By Mark McNaught
Over the last weeks, we have discovered even more insidious aspects of the Westminster system which further confirm its status as an anachronistic, feudal relic which should have been abolished centuries ago.
Reports concerning ‘Prince’ Charles’ secret veto and his planting of moles in Whitehall raise serious questions about royal political interference, why there is not an enforceable clear delineation and separation of powers in a written UK constitution, and whether it will ultimately compromise his status as ‘King’.
There are repeated confirmed instances where Charles has lobbied David Cameron and other ministers to protect and promote his business interests, like the Duchy of Cornwall. Whether or not we ever know the content these meetings, or what is in the letters Charles’ lawyers are trying so hard to keep secret from FOI requests, any pretence that the Monarchy does not deeply involve itself in policy has been obliterated, with no constitutional means to enforce a separation.
Helpfully, the former education minister Tim Laughton explained that there was nothing sinister about his democratic-precept-demolishing encounters with ‘Prince’ Charles, and that the youth should be grateful that he even ‘bothers to care’ about them.
This outrage expressed by this royal correspondent as to whether the Windsors have dubbed Kate Middleton a ‘Duchess’ and/or a ‘Princess’, or even care further demonstrates that this archaic UK system of conferring status is as socially divisive and non-meritocratic as it is irrelevant.
Apologists for the royal ‘system’ have held that the Monarchy is a harmless source of stability, and thereby the legitimate head of state in the UK and many commonwealth countries. A closer appraisal of what the Monarchy actually is demonstrates the rickety legitimacy which prevents UK citizens from choosing their head of state.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Monarchy is simply a tax-payer subsidized family, who own castles and lands throughout the UK, many of them doubling as for-profit businesses. An effective centuries-long propaganda campaign, which often involved burning ‘heretics’ for ‘treason’, has convinced much of the British public that the ‘Royal’ family is worthy of greater reverence than any other human being, and therefore divinely entitled to their possessions, businesses, and status.
Massively expensive commemorative ceremonies are held to bolster this myth, even while there is destitution throughout the country. ‘Popularity’ of the Monarchy is perceived to be justification for its archaic status it holds as a constitutionally ill-defined head of state in what is supposed to be a democracy.
UK ‘Parliamentary supremacy’ is already dead in practice. It needs to be unceremoniously buried, and replaced with a political system where popular sovereignty actually means something.
The existence of the Monarchy, and the accompanying status for everyone else as ‘subjects’ rather than ‘citizens’, boldly declares to all that some people are born better than others, that ‘royal’ or ‘aristocratic’ blood inherently confers some kind of genetic and social superiority, and that subjects should ‘obey’ their social betters because…well…Monty Python explained it best.
The Monarchy is the pedestal of the aristocratic / oligarchic regime Westminster has become, however endearing members of the Royal family might be.
The House of Lords is an unelected, unaccountable, theocratic, feudal institution with conflict-of-interest in its DNA. We have absolutely no idea what role they play, other than to slow the adoption of Commons legislation. Many Lords have other ‘jobs’ like being a head of an energy company, routinely exploiting their contacts and status for personal enrichment.
This is all done with a total lack of transparency, and no means to permanently expel manifestly corrupt ‘Lords’. As the embodiment of aristocratic privilege and feudalism, we really have no idea how far the House of Lords has gone in hindering, rather than encouraging, the development of a true democratic system in the UK.
Upon independence, Scotland is not bound to maintain any of these feudal dysfunctional institutions. Scotland has a blank constitutional slate. Scotland can create the office of an elected President, with all of the constitutional functions of the head of state, with Elizabeth remaining uniquely the nominal head of state for the remainder of her reign. She would be constitutionally banned from playing any role inconsistent with full popular sovereignty.
At the end of her reign, Scots can hold a referendum to decide whether to embrace Charles as their ‘King’ and head of state, or opt to transfer the head of state function to the President of Scotland, thus completely de-feudalizing the Scottish state.
This is all possible, given that aristocratic privilege can be abolished in a written constitution and Scots will live in a true democracy when these traditionally oppressive and non-egalitarian institutions are laid to rest.
Then Scotland can get down to the business of ascertaining whether those who were until recently landowning ‘aristocracy’ are legally entitled to hold title to their property, assuming they actually have ‘legal’ title. Under the UK aristocratic system, many lands in Scotland are registered in offshore accounts, so whether they ‘own’ the land if they are not registered in Scotland would need to be ascertained. Determinations can be made as to the historical circumstances of their acquisition, or whether these landowners have traditionally treated their fellow man in such ways which could disqualify them from continued ownership.
Anyone still considering voting ‘no’ to independence should envision this; watching Charles take the coronation oath ceremony in Westminster Abbey sometime in the next 15 years, perhaps when he is in his 80’s, promising the Archbishop of Canterbury to uphold the Protestant religion, repress Catholicism, and ‘rule’ over Scotland, voiced over with a pompous BBC accent making meaningless and insufferable observations. Is that what you want for the inauguration of a future head of state in an independent Scotland?
While Westminster looks to remain submerged forever, voting ‘yes’ in September 2014 can definitively extract Scotland from feudal miredom.
Maybe it won’t be forever. Maybe watching Scotland set up a fair and egalitarian system of governance from south of the border might induce them to say, ‘Hey, we can do that too’. R-UK citizens can decommission the Monarchy and the House of Lords, and make the House of Commons into a vibrant representative democratic institution underpinned by written constitution with well-defined powers for Wales, England, and Northern Ireland.
An English parliament could be established to balance out the new federal system. There could be residency requirements so that MP’s would actually be from the area they represent, rather than a London apparatchik named to a safe seat of a constituency they never heard of. Also, they can be constitutionally bound to represent the interests of their constituents, rather than those of banks, hedge funds, fracking companies, and military contractors.
It won’t come from Westminster though, it will have to be the English, Welsh, and Northern Irish people getting together, to establish a fair balance of powers and taxation for the r-UK which is satisfactory to all nations into the future, enshrined in a written r-UK constitution.
I can always dream, can’t I?