Reform of monarchy


Floppy

@Floppy - over 3 years ago

A few explicit points to add from Republic: - Scrap the royal veto, which allows Prince Charles and the Queen to insist laws are tailored to suit their personal and private interests. Abolish the ‘Queens and Princes Consent’ rule that allows the royals a role in law-making; - Overhaul of royal funding, which currently costs £300m a year and is riddled with abuse of public money for private purposes. Put the monarchy on the same budgetary footing as any other public body, with the Queen on an annual salary. - Change the parliamentary oath so when you get elected you can swear allegiance to the people and the country, not the Queen and her family.

yellowgopher

@yellowgopher - over 3 years ago

A few thoughts! "Scrap the royal veto, which allows Prince Charles and the Queen to insist laws are tailored to suit their personal and private interests. Abolish the ‘Queens and Princes Consent’ rule that allows the royals a role in law-making;" If I remember my history, the last time the veto was used was by Queen Anne in the early 1700s! I can't think of any system that doesn't have a veto (or withhold assent) clause. Currently, with the House of Commons in ascendancy, I don't think the Monarch would ever use this power without a serious constitutional crisis developing BUT not to have it would effectively leave the Head of State without the ability to counter the small but potential risk that the Houses of Parliament do something totally and unbelievably stupid - it's not too dramatic to point to Germany in the 1930s where an extreme party is elected to power and then changes the structure of government to suit its own ends! Likewise, the 'Queens and Princes Consent' is there to protect these prerogatives and, also, the personnel property and interests. Otherwise a government could, legally, position itself with too much power and remove the ability of the Head of State to counter. It could also strip the property of the entire royal family. This is especially important now our second chamber is only a revising chamber and can be overridden. Put it this way, the US has to ratify constitutional changes on a state by state basis (taking some time) - if consent were removed then only one chamber (House of Commons) would have to vote to completely change our constitution!
"Overhaul of royal funding, which currently costs £300m a year and is riddled with abuse of public money for private purposes. Put the monarchy on the same budgetary footing as any other public body, with the Queen on an annual salary." The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 effectively covers this already and is granted in return for the income from the Crown Estate (that pretty much covers the cost). Not an argument to stop looking at Royal finances and ensure they are properly spent - but one must remember what we get in return (access to a large revenue stream from the Crown Estate, a non-political Head of State, a tourist attraction probably worth £millions to the economy...) "Change the parliamentary oath so when you get elected you can swear allegiance to the people and the country, not the Queen and her family." Before that could happen the whole system would have to be overhauled or it makes no sense - parliament is there by royal consent - the Monarch is the Head of State. It would be like working for one company and signing your contract with another...!

Seriously, who rights this stuff for Republic? I appreciate people have different views on how states are run and set up but I see nothing from them but seriously biased and unsubstantiated claims. How I long for a true neutral debate on this - what is best for our country taking everything into account...!

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 3 years ago

There has never been a worse argument than "oh it's okay us having this enormous, inherited, power because we're unlikely to use it"

A enelected hereditary head of state and royal family propped up by public finances is completely indefensible. It's an embarrassment that we still have such a woefully undemocratic system.

yellowgopher

@yellowgopher - over 3 years ago

I say again, the royal family isn't "propped up by public finances" - the state gets back what it spends in this area.

Any head of state has to have these powers, eventually. They are "inherited" from one head of state to another. In the end it comes down to what you are comfortable with. I (and the majority of the electorate) are comfortable with this power being constituted in a hereditary head of state, with our parliamentary system being supreme. For that reason, and that reason alone, any king or queen of the UK has to be so careful when executing these powers - parliament can strip them of their throne at any time. However, if parliament is no longer acting in the country's interest and the monarch has the support of other bodies - the army, the privy council etc etc (reasons why they have to report directly to the monarch) then, and only then, will the monarch act. Otherwise it's a constitutional crisis and the monarch can be unseated. It has happened before!

In many ways our hereditary head of state is far better than other elected heads of state. The US president has far more power invested in him than our queen does. Mugabe in Zimbabwe is effectively an elected absolute monarch. In France, the president has massive powers, so much so you hardly ever hear of the prime minister. Germany is different but it is a true federalised country - the national parliament has limited powers in comparison to us for example.

