Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Yes, what happened today is a suspension of democracy, and the Queen may not be able to wash her hands of it for much longer

There was some discussion on the previous thread about whether today's announcement that parliament will soon be prorogued can appropriately be described as a "suspension of democracy", given that brief prorogations in preparation for a Queen's Speech are a normal part of the Westminster system.  But there is something (beyond the obvious cynicism of the timing) that makes this prorogation unusual.  James Cleverly noted today that it's absolutely routine for a "new government" to present a Queen's Speech - but if this is a new government (and it obviously is, given that its policy platform is a radical departure from what went before), who elected it?  No-one, unless you count the tiny percentage of the population who are card-carrying members of the Conservative party.  It hasn't received a direct mandate at a general election, and crucially it hasn't even received an indirect mandate from the elected parliament - it has yet to be tested in a confidence vote.  Incredible though it may seem, after a month it still hasn't been established that there is any democratic basis whatsoever for Boris Johnson to be our Prime Minister.  He owes his position simply to appointment by the unelected monarch on the advice of his predecessor.

The legitimacy of those who govern us during brief spells of prorogation derives from them enjoying the confidence of parliament - and in this case that legitimacy will be lacking, unless Jeremy Corbyn tables a vote of no confidence next week and loses it.  So, yes, I think it's entirely appropriate to characterise today's decision as a suspension of democracy.

Before the news officially came through that the Queen has approved Boris Johnson's prorogation request, this was my reaction on Twitter -

"Rather appropriate that the Queen is in Scotland as she receives the phone call asking her to suspend democracy. I wonder if she'll 'purr' down the line. I certainly hope she 'thinks very carefully' about her decision..."

Of course I was being slightly mischievous there, because I'm sure the Queen's advisers will have told her that she didn't really have a decision to make.  Convention dictates that she must accept a request for prorogation prior to a Queen's Speech.  However, there are other circumstances in which convention does still allow her some discretion, and we may be hurtling towards those circumstances.  ITV's political editor Robert Peston reported earlier that a government source had told him: "If MPs pass a no confidence vote next week, then we'll stay in No10, we won't recommend any alternative government we'll dissolve Parliament and have an election between 1-5 November -- and that means no time for legislation."  

If the government goes down that route of temporary, outright dictatorship, then the Queen can stop them.  She has the power to sack Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with immediate effect if she concludes that he no longer has the confidence of the House - and if he's just lost a vote of no confidence, such a conclusion would be a no-brainer.  Convention does not prevent her from taking action, and the modern precedents are clear.  In 1975, the Governor-General of Australia sacked the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and replaced him with the opposition leader.  The Governor-General exercises exactly the same powers on behalf of the Queen that she exercises on her own behalf in the United Kingdom.  And within her own reign, there's an example of her using her discretion on the selection of a Prime Minister - in 1963, she went ahead and appointed the Earl of Home as PM, ignoring advice from Harold Macmillan to wait until further soundings had been taken among Tory MPs.

My guess is that the Queen is so allergic to being seen to intervene in the political process (except to stop Scotland governing itself, obviously) that there isn't a cat in hell's chance of her using her power to eject an illegitimate Prime Minister.  But the problem for her is that the government will have put her in a position where she has no option but to make a political decision, one way or the other.  Doing nothing will in itself be a decision, and it'll make her the midwife of a No Deal Brexit.  That could be a catastrophic error that would destroy the monarchy's reputation among a whole generation of pro-EU citizens.

47 comments:

  1. With you, till the last sentence. Just how big a reputation do you think the monarchy has among younger, pro-EU citizens (not subjects)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe James meant the generation that remembers WW2, i.e. those over 75.

      Delete
  2. I. Scotand these days, very little?

    ReplyDelete
  3. At the signing of the Treaty of the Union of the two Parliaments, the Scotish people were Sovereign, the English Parliament was sovereign, not the Monarch. Upheld July 2018.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Queen Ruth cannae stomach the English nats it seems. Word fae Brian is that she's going tomorrow.

    Boris & brexit are breaking the Conservative and unionist party.

    Not long for the UK now.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think younger people see it as a decoration and tourist item. Now that it is relevant but again siding as always with Tories I think there will be negative blowback. Especially coupled with renewed Royal ties thru Andrew to pedophilia rings .explains a LOT about Fergies behaviour.can you imagine the response if Corbyn used this as PM to put thru school children's lunches and breakfasts?

