The Incompatibility of Liberalism and Monarchy

We as a party pride ourselves on standing up for the values of liberal democracy. The mission statement on our membership cards declare us in favour of a “fair, free and open society” in which stands for “equality” and against a society in which we are enslaved by “ignorance or conformity”. However there is a glaring blind spot in these idealistic dedications, this is in our support for the continuance of the British Monarchy.

The hard truth, whether we choose to face it head on or not, is that the British Monarchy stands in complete defiance of values of liberal democracy. Monarchical values and liberal values are completely opposed to each other, there is no other way around it. Our party can never wholly support an open society if it accepts self censorship in press coverage when it comes to reporting on this institution. What is more, not taking a lack of critical reporting on this institution seriously keeps us threatens to keep us in “ignorance”. Our party can never really be truly committed to a society based on equality if we are in favour of protecting a feudal class that expects deference and is impervious to entry by social mobility.

No one, save the most die-hard monarchist, would even try to justify the British Monarchy’s existence on ideological grounds, because they know deep down the values are alien to a modern country. So the next line of defence are usually arguments based on sentiment. The “living history” is perhaps the most powerful argument, but also the most irrelevant. All of us have lived in history and are living through it now. My very own Grandmother is just as old as the Queen and has such a force of personality that she made a Tory canvasser apologise for Thatcherism on her doorstep. If we did not have a monarchy history would still exist. In fact it would be more accessible through many Royal Palaces that would be more accessible to domestic and international tourists. Concerning the latter, the argument that we should have a Monarchy because tourists like it is simply demeaning to ourselves. Would any of us seriously consider asking the Mongolians to set up a new Khanate for our entertainment? I thought as much. Germany for one earns nearly as much as us from tourism and has plenty of Royal sites.

We need to seriously think about the wider cost of this institution to our country and to our party. It puts a ceiling on our commitment to democracy. The Monarchy’s exemption from Freedom of Information (FOI) shields it from democratic transparency. The FOI exemption and the Royal Veto allows lobbying by stealth for considerable Royal business interests, treatment we would not accept for any other vested interests. More close to home as a party it shows the limits to our radicalism and commitment to furthering democracy.

I do not expect the Liberal Democrats to become a republican party. But I do hope that it will not allow reverence to put a limit on it’s vigilance to threats to liberty.

* Zachary Barker is a Liberal Democrat member in Bristol West.

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69 Comments

  • William Fowler 29th May '18 - 2:53pm

    Not a great fan of the monarchy but do I feel my individual freedom is any way threatened by it? Nope. On the other hand, the prospect of President McDonald would have us all running for the nearest Marxist retraining camp. If you ask the populace if they want yet another layer of parasitic politicians, guess what the answer would be? Complete waste of time to replace one elite with another and very dangerous because they will then mess things up on the back of their “democratic mandate”.

  • Matt (Bristol) 29th May '18 - 3:10pm

    Oh, sigh. ‘We should be against X because it is illiberal’. Why is it illiberal? ‘Because it is’.

    I’m not an ardent monarchist, but the principles of liberal democracy – which you make frequent reference to – involve choice. If an unelected head of state – appointed by whatever process – is freely chosen by the peoples of a nation, I can’t see what there is to object about, unless that person is actively engaged in unconstitutional acts of abuse of international law.

    Until and unless those who want to further reform the monarchy can demonstrate a democratic pathway to either abolition or confirmation by popular mandate, being in principle against the concept does not get us very far.

    I’d also point out that the practical powers of the British monarch are considerably less than those of either the French or American presidents.

    It is our Prime Mnister that is the most problematic element of our constitution.

