We all know that Britain has an "unwritten" constitution. All that means is that our constitution is not written down in one single document, but is actually made up from a number of other documents - Magna Carta, Habeus Corpus, Bill Of Rights, Act of Union etc.
Some people are critical of this claiming that a single written constitutional document would make the constitution clearer to the people and not so dependent on constitutional experts to decipher. Such a view is clearly rubbish as many other nations have written constitutions but still require constitutional experts to make sense of the legal technicalities - often defying logic in the process.
The British constitution is what I would call an organic constitution - i.e. it developed slowly, steadily over centuries and is therefore part of the very fabric of the nation. How can I explain this clearly?
The problem with written constitutions is that somebody has to write them.
Perhaps the best analogy I can come up with is this - an unwritten constitution is like an autobiography while a written constitution is like a biography. An unwritten constitution is created by the people while a written constitution is written "for" the people - and this is why I believe that our constitution is the best we could have or hope for as it derives from the nation and people rather than from a selected or self-appointed group.
We also need to consider why we have a constitution - written or unwritten. The principle point of a national constitution is to impose limitations on the power and authority of government.
This is a crucial point to consider when you hear people talking glibly about "constitutional reform" - because nobody in power changes a constitution to give themselves less power or impose further restraints on how that power is exercised. The first thing Hitler did on becoming Chancellor was introduce "constitutional reform" with an Enabling Act.
Now consider this. Since Magna Carta was signed in 1215 there were just eight constitutional reform acts in 500 years - and most of these coincided with major changes such as the Act of Union in 1707.
We have had as many constitutional reform acts since Labour came to power just 13 years ago as there were in those 500 years since Magna Carta. Labour even managed to introduce as many constitutional changes in their 13 years as were managed in the previous 70 years - and the 20th century was the busiest period in our history for meddling with the constitution!
People who meddle with a constitution as frequently as this do so because they have little understanding of it and absolutely no respect for what it represents. Worse still, they invariably do so because the existing constitution prevents them from doing what they want to do - i.e. it places constraints on their power which is the whole point of the constitution in the first place.
In simple terms it comes down to this. A leader wants to introduce something, but his legal advisers tell him that he can not do this because the constitution forbids it - so the leader changes the constitution. That is power grabbing.
Anyone who changes the constitution when there is no major reason to do so is only making that change because the constitution as it exists limits their power. At best, those people are authoritarian in nature - at worst, they are dictatorial.
Neither is very British.