Now, I'm sure I've heard this sort of styling before. Wait, I know I have; as John of the excellent Atlantic Rift reminds me, Blair came to power promising radical constitutional reforms, decentralisations and updates. What did we actually get though? A glorified County Council for Scotland, that can be overridden on a whim by Westminster, an even less powerfull assembly in Wales, which Peter Hain seems set on fuckig up further. Prescott proposed some White Elephants for the northern 'Regions' (when did England aquire Regions, anyway? What was wrong with me being a Provincial? And since when did Wiltshire folk have much in common with us Devon and Cornwall lunatics? They're far too posh for the likes of us). Oh, we also got a badly implemented and partially suspended Human Rights Act (which gave us nothing we didn't already have, just made it easier to get to), and, um, a London Mayor?
So, Dave is copying the Blair style on all fronts. Promise reforms, updates, changes. Make politics 'better' and 'more appealing'. All the sort of thing he knows that people like me want to hear. Exactly the same sort of thing that Blair said in order to appeal to people like me. Thing is, he's being to blatent. Dave mate? We know you're only vote whoring, we know the Tory party will commit to real constitutional reform at roughly the same time Satan has to buy some de-icer. Back to John:
The continuing failure of politicians of all stripes to admit to their own complicity in this one is a source of constant frustration to me. Britain doesn’t have a constitution, just a set of conventions that governments can ignore at will. All power resides in the Crown-in-Parliament and thus, in any government with a large enough majority, in the PM.So, what's needed? Well, Owen, awhileback, summarised the reasons he opposes the current 'settlement' when it comes to the monarch, precis:
To blame the Blair government for creating this mess is roughly on a par with blaming India for climate change.
- Royal prerogative gives extensive, unaccountable power to the executive.
- The monarchy has real political power to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister.
- The monarchy interferes in our day-to-day political life.
- The monarchy perpetuates the class system and undermines the proper recognition of merit
- The monarchy undermines our reputation abroad and is bad for business (even tourism).
- The monarchy makes it impossible to separate Church and State
Anyway, as a former republican turned constitutional monarchist, on virtually all points I agree. Two exceptions. 1) powers; she's not a figurehead, she chooses to not use her powers, because that's not the done thing. But a lot of the stuff done in her name by prerogative. That and she has personally chosen one PM and sacked another. 2) Tourism benefits; genuinely, an own goal royalist argument, you (we) have to not use it, a) Paris has no monarchy, but has great tourism revenue; get rid of the monarchy, open the palaces, increase tourism. b) there are some seriously good studies out there that show it has little to no net benefit, and may actually be counter productive and create a net loss to tourism.Never did get around to writing the full article. Consider this the start. I'm a strong supporter of the idea of a representative, Parliamentary democracy. Such a system requires a ceremonial head of state. We've got a monarch, the insitution itself is popular. So we may as well keep it.
Like I said; I used to be a republican; when you change your mind substantially, then you tend to know the reasons pretty well.
[DK-What, then, made you change your mind?]
A study of history, a reading of Burke, and specifically, a study of the democratisation of post-Franco Spain. By accepting Juan Carlos as King, the republican/socialist opposition that became the next government forstalled a civil war. By insisting on democratic elections and effectively insisting on the British model, Juan Carlos ensured the Right would accept the socialist govt; they'd sworn to accept him as King. Juan Carlos pretty much made modern Spain; he could've taken absolute power, but instead became a great King.
I hate US-style Presidential systems of government; if you're going to have a ceremonial head of state with no real powers, you might as well accept a monarch where you have one and simply make sure the system is reformed to remove the legitimate grievances of the republicans. I plan to write it all up coherently at some point. I plan to write up a lot of things.
But the institution is deeply flawed. Do we really want the Queen to retain the power (legally) to sack the Prime Minister and call an election on a whim? The 'unwritten' constitutional assumes she (or a successor) would never do it. But her representative in Australia did in 1975. She has the same powers, laid out in the same way.
If Dave is serious, if he really wants to appeal to reformers like myself, then he needs to do more to convince us than throwing us a bone and saying the right thing. Ming Campbell is promising a proper constitutional convention. It's needed.
Dave? If you're serious, sign up for it, make it a genuine cross-party affair? Oh, wait, you're not serious, are you. You're just vote whoring. I'd love to think I'm wrong. But, um, once burnt...