Thursday, February 18, 2010

The monarchy

Strange though it might seem, many of my views have become less trenchant as time wears on*. Personally, I blame you fuckers: no sooner do I think that I know what the hell I think than some commenter pops up with a reasonable objection. It's fucking annoying: how the hell am I going to turn into the traditional Bufton Tufton if I'm not allowed to continue holding outmoded views in the face of all reason, eh?

Anyway, one of the institutions that I have mixed feelings about is the monarchy. I have, in the past, defended the role of Contitutional Monarch, and for much the same—entirely practical—reasons that Obnoxio has today.
It's crucial that I explain why. A constitutional monarchy is not the endgame objective of any Libertarian. It is profoundly unlibertarian that someone can rule over you by accident of birth. However, through happy accident, it transpires that having a ruling monarch that is required to give assent to laws, along with two strong chambers of debate is a pretty good mix for reasonable governance in a democratic, rather than an anarchic state.

And while a lot of libertarians resent the land-ownership of the hereditary peers, the fact that they weren't all from the grasping, venal classes actually made them quite good custodians of our rights. If you look at the regime of New Labour, for instance, the official opposition was utterly useless in the Commons and all the serious defence of the common man ironically came from the Lords. And if we look at the rapid increase in common petty theft in the Lords, is it any surprise that it has all come about since Labour started throwing the money out there to be taken and then appointing people from the grasping, venal classes?

I'm not saying the Lords were saints before, but because they were disinterested and there wasn't really anything in it for them, they tended to either not bother at all or take it seriously for its own sake. Sure they could influence big deals for their own back pocket, but they weren't inspired to enact draconian laws because they'd get a chunk of cash for pitching up and then being "whipped" to vote.

Whether you regard it as class, or breeding, or just some kind of good sense and disinterest, the peers have acquitted themselves much better than our elected representatives, who do not represent us, but rather the interests of their party. And really, for this to work properly, you do need a stronger monarch.

And that's all well and good because what we are really interested in is the best way of governing—and the best method of government is one where numerous executive factions all shit on one another and thus pass no laws whatsoever.

But the trouble is that, whilst I can and will happily defend the theoretical role of the monarch (or hereditary head of state), the simple fact is that the Queen has done a fucking awful job; it is not only the Scary Clown that points this out, but Dr Eamonn Butler of the ASI too (in a passage from his new book, The Alternative Manifesto**).
I hate to say it, but as a constitutional monarch, she has been pathetic. Over her reign, she has allowed government politicians to accumulate frightening power. She has merely stood by as they cast aside all restraint, including the basic rights, liberties and institutions that were fought for precisely to protect us from arbitrary authority.
At first, of course, they were intended to protect us from the power of absolute monarchs. In time, though, Parliament replaced the monarch as sovereign; but these same rules worked equally well at restraining politicians too. Ministers knew that they were only the temporary custodians of the public trust; and that their power was checked and balanced by MPs, the civil service, and the courts.

Indeed, the monarchy itself became one of these balancing institutions. It may seem bizarre in a democracy that the monarch is notionally the head of the government, the church, the peerage and the army; but the reason we keep it that way is not so that monarchs can wield power, but so as to keep unlimited power out of the hands of politicians. For most of the time, our monarchs have had a better grasp of the mood of the people, and of the importance of their rights and freedoms, than have ministers: so this has proved a useful arrangement.

The key constitutional role of monarchs today, then, is to stop politicians from usurping power and turning themselves into an elected dictatorship. But the Queen – perhaps confusing the exercise of this role with political interference – has allowed precisely that to happen. With Magna Carta, the Queen’s distant ancestor agreed to fundamental principles such as our right not to be held without trial, and to be tried by a jury. Yet in her own reign (starting perhaps in 1971 with internment in Northern Ireland, but escalating fast in the last dozen years) these rights, and more, have simply been signed away.

The constitutional role of an unelected, hereditary monarchy must be limited. But it does have a constitutional role, and must exercise that role as a necessary counterweight to the otherwise unbridled power of an executive that – through its majority and its patronage – is in complete control of Parliament.

