Sunday, July 08, 2007

"true allegiance"

posted by k

As a Brit, I find it slightly disturbing that children in the United States are expected to pledge allegiance to a gaudy piece of cloth. The pledge began with good intentions (the first version was written by a Christian Socialist). However, the idea of equality was omitted - apparently the text could only be agreed by making concessions to misogynists and racists.

The United States came into being with the Declaration of Independence, setting out the grounds on which a colony had the right to initiate revolution against a tyrannical ruler. It's still worth reading.

British subjects (Britain does not have citizens) can vote for qualified candidates for parliament. But MPs who don't believe in monarchy can't take their seats unless they're prepared to lie. Even the most moderate republican - someone who would do no more than vote for a republic if given the chance - is banned from taking a seat in parliament. Electors are allowed to vote for an honest republican but, should they do so, they will not be represented in parliament.

All new Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords are compelled to swear an oath of allegiance to the queen and her heirs.

A country which bars electors from choosing the representatives of their choice is not a democracy.

Gordon Brown has started a debate about constitutional reform.

The country may not be ready to become a republic. It may not be ready to debate the choice between a monarchy and a republic. But surely it's time to allow honest republicans to take their seats in the House of Commons.

There's a new petition on the Downing Street website. The text is simple and straightforward:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the Oath taken by Peers and MPs no longer pledges loyalty to the Monarchy.

You can sign the petition by clicking HERE.

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Blogger KateJ said...

I've signed up for your e-petition but was probably too late actually, ((I did it before but never got the e-mail to confirm...)
But I don't actually agree with taking an 'oath of allegiance' of any kind, whether to a monarch or a republic. Certainly not to a government - of any colour - elected by a fundamentally undemocratic process.

Also,an oath by its nature is more than a promise or an affirmation and implies some supernatural intervention should the oath be broken. As an atheist I don't feel there is anything I can swear by, and that my word should be enough.

5:16 pm  
Blogger areopagitica said...

I'd rather there were no oaths - I too affirm in any case. But getting rid of the idea of allegiance to the crown - not just for MPs but for police, magistrates, etc. is important.

The petition has a year to gather signatures and if we reach 200 the government has to respond. So please pass on the request to sign


9:12 pm  
Blogger David Hood said...

Hi - in Scotland, we have 'a tradition' of seeing our Parliament and members' thereof (in London and now also in Scotland), viewing loyalty as serving the people.

That should be a given in any modern democracy, but Westminster does not. Neither does the British State. Witness how we invaded and killed people in Iraq against the wishes of the people. That would never have happened in an independent Scotland.

Sovereignty lies with the people - is a Scottish notion and wish. The trouble is that within the British State as is, this is neither encouraged nor accepted. The sooner the MPs and MSPs kick out the medieval references to loyalty to the crown, the better, as a first and important step to realising some of the real and powerful democratic wishes that were the spirit behind both the Scots (Declaration of Arbroath) and England (Magna Carta) attempts at democratisation.

11:16 am  

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