The writer of this letter is Michael Dunn.
From my department of useless information: When I was a young man I joined the Labour Party under the rise-and-rise of Harold Wilson because he was such a refreshing change from so many others at that time. I had no idea who was my local constituency MP at the time. Like many, I voted for the pied piper.
When Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, I joined the Conservative Party because, unlike so many others of my age group, I found nothing much to dislike about her expressed political views. I had no idea then who was my local constituency MP. Again, like many, I voted for the pied piper.
Today I am not a member of any party. I discovered some time ago that ‘the party’ exists for the continuation of the party. Full stop. Constituents who aren’t members seem to be classed as useful idiots whose views and beliefs can be safely put to one side until the next election. Once the vote has been given it is taken to represent acceptance of ALL the party manifesto, even when some parts of the manifesto aren’t acceptable – take it or leave it. It doesn’t matter which party I’m talking about. The principle remains unchanged.
The divide within the parties today, especially over Brexit and the EU adds emphasis to my view. I didn’t have anything to do with electing Theresa May as Party leader and thus Prime Minister. If she says and does anything that I cannot condone – tough, it has nothing to do with me. It is to do with what SHE says and does, backed by faceless string pullers in the Civil Service. But the important thing, to her, is clearly to present a united front, insofar as that is possible. She wants to be the face of the pied piper.
Similarly, When Her Majesty the Queen applies pen to the statute to make it law, she does so on the basis of what her advisers tell her, even if to do so breaches her Coronation Oath.
Archbishop of Canterbury: “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?”
Queen Elizabeth II: “I solemnly promise so to do.”
Party MPs and Independents also take an Oath, as you know. “I (name of Member) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs, and successors, according to law. So help me God.”
Some might adhere to this Oath, but many clearly don’t. Their allegiance is too obviously jointly to their own career and the party first, and so QCs of the governing party+civil servants ‘advise the Queen’ as to what she should do. But they do not permit Her to publicly differ from their advice. She is not allowed ‘to govern’, not even in accord with our ‘respective laws and customs’. The concept of a prisoner in a gilded cage comes to mind.
The current population of the United Kingdom is 66,837,847 as of Saturday, March 9, 2019, based on the latest United Nations estimates. The votes in favour of Theresa May as MP for Maidenhead, with an electorate of 74,000+, was a reduced majority of 26,500 on a turnout of 58,200. Hardly what I’d call true representation – not even on a good day.
I conclude with a different observation. As recently as January 2019 Conservative MP Crispin Blunt put down an early day motion calling to abolish the practice of saying prayers at the beginning of parliamentary business in the House of Commons and House of Lords. A practice believed to have begun in 1558, I might add. Attendance is voluntary, I’m told, but I have no idea how many MPs participate. Mr Blunt isn’t the first to raise the subject, and I’m sure he won’t be the last.
I’m told the Speaker’s Chaplain usually reads the prayers. I could be pedantic and assert that reading prayers is different to praying. I take it that you know the form of the main prayer is as follows:
“Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.” (Emphasis added)
In today’s climate, it is little wonder that some MPs feel unable to utter those words and would wish them to be eliminated.
Rightly or wrongly, Her Majesty bears the title of Head of the Church of England, and the likes of Crispin Blunt seem to want to trample on that, too. It makes me wonder about the value of any oath involving government or Parliament or politician.
On my study wall is a quotation attributed to Sir Winston Churchill together with a photograph of him in his hey-day. It reads:
“We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English Speaking World and which, through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, Trial by Jury and the English Common Law, find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”
I fear for my country. One day Her Majesty will pass; one day MPs and Lords will be moved out of the Palaces of Westminster to enable refurbishment, with no assurance that they will ever reassemble; one day a new head will be offered the Crown to be Monarch of a totally disunited and fractured Britain; and one day there will be a General Election which will recreate all the follies and illusions that we have today. You’ve heard the expression ‘United we Stand, Divided we Fall’ haven’t you?
I could weep. And MPs dare to address each other as Honourable and Right Honourable when so many are seemingly without honour.