Thinker's Corner

Network Europe: the new case for Europe (The Foreign Policy Centre, Panton House, 25 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4EN, 0171-925 1800, £9.95), by Mark Leonard, promotes a radical model for Europe. It favours decentralisation and advocates co-operation and competition between both the regions and member-states. The basis for the model originates from successful businesses rather than nation-states, thus distinguishing itself from traditional proposals on Europe. Leonard argues against federalism and free trade, and endorses instead the network model, which is structurally a mixture of the two. Networks are governed by rules and orders reliant upon shared values and reciprocal relationships. Europe is portrayed as a potential advantage for all concerned, rather than as an uncontrollable beast threatening to destroy national identity. The network model would promote diversity while defending human rights and democracy. It proposes three central areas for reform in Europe: active participation, effective links and a strong continental "ethos". The author argues a strong case for this model, which is supported by clear illustrations of its applicability.

Holding Our Judges to Account (Politeia, 22 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HR, 0171-240 5070, £3). Liam Fox, the shadow health minister and Conservative Party spokesman on the constitution, examines the balance of power between the legislature, executive and judiciary. He finds that the judiciary is becoming too powerful through its increasing ability to overrule parliament. Parliament is representative and accountable; members of the judiciary are appointed by the unelected Lord Chancellor and, once appointed, cannot be dismissed. The report tells us that "judges increasingly see themselves as a constitutional check on the executive". The author convinces us of the potential threat to democracy by citing a number of cases in which judicial power emerges in a peremptory form. This threat has become particularly trenchant since devolution; judges now have the power to abolish primary legislation created by the Scottish Parliament and, in the event of its establishment, the Northern Ireland Assembly. Fox argues that moral authority can be established only when British law is checked by a democratic body.

This article first appeared in the 13 September 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Kids just say no to party politics