    In terms of a proportionate response to harm cause, the continually undemocratic actions and extremely unregulated powers of the head of government in this country should concern us a lot less than the arguably undemocratic method of appointment of the head of state.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 29th May '18 - 3:12pm

    The party seems to be afraid of discussing the subject. Tim Farron was said to be a Republican, but after he became leader we never heard any more about it.
    I think everyone knows really that the monarchy is incompatible with liberalism and democracy. But very few people would actually want to turn the queen off the throne now, in her nineties.
    Couldn’t we have a policy of a phased in abolition of the monarchy? It could be agreed that the monarchy would continue during the lifetimes of the queen and Prince Charles, and that it would then end.
    All current members of the royal family could receive pensions for life, and could even keep their titles, although they could not pass them on.

  • Time to support the dis-establishment of the Church from the State then?

  • Alex Hegenbarth 29th May '18 - 3:27pm

    As a Liberal Monarchist I personally believe that the monarchy is a integral part of our democratic constitutional model. Is it perfect? No. If we were designing a political model from scratch would we create it? I would say not. However, it is part of the political and cultural fabric of the nation and helps act as a check and balance to other parts of our governing apparatus.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 29th May '18 - 3:41pm

    Alex Hegenbarth, If a monarch every tried to use their theoretical power to act as a “check and balance”, refusing to sign a piece of legislation, or making a unilateral decision to dissolve Parliament, then the vast majority of the public would regard this as unacceptable, and it would result in a constitutional crisis.
    We can surely device better “checks and balences”. Democratic ones.

  • Roland Bell 29th May '18 - 3:46pm

    Well after the general griping, perhaps the biggest step forward, isn’t so much as to worry about the details of the Royal family, but to address matters one-step-at-a-time.

    A good first step would be to cleanse our political system of traces of monarchical rule. This primarily means radically curtailing the power of the Executive such as the removal of Henry VIII clauses/powers, so that it is unable to act as a monarch/dictator and thus bypass parliamentary scrutiny. Having done this we can look again at the role of the monarch in our constitution: the signing off of legislation, the appointment and resignation of PM’s, the opening of Parliament etc. Do we need someone to perform these functions or not? Likewise we can look at the role of the monarchy in the projection of UK interests. Again we need to look at Crown interests and separate these from “the monarchy”.

    I agree with William Fowler, there is a real danger that just as with ‘Leave’ we allow the hot heads to prevail and end up with a mess caused by the short-sightedness of elected representatives obsessed with their “democratic mandate” and “the will of the people”.

  • Yes the monarchy doesnt feel very compatible with liberalism

    But there are lots of other things in this country which aren’t compatible with liberalism and arguably cause more harm to both individuals’ and society’s liberty.

    So on a list of priorities to deal with, I’d put dealing with the monarchy pretty low down the list, since whilst in principal probably isn’t compatible with liberalism, there are other much bigger fish to fry whose negative impact on liberty goes far deeper and do much more harm

  • Graham Jeffs 29th May '18 - 4:03pm

    Please let’s not be so precious about liberalism and monarchy possibly being incompatible. There are lots of far far more important issues, so let’s avoid yet more navel gazing. After all, would yet another party political hack be any better?

  • paul barker 29th May '18 - 4:09pm

    The Root idea behind The Monarchy is that some people are inherently worth more than others; its a popular idea & forms the basis for a great deal of our Culture but its morally & factually wrong, both wicked & irrational & its the Opposite of what Liberals claim we believe.
    A lot of the coverage of The Royal Wedding claimed that Meghan Markle has “Saved The Monarchy” by “Modernising ” it but the reason She is so popular is that She is better at being “Royal” than the people born to it; by doing such a good job of portraying a “Fairy Tale Princess” She undermines the whole point of Inherited Position while bolstering it.
    Lets have the courage to argue for Liberal & Democratic Values.

  • um… I would prefer to live in a country that was a Republic but I also prefer to live in Britain and have no particular desire to see it without a monarchy.