    ReplyDelete
  6. The two questions now are; what likely effect will this have on Indy support, and what other constitutional norms will Boris trample on to deny Scotland.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The last couple of hours shows the problem with the 'remian' side over the last couple of months.

    Lunch time - Boris has gone too far, hes a dictator, we need to do anything we can stop him.

    Mid afternoon - The Queen - its all her fault vive la republique!!

    Dinner time - oh look Ruth Davidson is going to quit...

    Early Evening - Its the capitalists fault... general strike!!

    It's like moths chasing a flame. Meanwhile Boris and his team are on message and single minded.

    Its the ref all over again. Doesn't matter how unpopular what you do or say is, along as you keep on point and keep your base on side, whilst the Opposition are fragmented and can't solidify behind one augment/person then you are going to come out on top.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Unionists now saying the Scot nats were right all along and the UK as a dictatorship.

    SNP looking utterly vindicated in their consistent long term position.

    Time to man the lifeboats now though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What life boats are these? Running out of time..

      Delete
    2. The indy lifeboat always floats at Scotland side. I'm already in it with my mates fae 2014. We're ready for any no voters who want to jump in. A good few already have.

      Delete
    3. No point of a lifeboat if already sunk, Scotland is will be out of the EU withno deal in a couple of months, people will lose their jobs, savings, homes, possibly even lives, so the indy life boat is bugger all use to them now. If I die due to lack of medicine in November what benefit is the life boat to me then.

      Any life boats should of been launched months ago, too late now.

      Delete
    4. Ok, you vote to stay with the UK then. I'll be getting in the lifeboat even if it is taking a battering.

      Polling suggests that an iref held prior to the last few months would likely have been lost. The BBC are finding 60% for Yes based on boris's no deal plan.

      Delete
    5. Didn't ask about polling. I'm asking how indy is a lifeboat to stop Scotland leaving the EU via a possible hard Brexit in October?

      Delete
    6. Are you suggesting an indy Scotland is no longer a route to EU/EEA membership? That the UK - where the new 'great British precedent' is that democracy can be stopped as required - is a better option now?

      While it looks like we'll be exiting, we could be back in the EEA essentially instantly upon indy. East Germany was. You just need to be legally compliant which Scotland is. I doubt we'll have time for many new non-compliant laws to be made in the next few months and these can just be undone on day 1 of indy.

      Delete
    7. Are you saying that there will be an indy ref and Scotland will be an indipendant country by 31st October 2019? THats the only way for Scotland not to be leaving the EU (possibly by a hard no deal Brexit). If so i'm sure you have evidence of this.

      From what I can tell the plan for the next indy ref is next year, which means we will be leaving with the rest of the UK.

      So again how does the 'indy lifeboat' stop us leaving on the 31st October 2019

      Delete
    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    9. No, I wrote in English 'While it looks like we'll be exiting [the EU], we could be back in the EEA essentially instantly upon indy [which occurred after the EU exit]'.

      I have never said the lifeboat stopped us from leaving. You've imagined that (or made it up).

      If we want to continue with the metaphors, you can get in a lifeboat even if the ship has gone down.

      And if you are super unhappy about an iref post-brexit, then just don't bother voting if you like. :-)

      Delete
    10. I'm not unhappy about a ref. Of course i'm not going to blindly say how i'm going to vote when don't even know when the ref is or what the proposals are going to be. If i think that an Independence will be better i will vote yes, if not ill vote no.

      Delete
    11. I'm Scottish as my wife is French, so obviously the answer is always Yes for me.

      I don't mind Scotland being in unions, but this must be as a sovereign state equal among members (on nation one vote etc), like for example, the EU.

      Delete
    12. I'm Scottish and my partner is Canadian, but not sure what that has to do with voting yes or no.

      Of course one nation one vote only applies for a small (circa 20%) number of votes the majority of votes in the EU are not one nation one vote.

      Delete
    13. Erm, people seeing themselves collectively as being of a particular community* - as expressed in their identity up to the nation 'level' - is the primary reason for the existence of nation states. Did you not do this at school?

      Why would my French wife want to close the French parliament in favour of a few seats in the corner of the German one? Why would your Canadian wife want to had over governance of Canada to Trump?

      My guess is you are at least in part British in identity, unlike me (Scottish & Irish), in which case you may be comfortable with a British state.

