Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Queen's Speech

I’m not going to comment on the content of the Queen’s Speech. It’s pretty much the paranoia-fuelled, little Englander stuff we have come to expect from New Labour.

But I do have a problem with the fact that we have to endure a Queen’s Speech at all.

It’s just another reminder of how we are not a grown-up, twenty first century democracy, and that the outlining of the government’s legislative plans for the next session of parliament is delivered in the form an archaic farce.

Although it’s actually not as harmless that:

The presence of the queen in our legislative assembly at all is a reminder of that little-understood quirk in our ‘un-written constitution'; Crown Prerogative.

When a British government acts in the name of the Crown it effectively puts itself outside of the control or censure of parliament. This is not some obscure legal nit-picking, it means that the government doesn’t have to get parliament’s approval for example when it declares war, or in its diplomatic relations with foreign countries, or when it deals in matters of national security. Worrying isn’t it ?

If you can bring yourself to listen to the speech, it is striking that everything is prefaced with the phrases ‘my government will’ or ‘my government intends’. Not ‘our government’ but ‘mine’. Just to remind us all where we stand. Not citizens but subjects.

Oliver Cromwell’s statue might stand outside of the House Of Commons but we seem to have lost the spirit of 1649.

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