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.
Before I proceed with the rest of this post, however, my sparring partner in this particular joust has put up the first part of his retort, highlighting the fact that much of the Magna Carta Libertatum has been rendered irrelevent or been superceded. He is, of course, correct.
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?"
What's not to like?
However, it is not just my dislike for tearing down functioning institutions on a point of principle—imposing your principles on others is not a libertarian thing to do; I propose tearing into Parliament because it isn't a functioning institution—that motivates me to retain the monarchy.
Nor is it the distaste when I see that latent class bigotry and fiscal envy that shines through the ideals of so much republican rhetoric—"We will abolish the Royals and give the land back to the people." Do we not now believe in property rights?—that makes me suspicious of their motives.
No, there is at least one positive advantage; especially if we are to leave the EU and make our own way in the world—a measure which any libertarian state must surely undertake. And what is that advantage? Quite simply, community.
We need to rebuild trust and relations with those in the Commonwealth who we sold down the river in 1972. Many of those in the Commonwealth retain the British monarch as head of state and there are some, such as the Australians, who have voted to do so.
To build a loose-knit community of countries which share similar values and ambitions, that are willing to help each other (without, as in the case of the EU, being coerced into doing so), we need a figurehead. The monarchy is already that figurehead and to remove it would be to remove what has bound us together for so many generations. As the Royal Mail found when it rebranded itself Consignia, it is far better to revitalise your brand than attempt to create a new one.
There is another issue: I see many bloggers on the Right, railing against the fact that "Lefties hate Britain" and "Lefties want to abandon British culture" and other such things. Were we libertarians to dash down the monarchy for the sake of our values, would we be any better than those who wish to erase British history for the sake of their own warped socialist values?
No, the retention of the monarchy, altered as described above, is desirable for practical, moral, constitutional and, yes, marketing reasons. To abandon it would be spiteful folly.
UPDATE: Freeborn John has posted the second part of his thesis. He looks at a radical 17th Century group known as the Levellers, ,who issued an Agreement of the People, an extended version of which "was promoted by John Lilburne who hoped to find a middle way between royal despotism and military dictatorship". It is a radical document (for the time) which calls for many of the things that we now take for granted and some that we still do not.
This radical tradition, which failed within a republican movement that was itself to fail, has been claimed by the left. That's actually reasonable. But it's also a reasonable claim for libertarians to make. At least, it is if those libertarians mistrust power and the people who are attracted to it and so seek term limits, if they hold every person to be equal, if they hold that the state and the law must always be subservient to the liberties of the individual so that, for example, nobody should be held without trial.
It's a radical tradition that we need to claim as libertarians. And it derives, fundamentally, from opposition to the idea of a monarch. After all, if every person is equal there can be no monarch.
All people are not equal and they never will be. All may have equal rights under the law, but that is something different and, since the law is a construct of human civilisation, we can permit ourselves to provide an exception which proves the rule.