Thoughts on the Diamond Jubilee

Thoughts on the Diamond Jubilee:
Sixty Years a Rubber Stamp
By Sean Gabb

Those of us who pay attention to such things will have noticed a difference between the BBC coverage of the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and of the present Diamond Jubilee. Ten years ago, the coverage was adequate, though reluctant and even a little stiff. This time, it has been gushing and completely uncritical. There are various possible reasons for my observation. The first is that I was mistaken then and am mistaken now. I do not think this is the case, but feel obliged to mention it. The second is that Golden Jubilees are rare events, and Diamond Jubilees very rare events, and that extreme rarity justifies a setting aside of republican scruples. The third is that the BBC was taken by surprise in 2002 by the scale of public enthusiasm, and does not wish to be caught out again. The fourth is that, while not particularly conservative on main issues, we do now have a Conservative Government, and this is headed by a cousin of Her Majesty. There may be many other reasons.

However, I believe the chief reason to be that the new British ruling class has finally realised what ought always to have been obvious. This is that, so far from being the last vestige of an old order, dominated by hereditary landlords and legitimised by ideologies of duty and governmental restraint, the Monarchy is an ideal fig leaf for the coalition of corporate interests and cultural leftists and unaccountable bureaucracies that is our present ruling class. The motto for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee was “Sixty Years a Queen.” The motto now might as well be “Sixty Years a Rubber Stamp.” If, during the six decades of her reign, England has been transformed from a great and powerful nation and the classic home of civil liberty into a sinister laughing stock, the ultimate responsibility for all that has gone wrong lies with Elizabeth II.

Now, I can – as Enoch Powell once said – almost hear the chorus of disapproval. How dare I speak so disrespectfully of our Most Gracious Sovereign Lady? Do I not realise that, under our Constitution, Her Majesty reigns, but the politicians rule? How, in all conscience, can I shift blame for what has happened from the traitors who actively worked for our destruction – Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Tony Blair, and the others – to a woman without executive function who has always devoted herself to our welfare? The answer is that, if she never projected the theft of our ancestral rights, it was her duty to resist that theft, and to resist without regard for the outcome – and it was in her power to resist without bringing on her head any of the penalties threatened or used against her subjects. But she did not resist. At no time in the past sixty years, has she raised a finger in public, or, it is probably the case, in private, to slow the destruction of an order of things she swore in the name of God to protect.

Let me explain the true functions of the English Monarchy. Many foreigners have looked at all the bowing and kissing and walking backwards, and thought England was some kind of divine right despotism. Others have looked at the assurances of Walter Bagehot, and believed that England was, to all intents and purposes, as much a republic as modern France or Germany. Anyone who believes either of these things is wrong.

The function of the Monarchy is to express and to sustain our national identity and all that stands with it. The Monarchy reminds us that our nation is not some recent arrival in the world, and that the threads of continuity between ourselves and our distant forebears have not been broken. England and its Monarchy exist today, and five hundred years ago, and a thousand years ago, and one thousand five hundred years ago. And, as we go further back, they vanish together, with no sense that they ever began at all, into the forests of Northern Europe. And with the fact of immemorial antiquity goes the idea of indefinite future continuation. Any Englishman who studies his national history finds himself uniquely in a conversation across many centuries. What an English writer said in 1688, or in 1776, or in 1832, is not alien to us now, and still has some relevance to our understanding of what kind of people we are.

Her Majesty has discharged her expressing function. However, since all this needs, at the most basic level, is for her to occupy the right place in her family tree and know how to smile and wave, she deserves as much praise as I might claim for having two legs. If, like the Emperor of Japan, she never said or did anything in public, she would still express our national identity. The problem is that she has done nothing to sustain that identity in any meaningful sense.

By law, the Queen is our head of state, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and Commander in Chief of all the armed forces. She appoints all the bishops and judges, and all the ministers and civil servants. She declares war, and all treaties are signed on her behalf. She cannot make new laws by her own authority and impose taxes. To do either of these, she needs the consent of Parliament. On the other hand, she can also veto any parliamentary bill she dislikes – and her veto cannot be overriden by any weighted majority vote of Parliament. These are the theoretical powers of an English Monarch. Except where limited by seventeenth century agreements like the Petition of Right and the Bill of Rights, she has the same legal powers as Henry VIII.

During the past three centuries, though, the convention first emerged and then hardened, that all these powers should be exercised in practice by a Prime Minister who is leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. He may be called First Minister of the Crown. He may have to explain himself every week to the Monarch. Where things like Royal Weddings and Jubilees are concerned, he mostly keeps out of sight. But, as leader of the majority party in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister draws his real legitimacy from the people. No Monarch has dismissed a Prime Minister, or tried to keep one in office, since the 1830s. No Monarch has rejected a parliamentary bill since 1708.

Because it is unwritten, and because its various conventions are in continual flux, the English Constitution can be rather opaque. It is, however, based on an implied contract between people and Monarch. This is that, in public, we regard whoever wears the Crown as the Lord’s Anointed. In return, the Monarch acts on the advice of a Prime Minister, who is accountable to us.