    There is a debate as to whether a monarch is a better guarantee of democracy than some of other things – in particular the example of Juan Carlos I of Spain in his action against the attempted 1981 coup. Wikipedia notes: “During the coup, the King, in the uniform of the Captain-General of the Spanish armed forces, gave a public television broadcast calling for unambiguous support for the legitimate democratic government. The broadcast is believed to have been a major factor in foiling the coup.”

    It also notes his role in democratising Spain after the death of Franco. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Carlos_I_of_Spain.

    I think as democrats we need to start with all the other undemocratic parts of our constitution – the unelected House of Lords, PR, greater devolution etc. etc.

  • David Evans 29th May '18 - 5:38pm

    This sort of thing should immediately fail the ‘Will it do anything at all to improve our chances of recovery?’ test.

  • David Evans 29th May '18 - 5:41pm

    However, the FOI exemption is not necessary and would be a vast improvement for those in the South West with properties leased from the Duchy of Cornwall.

  • David Becket 29th May '18 - 5:42pm

    @Michael 1
    Well said. Lets get rid of the unelected House of Lords, First Past the post, flawed local government system, inequality, ensure everybody has a home, stop discrimination, and when we are living in a liberal society we can afford to look at issues like the Monarchy. Doing so now makes us look like a fringe laughing stock.

  • Some of the most “liberal” countries in the world are constitutional monarchies – Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden … what exactly is the problem?

  • I am a Republican and one who desperately wants the Lib Dems to pick up votes. Being anti-monarchy will not achieve the latter, so its best left alone..

  • I’m a republican. To me its a point of principle to oppose hereditary claims to power that goes beyond the notion of monarchies being illiberal. I just don’t get the concept. It all seems a bit weird and cultish.

  • Peter Martin 29th May '18 - 6:36pm

    I can understand the argument that Socialism and support for the monarchy are incompatible. But Liberalism? Sure, the old Whigs had their brushes with aristocratic power in previous centuries but that’s all resolved now. Just part of British history.

    Dennis Skinner does his best to keep the republican agenda from being forgotten in the Labour party but I don’t remember anything at all from the subject from Lib Dems. Its not quite the same in other countries. The Liberal PM of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, is a republican.

  • Andrew McCaig 29th May '18 - 6:54pm

    I think the Queen is a splendid example of a public servant.

    She definitely deserves a substantial allowance for her services..

    Perhaps similar to the allowance for a local Councillor?

    Seriously, I am not interested in wasting my time campaigning to abolish the monarchy, but I would vote to restrict funding to the immediate family, provided they earn their salary

  • John Marriott 29th May '18 - 7:24pm

    I’m afraid that Zachary is ‘barkering’ up the wrong tree! Whatever you think about the monarchy (I could live with a Republic myself) while the Queen is still there there is absolutely no way that a majority of the British public would vote for its abolition. The David Evans test is entirely relevant here.

    The best we could hope for would be a more relaxed monarchy on the Dutch or Scandinavian lines, although the recent royal wedding would seem to signal a move along those lines.

  • I am a republican but at the moment feel that arguing for an elected Head of State within the Liberal Democrats is not the best way forward. There is a huge inbuilt bias towards the monarchy in our media. The republican view needs to heard more so that voters can re-examine our current system. Campaign groups such as Republic are beginning to do this and it is to them that I devote my support and energy in this policy area.

  • I know in my heart that the monarchy is illiberal, but I struggle to care about this issue. Of all the challenges facing us right now, this is way down the pile.

    If there was a referendum on the issue, I would vote against it. But it would appear that a majority of the population don’t agree with me, and I don’t care enough to engage in the argument that I should deprive that majority of the entertaining soup opera and tourist attraction that the monarchy provides.

  • Presumably @Nick Baird a Windsor soup opera – sorry couldn’t resist :)!

  • Little Jackie Paper 29th May '18 - 8:32pm

    No mention of events in Italy and their President model? Does rather show up some of the dangers, even if it is not an argument for the UK monarchy per se.

