around the example of Brexit , he illustrates the uncertainty of the process, the anomalies that arise without a constitution, and the disadvantage of having a system where the government itself is uncertain of the authority it can and should exercise.

While discussing this A.C Grayling touches on two ideas central to any adaptation of a constitution.

These are the current electoral and party system in the UK. The main electoral system operates in the UK on a first past the post system, and is formed in a way which limits certain candidates without sufficient backing from reaching election, thus resulting in results hardly representative of popular will, AC grayling defends the coalition governments which often arise out of other current systems.

In the party system AC grayling argues that the executive rules supreme over the collective of the party, where backbenchers have little input besides on small lines outside of the manifesto itself, the politics organised such that if the representatives were to argue for opinions against that of a small minority at the head of the party(for example the opinion of those in his/her constituency) the mp’s will suffer penalties, most dramatically face disgrace within the party and in the future lose his/her job(by retracting funding for re-election etc). A.C Grayling considers this abhorrent, and illustrates that if the MP’s did generally represent their electors then referendums would not be needed, referendums are a symbol of unrepresentative democracies.

It is important to get these particular aspects right if a constitution is formed as a faulty constitution could just as easily retrench such a form of governance, just look at America where arguably a more narrow two party system and poor electoral system currently exists. Out of the whole talk this was my greatest concern, if the process of creating a new constitution is begun, how will we ensure it is not hijacked away from reasonable hands, with an equally fraught incident as Brexit. If a constitution was to be made it is important that it addresses these vital issues from the start, and ensures they receive considerable interest in any codification. 


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