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Games of Throne

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In the media recently the Republic organisation in England went on record to suggest that the British monarch does as the Prime Minister instructs. Their spokesperson must therefore be a professor of constitutional law, an historian, a political scientist, and a clairvoyant. Those are the areas of expertise you would need in order to speak so confidently about how the British constitution is interpreted.

For one thing, it isn't consolidated in a single document. It is constructed from legal precedents and a few written instruments. It was only in 2003 that the monarch's reserve powers were finally reduced to writing. Given that one of those powers is to dismiss ministers it is unlikely a PM would need to tell the monarch to arrange for his removal from office. It seems more probable the Crown could do that alone.

As recently as August last year Johnson had to ask Elizabeth Windsor to prorogue parliament. Is that an example of telling her what to do? At that time a press article quoted an authority on Britain's build‐a‐bear style constitution as confirming that the Crown's legal powers under a constitutional monarchy can be used in emergencies. Is this consistent with a PM being able to call the shots under all circumstances? The expert also reminded readers that the monarch's powers are based on convention: They are exercised according to a pattern of having acted on ministerial advice in the past. It is more an expected practice than a legally enforceable duty.

If it is only a custom to act on the advice of ministers, does that preclude the monarch acting on the advice of anyone else? Australia's constitutional crisis of 1976 was ignited when the governor general used the Crown's reserve powers to dismiss the country's prime minister. There was evidence he was influenced to do that by the leader of the opposition. In light of all this it's difficult to determine the intent or strategy behind the ambiguous Republic statement. If accurately reported it seems like wishful thinking, but that can be excused. Examining this element of British law inevitably means staring into a vortex of infantilism. The nature of that childish keep-away game is enervating. At every level the monarchy serves to ensure predictably favourable outcomes for the British establishment. The Crown's reserve powers may just be the nuclear option. They can theoretically override elected officials just as unelected Lords can interfere in the legislative process. Do these elements of an extemporised constitution support the case for Britain being the democracy it would have people believe it is? If establishment interests were threatened to the extent they needed to invoke the monarch's reserve powers it is anyone's guess how they could be applied. It seems it would be more like rolling the dice to see whether elected or unelected authority would prevail. Her Majesty's judiciary could be asked to rule on the outcome or Her Majesty's armed forces could be ready to enforce it.

Should the Crown's powers ever be in dispute there is no denying its symbolic force. Each generation is groomed from infancy to accept the inequality and exclusion it represents. If people are socialised to believe that a person with no special talent or aptitude for leadership can succeed to the position of head of state, won't they acquiesce to the inheritance of every other advantage, leadership role, or profession? Merit and fairness be damned. This is the cornerstone of Britain's reward for failure culture. If you ignore that the system is unjust, it's still just wasteful. That's the crucial issue. The value and potential of people dissipates while mediocrity is rewarded. Ironically arguments like this struggle for traction amongst the people who would benefit most ‐ the majority, as opposed to the overprivileged minority.

As an interest group Republic may exist because a voice in favour of republican democracy would be conspicuous by its absence. If there was no opposition it would call attention to extreme ideological hegemony. A fringe organisation that is both ineffectual and easy to ignore would have a much more valuable demonstration effect. In Britain appearances are nine tenths of the law.

Today Barbados announced its intention to become a republic in 2021. The Palace has replied that is a matter for the people of that island. This hopefully opens the way for other Commonwealth countries to advance politically. It is hoped Canada, New Zealand, and other nations follow the example. Britain however will likely react by going in the opposite direction, sinking further into the quicksand of the past. If you don't like that, Champion Spine Film.

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