    On the monarchy – to be honest I just can’t get myself too worked up. My wife’s family enjoyed the wedding and that’s good enough for me.

  • Richard Underhill 29th May '18 - 8:54pm

    One of the greatest Liberal achievements was the Parliament Act, after the House of Lords rejected the budget. David Lloyd George said they were “drawn at random from the ranks of the unemployed” (all hereditaries then). King Edward 7 refused to help unless the Liberal Party won another general election, which they did in 1910, but he died and his son George 5 became King and decided to support the legislation as part of his actions to conserve the monarchy. Threatened with a flood of new peers committed to reform the existing peers conceded. Roy Jenkins researched this and wrote it up. A list of 500 new peers had been produced. Without the parliament act the 1945-1950 Labour government would have achieved much less.

  • Steve Trevethan 29th May '18 - 8:56pm

    Since 1215 England/Great Britain has been an oligarchy fronted by monarchy. It still is.
    Perhaps we could try being a democracy fronted by monarchy?

  • Mike Sargent 29th May '18 - 9:03pm

    A monarchy, by its very nature, is undemocratic. To mark an individual from birth for a particular role in society, whatever the role, with the individual having virtually no choice in the matter, is also surely illiberal. A monarchy, then, is both undemocratic and illiberal. On those grounds there can be no doubt that the institution is contrary to Liberal Democrat principles. The only room for debate on the matter is how highly the need for change should rank in comparison to other matters.

  • Laurence Cox 29th May '18 - 9:20pm

    If this article is a serious entry for the Ashdown prize:

    “The Ashdown Prize will be awarded to the boldest, most radical new policy idea that best empowers the citizen and tackles one of the challenges facing Britain today”

    then we are all doomed.

    @Richard Underhill

    There were actually two General Elections in 1910, both of which led to hung Parliaments where the Tories received more votes but the Liberals slightly more seats. See:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_January_1910

    and

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_December_1910

    for the details.

  • Nick
    Imagine how much more tourism there would be if we opened up the various royal residences to the public and put some sort of rollercoaster on the grounds. I don’t really think the tourist attraction argument is that convincing. With Alton or Disneyland towers it’s pretty easy to look at the numbers, but with the royal family we’re simply told they generate tourism.I think people go to London for the same reason they go to Paris or New York or even Manchester. It’s a big exciting city. The chances of actually seeing anything resembling a royal personage are very very slim. Sure, they draw big crowds for weddings and funerals, but that doesn’t happen very often. So I think the tourism thing is just something royalists say to justify the expense and social position. I’m also not entirely convinced by the idea that the monarchy is really only ceremonial. I dunno, I look at them in there uniforms on ceremonial occasions, see all the armed guards and it looks a bit heavier than a soap or showbiz. But maybe, that’s just me! Coz I’m a bit of a hippy really.

  • Would Lib Dems consider abolishing the bastion of liberal democracy called the House of Lords ?

  • I’m afraid this policy if policy it was to become would fall under the category of “Bubble Elite”, the majority of the population either like the monarchy or don’t care. There are more important issues too deal with than those of a figure head monarchy, as has been pointed out the powers of the PM are much more important issue. Concentrate on the issues affected the man or woman on the bike; biking to work at two in the morning who has many worries but the monarchy isn’t one of them.

  • Imagine how much more tourism there would be if we opened up the various royal residences to the public and put some sort of rollercoaster on the grounds.

    Get Richard Branson to operate them along the same lines as he operates Nectar island: 42,000 GBP a night for a suite in B’Palace – I expect there would be a queue of people throwing money at the opportunity. Obviously, need to get the financials tight – like the lottery, so that most of the revenues can be directed to social benefit rather than added to the bank balance of a few.

  • Interesting question LibDemer, reform or abolish. If you abolish it you have no revising chamber, if you reform it by removing hereditary and nominated peers, replacing them by elected members (hopefully not using FPTP) you might end up with a more democratic form of government.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th May '18 - 1:02am

    Liberal Democrats are democrats… sort of.

