Constitution and Citizenship
WE'RE NOT A "KINGDOM" - LET'S STOP CALLING OURSELVES ONE
Nearly 250 years ago, in the then British colony of North America, a group of far-sighted citizens made a momentous and revolutionary declaration: Because "All men are created equal" (read for this 'all human beings' of course) - it follows from this that that we have a duty of obedience & servitude to God alone - not to any human king or queen, empress or emperor, duke or count or tsar or whatever they call themselves. The American Declaration of Independence was a breathtaking leap into the future, as the world then was in Europe, Asia and Africa. Since then most countries have taken this same step forward - but incredibly, not in our own country. We've got the world's oldest parliament - but all our laws still have to be signed by the "monarch" - the king or queen; who also gets to "ask" the party winning the election to form a government. Our armed forces have to swear their "allegiance" to this same person, and they are a part of our unwritten constitution in other ways.
How can we allow this setup to continue in the 21st century - for us all to have this obligation to a man or woman whose "right" to this position comes not from being elected, or from any talent or achievement - but just because it's been passed to them by their mother and father ? It's insane. What kind of message about equality of opportunity does this send to today's children, when they see this power, not earned by an election, but inherited - passed down through the generations from father to son, mother to daughter, kept in one special family like they have some magic powers - the "blue blood" nonsense.
Passing stuff down to our children is fine for posessions - our house, our books, our car. But NOT political power even when it's mostly symbolic - that can't be inherited, it has to be earned. Nobody has any objection to the "Royals" carrying on with their same titles, or even living in the same palaces - I'm sure they are all good people and give us a link with our pre-democratic past history. But it's high time we ended their involvement with our constitution.
Q Is it Mainstream policy for us to become a Republic?
A. NO. We should be called what we ARE - a parliamentary democracy - NOT a "republic" , a term which has connotations of tricolour flags, violent uprisings, Republican parties, and so on.
Q. Would MAINSTREAM abolish the Monarchy ?
A. NO WAY. Leave them alone - they would be able to carry on most of the same titles as now, with "coronations" for the latest Queen or King. All they would be required to give up would be the involvement they now have with our government - signing laws, meeting party leaders after general elections, being the object of oaths of allegiance or any servitude displays such as bowing or kneeling. "A Cat may look at a King!" as the saying goes.
Q. Would the Queen or King have any power if your policies were implemented?
A. YES of course - they would still carry on as head of the Church of England, the role they have had since the Reformation.
Q. Would they carry on being crowned as "Queen of England" or "King of England" as now?
A. NO - this bit would need to change and they would just take the title and name only, with no reference to England or for that matter, any other part of Britain. So just "King Charles", or "King Harry" , "Queen Eugenie", or whatever is specified in their succession rules - I'm not too knowledgable about these..
Q. When would be a good and convenient time to make this change?
A. What better time than at the end of the present Queen's "reign" ? Queen Elizabeth II has already set the record for holding this office and will no doubt go down in history as a great queen and a wonderful person, who starting as a shy teenage girl, has seen this country in enormous changes from the end of the last war, to a very different place today.
Q. What would be the biggest effect of this change on ordinary people?
A. Our country's name - the present name of "United Kingdom" is already meaningless as we've been a kingdom in name only for many centuries. We would return to using the correct name of Great Britain .
Q. Would the prefix "Royal" have to stop being used - as in "Royal Navy", etc?
A. No - that could all stay , Royal Air Force, HMS for warships, and so on. And charities (such as the RSPCA) with the "Royal" prefix would carry on with the same titles.
Q. I'm guessing if these changes go ahead - we'd need a new National Anthem ?
A. You're guessing correctly.
We need a fixed WRITTEN constitution.