But, like any other agreement in a common law country, this implied contract is limited by considerations of reasonableness. It ceases to apply when politics become a cartel of tyrants and traitors. Once the politicians make themselves, as a class, irremovable, and once they begin to abolish the rights of the people, it is the duty of the Monarch to step in and rebalance the Constitution. It is then that she must resume her legal powers and exercise them of her own motion.

The need for this duty to be performed has been apparent since at least 1972, when we were lied into the European Union. The Conservatives did not fight the 1970 general election on any promise that they would take us in. When they did take us in, and when Labour kept us in, we were told that it was nothing more than a trade agreement. It turned out very soon to be a device for the politicians to exercise unaccountable power. The Queen should have acted then. Indeed, she should have acted – if not in the extreme sense, of standing forth as a royal dictator – before 1972. She should have resisted the Offensive Weapons Bill and the Firearms Bill, that effectively abolished our right to keep and bear arms for defence. She should have resisted the Bills that abolished most civil juries and that allowed majority verdicts in criminal trials. She should have resisted the numerous private agreements that made our country into an American satrapy. She should have insisted, every time she met her Prime Minister, on keeping the spirit of our old Constitution. There have been many times since 1972 when she should have acted.

At all times, she could have acted – all the way to sacking the Government and dissolving Parliament – without provoking riots in the street. So far as I can tell, she has acted only twice in my lifetime to force changes of policy. In 1979, she bullied Margaret Thatcher to go back on her election promise not to hand Rhodesia over to a bunch of black Marxists. In 1987, she bullied Margaret Thatcher again to give in to calls for sanctions against South Africa.
And that was it. She is somewhere on record as having said that she regards herself more as Head of the Commonwealth than as Queen of England. Certainly, she has never paid any regard to the rights of her English subjects.

The Queen has not sustained our national identity. It is actually worse than this. By expressing that identity, she has allowed many people to overlook the structures of absolute and unaccountable power that have grown up during her reign. She has fronted a revolution to dispossess us of our country and of our rights within it. How many of the people who turn out on Jubilee Day, with their union flags and street parties, will fully realise that the forms they are celebrating now contain an alien and utterly malign substance?

This does not, in itself, justify a republic. Doubtless, if a Government of National Recovery ever found itself opposed by the Monarch, it might be necessary to consider some change. Such a government would have only one chance to save the country, and nothing could be allowed to stand in its way. But this should only be an extreme last resort.

Symbolic functions aside, the practical advantage of having a monarchy is that the head of state is chosen by the accident of birth and not by some corrupted system of election; and that such a head of state is likely to take a longer term, more proprietorial, interest in the country than someone who has lied his way into an opportunity to make five lifetimes of income in four years. We got Elizabeth II by a most unhappy accident of birth. But we may be luckier next time. Sooner or later, the luck of the draw may give us a Patriot King.

As for Her Present Majesty, she may be remembered in the history books as Elizabeth the Useless. Even so, she is our Queen, and has been that for a very long time. I suppose this should count for something come Jubilee Day.


  1. A few points mentioned that I’m sure can and will be argued against, however, I chose not to quibble over such minor detail given all that has happened to England during the 2nd Elizabethan age.

    Bravely and bloody well said Dr Sean Gabb; I for one salute you!

  2. We have a Parliament that can pass ANY law with a mere majority. Unlike the US our most treasured rights are subject to the whim of a small group in a single party in power who can use the whip to force a majority vote and strip any right they see fit.

    The monarch is the single person who can void these laws. By not doing so she is complicit in their passing. By not stepping aside she stops the people (electing/selecting/having a lottery to choose someone) who can fulfil the role of defending the people against the ruling classes.

  3. We used to think we were governed but now we are beginning to appreciate that we are again ruled, as former sovereigns ruled before the introduction of an all too brief period of democracy and accountable government.

    Whether Her Majesty is culpable or not I am not sure; either she has surrounded herself with inappropriate advisers (principally, of course successive PMs), or she has made unfortunate decisions. Either way even those of us who prefer a monarchy to a president (Blair! Uggghh) are dumbfounded by the failure to resist the destruction of our rights.

  4. Well, on the one hand I agree with this article. On the other hand, I’m an argumentative bugger, so here’s a quibble or two.

    I think that many people have an idea of what our mythical constitution represents- indeed (to digress immediately, it’s remarkable how many people believe we have one at all)- but I’m not sure that the monarch has any defined official role, let alone that of defending the people from their elected idiots, or of maintaining the nation’s independence, or even of just being a jolly good egg. The monarch is simply a placeholder for a branch of the institutional system. We could without disruption replace the monarch with a parakeet called Ronald, and have our elected idiots go through a pantomime of asking Ronald’s assent for new laws. It would mean as much. So it seems to me that people sublimate their own beliefs on how the constitution- which does not exist either- ought to be interpreted onto the monarch, rather than the monarch being anything specific. She is a blank slate on which we scrawl our own beliefs.

    The monarchy ceased to have any power at all some time ago. At what point that happened cannot be precisely defined. It is a well known situation in which a new form of government mimics the older form. Rome pretended to be a Republic long after it was an absolute monarchy- even if for a while a non-hereditary one. As time went by more of the old form was stripped away, as when for instance Diocletian overtly adopted monarchical manners and officially dumped the “first among equals” rubbish.

