Our head of state is a lame duck

Defenders of monarchy are frankly naïve when they suggest that our constitutional monarchy wields no political influence. The monarch’s backstage clout is formidable.

Apart from being singularly undemocratic, the House of Windsor is the pinnacle of the entire “honours” system, culminating in the bizarre, unelected, bloated House of Lords.

Monarchists claim that an elected head of state would, by default, need to be nominated by a political party.

Wrong. Democratically, our head of state could perfectly well be appointed by parliament, provided it is truly representative of all citizens.

Such a parliament would need to be elected by proportional representation, as in any other western democracy. So we’d have to update our voting system. Let’s get on with it.

Candidates standing for selection could even be independents and Charles Windsor would be perfectly entitled to stand on his own platform.

As it is, our head of state is a lame duck, costing us a fortune and exempt from being pursued by the long arm of the law for a whole host of misdemeanours, but, at the same time, bound and gagged by our unwritten constitution (that needs changing for a start). It’s the worst of all worlds.

The death of Elizabeth II, occurring just as we find ourselves in a true maelstrom of one-in-a-hundred-year events, provides a golden opportunity to look hard at what’s going wrong and choose a new and better way forward.

Let’s listen to Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” He got it right; we must grasp this opportunity and begin a wholesale reinvention of how we govern ourselves.

Monarchists’ heads are in the sand. They – and the rest of us – need the courage to start anew. If we’re going to change our monarchy, surely, we can come up with a way of choosing a new head of state that goes beyond our existing tired two-party political system.

The alternative is sticking with a head of state who’s only there because he happens to have been born by a certain mum.

Lords are a-leaping and Ladies are dancing

Lords are a-leaping and Ladies are dancing at the prospect of a free lunch for life. For our newly unelected peers, elevated to parliament by Boris Johnson, need not “Eat Out to Help Out” and get Rishi Sunak’s tenner off their pub grub. Their House of Lords dining experience is already half price, courtesy of us taxpayers.

Boris Johnson seems to be intensely relaxed about spaffing colossal wads of public cash up the wall for, what some would consider largely unproductive areas of our legislature. Shame the same degree of exuberant largesse does not apply to our kids’ school lunches. But then, kids can’t usefully benefit Johnson in return.

Never mind the ludicrousness of having an unelected body of influential decision makers in a modern democracy. If my maths tally, were all 830 House of Lords members to present themselves at the gate on a given day, pocketing their £300+ prize for turning up, the cost to the tax payer would be a cool quarter-of-a-million quid, just for that one day.

Of course, that would be silly, as only around 300 peers can actually fit onto the plush red benches in the House of Lords at any one time. But they do only have to sign in, they are then free to wander off to the lavish bars, lofty restaurants or posh libraries to while away a pleasant day with their chums. So no need for perching on each other’s laps in the chamber itself. Although that might actually add some pizzazz to the proceedings..

But I digress. Allowing for holidays, duvet days and just being generous, we are talking about a potential cost to the public purse of around £40 million a year, just for turning up and signing the register. Nice work if you can get it. Now add the aforementioned generous perks, subsidised bars, dining rooms and ancillary costs of polishing all those knobs and knockers.

What’s more, scores of these privileged many have rarely contributed anything of any use whatsoever, while claiming millions in return. Figures from 2018 showed that the average peer cost the taxpayer £83,000 with £67.9million paying for 814 members at that time.

And the good Lords and Ladies need not worry about being handed their P45 any time soon. They can’t be sacked. The job is for life. Yes really.

So kids, the moral of this story is – if you want lunch, strive towards the House of Lords.

Unless we have managed to abolish this excrutiatingly embarrassing institution it in the meantime, of course.

And all that said, we do get the government we deserve so don’t just sit there! Join the Electoral Reform Society, get stuck in, help clean up these ridiculously crony infested corners of Westminster and restore some dignity to our Parliament.