Saturday, June 21, 2008

The monarch is merely the passerby who let the murderer escape

Over at the LPUK Weblog, Patrick Vessey has written a piece seeking to explain the Queen's deplorable behaviour in giving Royal Assent to the European Union (Amendment) Bill, which enshrines adherence to the Lisbon Treaty into British Law.

It seems that the Queen simply isn't very interested in modern affairs or politics—a trait which is, at least, not shared by Prince Charles, for all that his views are idiotic. Thus, it is concluded, the Queen simply doesn't overly care about the liberty of the nation or the tradition which she represents.

The wonder in all of this is only in that Patrick thinks that she should care. Ultimately, as Adam Smith illustrated so fervently, we are all self-interested creatures. Were that not the case, we would have seen even more popular revolt against this Bill (and our lack of referendum): why should the monarchy, in their rarified existence, care for a Bill that will ultimately not affect them, when the people whom it will affect, it seems, couldn't give a shit?

Regular readers will recall that your humble Devil is a monarchist, but only because the monarchy can be used as both a marketing tool (for re-engaging with our Commonwealth partners) and as a political one—to curb Parliament.

But surely, you will say, the monarch could curb Parliament now, and she does not do so: how would you change that? It is easy: I would do so by means of engaging the monarch's self-interest.

My proposal, you might remember, was quite simple. The UK should have a codified Constitution or Bill of Rights; many have called for this, but a Constitution, in and of itself, is insufficient. Although it might be difficult to change, as we have seen in many countries—not least in the US—unscrupulous politicians can get together to change it. And our politicians are almost universally devoid of scruples, and they are not adverse to agreeing across political lines when it is in their interests to do so—take the state funding of political parties, for example, which all three main parties, unsurprisingly, support.

Now, I view the monarch as a potentially useful brake on the tyranny of Parliament; it is Parliament who are the enemy: after all, we would not be having this debate on the uselessness of the monarch had our Parliament not forced this Bill through in the first place. However, the monarch does need to be engaged and we cannot rely on the vagaries of an individual monarch's personality to do this.

So what I proposed was that, if the monarch gave Royal Assent to any Bill that contravened the Constitution, it would trigger an automatic referendum on whether to force the monarch to abdicate. We could weight it sufficiently that there would be a real chance of the monarch being forced out: two thirds, say, would have to vote to retain the monarch. In recent times, this would have occured with both the European Union (Amendment) Bill and the 42 Days' Detention Bill (both of which contravene our Constitution in different ways).

In this way, the monarch would be forced, through self-interest, to consider each and every piece of legislation put before them, lest they lose their position and their livelihood. If they thought that the Bill really was for the good of the country—if it was a suspension of liberties in a time of Total War, for instance, e.g. ID Cards and internment during WWII—then the people could allow it through by voting to support the monarch.

In order further to curb Parliament, and to punish them for passing such a Bill in the first place, if a piece of legislation was knocked back, Parliament would automatically be dissolved and a General Election immediately called.

We should not expect the monarch to be any more engaged than the rest of the population; or, rather, we might expect it, but we certainly should not pin our liberties on this being the case.

But, it must be emphasised again that what Patrick is doing here is the equivalent of blaming a death on the passerby who let a murderer escape from the crime scene. That passerby could have stopped the murderer, just as the Queen could have stopped this Bill: but it is no more fair to blame the Queen for Assenting to this Bill than it is to blame the passerby for said murder.

Whilst the Queen should have used Her powers, let us never forget that, were our Parliament not packed with evil, cowardly, corrupt and unprincipled swine, the monarch would not have to exercise Her powers.

It is our Parliament that is our enemy and we should never forget that.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The point is though, Devil, who would write the Bill of Rights? Would it be decided on by an unelected committee, or the elected parliament you so despise?

Furthermore, what if the government wished to change the Bill of Rights? If you were to claim that this would not be allowed, where would that leave parliamentary sovereignty?

Finally, why not let a supreme court guard the constitution/bill of rights? Judges, after all, have legal training which a monarch (the current one at least) does not have.