    So I don’t think the Queen has a Constitutional role. She simply is rather than does.

    On the constitutional matter, it is worth noting that any “latest takes precedence” system (as opposed to a “highest takes precedence” system as the Americans have) isn’t in any meaningful sense a Constitution at all. It is just using a fancy, imposing word for “things are as they are”. There is no Constitution we can actually appeal to to say, “things are supposed to be this way” when arguing against a change. Magna Carta and the Bill Of Rights have both been entirely overridden by later laws. They have no power. We just have laws, not any formal Constitutional system.

    So, for instance, if the Parliament decided to abolish Ronald the Parakeet, they could do so. No higher “constitutional” principle prevents it, and Ronald would simply be carted away tweeting furiously in his cage, having been deemed to have given his consent. There is no “implied contract between the people and the Monarch”. There is just power, and at the moment that resides within the current institutional system represented by Parliament. That’s all there is.

  5. I am increasingly coming round to the republican point of view, because of the failure of the monarch (note: not the senior heir of William the Conqueror – she is from a junior branch installed explicitly because, unlike James II, they promised to uphold the constitution) to make a passable impression of keeping to her Coronation Oath. We are in danger of supporting forms whose content is now the opposite of what they once were…

  6. The adjective ‘black’ qualifying ‘Marxists’ was unnecessary, and the South Africa of the time was unsustainable, but otherwise spot on, rather sadly. I suppose the writers of Kings and Chronicles would regard HM as one who allowed her people to drift into sin through ‘permissive’ statute and enslavement to a foreign power through the EU treaties. By the former, our leaders showed themselves perfectly capable of ruining our nation without the latter. Today’s evidence is ‘gay marriage’, House of Lords wrecking and altering the succession to the crown itself.

  7. This has given me much thought on the constitution and role and action of the Monarch. I do not think it is as simplistic as Sean suggests for Queen Elizabeth II to resist a bill from becoming an Act – should she have used her defined power as Sean would have liked the opposites would have caused a unprecedented commotion about democracy and peoples votes. She has to see that democracy, not Monarchy, rules. Whatever she did she would have been vilified. I for one think this is a historic moment and intend to enjoy all the pomp and glory involved.

  8. We also have to remember that “The People” have had numerous opportunities to vote for somebody who would take us out of Europe or what have you, and never have. It’s not entirely clear what our chief parakeet should do if The People are fuckwits.

  9. As always, a powerful and challenging essay. But I think that you look for a truly staggering level of knowledge, vision, courage and determination not shown by her father, or any of her 20th century ancestors.

    The awful, frightening fact is that a huge majority of the UK population are supportive of socialism, statism and Big Government generally. Only quite a small minority link the many serious ills that the UK (and many other countries) suffer from, with those governance structures.

  10. I agree with this article, but wonder what her motives were in her actions, or rather, lack of actions.

  11. Magnificent stuff, sir, a bravura performance! As a proud and patriotic Englishman and Briton with a passionate devotion to our heritage, our history, our ancient constitution, our very inheritance your words ring true with unrivalled clarity and rightness. I am an ardent Monarchist and feel that we HAVE been terribly betrayed by our Queen. It is with immense sadness that I reflect on all that we have lost over the past sixty years.

  12. Dear Dr. Gabb:

    I understand the sentiment, and to some extent I agree with it.

    The crushing of Rhodesia was one of the workings of the Wilsonian World Order, and it was most unfortunate indeed. Also, a monarch at least a bit closer to a Liechtensteiner Prince would have been desirable.

    However, it was Her Britannic Majesty’s grandfather who gave Royal Assent to the Parliament Act 1911. Also, denial of Royal Assent has not been attempted since the days of Queen Anne.

    I think it is rather unfair to put all the blame on Her Majesty — for keeping with the zeitgeist.

  13. Oh Sean, dear old fellow: I wish it were possible for you to become the Lord Protector, and help to drag us out of this cesspool. But I think that, as old Chris Tame said, “there are too few people left who could make a difference.” Perhaps the best thing to do is try to enjoy what little of our original liberties we have left, for the time that is given us.

  14. Sean you are bang on the money about a Queen who has never lived up to her oath and is therefore not fit to rule. The constitution IS written though just not in a nice codified form like the American one whose authors understood the English one very well and copied sections such as the bill of rights into their own. A republic is not the solution either because its no better a system – again look at the USA which has allowed politics to dragg it down into the gutter alongside us. It took Runnymede and the 1689 Revolution to rub the monarchs nose onto the job description in the past so my money is on that being the best approach to take this time. We need a Mr Moneybags though to organise and pay for it – and one hasn’t appeared yet. Mr Goldsmith was the closest we got and he passed away before making the impact. Perhaps it falls on Zac? Zac, what’s your telephone number, you need to talk to Sean and me, quick….

  15. Excellently thoughtful and good fun — Sean’s usual!

    But it does seem hard to blame the Queen for the EU when the whole country twice voted for it by substantial margins. And I had always understood the right to bear arms had been lost soon after 1918 when revolution happened and/or threatened across Europe.