      Delete
    14. Nope I consider myself Scottish, just like you. I don't have any problems with the UK parliament making some laws in the same way that i don't have a problem with the EU parliament making legislation. I don't agree with all the laws made at EU /UK/Scottish levels but Indy is not going to change that, if i don't agree with a law who makes it makes no difference.

      Delete
    15. Erm, obviously not like me. I support my nation being sovereign and equal in any union!

      I'd be much more open to Westminster making some laws for Scotland if Scotland had a veto like countries do in the EU. A council of the UK where e.g. brexit would have needed the consent of a 3/4 nations to go ahead for example. Obviously, this isn't the case at all, so indy it is without question!

      Although the existence of the European Union makes the UK union superfluous as far as I can see (a relic of the empire age), so even if the UK was radically remodeled (while pigs took off from Edinburgh Airport), I'd still most likely opt for indy.

      Delete
    16. I'll just finish up by adding that my views is very much the norm, hence unions such as the EU and other similar trading blocks work on the basis of nations retaining sovereignty and having 'one nation one vote' equal voting powers, at least at one of the primary legislative levels (e.g. EU council of nations).

      If the EU proposed dispensed with the one nation one vote council and with the system which allocates more seats in the parliament per head to smaller nations (so they are not dominated by larger ones), it would not last very long.

      Delete
    17. I meant the same as you as both being Scottish. Wether or not a person supports indy or not does not change how Scottish they are, obviously.

      Delete
  9. Democracy was suspended when the Nat sis and remainers refused to accept the referendum result. They are the fascists. They do not want a deal they are liars. Well done Boris the Bold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you want Scottish indy by any means, Boris is a hero.

      He's even go Ruth 'leader of scots opposition' to resign.

      Champagne corks popping at snp hq the nicht!

      Delete
    2. Boris the Orifice. He's from Noo Yowk Citee, bro. Thinks he's Welsh.

      Queen is nothing but a show mascot. It's like something out of the wrestling or acting in a prewritten story where she plays a part.

      Delete
    3. Ha Ha Jocko Nat sis we are leaving your precious EU. Nae merr money tae the corrupt bastsurds bloodsuckers. Forward to the Socialist victory.

      Delete
  10. Ruth has clearly seen the Tory internal polling on a GE and iref2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Tank Commander has been reduced to a Landrover driver for shuttling the Barnier EU Wine Club to the Bruxelles brothels.

      Delete
    2. You mean the ones that those well paid Labour MEPs apparently frequent?

      Delete
  11. A right wing military Coo in progress. The forces of reaction are on the streets as I write. The Scottish Nat sis leave work and demonstrate on the streets. Scotland must be governed by the EU they proclaim. Violence expected after Friday prayers in the local Glesga pubs. When will it all end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would that be a Fresian or an Aberdeen-Angus?

      Delete
    2. Fenugreek SpectaclesAugust 29, 2019 at 12:20 PM

      Colonel Windbag certainly is a right-wing military coo.

      Delete
  12. Anyway, it's perfect timing for the leader of #Bettertogther2 and 'savior of the union' to resign.

    Who can we ask the English nationalists to take out next?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Will be fun campaigning for the Tories in Shetland the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be easier to spot a palm tree than a tory in Shetland today.

      Delete
    2. Fenugreek SpectaclesAugust 29, 2019 at 12:21 PM

      Is Brydon Goodlad still "Ruth Davidson's Candidate" at the Shetland by-election today?

      Delete
  14. If Ruthie is really as pissed as we think, she will plunge a knife in as she departs. However, ff she goes quietly (need to spend time with family etc) without so much as a whimper, then the chances are she has been offered something worthwhile - a new career to get her out of the way wth as little fuss as possible.

    So which is it? We shall find out later today, methinks. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Possible Summary: Buffalo Girl went to the rodeo and found it a bit rough. If she'd stayed longer she could have tried to ride five horses (a la Jimmy Maxton). But she may still run off and join the circus.

      Delete
    2. Fenugreek SpectaclesAugust 29, 2019 at 12:22 PM

      She'll be presenting on the new QVC Motherhood channel.

      Delete
  15. Rich Bitch planning Court action against the Gov. BBC remainer channel doing a bender on Brexit.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like this conclusion very much, well thought out. I just wonder how well it has been thought out by Boris and Co?

    ReplyDelete