The debate has to move on from anti-monarchy rhetoric and into a discussion about what, if any system, would be better for the UK.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 3 years ago

I say again, the royal family isn't "propped up by public finances" - the state gets back what it spends in this area.

Where's the evidence for that?

Any head of state has to have these powers, eventually.

Of course they don't - the status quo is not the only option! It does not have to be a hereditary head of state, and such a thing is clearly not tenable in a democratic society. Public apathy towards reform does not equal acceptance of the status quo.

The US president has far more power invested in him than our queen does.

That's a completely irrelevant comparison - we have an entirely different system of governance to the US, Zimbabwe, France and Germany. We already have a viable solution to what a UK head of state would be.

The debate has to move on from anti-monarchy

It's not possible to be pro-democracy and pro-monarchy - the two are irreconcilable and in direct conflict with each other, so it's absolutely reasonable and pragmatic to be anti-monarchy.

discussion about what, if any system, would be better for the UK.

We've had that discussion in #85 and #263. Ultimately, you are always free to propose a change again, and try to justify it.

mikera

@mikera - over 3 years ago

I certainly support removing the royal family from political influence (scrap the veto etc.). Monarchies shouldn't be interfering with the modern political process.

However I'm pretty strongly opposed to destroying the Royal Family as a tradition and institution. That's akin to vandalism: Cultural heritage is priceless, and the Royal Family is part of what make the UK interesting and unique.

Likewise, a lot of the Royal funding goes to maintaining heritage sites etc. or state visits. I'm totally fine with that - and I'm pretty certain that given the tourism income and influence this provides that this is a massive net benefit for the UK.

I speak as someone who has lived and travelled in a lot in other countries, and I know from speaking with many people on this topic that the Royal Family is very highly regarded internationally, and helps us to be seen as an influential country with amazing traditions. Many people aspire to visit and study in the UK.

Basically - we should see the monarchy as a cultural, political and economic asset. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, OK?

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 3 years ago

a lot of the Royal funding goes to maintaining heritage sites etc

Yep, and it makes perfect sense to retain the tourism aspect. We have a lot of stately homes but we wouldn't want to allow the "Lords of the Manor" and all their servants, just to maintain the nice gardens etc. Likewise castles and feudal Kings. We can maintain the heritage without the democratic deficit of an unelected head of state and publicly-funded royal family. We can fund that heritage through deliberately apportioned public funds.

yellowgopher

@yellowgopher - over 3 years ago

I think I have answered most of these questions already...

Funding. The Crown Estates returned £253million in profit to the exchequer in 2013. That just about covers the cost of the Sovereign Grant. Not a reason not to keep a close eye on royal finances to ensure best value but does suggest the argument around costs is a little inaccurate!

Powers. Any head of state WILL have to have these sorts of powers (varying by system of course). If we ignore the question of monarchy for now, the problem with an elected head of state is that they tend to become political (and also have a mandate to become political). Agreed, France and the US are different animals.The German system is better in that the head of state is appointed by politicians (so not directly elected). The balance of power in the Irish system (the preferred Republic option) is actually more appointment than direct election - candidates need a certain number of national assembly and authority nominations (and can then be appointed without ballot if uncontested). They tend to have had political careers - the current president is a former minister I believe. Whatever you do, politics will be foremost in any of these systems. The advantage of a hereditary system is that the head of state has no reason to be political, hasn't been brought up in the political system. When you have supremacy of parliament (as we do) the fact that a head of state is hereditary doesn't impact in any fundamental way. If we were to move away from a monarchy (and I think people should question their motives for supporting this) then the best system would be a head of state appointed by a separate body made up of a broad range of society - perhaps a reformed House of Lords could take this on.

I would argue, in the UK system, it is very easy to be pro-democracy (i.e. for supremacy of parliament)and also pro-monarchy! For example, I am not an absolute monarchist (although I do like the idea of a benign dictatorship)! For simplicity and to retain most power in our elected assembly, constitutional monarchy works very well.

