Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Petitioning the monarch

An Anonymous has left an interesting comment on my post on the EU Constitution Debate; the comment finishes in this way.
In short, this government has broken the social contract, and one can objectively prove this to be so. That being the case, what recourse—given that the social contract is in abeyance—do the citizen body have?

First and foremost, publicize the fact that Government has broken the contract, and thus has no further claim to democratic legitimacy. It may still be acting 'within the law', but that's only because, absent a written Constitution, the government itself decides what the law is. But 'legitimate'? I suspect not, on any reading of historical jurisprudence.

One could appeal to the Sovereign, whose ultimate purpose in existence is to protect 'the People' from their own Government if necessary. Indeed, all the pomp and circumstance, the very institution of monarchy, is precisely and ONLY to act as the ultimate deterrent to rogue governance.

So, we can appeal to the Crown, outlining the case for the Queen to dissolve this government and call elections.

Interestingly, of course, this ties in with my discussion of the role of the monarchy of a couple of months back. As readers will know, I am a libertarian but I do not regard the Royal Family as being intrinsically above or superior to me—they are, in any case, precisely as much in thrall to us as we are to them. The monarch, in theory, owns our bodies but we, in actual fact, own their lives. As such, I view them merely as a useful tool. Their PR and marketing value is obvious (especially if we wished to rebuild links to the Commonwealth after withdrawal from the EU), but their usefulness as a Constitutional tool is deeply underused.

Let me state this very clearly: the biggest threat to the people of this country is our Parliament. Largely undemocratic, corrupt, dictatorial and with no sense of duty beyond getting their snouts firmly in the trough, our Parliament is also effectively unfettered: when the politicians of all parties conspire against the people—as in the case of terrorism laws, state funding of political parties—we, the people, can exercise no practical brake on their ambitions at all.

This is especially true in recent times with the attempts to bind future Parliaments to the ambitions of one—the effectively binding EU legislation, for instance, and NuLabour's ludicrous emissions targets—something which is utterly anathema to what written Constitution that we have.

But, under our Constitution, Parliament is the highest power in the land. Except for the monarch.

The monarch has been, over the years, seriously emasculated by Parliament; no wonder that they now take little interest in such matters. My proposal was to reinvigorate the monarchy, to bind Parliament, and to provide practical protection of our most basic freedoms.

It was in the first post that I laid out the background, explaining why a mere US-style written Constitution was simply not good enough.
A Constitution does not, as I pointed out before, limit an inimical government. The only reason that it has worked in the US is because the government has made no real effort to ride roughshod over the document.

As I pointed out, where the US government wanted to get around the provisions of the Constitution, they did so: the idea that blacks were not "men" as defined in the Constitution allowed slavery. So why this faith in a piece of paper that was, in any case, drawn up by the Executive?

Documents can be destroyed and Constitutions can be altered and amended with any amount of will. We have seen that for ourselves.

Because, you see, we have a fucking written Constitution in this country: it is made up of a number of separate documents, the principle ones of which are Magna Carta Libertatum ('Great Charter of Freedoms') and the 1689 Bill of Rights.

And what good have these declarations, these laws, done us? None. Because we have a government—or rather, a huge number of governments, of which NuLabour is the worst—that are not interested in maintaining those rights. They can use their majority to ram any damn law they like through Parliament, hence the erosion of our most fundamental rights.

It was in the second post that I repeated and elaborated upon my peculiar—and some would argue, un-libertarian—solution: to make the monarchy stronger.
The more that I think about it, the more I like my solution to the monarchy question.
So, here's an idea: let us make the monarch the guardian of the Constitution. The manrchy shall carry on as they are now—ambassadors and figureheads—but with this proviso: the monarch is required not to give Royal Assent to any law that contravenes those rights laid out in Magna Carta Libertatum and the Bill of Rights—and a modified Act of Settlement which will lay out the measures outlined below.

If the monarch should do so, they will trigger an immediate referendum after which, should they lose, the monarch will be dethroned and replaced with the next in line to the throne. At the same time, any Bills given Royal Assent in the current and previous Parliamentary session shall be declared null and void, must be re-presented and the whole saga gone through again.

That should provide adequate punishment for both monarch and Parliament for attempting to fuck over the people, and keep Parliament so tied up that they cannot do a fucking thing. And that can only be to the good.

...

In a way, it hardly matters what we base our rights on, although I would say that Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are good places to start: it is my (off-the-cuff) proposed mechanism for maintaining our freedoms that I like.
  • My solution provides the strengthened monarchy that I maintained might be a good brake on Parliament.

  • The only way in which the monarchy is strengthened is through binding them to protect the interests of the people.

  • The monarch is required to understand and pay attention to what they are signing.

  • The triggered referendum allows for the people to approve measures—such as liberty restrictions during wartime—to be passed.

  • The referendum also provides a mechanism to remove lazy or tyrannical monarchs.

  • The whole thing puts up massive barriers to the tyranny of the Parliament.

  • It provides a wonderful excuse for our Parliament to tell the EU to fuck the fuck off—"Terribly sorry, Mr Barroso, the monarch wouldn't pass it and you know that we can't bypass the monarch in the same way as we can bypass the people. Bummer, eh?"

This is an entirely practical solution—those of you who are Republicans, please, put aside your principles for a few moments whilst you consider the practical implications of this idea.
  • An effective brake on Parliament—not simply the government of the day.

