If you doubt Britain needs a written constitution, listen to the strangely unbalanced discussion broadcast by the BBC last Friday. The Today programme asked Lord Guthrie, formerly chief of the defence staff, and Sir Kevin Tebbit, until recently the senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, if parliament should decide whether or not the country goes to war. The discussion was a terrifying exposure of the privileges of unaccountable power. It explained as well as anything I have heard how Britain became party to a crime that may have killed a million people.
Guthrie argued that parliamentary approval would mean intelligence had to be shared with MPs; that the other side could not be taken by surprise ("do you want to warn the enemy you are going to do it?"), and that commanders should have "a choice about when to attack and when not to attack". Tebbit maintained that "no prime minister would be able to deploy forces without being able to command a parliamentary majority. In that sense, the executive is already accountable to parliament". Once the prime minister has his majority, in other words, MPs become redundant.
That written constitution thing. Sure stopped the US, didn\’t it?