    Sort of when it might suit their purposes.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th May '18 - 1:33am

    @ William Fowler,

    If we had a president McDonald,or even a president Blair, presumably it would be because the Demos had voted for them.

    That is democracy… damn it.

  • We have had a long period of stability thanks to our present Queen. We need try to look objectively at the possibilities when this period of stability ends. It is not so much a question of our theories about government, but what we would actually do as a political party if we have a King who behaves in a totally different way, and is much more openly “political”. If they use their powers and influence openly, then what do we do?

  • Ian Hurdley 30th May '18 - 7:58am

    The solution to the conflict, if conflict there is, is to tame monarchy rather than destroy it. It’s interesting that after 1975 Spain with a strong republican ethos opted to replace Franco’s regime with a constitutional monarchy. Why? To ensure that ultimate authority resides outside the political sphere. They chose to restrict royal status much more than we do; the monarch, his/her spouse, their children. The role is to embody the State and protect its integrity in a way that a politically based President cannot. For all his faults, Juan Carlos performed one task which cemented the monarchy into the Spanish constitution. When a faction within the Guardia Civil stormed the Spanish Parliament in an attempt to overthrow the government, he put on his uniform as Head of the Armed Forces, went onto national television and commanded the troops to remain in their barracks or to return to barracks if they were elsewhere. He then took the necessary steps to ensure that the coup leaders were arrested without any loss of life and put on trial without creating any ‘martyrs for the cause ‘.
    In our own present situation with all the turmoil and chaos of Brexit, the final authority of the state is embodied not by Theresa May but by Elizabeth Windsor who stands apart from the political process. The Prime Minister has no authority to instruct Gavin Williamson to arrange to have troublesome opponents rounded up and incarcerated or killed. Can we say the same about Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Russia……..?

  • “Our party can never really be truly committed to a society based on equality if we are in favour of protecting a feudal class that expects deference and is impervious to entry by social mobility.”

    It may not occur to the usual visitors to this website, but that is precisely how we see a certain organisation that the LibDems wish to keep us bound to.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 30th May '18 - 8:53am

    Even if the party does not have the courage to become an openly republican party at the moment, we should at least campaign to end the requirement for MPs to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch and her heirs. Many MPs begin their Parliamentary career by taking an oath that they do not agree with, as this is the only way they can take their seat in Parliament. Couldn’t the oath be replaced by the MP simply making a promise faithfully to serve the people of their constituency?

  • Peter Watson 30th May '18 - 9:28am

    @Catherine Jane Crosland “we should at least campaign to end the requirement for MPs to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch and her heirs”
    I totally agree with that, and would agree that an oath of allegiance to the country and/or an MP’s constituents is a much better approach.
    While being pretty indifferent to the monarchy per se, another thing that grinds my gears is the national anthem. Not so much the dirge-like way it cranks up to give joyous sporting achievements, etc. a funereal quality, but also the fact that it is all about asking a deity (who many don’t believe in) to look after the monarch so he/she can reign over us for a long time. Why can’t we have a national anthem that celebrates the country and its people? That’s a campaign I could get behind!

  • Catherin Jane Crosland
    To me the point is that we’re subject not citizens. The judiciary and military are also required to swear allegiance to the crown. OK, you could say that it is just tradition, but is it a good tradition? To be honest, I sometimes think there is a little bit of fear behind some of the political acquiescence surrounding the Royal family. Outside of politics, I find more people than you would think who are less than keen on these traditions and much more indifference to the pomp/glamour of royalty than is presumed on our behalf. Indifference is, after all, not support and it’s certainly not indicative of the often claimed British love of all things royal. Indifference is simply lack of interest.