In other words, the Queen has done a fucking awful job—and her utter failure has not only destroyed the credibility of the role itself but, more egregiously, consigned the citizens of Great Britain to servitude under a tyrannical Executive.

And, let's face, Charles is going to be about 20,000,000,000,000,000 times worse. Before his reign is over, that cunt will have us bowing to Mecca morning, noon and night, with a fucking windmill shoved up our arseholes.

So, one of two things needs to happen: either we get rid of the monarchy and replace it with a President with Executive power, or we get rid of the current bunch of jokers and stage another Glorious Revolution.

And you know what? I'd look pretty fucking good in a crown...

* Also, I'm bored with blogging at the moment. I've become so fucking earnest, it's like I've turned into the most tedious type of left-wing arsehole. Plus, of course, othing interesting is happening***—we're all just waiting for this spectacularly shit but walking dead government to shuffle off this mortal coil so that we can welcome in another slightly-less-spectacularly-shit government to come in and bugger us backwards for yet more cash. It's incredibly fucking depressing.

** I drink colossal amounts of the ASI's booze: the least I can do is plug their books...

*** Except, of course, that I've been proved right about climate change alarmism. That's good, but what's now to fight for?


Vladimir said...

Yes. The purpose of the House of Lords has always been to resist change. The Lords don't speak for the people, they speak for the past. I like this anti-democratic institution, and don't agree with Blairite attempts to "democratise" it by stuffing it with Labour cronies and party donors.

However, I don't think we need to worry about Charles. The "tofu jihadist" will inherit all of his mother's influence, but when you don't exercise influence, you lose it. Brenda doesn't have any ability to affect Government any more, having never used that ability, so Charles won't have any either. King Charles III will carry on being eccentric, selling biscuits and making vaguely mad pronouncements, and nobody will pay him much attention.

Gandhi said...

It beats me half to death why people think the Queen should do anything. As far as I'm concerned she's done a good job: nothing except waving!

The sage Carswell and the prophet Hannan have made some suggestions: recall MPs etc. Now think of all the ranting that goes on in the blogosphere and imagine we had a genuine outlet, a way that we could block legislation, rather than ask nicely to not have crap laws passed. Say via online petition. Wouldn't that be better? And couldn't we throw the Lords out then too? They couldn't use the parliament act against us, right!?

It would be strange to hear libertarians calling for more tax as a solution to a problem, so why do some continue to call for more government?

fraggle said...

Overall I would say that she has been a bad queen, but she IS the Queen so what difference do our thoughts make--Whether Prince Charles will be a good or bad King will be up to him and the subjects around at the end of his time. Accident of birth is as good a way choosing a leader than any other---in fact there might be a chance that some of all that history may even help to make decisions,bridging the generations that a short term government cannot.Just wish they would exercise(?) their power a bit more.
Save me from Gordon!

caesars wife said...

keep labouring the point, but presidential forms of goverment are more corrupt , name one you think isnt ??

Dont know where everyone gets this idea from that presidential goverment is a stable solution .

Governing Principles said...

The whole point of the Queen is that she is a symbol, not an actual leader. All we are doing is making sure politicians, who we generally despise, are not our official representatives to the world. It's a way of stopping ourselves from becoming suicidal with self-loathing. A politician as head-of-state would be dreadful. Long live the Queen.

Henry North London said...

There is a solution

You find a royal related to her in the line of succession that is prepared to stand up and restrain government if it goes too far

Its been done before William 3rd and Mary 2nd of Orange.

The rest you publically execute on telly and this serves as a warning to the others who remain.

Henry North London said...

Legally of course.

Treason is the one thing that comes to mind when you are sold down the river to Brussels by your own monarch.

Tighten up the treason laws which until recently still held the death sentence or may still do and then execute the law to the letter.

Funny this


Anonymous said...

Labour repealed the death sentence for treason before they commited the act of EU treachery.
Funny that ?

Ἕκτωρ said...