I don't disagree with your sentiments about the need for a constitution and bill of rights, but I think that having the monarch oversee it is the wrong way to go about it.

John B said...

Nice idea except for the rather glaring:

"if the monarch gave Royal Assent to any Bill that contravened the Constitution, it would trigger an automatic referendum on whether to force the monarch to abdicate."

Any Bill that contravened the Constitution *according to whom*? Maybe you could get nine highly respected and experienced judges to decide... but once you've got them, then you don't need the monarch in the first place.

[I guess it's a way of putting constitutional changes to a 2/3 majority plebiscite - but you could just put in the constitution "this constitution can only be changed by a 2/3 majority plebiscite".]

Ordovicius said...

Ah the Etonians: a quaint crowd

IanPJ said...

The Bill that the Queen gave the Royal Assent to is only the Act of Parliament that allows the Treaty to be passed into law once the Treaty has been ratified.

The Act of Ratification allows the Queen one last opportunity to save this land of ours.

In order for Ratification to take place, the Articles of Treaty need to be signed by Her Majesty, then the Royal Seal applied. It also needs to be accompanied by a Royal Warrant which the Queen must sign before it can be delivered to Rome.

It is this part that Stewart Wheeler is fighting for the referendum on, the ratification.

Her Majesty therefore has one final opportunity to save this Nation from the abyss.

Devil's Kitchen said...

OK, first off, I don't have all the answers: I am writing this from the point of view of seeing other uses for the monarch too.

"The point is though, Devil, who would write the Bill of Rights? Would it be decided on by an unelected committee, or the elected parliament you so despise?"

Good point. Any suggestions? Parliament, and ratified by plebiscite? A codification of current law? I don't know.

"Furthermore, what if the government wished to change the Bill of Rights?"

They cannot (except in exeptional circumstances). That is precisely the point.

We would have avoided all of this fuss over extending detention without trial, for starters.

"If you were to claim that this would not be allowed, where would that leave parliamentary sovereignty?"

Fuck Parliamentary sovreignty; they have proved that they cannot be trusted. Besides, in my ideal state, the state would be so very tiny that they would not need to do so. They would be merely caretakers, and little else.

If you are a supporter of the Welfare State and the idea that government can solve all problems, then naturally you would not support such constraints on our Parliament.

If, like me, you think that these bastards taint everything that they touch, you might welcome it.

"Finally, why not let a supreme court guard the constitution/bill of rights? Judges, after all, have legal training which a monarch (the current one at least) does not have."

Because judges may rule on current law: but they serve the law as is and should have no part in making (or otherwise affecting (except via precedent)) any law.

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

"Any Bill that contravened the Constitution *according to whom*? Maybe you could get nine highly respected and experienced judges to decide... but once you've got them, then you don't need the monarch in the first place."

Maybe, maybe. Except that the legislation make laws: the judges serve and administer them.

The idea of Royal Assent puts the monarch on a par (or above) the legislature, whereas the judges must serve the laws passed by Parliament.

Sure, judges would advise the monarch, but I submit that only the monarch is in a position, over and above Parliament, to refuse to make a law.

The point is that this idea constrains everyone and reinforces the idea of Parliament serving the monarch and of the monarch serving the people.

I want these fuckers to wake up every morning that realise that they are our servants, not our masters.

DK

Pooter said...

We have a constitutional monarchy which means in practice the queen cannot refuse assent to any bill that passes both houses.

We have a bicameral parliamentary system. The second house is supposed to curtail the excesses of the house of commons (protect a constitution?) but the house of lords has been emasculated by cash for peerages and jobs for the boys.

Forget trying to reform the monarchy. Give us a second house that really does hold the government of the day to account.

Anonymous said...

I think you've all missed the point in this. We used to have a system that worked reasonably well and had checks and balances. Then New Labour happened and they slowly subverted it from within.
Whatever system you put in place you will have this problem.

dirty european socialist said...

Hitler said in Mein Kampf.

