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Old May 12th, 2017, 01:18 PM   #31

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Did she really ?

It didn't matter if Victoria was a sinner or a saint.

She was above all else, a constitutional monarch - even though she on occasion behaved quite unconstitutionally (given that the UK doesn't actually have a constitution).
The UK does.

It's not in a singular document, but there are many laws, procedures, conventions and Royal Prerogatives.

For instnace, the current election is defined by an Act of Parliament and a parliamentary vote, which obviously was secured.
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Old May 15th, 2017, 10:45 AM   #32
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The British drama "King Charles III" is now being shown on PBS in the US. It's near future fiction which portrays the current Prince Charles as King while William becomes the Prince of Wales. It's interesting that in the drama, King Charles does use his reserve power to refuse royal assent, dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. I won't go into what happens next but the initial ruling by the Speaker upholds the King's right to do so. The issue at hand are restrictions on freedom of speech passed by Parliament.

The fictional King's argument is the same as mine. Why have an expensive monarchy where any political role is denied to the monarch except in certain undefined circumstances (reserve power)? The alternatives are a monarchy with no reserve power and therefore only function as an ornament at all times, or no monarchy at all. The King's argument is that monarchs are trained to rule. They are sufficiently restricted by Parliament. If reserve powers are exercised only on the conditon that elections directly follow, democratic principles are not violated.

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Old May 15th, 2017, 04:55 PM   #33

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The British drama "King Charles III" is now being shown on PBS in the US. It's near future fiction which portrays the current Prince Charles as King while William becomes the Prince of Wales. It's interesting that in the drama, King Charles does use his reserve power to refuse royal assent, dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. I won't go into what happens next but the initial ruling by the Speaker upholds the King's right to do so. The issue at hand are restrictions on freedom of speech passed by Parliament.

The fictional King's argument is the same as mine. Why have an expensive monarchy where any political role is denied to the monarch except in certain undefined circumstances (reserve power)? The alternatives are a monarchy with no reserve power and therefore only function as an ornament at all times, or no monarchy at all. The King's argument is that monarchs are trained to rule. They are sufficiently restricted by Parliament. If reserve powers are exercised only on the conditon that elections directly follow, democratic principles are not violated.
Brilliant play--saw it at the weekend--apart from a couple of gratuitous bits of nonsense that were not in the stage version. Modern blank verse--sometimes the BBc can produce good stuff without mucking it up completely.
The constitutional point made in the film is that the Sovereign REALLY still does have those residual powers although--so the argument goes, is that by exercising them--would lose them. Since the reign of William III the Sovereign has supposedly had no power other than to advise and to warn--in fact plenty of people sitting on the big chair with gold trimmings have exercised power far beyond that--often, when the matter has not been of great importance the Monarch's displeasure has been sufficient to modify a government's actions. Of course, as time has passed and Parliament grabbed more and more power--especially the purse strings, the propensity of Sovereigns to pick fights with their ministers has declined, but few matters have been important enough for a public fight since the beginning of the 20thC except the abdication crisis and Baldwin won that fight against a weak and cowardly King.
One error in the play is that when the King used his prerogative to dissolve Parliament he would also have dismissed his Prime Minister--by convention an outgoing Prime Minister keeps the job until an election is finalised and a party with a majority can provide a candidate who can "Command a majority in the House of Commons"--that may be moot if one party has no overall majority and has to "cut a deal" with another party as has happened five times since 1903 plus a full-blown coalition in 2015. In the period between calling an election and its result there is nothing to stop a Sovereign from appointing anyone he or she likes as her Ministers, including the Prime Minister--they are the rules.
A Couple of years ago it was discovered that not only has the Sovereign a number of unwritten and unspecified powers of veto, but even the Prince of Wales has some and a small scandal ensued when it was revealed that he was exercising those powers by simple writing sarcastic letters to Ministers.

Another matter touched on in the play and that came to the fore under the Tony Blair years of Terror was Blair's desire to remove the oath of allegiance to the Person of the Sovereign and make it to "the Crown", i.e. the Government and therefore himself. His demand was turned down flay by the one person who could turn it down--the little old lady in teh big house at the end of the Mall.
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Old May 19th, 2017, 01:07 PM   #34
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Another matter touched on in the play and that came to the fore under the Tony Blair years of Terror was Blair's desire to remove the oath of allegiance to the Person of the Sovereign and make it to "the Crown", i.e. the Government and therefore himself. His demand was turned down flay by the one person who could turn it down--the little old lady in teh big house at the end of the Mall.
So it seems like you agree that if you have a monarch, that person should have some power as a check on parliament. I'm saying it should be constitutional power which the monarch can use without fear of being deposed or causing riots in the streets. The issue in the play was freedom of the press. This is an essential feature of a democracy. Because Parliament is supreme without checks, the possibility of abuse is always present. It's true it hasn't happened in the UK, but presently the Loyal Opposition is led by Jeremy Corbyn and it seems that his positions are too far left for the large majority of the voters. This means a lack of strong opposition to the Conservative Party. Whether effective one party rule occurs or not, that possibility exists for the potential of abuse.

If such abuse occurs, what's wrong with having an empowered monarch refuse assent to abusive legislation? Then let the people decide.

Last edited by stevev; May 19th, 2017 at 02:05 PM.
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Old May 20th, 2017, 08:18 AM   #35
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The UK does.

It's not in a singular document, but there are many laws, procedures, conventions and Royal Prerogatives.

