The Divine Right of Politicians
Cranmer has received a few requests to comment upon the Government’s plans for a super-parliamentary quango – IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority); a body to which our elected representatives would be accountable, possessing the power to dismiss them regardless of the will of their constituents. When it speaks, it’s word shall be the law to which Parliament will submit.
It was Harold Macmillan who asserted: ‘We have not overthrown the divine right of kings to fall down for the divine right of experts.’
But that is precisely what Gordon Brown is now doing.
There are legitimate areas of concern with regard to the Bill of Rights 1689, which is the property of the people. Article IX specifically protects parliamentary proceedings from legal assault, which Clause 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Bill specifically overrides. Notwithstanding that the Government lost a vote this week on the admission of parliamentary speeches as evidence in criminal proceedings, the centuries-old concept of parliamentary privilege and the accountability of parliamentarians to their constituents instead of to an executive power is gravely undermined by this proposed Bill.
Thomas Paine observed ‘Government has no right to make itself a party in any debate respecting the principles or modes of forming, or of changing, constitutions. It is not for the benefit of those who exercise the powers of government, that constitutions, and the governments issuing from them, are established. In all those matters, then rights of judging and acting are in those who pay, and not those who receive.’
Our ‘professional’ political class, having rightly removed absolute power from the monarch, has schemed to remove the checks upon its own power. We have exchanged the arbitrary power of the Stuart king for the arbitrary power of the House of Commons. What benefit has come of this exchange?