  • I was once asked at a hustings whether I was a republican. My response was that I too have German ancestors. Of course, in an ideal world, the UK would be a republic and not a monarchy. The regrettable truth is that an awful lot of people in the UK like the monarchy and would object to its abolition. Even in Australia, a long way away, referendums have so far rejected ending the link with the crown.
    Like a number of people in this thread I would suggest that abolition of the monarchy is way down my list of priorities. I agree with David Beckett’s list. Far more important than the monarchy!

  • Yeovil Yokel 30th May '18 - 10:50am

    John Innes: “Lizzie does a great job!” – How do you know?

  • Some of us try to run our households as liberated zones. I had no problem with my spouse watching the latest royal wedding while I spent the morning in the loft, chucking out a lot of stuff that I should have got rid of years ago. As a committed lifelong republican I felt that this was sending out the right signals. There were however more people in the queue at the tip than I was expecting!

  • I think the argument that it is not a priority is a disingenuous and becomes an excuse to do nothing. Constitutional changes reshape the future more than any short term social program and can be carried out at the same time as dealing with other problems, anywhere. Abolishment or even meaningful reform of the House of Lords gets kicked into the long grass decade after decade because it becomes convenient to simply create more lords more favourable to short term aims and the same is true of the Royal Family. No, no, don’t challenge it. There are more important things to do. I sometimes suspect a good proportion of this is driven by fear of the power structures involved. It wouldn’t be so bad if the more pressing issues were ever actually dealt with.

  • Geoff Reid 30th May ’18 – 10:51am……Some of us try to run our households as liberated zones. I had no problem with my spouse watching the latest royal wedding while I spent the morning in the loft, chucking out a lot of stuff that I should have got rid of years ago…..

    … and your spouse was watching ‘a lot of stuff that I should have got rid of years ago’…..

    I’m sure there’s a pun in there somewhere.

  • What wedding?

  • Matt (Bristol) 30th May '18 - 12:49pm

    Zachary, I note with interest that you and I are members of the same citywide local party, and look forward to meeting you at any upcoming recent events.

    I agree totally with you that we need more honesty about the cost of the monarchy, about the influence wielded by the royal family, about how politicians exploit the monarchy for their own ends, and I repudiate the small-minded sentimental nationalism that is culturally associated with the monarchy, too often. None of that necessarily makes me a republican.

    I think what I’m finding difficult to reconcile is the absolute and unilateral nature of your conviction of what our ‘ideology’ should and does mean, with your statement that you recognise the party isn’t a republican party.

    It’s very difficult to believe that you genuinely enter the debate on an even footing when every other word suggests you believe that all the convinced constitutional monarchists, pragmatic monarchists, monarchic reformers, and pragmatically non-active republicans etc in the party are really just in denial about the rightness of your cause, or have been deluded by sentiment.

    We can all work together as legitimate liberal democrats to scrutinise all the inappropriate allocations of power in the British constitution. Of which there are a lot.

    But please work with others in the party from a position of respect and equality.

  • Russell Simpson 30th May '18 - 1:16pm

    A bit like abolishing the House of Lords you’ve got to ask yourself the question “what is the problem for which abolishing the monarchy is the answer?” As much as I try to think of a good reason I usually come to the conclusion that “things” are more likely to be worse than better if it were abolished. Even if it was desirable to abolish the monarchy I personally think electoral reform to be way, way, WAY more important.

  • Russell Simpson 30th May '18 - 1:17pm

    On this subject I found this programme informative:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswkd3

  • Russell Simpson 30th May '18 - 1:33pm

    A country that can produce this:

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-windsors

    (**** the times, guardian and telegraph) clearly understand that the royals are far too important to be taken seriously. Apologies for blatant advertising but written by a mate of mine!)

  • Martin Land 30th May '18 - 2:01pm

    Monarchy or President Boris?

  • Martin Land 30th May ’18 – 2:01pm…………………………..Monarchy or President Boris?………….

    Why is it that, whenever there is talk of a republic, the most outlandish candidates are thrown in the ring; Thatcher, Blair and now Boris?