I just don't understand why everyone wants an elected House of Lords. They are there to do a job and look where electing the House of Commons got us. No doubt Tony etc worked out that having an elected upper house would make it a hell of a lot easier than it is now to pass laws, but in the absence of this, the bastards are just booting people up instead. Mandelson for example.

I was always under the impression that the Queen was just there to rubber stamp everything and had very little actual power on the form of laws. But then what is the purpose of her weekly meeting with the Prime Minister?

It's all going to the dogs....

Rodney said...

Mr. Kitchen,
Why do you think the alternative is a President with Executive powers?

What is wrong with a non-executive President?

Anonymous said...

Changing the HoL was very damaging and I suspect is behind the problems you mention with the Queen. The Peers were outside the MPs bubble and generally knew more of what was happening in the real world, certainly more than the current crop of not very intelligent MPs.


caesars wife said...

there is somthing wrong with stuffing the house of lords with useless tin trophies . Elected ? doesnt matter so much , so long as they have relevent experience of life or have served country . e.g high ranking diplomats. Herediatary peers useually have gone to good schools .

perhaps most people find the lords a bit dull , but often very far reaching questions get carefully positioned , so it does need quite a bit of experience , tableing ammendments for cash spin opps does need more rigour as does an expense system that pays for there contribution and not name on door.

Shug Niggurath said...

I'm 40 this year. I'd say for the first 35 I was pretty staunch in my support of the monarchy. Checks and balances and whatever.

I come from that bizarre thing, protestant, working class, socialist, monarchist stock, possibly restricted to the west coast of Scotland.

I had another cross to bear in that I was actually raised by my mothers parents after she died (when I was a toddler), who were Donegal catholics, apparently politically neutral but very anti monarchy.

So I had all these for and against arguments growing up, and as a teenager came out of it all as a conservative monarchist!

I self described as a tory because the ideas of self reliance appealed to me more than state support (as it happens all my grandparents children are also tories). But that happiness to pay the Windsors their Giros every Wednesday remained until I got absolutely furious at the lack of willingness to use the technical power against a push to political integration in Europe.

And now I just want to see them abolished, head of state? I'd go for not having one at all. Just a strong enough second house who were made up of a jury selected refelection of us as a people.

I agree with some of what you say about the Lords, I know two or three people who sat in the house as hereditary peers. In the main they were a bit too rural for my tastes, something more reflective would suit, and the monarchy can go hang. If I have to pay for someone to fuck about in a helicopter I'd rather it be one of my real mates.

Gladiatrix said...

Dear DK

The Queen's problem is this: to actively object to a Government policy she needs to know that she has 100% public support otherwise if she lost the fight she would have to abdicate. This could mean the overnight permanent end of the Constitutional Monarchy, not something that she would want to be responsible for.

The last monarch who got away with refusing to sign a Bill passed by Parliament into law was Queen Anne, who refused to sign a Militia Bill as it was precisely passing a law of this kind that brought down her father. She was able to do so because what he had done was etched on the public's mass living memory and there was no doubt over who they would support.

The story about Queen Victoria refusing to sign the Offences Against the Person Bill into law is a myth, BTW. What she actually did was tell Lord John Russell, having read the first draft of the Bill he was proposing to put before Parliament, that if such a Bill as drafted was passed by Parliament then she would refuse to sign it. The suggestion was that she refused to believe that lesbianism existed; this is now known to be incorrect and in fact Victoria insisted on the references to lesbianism being removed because two of her ladies in waiting were lesbians and she wanted to protect them.

Ronald said...

With a proper head of state we would have somebody that could have said to Brown 'you promised a referendum so give us one'

The commonest argument against sn eleccted head of state is 'ewe will just get another politician or somebody like Cheri Blair'

Well give the choise between Cheri Blair elected in a fair and open election or Charlie boy imposed on me I would take Cheri and hope for better at the next election.

AMcGuinn said...

"one where numerous executive factions all shit on one another and thus pass no laws whatsoever" is not the best government, it's the one which gets worse slower. A government that has difficulty passing laws is utterly incapable of repealing any.