    More generally, it seems hard to expect HM to assertively protect ‘the constitution when
    1. Notoriously we don’t have one.
    2. We have been tirelessly changing such unwritten scraps as we do have since 1528 — killing off the aristocracy by taxation and its constitutional power in 1910..
    3. As every skulboy kno, Parliament took over bigtime under the non-English-speaking George I. Elizabeth II never stood a chance. (It might of course have been different if Victoria and Edward VII had managed to prevent the politicians making disastrous war on Germany.)
    4. The Church of which the Queen is the Supreme Governor was being replaced by PeeCee — just like Christianity all over the West (apart from perhaps the Bible Belt).

    If the correct analysis today is that the Crown is simply a backstop to prevent ultimate disorder, I’m afraid it makes sense for the Queen to remain passably popular and at least to ‘avoid controversy’ — boring as that is, admittedly.

    Best to all here, Chris Brand (Edinburgh)

  16. Of course what you say is basically correct, although I suspect you exaggerate the power of the Sovereign to interfere with Government. The problem you don’t discuss, and which we colonies/Commonwealth/Empire struggle with occasionally is – what better is there?
    The cries of “Republic!” are inevitably confounded by the two (and more) facts that a) any Head of State can only sit for a limited time (unless he is a Mugabe etc) and so there is no continuity and worse b) who can you possibly see in the past, present or future who would be a better Head of State than the Queen (or even her likely successor), either as a person (and I think you run her down unjustly) or as a concept?
    This is why the Commonwealth/Empire has lasted so long and the odd attempt e.g. Frank Bainimarama is a dictator.
    God Save the Queen.

  17. Here is my hastily written contribution to the letters page of our local newspaper;
    Elizabeth the Betrayer


    Sixty years ago Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne of this war-ravaged country. Half a million of her would-be subjects had perished in the fight to preserve the long-standing traditions of this country as a bastion of freedom in Europe. Her father, King George VI, had seen us through the threat to these traditions from Nazi Germany, and upon her accession she swore an oath to her subjects, to govern us “according to our laws and customs”, such as the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, and the Common Law tradition reaching back to Alfred the Great and beyond into the mists of history.
    Since then she has repeatedly and enthusiastically broken her Coronation Oath by signing treaty after treaty which place us under the totalitarian rule of unelected officials in a foreign country. She has thrown away everything our forebears fought and paid so dearly for. She has betrayed her people by giving away our birthright and that of generations yet unborn.
    And for that we are asked to celebrate?

  18. Bob Lomas. The Magna Carta Society.

    Dr Sean Gabb is clearly fully conversant with the Queen’s treasonous betrayal of her coronation oath and the British people but it seems he is not quite so conversant with our constitutional system of monarchy and its history. For instance, long after 1708, (Queen Anne) George III, Queen Victoria and Edward VII all refused to give Royal assent to parliamentary bills, all worthy of looking up especially in this instance as at one time George III refused to sign Pitt’s Catholic Emancipation Bill on the grounds that by so doing he would have placed himself in breach of his coronation oath. An amusing instance was when Victoria refused to believe there were female homosexuals. And contrary to Dr Gabb’s belief our monarchs are elected for that is what the coronation is, an election, the people can refuse the first in line and choose a sibling. During the ceremony the Archbishop of Canterbury asks all assembled at the coronation, our representatives, if they accept the person before them to be their monarch. Were it not an election the question would be meaningless.

    According to the Coronation Oath Act 1689 the new monarch swears to govern the people according to their laws and customs and so becomes the official Governor of the nation. The Monarch is then obliged to delegate the authority of governance to a political party of the people’s choice for a strictly limited period, but not the power of governance for that remains with the people, the monarch being the physical embodiment of the people’s sovereignty. The delegated government is subordinate to the Monarch by oath thus the people maintain control over their elected government.

    The English Constitution is not codified, never the less it is written. New countries such as the USA and Germany have codified constitutions as they were starting from scratch, we have a thousand year history so our Constitution has evolved and is written into a number of documents, mostly treaties between monarchs and the people starting with the Magna Carta 1215.

    Elizabeth II has indeed fronted the destruction of the nation state, but not as monarch for she abdicated by signing up to or not preventing the signing up to the Treaty of Rome and accepting its basic principle, the destruction of the nation states of Europe. There can be no sovereign head of state in a nation that is no longer sovereign and no governor of a nation that is no longer self governing. There was no provision in the treaty for a constitutional monarchy nor any provision of withdrawal.

    Having so done her crime was acting out a charade of monarchy to create the impression that nothing much had changed until the people had accepted the Franco German Axis principle as the status quo, a time originally estimated to be in the region of thirty years. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is no more than a charade, a pageant, produced and directed by an unlawful parliament, unlawful because parliament formerly drew its legitimacy from the Crown, but since the supremacy of the Crown was surrendered to Brussels in 1972, and the Crown is supreme or it is but nothing, parliament has had no legitimacy. The Queen’s reign therefore lasted no more than nineteen years.