    Ireland seems to have managed OK with their choices. The last few Irish presidents (Hillery, Robinson, McAleese, Higgins) have all been an example of a sensible republic..

  • “Liberal Monarchist “. Just when I thought I had heard it all. Hope you lot are enjoying the “Constitutional Crisis” in Italy.

  • Kay Kirkham 30th May '18 - 3:41pm

    There was , briefly, an attempt to start an AO called Liberal Democrats for a Republic . I recall having a pic taken at a conference with Julian Huppert. What ever happened to it? Anyone up for a revival?

  • “Ireland seems to have managed OK with their choices…”

    Probably because they don’t have the ‘English’ system. I suggest if we are go down the same path we will need to exclude all candidates that have attended Eton, Roedean etc and those who studied PPE at Oxbridge.

  • Ed Shepherd 30th May '18 - 8:03pm

    One of many problems with changing the UK to a republic I’d think is that if Elizabeth, Charlie, William or Harry stood for lection they woul d win hand s down. Even Camilla would get more votes than any politician. Would a politician president from a wealthy background with an expensive education and an Oxbridge degree be any more sign of liberal meritocracy than a royal
    Appointee? No. I suspect royals like William or Harry can relate to the average person better than the cossetted politicians who would elbow their way onto the presidential ticket. The last French presidential election was a run off between a rarified oddball nd a fascist_ lite. As for Italy or the USA?! Perhaps best to stick with our flawed system that since at least the 1930s has kept undesirables and fascists out of the top seat in the country.

  • This article and the one on the homeless have one common thread; they articulate the contradictions in this society.We are democratic but do not believe in a true democracy.We believe in free speech but do not fully encourage engagement in the real political process. I do not mean voting! We accept a feudal system of state and at least some of us think that we need to bow to certain hereditary powers. We accept that we have to obey the system but fail to realise that we are it’s owners. We have the right to change it. We are free but are confounded by that freedom. How to use those freedoms is the real question for today!

  • Teresa Wilson 31st May '18 - 11:11am

    Personally I like having a monarch. I don’t feel particularly servile towards them and if they had any real power I might feel differently, but as it is they are rather fun. What I do get incensed about is FPTP, that makes my own vote meaningless (safe Tory seat) and produces a government that doesn’t represent the views of the population. At the moment we have one that seems to be doing its best to be Henry VIII – though Charles I might be a better comparison. Now that was an interesting experiment in republicanism.

  • nvelope2003 1st Jun '18 - 5:29pm

    If we had a republic again instead of people like Boris the sort of people who would be president would probably be like those who become Speaker. There have been some good ones but quite a lot of not so good people. There would have to be a referendum on ending the monarchy which could be more divisive than the Brexit one and legislation would most likely take up vast amounts of time in Parliament. The attempt to abolish the office of Lord Chancellor had to be abandoned because of the complexity of changing so many other laws.
    The Monarchy is popular and so is the Queen. This issue is unlikely to gain many votes and might lose a lot more. It is not something which is an issue with more than a handful of people. Reform of the voting system and the House of Lords would make more sense but even that is of little interest to most voters.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Jun '18 - 9:47am

    The use of the term “British subject” in official documents such as passports ended many years ago. My passport describes me as a British Citizen – maybe those with 1960s views should have a look at their own passports. I do not think describing pro monarchy people as servile or peasants is very civilized but rather condescending and almost arrogant.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Jun '18 - 4:08am

    It is so typical of modern discourse in politics that ideas which are as unpopular as possible are even considered while those which are popular are not.

    The Monarchy is an institution. It can be reformed. It is no better or worse a model than the NHS or BBC or Church of England or……EU!!!

    Reform not abolish and keep the reasons they exist.

    The notion of Liberal Democrat values as incompatible with Constitutional Monarchist support is utterly without grounds.

