Friday, 4 July 2008
I couldn't do that. I couldn't take an oath while crossing my fingers and believe that gave me an excuse to lie. That's what little children do. It's not proper for adults - certainly not for adults who become MPs and magistrates.
I'm disqualified from being either. Plenty of MPs and magistrates lie when they take the oath, or make a mental reservation that, if they had the chance, they would vote against a monarchy or call for a referendum to let the people decide.
I don't think I'd make a particularly good MP, though once I would have liked to stand for parliament. I briefly thought I could consider being a magistrate but didn't have to investigate further. I'm disqualified. If there were a referendum I would vote for a republic and that means I'm disqualified from a range of positions. I couldn't even join the police although, oddly, the Royal Navy is exempt from the oath of allegiance.
Of course, I can lobby my MP and ask him to vote for the abolition of the monarchy. But my MP was only able to take his seat after swearing allegiance to the Queen and her heirs. Moreover, even if he changed his mind and became an ardent republican, Members of Parliament aren't allowed to pass any laws affecting the Crown without the Queen's express permission.
There's criticism of royal expenses but, on the whole, the Queen is admired. I don't think republicans would win if there were a referendum to abolish the monarchy. Although I would almost certainly vote for abolition, I don't make a great deal of fuss about the matter. I have many more urgent political concerns.
Yet it irks me that I, and other honest republicans, are banned from so many posts simply because we would be unwilling to comence our public service with a public lie. It worries me that, were people to vote for an honest republican in such numbers that he or she were elected, the new MP would be banned from the House of Commons. And I'm really annoyed that MPs aren't allowed to debate this unless they first ask for the Queen's permission.
There's a simple petition on the Downing Street website which urges a change in the law. It asks that MPs and lords should no longer be required to swear allegiance to the Crown. In my opinion, it would be a good first step in making this country a proper democracy and opening public service to all who care about it. It would widen the choice for voters and put honest republicans on equal terms with those who swear dishonest oaths.
The petition closes tomorrow (5th July, 2008). It already has sufficient signatures to gain a response from the government. If you would like to sign the petition and receive that government response when the petition closes, click here. Monarchists can sign as well as republicans. The petition seeks honesty, responsibility in public life, and true democracy - that is, giving all the people the right to choose.