The New British Constitution

Stephen Sedley writes:

There’s an episode of The Wire in which the intellectual drug baron Stringer Bell, trying to launder his gang’s profits by legitimate real estate development, finds the project stalled by bureaucratic delays. He is tactfully advised by his contractor that it takes money in the right place to get things moving. Bell is outraged; but, as the contractor explains, it’s ‘democracy in action’. The day after I had laughed aloud at this, I read that one of the London boroughs is considering introducing such a system: if you want your planning application dealt with promptly, it will cost you, while for everyone else the wait will get even longer. The difference is that this system will be entirely above board.

(LRB 8 October 2009)

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