I think we've established over the years that I really don't quite get it. Never have. Maybe you have to grow up with it to appreciate what it means. Maybe you have to have NOT grown up with and have grown up with a totally different system to get a different perspective. Let me try and explain what we have over here and then YOU may understand why I don't get it. Why we are SO different.
You have The Constitution. Capital 'T', capital 'C'. It's written on one document, codified, and amendable with great difficulty. Our constitution is uncodified, is contained in some documents such as the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights the Act of Settlement, and the Act of Union but it is also, and mostly, contained in common law. It evolved haphazardly through conflicts between different power-groups over the last thousand years, Monarchy vs Barons, Monarchy vs Parliament, Parliament vs People giving rise to anything from minor constitutional changes through to major political upheaval and civil war. It eveolved through Case Law, Common Law and Acts of Parliament. It is now being further modified by interaction with the European Union via our signature on European Human rights legislation. The Human Rights Act enshrined the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
The reason we don't have a written constitution is because our country has been stable for a very long time when compared to most of the rest of the World. We remained free from the revolutionary fever that gave us the French Revolution and we weren't a new country like the US that required codification of citizens' rights as a necessary part of the process of independence. so we never bothered to write it down.
Your constitution tells you what your rights are, whereas our constitution is a little different in that we have the right to do anything EXCEPT that which is prohibited by law. The law, and therefore the constitution, in Britain doesn't tell us what rights we HAVE, it tells us what rights we DON'T have. To get to that point, by the way, you needed the 9th amendment.
We are a Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy. Parliament, using the power of the Crown, enacts law which no other body can challenge. Parliamentary sovereignty is commonly regarded as the defining principle of the British Constitution with the ultimate lawmaking power vested in a democratically elected Parliament to create or abolish any law.
It seems to work. We may get it all written down, one day. But, I suspect (and hope), not soon. And, if they do try and write it down, then it will probably be the wrong "they" and it will be wrong. And wrong forever. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It gives us a constitution that, for the average Joe citizen (me), I have no real idea what my rights are but I haven't run up aginst anything obviously missing, yet. It's a constituution that is fluid and adaptable but because we have had it for a long time, it changes slowly and not in big jumps.
It is changing, though. We have had the introduction of codified rights of individuals for the the first time in the Human Rights Act 1998, and devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These recent constitutional reforms may have made the constitution less flexible in some respects as, certainly, devolution would seem difficult to reverse and that goes against the principle that no Parliament should pass a law that another Parliament cannot undo.
So. do I understand your adherence to a rigid document written some hundreds of years ago by men who had no idea how the world would be now? No, not really. But I have the same trouble understanding religions and for much the same reasons.
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