For the 21st century we need our mix of conventions and traditions updating with a proper written constitution. MAINSTREAM would, after a period of consulting with other parties, draw up a constitution and put it to the people in a referendum, for acceptance or rejection; The constitution would be a set of principles, to guide Parliament and lawmakers in the future. Among the suggested principles for the new constitution:
Our government system re-defined officially from Constitutional Monarchy to Parliamentary Democracy, with no place for the Monarchy in any constitutional role.
A set of "Rights" - some of which would be universal (freedom of speech, freedom to walk safely in the streets,etc) and sme of which would be for our own citizens only (Rights to free school education, free medical care, certain welfare benefits and so on).
The acknowledgment that Rights can never come without Responsibilities, and that we all have a responsibility to behave towards our fellow-citizens, as we would wish them to behave towards us .
All laws based on the principle that people who infringe other people's human rights (eg by attacking them or stealing their property) - will be punished by having some of their own rights TAKEN AWAY for a period of time (eg by losing their liberty, and being locked up)
Freedom of the Press and Media being absolute with no form of state control; with the existing libel and slander laws, available where the press makes false allegations. Reporters who break privacy laws eg by hacking private phones or E-mails, would together with their editors and managers, face severe penalties.
Marriage would be defined in the constitution as a state which may only exist between one Man and one Woman.
The constitution would officially state that we are a Meritocracy. This means that all advancement (eg employement, college places etc) must be based ONLY on the applicant's merit and skills, with no account being taken of their sex, colour, religion and so on. This enshrines the principle that the way to economic advancement is by self-improvement, by merit alone, not by right and certainly never through any quota system. Our citizens who make the effort to work harder, who save rather than spend on non-necessities, who learn new skills, study and get qualifications, must be entitled to a bigger share of the cake than those who can't be bothered to do this. The welfare benefits system must be there for all citizens but it should be a minimum safety-net to ensure none of our citizens starve; not an alternative way of life to working for a living.
Reform of the Upper House
The House of Lords used to be actual hereditary "Lords" - our betters, peers of the realm. Then Labour changed this to create appointed peers, who now form the majority. The result is that the Lords has now become a sort of second-rate Commons - most of the members are party hacks, put there to reflect the establishment parties in the Commons . We've now got the worst of both worlds. At least with the hereditary Lords and Ladies, they were not professional politicians and had an independent outlook; often they were far more in touch with the public, than the elected commons. The new lot are the party hacks - many of them, failed MPs who got defeated at elections. They are just as out-of-touch with the average voter, as their party comrades in the House of Commons. They do and say, what Cameron, Clegg and Miliband tell them to, The only difference is they spend more of the time asleep.
A MAINSTREAM administration would re-create the Upper Chamber although it would still be called the Lords - there would be no hereditary peers in it; all the men and women would be appointed on grounds only of achievement in some sphere such as science, sport, and so on. They would be specifically BARRED from appointment if they had ever held party office, or been an MP or candidate, in any party.
Democracy is NOT just about voters !
Theresa May's surprise election call (after promising not to do this ) is intended to catch the other parties off balance and of course it is blatantly unfair; from the 18th April announcement, the opposition parties had just 23 days to sort their finances, select their candidates and plan their campaigns; the Tories having been able to do some of this already. The fixed-term parliament act was meant to stop governments calling snap elections for their own party benefit. But most of the unfairness that's evident now is not the Tories' fault - its from the so-called independent "Electoral Commission" and their impossible regulation.
Since the MP expenses scandal of 8 years ago the Electoral Commission has used this excuse to make things as difficult as possible for election candidates - in particular for new or small parties. Their motto since 2009 has been 'Democracy is about the Voter". Thes absurd new rules now allow people to register their vote right up do 24 hours before the election - even though they've had month, years , to do that. So from the announcment date, although the candidates had only 23 days to get on the ballot paper - voters, who are the only thing that matters to the Electoral Commission - had 50 days to register. Even the smallest and poorest parties face a mountain of compliance procedures, regulations, obligations and the costs involved.
