Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

I didn't wish my American readers a happy July 4th. I was too jealous. You got the best Enlightenment constitution in the world; we got the King who discussed matters of State with a tree in Windsor Great Park.

The monarchy is a great tourist attraction, but has no place in a modern constitution - "modern" in this sense meaning "of the past quarter millennium".

We also have a new, unelected, Prime Minister who has no understanding of the nature of constitutional reform. His recent proposals that have been given this heading involve the transfer of powers from the executive to Parliament, and token "consultations" with unelected pressure groups. Whoops, I mean communities.

But constitutions properly include the limitation of the powers of government, whichever arm of government might exercise them.

So we've still got a lot of work to do on this side of the water. In that most recent of British civil wars, you won more than a few battles. You won your freedom.


Unknown said...

Thank you, though I, at least, wasn't expecting it, for obvious reasons.

Peter Risdon said...

The American side in the War of Independence was supported by a lot of people on this side of the pond (and opposed by quite a lot over there). In an updated sort of way, it still is.

Unknown said...

I was aware of that. One of these days, I may run my private hypothesis past you.

Anonymous said...

The very ridiculousness of a monarchy is a good argument for keeping it. A President is just an elected King with a popular mandate and thus real power. A hereditary monarch can only ever be a figurehead.

Power should never be concentrated in a single pair of hands. Rather than attack the idea of monarchy, you should instead attack the idea of the Royal Prerogative being wielded by British Prime Ministers, (or American Presidents).

Peter Risdon said...

Sounds interesting, Prof.

David, last October I wrote: " Interesting to reflect, in passing, that the rights of jury trial and habeas corpus that were initiated and codified by a mediaeval monarch are being eroded by a bunch of elected tyrants. The Republican case is now made most strongly not by any discontent with the way the monarch carries out her role, or by opposition to the hereditary principle, but rather by the reflection that these bastards are not fit to wield the Royal Prerogative. Parliament should only have limited powers, not essentially those of an absolute monarch."

I do attack the idea of monarchy, but it's a mild, not very worked up sort of attack. If people like it, fine. But it shouldn't be anywhere near government, which should not wield any form of the royal prerogative. The powers of government should be limited. I think we agree about this.