20/03/2017
Owen LLewellyn
Opinion
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Would a Republic Protect Our Freedoms Better than the Monarchy?

I’ve changed my mind about New Zealand becoming a republic.  Ever since I was a kid I’ve been very 'anti-royal'. When I was 12 my Mum dropped me off at LLandaff Cathedral in Cardiff on her way to work, to see the Queen turn up. She thought it would give me something to do in the holidays. I stood there for about 5 hours with a bunch of air-head females billing and cooing about the "The Royals." "We do love the royals, we do do" as they would say in the valleys. Well, anyway, I trudged 3 miles home after this nonsense, having seen her highness whizz past in the back of a Roller giving the classic one glove salute out of the window, thinking to myself "what a load of nonsense". It was one of my earliest inklings about how there’s something very wrong in the world but I was not sure quite what.

A few years later I was a member of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist party for 2 years. In my heart of hearts, I’m still a Welsh Nat to be honest. These days though, they seem to be a bunch of globalist controlled lefties that just want to whine about how much funding Wales should have from London or Brussels, nothing about standing on our own two feet and being a proper nation state.

If anything, my anti-royal feelings are firmer than ever.  I can’t stand all the brainless toadying displayed by the NZ media and the sort of sheep who swallow their drivel.  

Anyway, what’s all this rambling got to do with New Zealand and whether it should become a republic or not?  The point is, not allowing NZ to become a republic has nothing to do with liking or respecting the Royal Family and everything to do with protecting some very fundamental rights and understanding some very important philosophical and political issues.

Having the Queen as Head of State protects us from the worst aspects of democracy. It’s a bit like the US Constitution (in fact more than a bit, as we’ll see later.) The people have rights. These rights pre-date the government, do not come from government and are intended to protect the people from the government.

The New Zealand constitution, like the British one, is a series of formal legal documents, court decisions (legal precedents) and established practices. The documents referenced on the New Zealand Legislation website include the Magna Carta, agreed in 1215 between the Knights and Barons and King John, and formally part of English statute since 1297, and the English Bill of Rights of 1688.

The Bill of Rights was introduced after a turbulent period in which the English and Welsh overthrew Charles I who was behaving like an absolute monarch, had a civil war, then another one, experienced Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical alternative (the 17th century equivalent of letting a bunch of feminist university professors take over the government), decided that was even worse and so restored the monarchy.  That left them with Charles II who predictably enough started behaving like an absolute monarch again. He then put the tin hat on it, as far as the locals were concerned, by converting to Catholicism on his deathbed. His brother James - also Catholic, then became King. At their wits end with these hopeless monarchs, but knowing full well the tyranny that the republic had produced, the people turned to William and Mary - Charles II’s niece who he had married off to the solid protestant William of Orange to appease the home crowd when his wife couldn’t produce an heir - who were brought in from Holland as rent-a-royals (like modern day turn-around CEOs) but with the catch that they had to sign up for the Bill of Rights.

So why is the Bill of Rights so important and what’s in it?  Now, be fair and allow some tolerance for the accepted norms of the 17th century, and particularly the 17th century in England. The important thing is the rights of man versus the state. The rights of the the freeman, the person. The standouts include:

Subjects’ arms:

That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law:

See what I mean? A Protestants only ‘right to bear arms’ clause might seem archaic in the 21st century, but strip out the Protestant reference and it makes perfect sense.

Juries:

That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned:

Trial by jury - a fundamental right.

Supremacy:

I, A B, do swear that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure, as impious and heretical, this damnable doctrine and position, “That Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever”. And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, State, or potentate has, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.

So help me God:”

Again, what seems like a 17th century spat between Protestants and Catholics is actually a fundamental statement about sovereignty.

Subjects’ liberties to be allowed:

Now, in pursuance of the premises, the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled, for the ratifying, confirming, and establishing the said declaration, and the articles, clauses, matters, and things therein contained, by the force of a law made in due form by authority of Parliament, do pray that it may be declared and enacted that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and claimed in the said declaration are the true, ancient, and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom, and so shall be esteemed, allowed, adjudged, deemed, and taken to be, and that all and every the particulars aforesaid shall be firmly and strictly held and observed, as they are expressed in the said declaration; and all officers and Ministers whatsoever shall serve their Majesties and their successors according to the same in all times to come:

This is the zinger.  The people have rights and parliament had better not forget it.  

Notice how the themes picked up in the English Bill of Rights are echoed in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights: The right to bear arms. Trial by jury. Powers not delegated... are reserved to the States and the People.

What worries me is that if New Zealand rids itself of the Monarchy and becomes a Republic, will the fundamental rights of the people versus the state be protected in the future as they are now? Will our legal system still be based on the principles of the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights of 1688/89, and the Habeus Corpus Act of 1679 and its’ spawn across the British Empire? Maybe it will, and I’m worrying about nothing, but I would want to see these foundation stones of the People’s freedom firmly enshrined in any new Republic’s Constitution. I wouldn't want to see this foundation be eroded over time once the anchor to these historical precedents had been released.

The Bill of Rights 1990 protects a number of fundamental rights, such as the Right to Justice, and the right to refuse medical treatment. Maybe we could be a republic and have a proper constitution which understands what rights really are and enshrines them properly.  I suspect, however, that it would be an opportunity for a combination of globalist and socialist interests to enshrine the stranglehold of the state over the people and would result in less proper freedoms not more.  The current system has plenty about it to criticise, but in the famous words of Hilaire Belloc, perhaps we should “stay close to Nurse, for fear of something worse.”