    As for the monarch having to act on the advice of her ministers that is a political slight of hand. In effect it is claiming that the monarch is subordinate to her subordinates which is a nonsense. At the time of the coronation the people vest enormous powers in the monarch known as royal prerogative powers. The monarch can dismiss her ministers and dissolve parliament on the people’s behalf at any time in its limited life. To back up the monarch the people make the monarch commander in chief of our armed forces all of which owe allegiance to the people through the people’s elected monarch not to parliament which is no more than a temporally appointed administration and legislature with no lawful powers of its own what so ever.

    Constitutionally this country is not about parliament and the people it is about the people and their elected monarch. The monarch is the people and the people are the monarch. It is a marriage proclaimed by a ring worn by the monarch. It is noticeable that since the Queen’s abdication in 1972 some parliamentarians have taken to using the term, parliamentary demomocracy, a term that would be bordering on treason if we still had a monarch.

    As for Republicanism it is more of a social system than a political system in the modern sense. A republic is a country in which the people hold the supreme power. It is a system that in this country goes back to pre-Roman Celtic times. The people elected their leaders, kings, chiefs, and sacked them if they failed to come up to scratch. The Magna Carta 1215 was a reassertion of that principle as was the Bill of Rights 1689. In this regard this country has always been a republic, but any social structure must have a person at its head with whom the buck stops and we traditionally retained a monarch but constitutionally only in name. The Declaration of Right and the Bill of Rights 1688/89 removed all concept of the monarch ruling by divine right and with the Coronation Oath Act made the monarch the official Governor of the nation state, a political role virtually the same as a modern president.
    Our monarchs therefore are very much political, people who think that the monarch is above politics are confused between party politics and national politics, there is a very big difference.

    Since the left wing take-over of this country following WW II politicians have gone to considerable lengths to hide our truly great Constitution from the people. This has resulted in dangerous ignorance as expressed by Ian B. The Magna Carta 1215 and the Bill of Rights 1689 still stand in law, they are unchanged for being constitutional Acts they cannot be impliedly repealed. They can be amended and those amendments can be removed but that is as far as it can go. It is well to remember the limitations of parliament which is not sovereign as some would have people believe, parliament can only undo that which parliament has done.

  19. The Magna Carta 1215 and the Bill of Rights 1689 still stand in law, they are unchanged for being constitutional Acts they cannot be impliedly repealed. They can be amended and those amendments can be removed but that is as far as it can go.

    This is simply plain wrong. We have a later-takes-precedence system, under which those documents have been almost entirely repealed. Any later law which contradicts an earlier one, e.g. the Bill Of Rights, simply voids it. That is why the Americans chose an HTP system in which the Constitutional documents are above the laws of the land, and laws may be struck down if they are shown to contradict the Constitution. No such system exists here. You can take the government to court for breaking the law. You can’t take them to court for violating the consttution. Because we haven’t got one.

  20. If we had no constitution there would be no need for constitutional law or constitutional lawyers. Will you tell them or shall I?

    Parliament can only undo that which parliament has done, it cannot therefore repeal common law and we have a common law constitution. Parliament did not create the Magna Carta 1215 nor the Declaration of Right 1689. Both are fully recognised as extant law. The Confirmatio Cartarum 1297 which was created by a form of parliament has been amended several times but never lawfully repealed, neither impliedly nor directly.

    Statute law is essentially subordinate to common law and the letter of the law is subordinate to the spirit and intent of the law, niceties that are all too often forgotten especially by judges and politicians. Not only do we have a constitution it is the best in the world and has stood the test of some 1500 years.

  21. Bob, the Parliament can do whatever it wants. It is absolutely sovereign. We pretend it asks the sovereign to do things, in reality, it has the power itself. You can say what you like about what you think it ought to be able to do, or not able to do, but the practical reality of our system is that it can do anything. It’s not that politicians and judges “forget” your constitutional opinions. It is that they don’t care what you or anyone else thinks they are able to do or not do, because they have the power and you do not. This is all that matters.

    You can go and stand outside Parliament and shout through the windows that they weren’t supposed to be allowed to pass the Offences Against The Person Act (1828) but you will get precisely nowhere. You can stand in a court room and shout about statute law and common law and you will be ignored. Our “constitutiion” entirely consists of the current opinions of the powerful, and that is all that it consists of.

    We don’t have anything recognisable as a Constitution. We have a set of conventions which have been in constant flux and have thus neither stood “the test of some 1500 years” nor, it turns out, provied to be “the best in the world”. They turned out to be pretty fucking useless when push came to shove, because there are no written constraints on the power of the State and, once that State entirely fell to people with small, blackened, evil little hearts, we were left entirely defenceless against them.

    “Let there be one measure of wine throughout our whole realm; and one measure of ale; and one measure of corn, to wit, “the London quarter”; and one width of cloth (whether dyed, or russet, or “halberget”), to wit, two ells within the selvedges; of weights also let it be as of measures.”


    • Painfully accurate Ian B.
      While I would quite enjoy woffling about the need for a new written Constitution, based on that of the US, but with even clearer limitations on government power and a much-improved and REALLY robust system of stopping government over-stepping the line, it gets us absolutely nowhere without a majority of the population actually understanding and caring about concepts of individual liberty and responsibility.

