Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Time for the Commons, not the Crown, to appoint the PM

There is a misconception that Parliament is supreme - that it can pass and rescind laws at its pleasure. 

Yet this has been shown time and again to be untrue. 

In living memory, Parliament has not been supreme. Elizabeth Windsor, in fact, when faced with a democratically-elected socialist government, sacked it and demanded that the people try again to elect the "correct" government more to her liking. 

And the laws which allow her to do so exist yet. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act can be struck down in an instant, without recourse or reference to Parliament or referendum. Windsor, or one of her successors, can dissolve Parliament as easily as you or I can pop down to the Spar and buy a packet of cigarettes. 

The chances of it ever happening are slim, of course. But when have you ever read of a rottweiler eating a rabbit? Probably never. Would you put your pet hamster into the same pen as your pet rottweiler and head off to Rothesay for the weekend?  I bet you wouldn't: because the risk is always there that you may return and find Fluffy divested of his head and limbs. For hamsters are brutal creatures.

Windsor has substantial powers. If you doubt this, I suggest you read i) the British constitution (which, contrary to popular belief, does exist, albeit uncodified); and ii) A Very British Coup. And if that doesn't satisfy you, perhaps you should ask yourself why she clings on with such tenacity to her power.

Should an individual - let's call him Ted Pontypand - emerge with the confidence of Parliament but does not have the confidence of the monarch, regardless of whether he has emerged from a General Election with a plurality or even a majority of votes, the monarch can - quite legally - refuse to appoint him as Prime Minister. 

And should this lead to a paralysis in the House of Commons, this is no constitutional bar whatever to the government continuing. Indeed, should Mr Cameron lose his seat in the Commons, and the Conservative Party fail to win a majority in the Commons, it would be entirely legal, and within precedent, for Windsor to appoint Cameron to the Lords and make him Prime Minister on the grounds that he has support in the Commons, should he be able to cobble a coalition together.

Not only has this happened before, this has happened under this very monarch: Windsor appointed Alec Douglas-Home as Prime Minister in 1963, heedless of the fact he was not a member of the Commons. 

In our constitution, it is perfectly in order for the monarch to appoint as Prime Minister not only a man who does not have a majority in the Commons, but who does not even have a seat in the Commons, and is therefore unaccountable to the elected national assembly.

There are three parties in this election who wish to bring this situation to an end: the National party, the Socialist party and the Green party seek to abolish the House of Lords. The Socialist party seeks to abolish the monarchy itself (for my part, I favour the Russian solution to monarchism). 

The Labour Party also seeks to abolish the House of Lords in the 2015 election. Just as it has since 1900. One can't help equivocating Labour commitment to abolition of the Lords to my commitment to get fit. There's a swimming pool down the road, and it's only £3 a go, but when I get the chance, I find better things to do. 

It is quite conceivable that in this fractious general election, no formal winner will emerge. If this is the case, it is likely that it will come down to Elizabeth Windsor - a woman who has never once sought election to her office, and who holds it only because her uncle was sexually incontinent - to select a Prime Minister, regardless of the result of the election. It is legal for her to appoint as Prime Minister someone who is not elected and has never been elected, not as an MP, far less as Prime Minister.

It is time for this situation to end. The people elect the Commons. Only the Commons should be able to appoint a Prime Minister.

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