For instnace, the current election is defined by an Act of Parliament and a parliamentary vote, which obviously was secured.

A constitution is a single document.
The collection of laws currently in force, in the UK, do not constitute a constitution.

The UK has a lot of laws that deal with how the government must act but these a mere laws and can be repealed with a simple majority in parliament.

This is why Britain occasionally has constitutional crises - because there is no written constitution to refer to.
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Old May 20th, 2017, 08:27 AM   #36
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Brilliant play--saw it at the weekend--apart from a couple of gratuitous bits of nonsense that were not in the stage version. Modern blank verse--sometimes the BBc can produce good stuff without mucking it up completely.
The constitutional point made in the film is that the Sovereign REALLY still does have those residual powers although--so the argument goes, is that by exercising them--would lose them. Since the reign of William III the Sovereign has supposedly had no power other than to advise and to warn--in fact plenty of people sitting on the big chair with gold trimmings have exercised power far beyond that--often, when the matter has not been of great importance the Monarch's displeasure has been sufficient to modify a government's actions. Of course, as time has passed and Parliament grabbed more and more power--especially the purse strings, the propensity of Sovereigns to pick fights with their ministers has declined, but few matters have been important enough for a public fight since the beginning of the 20thC except the abdication crisis and Baldwin won that fight against a weak and cowardly King.
One error in the play is that when the King used his prerogative to dissolve Parliament he would also have dismissed his Prime Minister--by convention an outgoing Prime Minister keeps the job until an election is finalised and a party with a majority can provide a candidate who can "Command a majority in the House of Commons"--that may be moot if one party has no overall majority and has to "cut a deal" with another party as has happened five times since 1903 plus a full-blown coalition in 2015. In the period between calling an election and its result there is nothing to stop a Sovereign from appointing anyone he or she likes as her Ministers, including the Prime Minister--they are the rules.
A Couple of years ago it was discovered that not only has the Sovereign a number of unwritten and unspecified powers of veto, but even the Prince of Wales has some and a small scandal ensued when it was revealed that he was exercising those powers by simple writing sarcastic letters to Ministers.

Another matter touched on in the play and that came to the fore under the Tony Blair years of Terror was Blair's desire to remove the oath of allegiance to the Person of the Sovereign and make it to "the Crown", i.e. the Government and therefore himself. His demand was turned down flay by the one person who could turn it down--the little old lady in teh big house at the end of the Mall.
AFAIK, the Queen is not subject to any laws while she is in a country of which she is the monarch.

She can literally do what she likes - but as you say, probably only once.
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Old May 20th, 2017, 01:41 PM   #37
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A constitution is a single document.
The collection of laws currently in force, in the UK, do not constitute a constitution.
Not true. It can be a set of laws not gathered into a single document. It can also include unwritten practices that have the force of law.


Constitution Definition
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Old May 20th, 2017, 03:01 PM   #38
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Not true. It can be a set of laws not gathered into a single document. It can also include unwritten practices that have the force of law.


Constitution Definition

No a constitution is not a set of laws. A constitution is a single document.


Your web site states:

"Constitutions are not necessarily written and may be based on aged customs and conventions, as is the case, in part, in England and New Zealand (the USA, Canada and Australia all have written constitutions)..."

Of course if you take this definition, then every country has a constitution. In the case of the UK it is an unwritten one.

I would take the view that an unwritten constitution is not a constitution at all.

A constitution is something that binds a country together - including its government. A constitution that is merely a bunch of laws passed over hundreds of years means nothing. Any government merely needs to repeal the necessary laws to legally do what it wants.

So when we say that the UK has an unwritten constitution, we really mean the UK has no constitution at all.

That may or may not be a bad thing depending on your POV.

Here's Wiki's definition:


"A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single document or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to embody a written constitution; if they are written down in a single comprehensive document,.."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution

Last edited by Poly; May 20th, 2017 at 03:06 PM.
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Old May 20th, 2017, 03:12 PM   #39
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No a constitution is not a set of laws. A constitution is a single document.


Your web site states:

"Constitutions are not necessarily written and may be based on aged customs and conventions, as is the case, in part, in England and New Zealand (the USA, Canada and Australia all have written constitutions)..."

Of course if you take this definition, then every country has a constitution. In the case of the UK it is an unwritten one.

I would take the view that an unwritten constitution is not a constitution at all.

A constitution is something that binds a country together - including its government. A constitution that is merely a bunch of laws passed over hundreds of years means nothing. Any government merely needs to repeal the necessary laws to legally do what it wants.

So when we say that the UK has an unwritten constitution, we really mean the UK has no constitution at all.

That may or may not be a bad thing depending on your POV.
Your argument is based on your personal opinion. The reference I gave is a legal one. Every state that is worth being called a state has a constitution which describes how the state functions. Some would say that the US Constitution is an outline, but does not fully describe how the government works. The Federal Code fills volumes and even it is incomplete.
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Old May 20th, 2017, 03:33 PM   #40
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Your argument is based on your personal opinion. The reference I gave is a legal one....
A legal definition is which country ?

What body has the power to define what a constitution is ?

Wikipedia's definition is at least as valid as yours.


Quote:
...every state that is worth being called a state has a constitution which describes how the state functions.....

The UK doesn't.

All the UK has is a set of laws. For instance the head of the British government is the Prime Minister - yet where in any law is that position referenced ?

Are you saying that the UK is not worthy of being called a state ?

https://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articl...n-constitution
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