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Debate:Commonwealth of Britain
“”We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
In a recent debate here, the issue of the Commonwealth of Britain came up. This (as is known by those familiar with the antics of that self-hating aristocrat, the 2nd Viscount Stansgate, alias Tony Benn) is the name that would be given to the United Kingdom were its parliament to dethrone the monarch and establish a republic. Apparently the good Viscount thinks that the last one is worthy of nominal emulation.
As I am not a British national, my standing to comment on this issue is somewhat limited. However, I am: (1) in agreement with Edmund Burke that switching the mere form of government does not make things better and often makes them worse; (2) of the conviction that some extremely serious grievances are needed to justify destroying the approximately 1500-year-old throne of King Arthur and Odin.
Although I recently argued that the House of Lords shouldn't be replaced with an elected body for the sake of progress, I still feel that eventually it must become a body which is selected in a way other than inheritance, I still consider myself an abolitionist. In all things, we must consider political capital. For those lefties/liberals who would quite like to get rid of the monarchy; we must remember that there are dozens of more important, pressing matters to get on with. It isn't worth fighting over the monarchy, when it ultimately makes little difference, when there are causes worthy of our attention. For this reason, I believe it will remain the pet topic of a left-wing intellectuals for years or decades before becoming a serious issue.
The arguments for the monarchy are either nonsense (The queen could stop a tyrant by refusing royal assent!) or lazy (maintain the status quo) in my opinion. If any of us were setting up a country today, we wouldn't vest any power (even slight, meaningless power) in a monarchy. And so, I simply do not feel that supporting the monarchy makes sense to me. Members of Parliament are required to swear allegiance to the Queen, and I don't think that's good form. Those who are elected to represent us being required to honour the Queen in this way is wrong.
After "I don't really like the idea of a Queen," my biggest reason is my advocacy of a written constitution. I will, no doubt, some day write an essay on the topic. But, I feel that to write a constitution in which the monarchy plays a part would be foolish. The country that is the United Kingdom has slowly evolved into the current democracy it is today, and nothing has gone particularly wrong which shouts out against the current constitution. To write a constitution, a document which we would hope lasts for hundreds of years, would be the perfect opportunity to establish a republican form of government. To write a constitution which enshrines the monarchy would be folly, as the constitution should represent the ultimate triumph of democracy over monarchy.
It's really a bit of a non-issue. I don't like the monarchy, I've love to live in the "Commonwealth of Britain" or the "United Republic of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," but it's not worth fighting for in any serious way as long as nobody cares. But therein lies the rub. Nobody cares because we like Queen Elizabeth II. She has seen us through a lot, and always been a kind and friendly figure. When, hopefully a long time away, she passes away, we will face Charles. Perhaps that'll be enough of a kick up the arse to convince us we don't like hereditary Heads of State. Who knows? I like what Julia Gillard said, that the Aussies should declare QE2 to be their final monarch, and become a republic upon her death. I'd be happy with that solution for the UK.
The weakness of my argument: Upon the dissolution of the monarchy, the Commonwealth of Nations would probably begin to unravel and end. Is the CoN a good thing? Would its loss be too big a price to pay for a republic? EXTERMINATE 06:48, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
P.S. I FREAKING LOVE TONY BENN. EXTERMINATE 06:51, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
- Members of Parliament are required to swear allegiance to the Queen, and I don't think that's good form. It is identical to swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution here in the U.S.
- ...nonsense (The queen could stop a tyrant by refusing royal assent!)... Victor Emmanuel III did boot Mussolini out, and as far as fascist regimes go, more of them were carved out of republics (Austria, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Germany, etc., etc.) than monarchies (Italy, Greece).
- ...or lazy (maintain the status quo)... Right; obviously all arguments in favor of monarchy may be discarded based on the principle of "ring out the old, ring in the new."
- If any of us were setting up a country today... But Britain is not just being set up; it is a country with a thousand-plus-year history as a monarchy.
- ...advocacy of a written constitution... When push comes to shove, a few words on a piece of paper mean squat; a thousand years of precedent carries a little more weight. ListenerXTalkerX 07:50, 19 November 2010 (UTC)