Friday, 6 July 2012

Letter to The Scotsman

Dear Sir
I enjoyed reading Michael Kelly's lighthearted column in yesterdays paper
['Pomp, circumstance and endless security checks' 4/7/12].
I particularly chuckled when he wrote 'The monarchy has brought stability to
the United Kingdom. It keeps politics away from the function of the head of
state.' For here he unwittingly highlights the fundamental contradiction in
the monarchist case namely that The Queen plays a role above and beyond
politics and yet is somehow responsible for '60 years of stability'.

As a supporter of a modern democratic republic with an elected head of
state - and Michael grants me the honour of recognition in his final
paragraph - I am compelled to point out the political powers of The Queen
are not benign at all. I would remind readers that The Queen refused me my
seat in the Scottish Parliament in 2003, a seat to which the voters of the
Lothians elected me. Despite securing a democratic mandate from the people
our unelected and unaccountable monarch demanded I swore allegiance to her.
It remains the case that all elected representatives in Britain cannot take
their seats unless they do so.

And I would remind people that every Bill passed by the elected Scottish
Parliament and House of Commons must secure the Queen's signature before it
can become law. She also appoints every member of the House of Lords and the
even more powerful Privy Council. She is the legal head of our armed forces
and judiciary who must also swear allegiance to her on a daily basis. Party
leaders who win General Elections must seek her permission to form a
Government just as David Cameron was obliged to in 2010. And let's not
forget the notorious Crown Powers which bestow very considerable
extra-judicial authority to the monarch. All these examples illustrates the
very considerable powers our unelected and unaccountable sovereign wields
over her 'subjects'.

Looking across the world we see no King of Germany or France of the USA or
China or Brazil or India or Russia. Britain's constitutional position is an
outdated anachronism which belongs to those feudal times from whence it

Nonetheless I am heartened support for a democratic alternative to unelected
and unaccountable 'divine rights of Kings [and Queens]' is waning in
Scotland. And to my mind that reflects a much more modern and egalitarian
spirit and culture.

At the same time I am disappointed our national media largely ignores the
important issues of principle at stake here preferring to trivialise the
arguments on both sides and this I believe ill serves the public.

Your sincerely
Colin Fox
Scottish Socialist Party

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm American and I just stumbled across this site. Most of my political standings align directly with the socialist party, though in the U.S., "socialist" is considered a dirty word.

    I found this letter to the editor very enlightening. I am very ill-educated on the matters of government relating to any other country, as is the case for most of the general American population. However, I desire to learn more, and I have often asked my British friends how an advanced society such as the U.K. (or the Netherlands, for that matter) can still be a monarchy. These friends (friends from primary and secondary school and friends who are in their early thirties) answer that it's tradition and that the people love the royal family. Whether or not that's the case, I agree with you, that democratic societies should be ruled solely by freely elected leaders.

    I learned from reading this column that The Queen is the one who appoints members of the House of Lords. I assumed that the U.K. was like the U.S., in that our Senate members are elected, just as our House of Representative members are elected. Further, I was shocked to learn that elected members of the Scottish Parliament (and in all of Britain) must swear allegiance to this "leader" supposedly appointed by God.

    As an American, I cannot understand fascination with the British Royal family, particularly the attention Americans pay. Princess Di's funeral was broadcast on all of our media outlets, as was Prince William's wedding last year. Kate's pregnancy rumors have been swirling on our tabloid covers for months, and any formal travel the now adult children take makes our magazine. We have families we often compare to your royal family -- the Kennedys for example. However, these families, while wealthy and well-established, are famous because of their direct elected service or their relation to elected representatives.

    As an outsider who is under the age of 30, who has never participated politics beyond Model United Nations in high school and university, who has little to no education about foreign governments, and who has spent less than 30 total days in the U.K. over a span of 8 years, my opinion is of little to no relevance. However, I fully support you in your quest to lead the British people to a truly democratic government. Thank you for publishing this letter to the editor on this website so that the whole world can raed your struggle.

    -Allison A.