How to Make Yourself Unelectable (in one easy step)

The current fuss over a bill to require a referendum in 2017 misses the very first point that all law students learn in their first Constitutional Law session: no Parliament can be bound by the actions or predilections of any predecessor. So the proposed bill, whether it’s a private members bill or is government-sponsored, is entirely pointless.

When we use the word “Parliament”, we mean in essence the House of Commons as it is composed between general elections.  It’s a rule that came about during ‘the English wars’ after Charles I was deposed and the Roundheads were keen not to be bound by the parliaments that he had thrown together to do his bidding before his demise.  And it’s been like that ever since.

Anyway, back to the point.  Why would Tory backbenchers want to introduce a bill that serves no purpose?

What’s really happening here is that the Tories are convinced that if they simply say that they will introduce a referendum bill after the next general election, voters on the doorstep won’t believe them.  So they think that if they create a law that requires them to introduce such a bill after the election and they get back in, we’ll be convinced that they have no option but to introduce the referendum bill.  Even though the bill now contemplated would, at that point, be unconstitutional and meaningless.  And would be ignored were, lawks-a-mercy, Labour to get back in or the Lib Dems be involved in the next Government.

The usual Tory suspects really think you’ll fall for this.  Because they really think you are that stupid.

Are you?  Well, I guess we’ll see when this issue is debated in the run-up to the next election…

Born To Do It

Yesterday, the Queen attended a meeting of the Cabinet. “Her cabinet”, as fawning royal reporters described it repeatedly. “It’s her cabinet, so she can attend when she wants” said Eric Pickles, a frequently outspoken cabinet minister.  What he lacks in hair he certainly makes up for in quotability.

There was a lively discussion on yesterday’s Today Programme about how the Queen, in her diamond jubilee year, is considerably more popular than a Government (“her Government”, fawn fawn, grovel, grovel) that, for once, a majority of the population actually voted for.

Why is this? Because she doesn’t actually participate in any of the political action was the suggestion. Not something one could say of the last monarch to attend a cabinet meeting, George III. He attended in 1781 (although there is some debate around whether Victoria did likewise) during the American Revolution. An interesting comparison, since George was known for his meddling in the running of the country. Sorry, “his country”. And provoking the colonials into revolution was one of his less celebrated achievements. All part of his attempt to turn the clock back to a past era of despotism unbounded.

George III was not one of England’s more popular monarchs. He ended his days talking to trees in Windsor Great Park, supposedly. Perhaps they were better conversationalists than some of his cabinet.

So an 18th century figurehead who likes to interfere with the government of the country and is resented for it. A 21st century figurehead who is welcomed to attend cabinet as part of the celebration of her ability to retain a pulse since 1952 – invited precisely because she does not interfere. Am I the only one to see the irony here.

It won’t have escaped those that know me that I am not a supporter of the Royals, nor have I been for my entire adult life. I am that rare thing, a true English republican. Not a communist nor a socialist nor a nationalist. Just someone who believes that life in the 21st century doesn’t sit well with the imposition of a birthright hegemony. And yes, the recent decision to give the unborn child of William and Kate an equal right to accede to the throne, boy or girl, or even (shock horror) should she marry a Catholic (what would happen if she chose to be a Catholic, I wonder?) makes no difference whatsoever.  (It’s something you might like to bear in mind when you read the post I’ll write at some point in 2013 in support of Scottish independence.)

If the Queen doesn’t take an active role in the constitution, what exactly is she for? And at this point in our lives, do we really need someone to sit at the top of the Government just because she was born to do the job? It just makes me think, how can we sit here in our advanced western liberal democracy and deride African dictatorships, middle eastern juntas and the like whilst turning out in our thousands to wave our flags in celebration of a woman whose entitlement to her job is that she is the great great granddaughter of someone who was a cousin to someone who had been dispatched some time before. Or something. Surely it’s time that this job was also appointed on merits basis, subject to our equality legislation, just like every other job in the country?  Pretty much every other job in the country, at least.

But in case, dear readers, you’re concerned that *particular is a nest of vipers waiting to strike down your comfortable bourgeois life, calm your gentle British hearts.  Everything here is in balance.  Much as I would favour the idea of a Boris presidency over the status quo, @particular_deb (my business partner) is as fervently royalist as am I republican.  Indeed, not only does she lead the street party committee and keep the bunting suppliers of northern England in business, would her ultimate ambitions be realised we would all one day be subjects of Queen Deborah.

Now there’s a thought.