Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Civil constitution

I want you to imagine you are the last man standing, the last man of power and authority left in what was once a powerful and dignified nation. You are a general and you have taken up arms in a civil war that left a third of your nation’s population dead, you served in an army that has committed genocide and you presided over a period of moral panic and kangaroo courts. You have removed a king, crowned and king and now as your final act you are now dealing with a foreign power to organise an invasion to depose yet another king. This is the life of General Wolf the man who saved Britain from anarchy and organised the glorious revolution.

I have said frequently you cannot understand the quagmire of British history, culture and especially democracy and what passes for constitution without understanding the civil war period. The first key point to understand is that the civil war was waged against a protestant king and waged for various and often confused reasons, this led to a period of no rule and then iron rule and via the death of Oliver Cromwell led without much thought to the restoration of the monarchy and its replacement (due to James 2nd active Catholicism) with Mary the 2nd which was the beginning of the limited monarchy we know today and is referred to as the glorious revolution.

Now the two acts which created the nation we know; the bills of rights was formed directly out of the civil war and the act of succession is a direct result of the glorious revolution. These two bills were of course passed by parliament (not a democratic one) but they are mainly a result of the peace settlement achieved at the end of this bloody and confused period. It is of course a terrible fudge a bigoted and confusing mess.

A mess it is now time to fix; Britain has always just added on and on to this rotting structure, further confusing the issues and this tradition has continued in the modern era, the era in which Britain is adopting supera national constitutional law, manly from the EU but also from the UN and other transnational organisations. In additions to these external pressures British governments are also trying to adapt to this new environment by passing psudo constitutional bills and even enacting a constitutional law courts all of which in my view has added an intolerable pressure on the rotting structure of British constitutional tradition.

It is time for a new formal constitution, a constitution which can stand equally alongside the constitutions of the EU, UN and other nation states. A constitution which is clear and which everyone knows and stand a reasonable chance of being enforced and a constitution which limits the power of the executive and also formalises the democratic procedures to follow, free from the vagaries of tradition. Most importantly of all, this constitution unlike the civil war settlement, must be subject to acceptance of the people as it is by our will that parliament sits.

No comments:

Post a Comment