There’s nothing democratic about the royal family. They are the descendants of a thug who defeated another thug to become the despot of these Isles. If that was all there was to them, I would be the first in the queue to get rid of them.
The greatest invention in the history of the world is not the wheel, or fire, or the scientific method: it’s democracy and the rule of law. What’s wonderful about democracy is he principle it establishes, that everyone, no matter their colour or creed, is of equal worth. That each person has the same number of votes: just one. With that principle comes equality before the law and an aspiration that everyone, no matter their background, should have the chance to fulfil their dreams.
Our democracy is a work in progress. We have an electoral system where not every vote is of equal value, where media tycoons have too much power and where money talks. But it’s a whole lot better than what went before.
Equality under the law is a work in progress too. Too often, justice belongs to those who can afford expensive lawyers. As we’ve seen in the Leveson enquiry, if you are an ordinary person, without access to those lawyers, powerful media groups can trample all over you. But the very fact the Leveson enquiry has been established is a triumph of democracy over those media groups.
Maybe we’ll never finish this journey, maybe we’ll always be fighting, step by step, towards a better democracy. But, for all its flaws, that painful, slow, progress to democracy is something to celebrate.
Some bemoan that glacial progress from the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, through Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Great Reform Act, and extensions of voting to women and to all adults above 18. Maybe a revolution would have been quicker, but maybe not. Too many revolutions carried out in the name of democracy have torn down the laws that went before and replaced them with something worse.
Our history has been far from bloodless, but much of the progress has been achieved, not through violence, but lawful change brought about by the will of the people. That’s something to celebrate.
And we have a symbol to celebrate that history. The descendent of despots like William the Conqueror and Henry VIII is a constitutional monarch. The monarchy is a symbol without power, an enthusiastic champion for democracy and the rule of law whose liberal views would cause those tyrants to turn in their graves.
* George Kendall has been a member since he joined a predecessor party in 1981, is a member in Cambridge, and likes to organise Regional Action Days. He writes for Liberal Democrat Voice in a personal capacity.