Friday, October 13, 2006

An Independent England: Constitutional Monarchy

This is the first of my posts about what sort of England I would like to see and it is, I hope, quite non-controversial.

England must remain a constitutional monarchy. I know many people find the idea of an hereditary monarch as head of state something of an anachronism, but I like it. As someone once said, if anything has been around long enough to become anachronistic, it must be doing something right. But, perhaps even more to the point, that having a monarch as the national figurehead is very, very English.

In fact, I'm totally in favour of retaining all of our nobility, titles, peerages, pomp and pageantry. They are all things, in my view, that provide continuity for the nation. We all like to be able to trace our lineage back through time and the monarchy and nobility enable us to trace our national lineage back through time too. You lose that continuity if you ditch it in favour of a republic. That does not necessarily create a problem for that nation, but why throw away your history?

I would also retain the awards (even extend them as I'll explain in a future post) - including those that expressly relate to "British" rather than English - MBE, CBE and so on. The British Empire is still a major part of English history and it is a part that I still believe should be considered as a positive contribution to the world rather than something we should apologise for.

So, in my view, a future independent England should retain it's hereditary monarchy, aristocracy, knights and nobles, lords and ladies, awards and ceremonies, pomp and pageantry. Indeed, not just retain them, but celebrate and cherish them.


JohnM said...

I used to be a left-winger and a republican but over many years reality kept intruding forcing me to rethink my politics. The result is that I now have moved to the right, but there is still, at least, one exception, and that is the monarchy.

It's not that I'm totally opposed to constitutional monarchy. In the past Britain had all the benefits of democracy whilst maintaining some anomalies like the monarch and the House of Lords. The Parliament act had made egregious acts of the latter impossible. Britain thus had a settlement whereby changes would risk stability, while achieving little real benefit.

However, this situation has now changed. The establishment is now wedded to a failing multiculturalism and a soft anti-westernism. Charles as a true believer, means the monarchy is no longer above politics.

The current Labour reforms have brought us a worse House of Lords and a more centralised government. This gives us less democracy, which needs to change. I see no prospect or benefit in reverting to the old House of Lords. Therefore we need a new settlement whereby the powers of the executive can be limited by another branch of government. Moreover this must be democratic - not the legal establishment or heredity. I see no way to make the monarch fit such a role.

To summarise: We wouldn't create a constitutional monarch today if we didn't have one already. Therefore, the only argument in favour of retention is stability, which is becoming increasingly absurd.

Stan said...

I'm very much opposed to the idea of an elected second house - simply because it will more than likely have a similar make up to the Commons - i.e. a bias in favour of the governing party. That removes the checks and balances that the House of Lords provides.

The constitutional vandalism wreaked on the Lords by Labour - and Labours willingness to resort to the Parliament Act for rather unimportant issues has weakened our democracy and this needs to be addressed.

I hope to be coming back to the subject of what sort of government I would like to see for an independent England in a future post, but you won't be surprised to hear it's not dissimilar to what we have now.

You're quite right that it is unlikely that any new nation starting out would create a constitutional monarchy, but that's more to do with the fact that it is hard to establish something like that than it is a Presidency.

Importantly, I believe, a hereditary monarchy lessens the potential for causing divisions amongst the people that can be created when the head-of-state is elected. You only have to look at the state of the USA where the President is such a divisive issue amongst the people.

We may argue whether we should be republican or monarchy, but that isn't such a divisive issue and no one argues that if it's going to be a monarchy it shouldn't be the Queen!

Anyway, thanks for the comments, johnm. It's all food for thought.