Daily Archives: May 11, 2012

Good News for Freedom, For a Change

I’ve been a republican as long as I’ve been a non-believer – that’s pretty much all my life. Similar thoughts about iniquity went through my mind at a similar time. I’m not sure whether I’m a British republican, or an English republican, or whether I just want an end to a system where the only qualification required for Head of State is who’s womb you passed through.

That said, the British political system isn’t the worst in the world though by no means the best. The Head of State does have useful functions, maintaining political neutrality being one of them. All parliamentary legislation is done in the name of the Head of State, and government is, nominally at least, accountable to that Head of State. Personally I don’t see why the Speaker of the House of Commons can’t fulfil that role as well as his own.

Every year, the government has to list its planned legislative programme prior to the start of each Parliamentary session. The agenda is read out by the sovereign in a document known colloquially as the Queen’s Speech – obviously once the Prince of Wales or his son assumes the role that will change.

Considering the current problems in double-dip Britain, and the strains within the Conservative-Liberal coalition this year’s speech didn’t set the world alight – most of it worthy, some of it welcome. However, there was one proposal that didn’t make it to the mainstream news, and it won’t affect many of us directly, but is a massive boost to freedom of speech, provided it doesn’t end up being diluted. The English libel laws are to be reformed, and not before time. Given that all political parties have ostensibly supported reform for many years it’s surprising (or perhaps not) that it took so long. Continue reading