So, broadly, I support @mikera in that, as far as possible, there should be an effort to limit any interference by the royal family in the political process BUT there also has to be an element of flexibility where members of the royal family with vast experience (the Queen for example) are still accessible by the executive for advice and discussion. To destroy the system completely would lose Britain a valuable asset and also push us into a more political head of state that I don't see gives us any advantage. So tweak, definitely, remove, not so sure.

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - almost 2 years ago

I'm a republican, but I think purely on electable terms we should further push the Queen into irrelevance, not oust her entirely. The money should have Britannia on it, not the Queen. Change all things "Royal" and "Her Majesty", make the Crown Jewels a museum piece and a tourist attraction... take all her powers away too... But keep her as Head of State. The pensioners who remember "king and country" with particular fondness will die off eventually. Let a future government do it when there is the will to do it. Don't make yourselves too unelectable to the majority of the pensioners.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - almost 2 years ago

Ugh "electability" is one of the most politically destructive concepts ever. "Electability" is what makes elections more about who can better eat a bacon sandwich than the actual policies and principles that a party stand for.

Electability can go suck on a stick. I couldn't care less about what's electable, I care about the principles of a democratic state, and I'd rather have the integrity to stick to them.

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - almost 2 years ago

Ugh "electability" is one of the most politically destructive concepts ever. "Electability" is what makes elections more about who can better eat a bacon sandwich than the actual policies and principles that a party stands for.

Electability can go suck on a stick. I couldn't care less about what's electable, I care about the principles of a democratic state, and I'd rather have the integrity to stick to them.

You have no chance on this issue. Even if you convince me (not gonna happen) you will not convince the electorate, and then you will not convince the House of Commons.

Our contributions here mean nothing without ambition. To lack ambition is to wallow. You prefer that, for the sake of "integrity"?

Angela Merkel's attitude towards the Greek economy is that of "an uncompromising democrat". Nicolás Maduro's attitude towards the Venezuelan constitution is that of "an uncompromising democrat". Of note: they are both 'Heads of State' who're far worth opposing in comparison to our own.

Democracy and compromise go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.

The same "unyieldingly democratic" people are the first to complain that the Chief Whip isn't crushing enough of the rebels.

Moreover there is nothing I can do if you will not reform wholly loss-making policies.

Floppy

@Floppy - almost 2 years ago

This is one of the policies that would benefit from some timescales, I think. At the moment our long-term goals and immediate actions are all jumbled up together. This is one that would be longer term, for sure. I agree with Phil though, what we're setting out is the world we want to see, not the step-by-step strategy for getting there. We would certainly consider an enhancement to policy that explains steps to take towards removing the monarchy, such as those you mention above @Xyleneb. And of course you're always free to rewrite the whole section and propose a new one :)

philipjohn

@philipjohn - almost 2 years ago

The same "unyieldingly democratic" people are the first to complain that the Chief Whip isn't crushing enough of the rebels.

Which is wrong! Let's not behave like the old politics we're trying to replace ;)

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - almost 2 years ago

Which is wrong! Let's not behave like the old politics we're trying to replace ;)

I'm uncomfortable with the speed, extent, and lack of a say in these large constitutional reforms. There is that. So; slowly, gradually, & referendums are what I would want.

Secondly, and the more underlying issue here though is being told "we know what's best for you". There are a dozen or so policies in the manifesto that are much the same way, that completely miss the point of "freedom to choose" and I'd never vote for a party with these things. Still, I don't submit counter-policies and try to convince you of their merits yet, because I've got a lot of other less contentious policies still to submit.

Compromises, and the buddha's "middle-way" are all that I've got here. If I'm hitting walls already with some of the less contentious policies, then there's little I can do. It would become a game of bad faith, of going over the heads of each other, and of ignoring the criticism that is important for sculpting these policies into their best possible forms.

Does that make sense? I hope it does. Compromise, even pretty substantial compromise is one of the best and only means that I have, and without it I could only form a clique of yes-men that agree with everything I do.

This is just a suggestion for a proposal, not a completed proposal. It should be turned into a proper proposal by editing the original document. Debate and voting can then happen there.

Make a proposal on this idea!