So our unelected Head of State will travel through London today in a Gold Carriage surrounded by hundreds of armed men on horseback, dressed in a variety of regalia, and will have a fancy crown put on her head.
A man in tights known as ‘Black Rod’ is then dispatched to summon MPs from the Commons. The doors to the Commons chamber are shut in his face: a practice dating back to the Civil War, symbolising the Commons’ independence from the monarchy. The man in tights strikes the door three times before it is opened. Members of the House of Commons then follow the man in tights and the Speaker to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the Throne, known as the Bar of the House, to listen to the speech not written by the unelected Head of State who will also be surrounded by 785 unelected members of the House of Lords, yes I said 785 UNELECTED members. There are only 650 elected members of parliament. Some democracy huh.
Now all this pageantry and ceremony is designed to remind us of the glories of our history, the majesty of our nationhood, the wonderful and brilliant United Kingdom. Dennis Skinner the Labour MP might shout out something not very funny that all of the media will fawn over and the Tories will criticise. All of this just makes me switch off and to be honest I regard it as mostly nonsense but also a reinforcement of how undemocratic our country actually is.
The extent of our undemocratic system allows the Queen and Prince Charles a Royal Veto over legislation which was used on 39 different pieces of legislation in the last year or so. This has ranged from education, child maintenance, pensions and national insurance contributions. The Royal Family, far from being just ceremonial, have a direct influence over our so called democracy and all the pomp and costly privilege of todays opening of Parliament for me is about keeping people in their place. We live in the 21st Century but you would think that we are living in the 18th Century, and now with a majority Conservative Government we may soon find ourselves living in the conditions of the 18th Century with a further fall in our living standards and an increase in things like foodbanks. David Cameron may have indicated today that tax is frozen until 2020 but with the freeze of in work benefits the wealthy continue to get wealthier and the poor poorer, you have to wonder who votes for these people.
Throw in the exemptions from freedom of information for the Queen and Prince Charles and you very quickly understand that democracy in the UK is what a very small number of very wealthy people want to tell you it is. When Steve Hilton, a former strategist for David Cameron said “When the corporate bosses, the MPs, the journalists… all go to the same dinner parties and social events, all live near one another, all send their children to the same schools (from which they themselves mainly came), an insular ruling class develops.”
Our democracy is broken, from the pomp and influence of the unelected Head of State, to the Conservatives being a majority Government on 36% of the vote all demonstrate that we need reform in this country. We need proportional representation in elections and we need to have a real debate and vote on the nature of our Head of State, personally I want to see the Head of State be elected. The hereditary principle is something that we should be ashamed off in the 21st Century and works to keep ordinary people in their place and our so called betters in theirs.