Gordon Brown's proposed constitutional reforms show one thing - that even when it's trying to do the right thing, our ruling class misses the point.
Paragraph 189 of the green paper gives the game away:
There has in recent times been a considerable decrease in the level of involvement among young people in formal political processes. For instance, just 39% of 18-24 year-olds cast a vote in the 2001 general election compared to 68% in 1997...This shows a lack of appreciation of the importance of the democratic process and of the need for active citizenship.
No, it doesn't. It shows their lack of confidence in (managerialist?) politicians. I suspect many of these non-voters are protestors against the Iraq war, or committed greens, or are active citizens in other ways.
In what other activity would a near-halving of demand be seen as a reason to insult one's customers, rather than as a sign of one's own incompetence?
But this is not the only way in which the paper misses the point. It fails to ask: why exactly do we need to reinvigorate democracy? The nearest we get is para 11:
Only a confident UK will be able to adapt to the economic challenges of globalization. Only a country sure of its identity will be able to come together to ensure our mutual security: common, inclusive values can help us overcome the threat from extremism of all kinds. Only a nation certain of it's national purpose will be able to pull together to meet the common challenges of global climate change.
At best, this is mere wind. At worst, it's close to illiberal collectivism (certain of national purpose?).
What the paper misses is the stronger case for greater democracy: that the wisdom of crowds can (with the right incentives) be superior to hubristic managerialism; that democracy gives us procedural utility, whatever the outcome; that, as de Tocqueville recognized, democracy (in the long-run) invigorates people; and, above all, that it's our country as much as the political class's.
If Brown sees this, I'll believe he's serious about improving our democracy.