When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Column: The great genius of our constitutional monarchy
How about a ‘People’s President’, a popularly elected politician, in place of an hereditary monarch? We’re a democracy, after all. How is democracy compatible with the idea that our Head of State is there because she’s her father’s daughter, not chosen on merit?
It’s a point of view, but not one I share. The great genius of our constitutional arrangements is that we’ve been able to blend the best aspects of our monarchy, with a vibrant democracy.
Many decades ago I toyed with the idea that, perhaps, it might be better if we were a republic. Then I saw the reality of republics around the globe. Some of the most unequal societies have presidents as Heads of State; whilst some of the most equal societies – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, for example - are constitutional monarchies. The gap between rich and poor in the world’s most powerful republic, the United States, has widened terribly in recent years. Some of the most lavish, monarchical events I’ve ever attended have been in France – the home of the modern republican ideal.
What royal families like our own have been able to achieve, and presidents do rarely, is to be a focus of unity for a nation well above the inevitably partisan disputes of democratic politics. These days we are a very mixed society – as we in East Lancashire know better than most.
Go round the schools, as I’ve been doing in recent weeks, and you’ll find that the excitement about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is as strong in the schools with mainly Asian-heritage pupils as it is in those with mainly white pupils. Of the hundred-plus and rising street parties in the area, one of the biggest will be in the Whalley Range area of Blackburn – overwhelmingly of Asian-heritage.
In the Ministerial posts I held I was lucky enough to see, at close quarters, the way in which the Queen fulfils her duties. She is quite remarkable, for her professionalism, and commitment to her people – all of us. There’s a lot to celebrate this weekend.