Thursday, 2 January 2014
Do we really need a Monarchy?
At the dawn of 2014, Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for little over 60 years, we have been graced by the birth of Prince George to Wills and Kate and like his father before him who proceeded to Cambridge with BC at A-Level, Prince William to set to receive a pricey Cambridge education on the merits of his 2:1, ABC at A-Level and his membership of the Royal Family.
The Monarchy is riding high and recent polls by Ipsos Mori have shown 80% of the population is in favour of keeping the Monarchy. However the sizeable pressure group Republic has argued that the Monarchy is unacceptable in a democracy. I can sympathise with the position of Republic based on the clear preferential treatment that Royals receive from institutions, such as Cambridge. If the Monarchy is to continue we must move to legislate that they are equal before the law and subject to the laws of the United Kingdom.
The main argued made by Royalists for keeping the Monarchy is that it is good for tourism. I do not welcome tourism as a principle of idea behind the constitutional nature of Britain. Therefore I will keep it this. According to Visit England, the top tourist attraction in the England is the Tower of London, which is not operated by the Crown. No royal residences or estates appear on the top 10 list and imagine if we abolished the Monarch there could be an economic boost from tourism due to the further opening up to the public of Buckingham Palace and other residences.
The arguments for and against the Monarchy are well known. In favour of keeping Liz, we have a completely pointless arguments about tourism, no harm done by the Monarchy, they serve the nation and its value for me. On the other side, Republic argues that the Monarchy is elitist, expensive and undemocratic. The can be seen through Prince Charles’ meddling in political affairs and his dubious entry to Cambridge. The key argument is the Monarchy is unaccountable, undemocratic and untouchable and there should be moved to rectify that situation. However I do not believe there is currently a will for the abolished of the Monarchy by the British public.
However I do have a series of reforms that could be mapped out for a more democratic Britain. Firstly, there should be a referendum on the established of a British Republic. The public have a right for a referendum on our membership of the European Union and therefore they should have a say on whether we elect a Head of State or continue the tradition of the Monarchy.
However if that fails, I believe there could be a half-way house. The Monarch holds royal prerogative powers, such as the appointment of the Prime Minister, dissolving Parliament and declarations of war. However I propose that these core powers will be transferred to a regent, a president by another title, elected by the people of the United Kingdom. An elected regent would have more legitimacy than the Monarch in acting on constitutionals crisis and the appointment of the prime-minister in the case of a hung parliament.
Furthermore I propose the Privy Council is abolished and replaced by a Council of State, which would include key figures from the Government and the Opposition from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Council of State would advise the Regent on matters of state and the appropriate measures to take. Under these proposals the Monarchy would become a completely ceremonial role with powers acted upon or otherwise officially transferred to an elected regent or co-president.
I would also propose that the affairs of the Monarchy and their expenses are made public and subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Furthermore there should be steps taken to monitor communications between the Monarchy and British government officials due the recent behaviour of Prince Charles. The Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster should also be brought into public ownership with profits going to the British government and not lining the pockets of the Royal Family. The Royal’s budget shall be set by Parliament and they will be expected to use public services, such as the NHS and our state education system.
I believe that this half-way house offers concessions to supporters of the Monarchy and supporters of a British Republic. However I remain committed to the belief that people of Britain should be able to hold a referendum on the future of the British Monarchy. I also implore any progressive party which believes in democracy to give the public their chance to decide the future of the Monarchy. I also do not believe we can be a One Nation Britain, while we have this elitist relic in place. If we abolished the Monarchy, Britain would move forward without much difficulty and operate more in a more democratic fashion.