Hitler states "Should one State preserve its national strength and its national greatness the empire of the Jewish satrapy, like every other tyranny, would have to succumb to the force of the national idea.". So there you something for all euroskeptic nationalists to agree with.

dirty european socialistt said...

The queen had two children with other men.:

dirty european socialist said...

The monarch dines with the devil.

Link to throne : said...

Here is a link to stories about what butter wouldn't melt in her mouth queen is really like. It will shrill your bones. Monarchists how can you respect the phesant beater now!

http://www.throneout.com/images/royal_affairs.pdf

Ordovicius said...

On a different constitutional matter, Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Director of the Institute of Welsh Politics at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. has written a letter to David Cameron

Budgie said...

dirty european socialist said..."So there you something for all euroskeptic nationalists to agree with."

It is europhiles who are nationalists - they advocate EU (supra) nation-alism. Also as EU nationalists are antidemocratic they are akin to both national socialists and international socialists.

dirtyeuropeansocialist said...

Rubbish Hitler was a supporter of extreme nationalism. He supported the concept of a Greater Germany, and the British Empire. Read Mein Kampf where he states "Should one State preserve its national strength and its national greatness the empire of the Jewish satrapy, like every other tyranny, would have to succumb to the force of the national idea.". So there you something for all euroskeptic nationalists to agree with. That is not a superanationalist it is an extreme nationalist.
Europhiles are not nationalistic we are internationalist. We support a union of democracies as a way of ensuring co-operation between democratic nations. How can you be akin to a national socialist and an international socialist you cannot be both it just shows you have no intectlectual consistency.
The EU is not anti democratic. The UK remained in the EEc by the yes side winning a referendum.

M V Smith said...

Fucking Toffs always sticking up for each other get rid of the lot and
then have a second chamber chosen by lot with a third replaced each year from all voters which can then yea or nay the laws that the commons proposes lets not leave it up to the last representatives of a bunch of inbreeds

Ian B said...

The problem here is "appeal to a higher power". When the democratic parliament doesn't go our way we wish there were some higher authority to slap it down. But then what will we want when the higher power doesn't go our way? Another higher power...

This is the thinking in fact that drives trans/supranationalism. The supranationalist creates higher powers (EU/UN) to do an end run around the lower power. But then what if the EU doesn't do the right thing...?

You can have a higher power as a document. You can have a Constitution, and Bill Of Rights. But do you make them eternally immutable? What if everyone in the country disagrees with something in the Bill Of Rights? What mechanism is allowed to change it? Any such written higher power has to be vulnerable to change. So it ends up useless too (as we've seen in the USA).

One helpful thing is to create a political structure full of vetoes. Laws should be very hard to pass, having to overcome such inordinate stumbling blocks that they aren't worth the effort half the time. It might be a good idea to have a time delay built in (laws take 2 years from enactment to enforcement) and obligatory votes on sustaining them. Every year.

And here's a thing. Have a chamber of lottery winners. Maybe replacing the House Of Lords. You put your name down on the list, and every year there's a lottery for half the chamber. And a couple of hundred lottery winners get to sit in the Chamber. You'd get a decent cross-section of the populace, from lawyers to housewives, road sweepers to nuclear physicists. And they'd represent a half-decent representation of the people's public opinion. They can't legislate, but they have the power of absolute veto. If they kill a bill, it's dead, dead, dead. Most of them would be ignorant, or lazy, or self-interested, or corrupt, but they'd still be better than the shower of crap in the Commons. At least they wouldn't all be bloody lawyers and PPE grads.

Anyway, that would probably have killed the Lisbon Treaty.

On the other hand, it probably would've killed lowering the age of gay consent as well.

Swings, roundabouts. We all want a system that only does the things we want it to do, passes the laws we want and rejects the ones we don't. I've never heard of a system that'll actually do that, but hoping for higher powers isn't going to help.

The trick is to get a population who agree with you. Or to do what the lefties did, and take over the cultural hegemonic institutions. One or t'other.