The Electoral Commission needs to remember that Democracy is NOT just about giving as many people as possible the vote. Democracy is about the candidates too - a healthy democracy needs to make it easy (and cheap) for men and women to stand for Parliament and for new parties to be formed. That way we can move on, replace the establishment parties' stranglehold, and get real change.
MAINSTREAM would set a minimum 6 weeks from an election being called, to the close of nominations. And the deadline for new voters to register would be one month prior to the election - this is the minimum necessary to confirm a person's identity including address, date of birth etc.
And the present Electoral Commission would be slimmed down . with a much smaller remit of responsibility, and a truly impartial and independent leadership.
End paid Parliamentary "Lobbying"
Yet again, Parliamentary lobbying is back in the news. Cameron says he wants the practice reforming. Parliamentary "Lobbying" - where private companies give large amounts of money to MPs, to represent their interests in Parliament - has no earthly justification; it is anti-democratic, and opens MPs up to temptation and corruption. Mainstream would BAN this outdated practice totally. Period.
Parliamentary Lobbying FAQs
Q. What's wrong with Parliamentary Lobbying? The MPs involved, when speaking or voting about the lobbyist's issue, have to declare their nterest - so it's all open and above-board .
A. We ALL have interests which we would like to be given special consideration, by Parliament. The only solution open to US, is to write to our MP. Big companies are able to spend a lot of money to, in effect, BUY influence in Parliament. They can do the same as us - write to their MP.
Q. Surely lobbying gives MPs an opportunity, for some extra work, to increase their earnings - what's wrong with that?
A. If they need more income they should get a pay rise instead - and their huge tax-free expense allowance (I think 50K a year) - should be incorporated into their taxable pay. Then MPs would find out what it's like to be in the REAL world of work - where anybody earning over £40K gets half their earnings deducted as tax and NI.
Electoral Laws reforms: who benefits ?
After the MPs Expense Fiddling scandal, the government was forced to set up rules to stop repeat offences. The offenders were the three establishment parties - Labour, the Tories and (to a much lesser degree) the Liberals. Using the MPs Expenses as an excuse - the electoral regulations were expanded to a draconian set of rules covering ALL aspects of party finance and donations - by far the most complicated, and draconian, anywhere in the world. Worse - they applied these not just to the big parties who had been fiddling the expenses - but to all, even the smallest parties, who had done nothing wrong. Since following these rules needs lawyers and accountants - they are no problem for the big parties who all have lots of money. But they are an unfair burden on very small parties.
They have also made changes to election timetables which once again, favour the political establishment at the expense of minor parties and new parties. The timetable for a By-Election needs to balance the needs of all the players - the political parties, the administrators who have to run the election, and the voters. The new changes have gone out of the way to favour voters, primarily at the expense of would-be candidates for election. For candiates, the important thing is to have as much time as possible between the election date being announced, and the closing date for nominations. This time has now been cut to just one week - fine for the big parties who have a lot of resources and helpers. Not so good for newcomers and unknown candidates. By contrast the time between close of nominations and the election date has been extended to allow voters to add themselves to the register at a ridiculously late stage, just two weeks before the ballot when there can't possibly be time to do a full identity check. The ethos of the electoral administrators seems to be to get as many voters as possible on the register, at all costs. This is a threat to democracy with an increased risk of ineligible people casting a vote and possibly affecting an election result. The old way, new voters registered twice a year and check out properly was a lot safer.
The postage-stamp that has No Name
Great Britain's the only country in the world, not to put the country-name on our stamps. Why not? The story is, because we invented postage stamps, we were the first, so we don't need to bother putting "Great Britain" or "UK" on our stamps. The rest of the world is just supposed to know. When letters with our stamps arrive in other countries, their posties say "it's OK lads ... stamps with no country on ? They're from Britain". It's the 21st century, the colonialist era has ended long ago. Leaving our name off is arrogant to say the least. Mainstream will make the Royal Mail put the country name on .