  22. Both our Constitution and our laws are in limbo, but that does not mean they don’t exist, they are there if the people had the will to use and implement them. As things presently stand you are correct, our Parliament is an unlawful institution acting on a might is right principle i.e. a dictatorship.
    No matter what system of law is in place if lawbreakers take over and have the strength to resist eviction they will stay in place until the revolution which invariably comes as has been proved in all banana republics, a category in which we now find ourselves. By our neglect we have betrayed our ancestors, but I believe in and stand by what they made great sacrifices to create even if you do not and obviously you are not alone in your defeatism or we would not be in this predicoment..

  23. The 1215 Magna Carta was not an Act of Parliament and so cannot be repealed, as it was not the creation of parliament in the first place. Parliament is of slightly later origin. The 1297 Confirmation of the Charter Act incorporated as a statute most of the text of the Magna Carta, while excluding the Article 61 with its right of rebellion – and when judges say Magna Carta has mainly been repealed, they mean repeal of parts of the 1297 Act. The 1215 original text was not a statute and so cannot be repealed: it stands or falls as an agreed statement of English Common Law.

  24. Hello djwebb2010,
    Magna Carta and other such laws have been accorded great importance and respect but they have frequently been repealed or amended – otherwise we would still be stuck with rules about heirs and wardships, salmon weirs, feudal dues like scutage and arrangement for exchange of hostages with the Welsh & Scots – all of which are in Magna Carta. Parliament which, of course, consists of Queen, Lords & Commons,has been able to do what it likes for a very long time. Of course, the balance of power between the three has changed over time . The Commons has become overmighty and now represents little but the professional political class.

    “The judges themselves declared in 1453 “this high court of Parliament…is so high and mighty in its nature, that it may make law and that which is law, it may make no law” (From CSL Davies’s “Peace, Print & Protestantism”.) The idea of anything super-statutory and enforcible in our constitution is a is a myth – a useful myth which used to restrain educated politicians from doing great violence to constitutional practice whilst making necessary changes, generally leading to evolution rather than revolution. Blair, of course, showed that the political class is no longer educated but a rather ghastly mix of touchy-feely folksiness combined with utter thuggery and disregard for anything honest and of good report. . Cameron aspired to be “the heir to Blair” and is succeeding pretty well at it. The reverse evolution of British public life has accelerated notably during this reign but it seems a little unfair to saddle such a personally dutiful Sovereign with the blame for the degeneracy of those her people elect to advise her.

  25. B__”lair, of course, showed that the political class is no longer educated but a rather ghastly mix of touchy-feely folksiness combined with utter thuggery and disregard for anything honest and of good report. . Cameron aspired to be “the heir to Blair” and is succeeding pretty well at it. The reverse evolution of British public life has accelerated notably during this reign but it seems a little unfair to saddle such a personally dutiful Sovereign with the blame for the degeneracy of those her people elect to advise her.__”

    Sean, I wonder if you might comment on this? I only ask, because I do not a -priori attribute, arbitrarily, base motives to the Queen in her person, who I think was an intelligent and thoughtful young woman growing up in difficult times.Can we throw perhaps more light on this one?

    • It is an enigma. But the fact is she has unhesitatingly given her assent to treaty after treaty which place us under the rule of what are in effect foreign dictators imposing an alien system of government on her subjects.This puts her in clear violation of her Coronation Oath, not to mention the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta. Our Queen is no longer sovereign, being herself an EU citizen and subject to EU diktats. She has subjected herself and her subjects to a foreign power, against the clear will of her people. Some say she believes in a politically unified Europe after seeing so many of her relatives at each others’ throats in two world wars. Others say she is being blackmailed (there are suggestions that Prince Philip is not the father of the Princes Andrew and Edward). I have no idea what the truth is, but the results are self-evident. Of course there is the complication that her subjects keep voting for pro-EU governments. As I said, it’s an enigma.

  26. An excellent article by Dr Gabb, but I must express criticism of the following:
    “The function of the Monarchy is to express and to sustain our national identity and all that stands with it.”
    I suggest that is a relatively minor and unofficial function of the Monarchy important thogh it is, for the supremly important omission is surely that primarily the Monarch exists to uphold our Constitution, which is indeed written in a number of documents, principally since 1689 and the Glorious Revolution, in the Declaration and Bill of Rights, and the Coronation Oath taken in 1953, all of which, at their simplest unequivocally re-state our personal and national liberties and which deny totally any element of foreign rule.
    To uphold the Constitution in this most basic sense is precisely what our Soverereign has failed to as Bob Lomas and Hugo have so powerfully pointed out.
    Not to defend those rights when presented with their denial in the form of various EU treaties, is by implication, to declare that the Sovereign is ‘above’ the Constitution, whether by benign neglect of duty of care, or through being “deceived in her grant”, or through a succession of treasonous politicians. The plain fact remains (while England and the Crown remains) that the Sovereign is NOT above the Constitution itself, as Sir Edward Coke so simply put it: “Be ye King or commoner, the law is above you.” Indeed, the whole point our our Constitution is to ensure that Parliament and Crown together represent the will of the people to ensure governance only in accordance with our (not EU) law.
    That remains the case, and as Bob has rightly said, although the Constitution has been placed in limbo by our treasonous political class, it still remains, and yet remains, to be invoked.
    As for the claim that Parliament is sovereign ( as claimed above) that too is incorrect, for that remains, as it has always been, a claim to absolute, not constitutional power.
    Tyranny by an absolutist Parliament is no better than tyranny by an absolutist Tudor monarch.
    The constitutional fact under our Bill of Rights is that NO parliament, or Monarch, ever has the “right” to pass the governance of this nation to a third party, who may be partially unaccountable to, or irremovable by, the electorate of the UK. Nor under our Constitution re-expressed in 1689, is it ever legitimate to pass powers of governance to those who owe no allegiance to the Crown.
    It is said, and I believe correctly, that our present Queen is very well informed (indeed she has to be) and therefore she must be well aware of her constitutional responsibility confirmed by her own Coronation. Oath. In a sense that is her sole raison d’etre!
    At any time she had power to refuse to be in breach of that Oath made before God and the people. We are still therefore in a battle of usurped parliamentary power.
    Respect for the Queen as a person, her loyalty and dedication is not to be confused with her failure as Sovereign to uphold what is our most precious heritage expressed in the Constitution.