  • The ability to knock down harmful or illiberal laws before they are enacted.

  • Ultimate power to sign a law resides with the monarch, but the ultimate power to decide who the monarch is resides with the people.

  • We retain the monarch for marketing purposes and we are able, provided they do their job properly, to retain their services and experience for a long time (the monarch doesn't think in five year tranches).

  • But, the monarch has no ability to initiate laws and thus cannot play the role of oppressor.

Is it just me, or is it a win-win situation all round. For the people, I mean: the MPs would be heartily pissed off, and very glad I would be to see it.

So, just for once, I thought that I'd garner some of your opinions on the issue. Since I refuse to switch The Kitchen over to Blogger's arcane new template code, I am unable to use polls on this blog: so, I have set up a new blog, Petition The Queen, wherein I would be most grateful if you would give me your opinions on the matters discussed above.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sound like a plan, and boy, do we need one now. We used to think that we were protected by Parliament and the Judiciary, both indepedant of the executive branch. That fell apart some time ago and has not been replaced. Where now are the checks and balances that should protect us? None that I can see.

anthonynorth said...

I'm a monarchist precisely because the monarch has no power, above demanding a Parliament cannot sit indefintely. Your idea has merit, but I think it would cause such a debate that it would end up destroying the Monarchy forever.
You are right that Parliament is increasingly riding roughshod over democracy, but I'd disagree that the problem is our Parliament. The problem is the concept of the political party. What needs to be done is the poularisation of the idea of independents. Perhaps even work towards an apolitical organisation designed to raise money for the cause, and even fund independent campaigns in constituencies.
Of course, this would have to be fully apolitical - the name Socio-Capitalist League comes to mind, to represent that it is for all political persuasions, and at the same time none.
If we get at least a hundred independents in Parliament, everything would change. Debate would be more fundamental, really discussing the issues, but Statutes would be more moderate, for the party in power would have to carry the independents to get it into law.

Ed said...

DK I agreed with you when you first posted this idea and still agree now, having spent the intervening time thinking about it.

Peter Horne said...

I would propose the following system.

A reformed House of Lords to be elected on the basis of proportional representation every seven years, fixed term.

At the beginning of each session their Lordships to elect from within their own number one who is to act as sovereign for the next seven years.

The sovereign to then appoint and chair a privy council whose sole purpose is to scrutinise proposed legislation in the light of our ancient rights and to strike out any anything which they consider unlawful.

Neither the sovereign nor the council members to have any party political affiliations whilst members of the council.

Members of the House of Lords to have the right to enter a vote of no confidence in the sovereign at any time. If such a vote is passed, an election to appoint a new sovereign to be held immediately.

Charles said...

I like the idea of giving the grant of Royal Assent some meaning, and making its withholding a genuine possibility.

My question here is: who gets to be the judge of whether a law given assent contravenes our rights? How is the proposed deterrence mechanism triggered?

I also worry whether this system would still be susceptible to creeping infringements of liberty. How big an infringement must it be, before the referendum is called?

KG said...

"I also worry whether this system would still be susceptible to creeping infringements of liberty."

What bloody liberty? Never mind creeping infringements, the galloping destruction is what matters right now.
It's a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Petitioning the monarchy is a very appropriate topic for January 22nd, the anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 1905 when protestors attempting to petition the Tsar were gunned down by the Imperial Guard.

I rather suspect that any attempt to petition Her Maj would meet with a not wholly dissimilar response from ZanuLabour and its internal security forces.

ENGLISHMAN said...

In the post that started this thread,was written the word "contract",and to paraphrase Thomas Paine,no contract with governments is possible, since governments are a product of the will of the people,and the people can not make a contract with themselves.Unless people understand this fundamental point then we are condemned to go round in circles forever,governments do NOT exist in thier own right,but by the will of the people.

The English Guy said...

Any liberty we may hold dear (dead) in this country was quashed by the terrorism laws allowing the security forces to hold suspects for up to 28 days, which NuLabour wants to increase further.

I like the ideas you put forth, but let's be honest, it won't actually happen.

Screech said...

I like the principle of the idea, but I do not believe for one second that the Queen will agree for two reasons:

1. Prince Philip was going to claim the Island of Tanna as part of the Commonwealth, because there is a tribe of people living there that think he is God (Honest). His motives were honorable, he wanted them to be left alone and not become part of a system that wouldn't benefit them (Obviously they would like to be part of Britain, they love him and the Queen).
Someone told him not to bother because its inevitable that they will loose their sovereignity.

2. The Queen is who is pushing for National ID cards (Perhaps under Govt. pressure), read her last 5 speeches, every single one has the line "My Government will be bringing in National ID cards".

However, I support the idea of petitioning the Queen for this reason:
If she accepts that Parliament is corrupt then that solves the Monarchy vs. Republic debate, if not then I think we will have proved whether or not she is in league with her Dutch Cousin Queen Beatrix (Who runs the Bilderberg Group and the group has been linked to the creation of the EU and UN).
But she must realise that Queen Beatrix has much more influence over this country, she owns Shell Oil which has been at the top of the FTSE 100 for several years because of the Governments support for Imperialist Oil plundering.

So in short, I think it's worth a shot.

Peter Johnson