A couple of posts ago, I posted about how we could reform the House of Lords. I suggested that people, including ex-politicians, could “qualify” for membership. The reason I suggested this is because it removes the party-political aspect which we’d have with elections, plus it avoids the patronage aspect, whereby someone (or someone’s ancestor) curries favour with some Prime Minister. But exactly how would one qualify?
Well, I think you’d want to have a mechanism which didn’t work along party lines. So, for example, an ex-Leader of the Opposition would have as much right to be there as an ex-Prime Minister. Nominally, I’d suggest that anybody who was a Privy Counsellor might qualify, except that Privy Counsellors have to swear an oath to the queen.
In this day and age, I think it is perfectly reasonable for somebody to be a supporter of the monarchy, just as I think it’s perfectly reasonable for somebody to be a republican. So personally, I wouldn’t get too hung up on whether somebody swears allegiance to the monarch or not – it shouldn’t be a pre-requisite. If anything, for anybody intending working for the state, then perhaps they should be swearing allegiance to the state?
So whilst I think elevating e.g. a privy counsellor isn’t a bad starting point, I do think that this oath of allegiance to the monarch is something which needs to be sorted first. In much the same way, by the way, I think it is ridiculous that Sinn Fein MPs refuse to take their seats in the Commons – when somebody is elected by their constituents, there really shouldn’t be any pre-conditions to them taking their seat.
I mean, I’m all for the existence of a monarch, but to ask people to swear allegiance to them – aren’t we a bit old for that?