  27. Ian B 30 May, 2012 at 8:43 am
    We don’t have anything recognisable as a Constitution. We have a set of conventions which have been in constant flux and have thus neither stood “the test of some 1500 years” nor, it turns out, provied to be “the best in the world”. They turned out to be pretty fucking useless when push came to shove, because there are no written constraints on the power of the State and, once that State entirely fell to people with small, blackened, evil little hearts, we were left entirely defenceless against them.

    A sad truth: but it has always been thus.

    Derek Bernard 29 May, 2012 at 6:00 pm
    The awful, frightening fact is that a huge majority of the UK population are supportive of socialism, statism and Big Government generally. Only quite a small minority link the many serious ills that the UK (and many other countries) suffer from, with those governance structures.

    A sad truth: but it has always been thus.

    Ian B 29 May, 2012 at 5:45 pm
    It’s not entirely clear what our chief parakeet should do if The People are fuckwits.

    A sad truth: but it has always been thus.

    David Davis 29 May, 2012 at 9:56 pm
    Perhaps the best thing to do is try to enjoy what little of our original liberties we have left, for the time that is given us.

    A sad truth: but it has always been thus.
    The reality of the situation: bread, blood, bondage and a few circuses.

  28. Dear Sir, a truly sad and sorry tale of the decline of our once great country. May I submit, as a Roman Catholic, that it was under the despotism of Henry VIII that our country was taken from the people, namely seceding from Rome, to make a new church, an heretical one, which the monarchs have claimed to be supreme governor. This coup was then very succinctly taken over by the civil service and the commons (the Cecils in Elizabeth I’s reign) and has come to emasculate Elizabeth II 400 years later. The Freemasons and bankers have and are selling our country to the One World Government and the monarch acquiesces. That is what happens when one turns away from the Church of Christ, one sins. To a Catholic, signing the 1969 Abortion Act was most heinous, allowing legalised murder to enter the realm.
    Today, we sang the national anthem after Mass, as we pray every Sunday for our Queen. Maybe, just maybe, during her reign we may see the monarch bow to Rome and return the populace whence they came. But that will take divine intervention. Divine intervention woefully needed for the Roman Catholic Church too, I might add, because She has wandered into apostacy. We know in Catholic prophecy that the Church of England will return to the one church that Christ instituted, it may take the intervention of another monarch, Henry V of France (yes that is also in Catholic prophecy), but then a monarchy under the one Good God and guided by His Church will apply the necessary checks and brakes on the power of the executive. Democracy has been a terrible failure.
    P Dale

    • Can one be a Libertarian and a Catholic at the same time? Oxymoronic I would have thought.

  29. One can believe in all kinds of woo and be a libertarian.

    I even postulate one can be a communist in a libertarian state as long as one allows others the choice to participate and the freedom to leave if they so desire. As long as the top level rules are libertarian in nature, consenting adults can voluntarily enter into whichever legal and financial arrangements they wish. And that includes submitting to the will of the dictatorial, paedophile-hiding, morally corrupt, misogynistic, anti-sex Catholic church. As long as they don’t try to force anyone else to.

  30. Henry VIII lived and died a Catholic. He only came to blows with the Pope over the need for him (Henry, not the Pope) to be provided with a (legitimate) male heir, under the English Laws of the time, so that England, an incipient liberal minimalist state, would not fall the the Habsburgs or the Bourbon-Parmas, beautiful though their weather and all their people’s buildings and their peasant-farmers’ cheeses and oils are and were.

    Henry VIII knew the relative importance of nice weather, oil and cheese, relative to liberty, in a primitive way. He knew that olive oil, tasty cheeses and weather were worth jack-shit in comparison to a quiet and un-ruffled English People. The reason he said that “This Realm is an Empire” was that he did not want to be, and did not want us to be, dictated to by “any foreign Prince or Bishop”…it was crude, but it was at least a start. For he knew that we would be fractious, rebellious and riotous subjects of any sort of Euro-empire, that it would end in the deaths of most of us and the wasting of our lands, and he didn’t want this, or to say the least, the expense of it.