    Every policy is evidenced based or it is not worth having according to some. I disagree, feeling is essential also.

    On both, the Constitutional Monarchist argument succeeds.

    It is cheaper than nearly every head of state in the world and better value as it is so well known an institution, it generates tourism like no other.

    It is more popular than nearly any aspect of public sector or national power , small , medium or huge, and has little power that is ever utilised.

    It is part of what makes this country this country. Eccentric, yes, different, perhaps.

    There is nothing wrong with training a family for a job if popular opinion wants them to do it.

    It is no different to support for a local business run by a family being the Council favourite for providing the dairy produce, as they are excellent and have done so for generations!!! Daft as a description or analogy. Indeed, more than this maybe. Unique, like the UK, like the system, the cultural heritage, the history of our country and countries.

    I am a Liberal Democrat. I am a patriotic British, Englishman first. And my Head of Sate is Her Majesty the Queen. God save the Queen!!!

    Read my arguments http://www.ustinovforum.com

  • Alan Jelfs puts it pithily: “Some of the most “liberal” countries in the world are constitutional monarchies … what exactly is the problem?”

    I think the problem is a lack of an actual constitution. If the monarch’s powers were strictly defined, prescribed, and limited, so that it was quite clear under which circumstances the monarch could act or could not act, it would be easier to discuss the question. As it is, nobody really knows what the monarch’s real powers, residual or otherwise, actually are, or what would happen if the monarch tried to exercise them in contravention of ‘constitutional’ norms. As it is we have a variety of competing theories and no way of predicting the results of a constitutional anomaly before it is put to the test. The Queen has avoided such anomalies like the plague (possibly even failing to act in precisely the circumstances in which the ‘constitution’ calls upon her to do so) but that does not mean that the same thing will be true under Charles III, William V, or George VII.

  • Mike Falchikov 5th Jun '18 - 1:17pm

    I am a republican by instinct, but like many other contributors, don’t regard the monarchy as the prime issue. The previous contributor mentions a written constitution which defines the role and the limits of the monarch. We also need the role, duties and election of a reformed second chamber to be part of this and must also include electoral reform at all levels (Scotland is already a model for this – except for Westminster elections!) I agree with those who advocate a reduced “royal family” (why can’t Harry and Meghan be allowed to go on with their professions
    if they wish). I also applaud a previous contributor who disliked the national anthem
    (both tune and words) It isn’t a “national anthem” at all- it’s a rather poor and outdated hymn to royalty and I also agree that an oath of loyalty to the monarch required of MPs and others should be replaced by an oath to defend the country’s
    constitution and its way of life. Finally we should consider the concept of an established church, headed by the monarch. Is this really necessary and does it in any way defend religious freedom? Why did Meighan have to be accepted into the Church
    of England before she could marry Harry? Lots of interesting questions raised by this discussion and I hope we can have some serious discussion within the party about this. A final word on presidents – there are two kinds – an Executive President with wide political powers e,g, USA, France and a ceremonial head of state, who does none the less act as a constitutional “stopgap” e.g. Germany, Ireland. That’s the sort I favour. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a distinguished poet as your H of S – like Michael D. Higgins of Ireland?

  • Yes, it’s incompatible – in the sense that its rationale is contrary. But most of us have to live with incompatibilities. I do support the replacement of the monarchy by a republic with a president similar to those in Ireland, Germany, Italy or India (the Irish one is directly elected, the others I believe indirectly). The main thing is – someone with more effective authority to check an overweening government or procure a deal between parties than a modern British monarch, but much less than the Prime Minister. But a government radical enough to propose this would have more urgent business, I trust. In the meantime, like the House of Lords, the institution is in principle illiberal but in actual effect slightly liberal, except for its impact in reinforcing deference and status-consciousness – and the Scandinavian and Netherlands examples show this is not an inevitable effect of monarchy. The class system makes the snobbish associations of the monarchy and not the other way around.

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