    The Armada’s victory was really lucky, although inevitable owing to his foresight, also to the bravery and willingness of Drake, Hawkins, Howard and Frobisher and all their soldiers and gunners and sailors, and also not least to the prudence of his best daughter. (He was overall a moderately bad and wicked king, like all the rest of them-bastards, but he was at least the last medieval monarch, and transitional only.)

  31. I am a strong believer of the fact that the Queen has not been dutiful, but has in fact neglected her duty during her reign. And yet, there is clearly some residual respect for her. Why? I think she retains an air of dignity while finding it easily to relate to ordinary people. Quite a difficult thing to pull off, but Rudyard Kipling in his “If” said this:

    “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    ‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,”

    To be able to combine dignity with the common touch is something the Queen has mastered. She finds it easy to talk to the poor and others who she might have been expected to feel disdain for.

    Contrast that with David Cameron, and you see why the Queen has residual respect that the politicians don’t, and DC is a particularly glaring example. DC is a very haughty individual, who has become so convinced of the superiority of the political class that when he meets the ordinary people you can actually see him turning away in contempt from the people he is trying to talk to. He certainly does not have the common touch, and so does not meet our ideals, as expressed by Kipling, of how an admirable person should behave.

    That does not change the fact that the Queen’s sense of duty is ultimately a duty to the political elite not to get in THEIR way. What about us? Forget shaking our hands, and stand up for us??

  32. Walter Bagehot’s formulation of the monarch’s duty, to advise, to encourage and to warn, would mean a whole lot more if the Queen were to make such opinions a matter of public record. The Hanoverian kings, for the fact that effectively they had about as much power as does Elizabeth II, (especially so in the case of George the Mad, upon whose accession the Civil List was created), were nonetheless thought to have a hands-on public role in their administration of their Bagehotian duty. The Second had to remind people that the premiership was the recognition that a king had to accede to public will and could not and should not arbitrarily install and dismiss ministers, and that, while he could and should try to influence the Prime Minister as to who those ministers could and should be, and how such ministers will act in those positions, in the final analysis it was all down to the PM, a “democratically” (we’ll save this discussion for another time) elected official. An 18th C. monarch was in effect a glorified Foreign Office senior Civil Servant and Defence Ministry one as well, a “King Humphrey” if you will. It was the historical fortuity that the succession after the George II was a callow youth, a dissolute old man, an “accidental” old man, and a teenage girl wot done-in the monarchy as a force to be reckoned with, as each of these were prevailed upon to cede whatever little shreds remained of their power in order not to spark “Constitutional crises.”
    Somehow I rather relish the thought that a King Charles III or more likely King William V would actually speak openly and say, as would Sir Humphrey, that “Well, you can do yadda-da and produce this result, or you can do yadda-dee and produce a different result; it is, of course a political decision and one in which the people of this nation have reposed their full faith and confidence, as have I, in your ability to take.” You might not agree, indeed you might think the King has no clothes, so to speak, but an institutional voice telling the public what the consequences of their elected officials’ acts might be a spark to getting people to CARE.

  33. The problem is that the monarchy is, broadly speaking, enjoying themselves without having to do anything. While travelling the Commonwealth, opening hospitals and holding pageantry are, arguably doing something, they are ultimately frivolous entertainments. They take no career risks doing these things. And it keeps them in a very good lifestyle, so why would they risk upsetting government and potentially judging the mood wrong in a constitutional crisis?

    It will ultimately be their demise. The power will shift to Europe while they continue their decadence of world tours, organic food companies and skiing holidays. We will reach the same point that the states have reached in America where gradually the federal government increases taxes and then uses spending to force states to behave in certain ways. Eventually, the Monarchy will be pushed aside.

  34. I disagree.
    You think you would be more free under a premier like Blair or Brown or Cameron?
    Consider yourselves lucky to have had such a selfless statesperson as Elizabath Windsor.
    This is democracy, and there is no guarantee that democracy gives you what you want. It gives you what a very small majority want.
    Democracy is not perfect, it is merely the lesser amongst evils.

    So stop fucking whining – if things are not as you want them to be, then get out into the streets and do something positive. Not mere protesting, not mere “direct action”, but working to make the world you want.
    Or just fuck off.

  35. Sean, I have to agree. What the Internet has done is to reveal just how foul-mouthed the (apparent) majority of people are. Whereas, once, social debate was controlled by the powers that be, and was not peppered with expletives, now we have debate that is freer (not free, but freer), but where the hurdle for participation in a public forum is so low, or non-existent, that people of low quality can easily join in, and join in the do. The ubiquitous presence of the F word, and the even more common S word – I turn off American films when I hear this word stuffed in the mouths of every actress – devalues free debate, and works as a backhanded compliment to the state, whose own official debates, held within narrow perimeters, do not descend to the scatological or the vulgar level, whatever other flaws they exhibit. I would have preferred a free, but decent, society, such as we had in the 1950s. Now if we had a free society, it would be, at best, the freedom of oiks – and I don’t want to be an oik, or be influenced by oiks, or even become aware of their presence.

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