Talkin’ about the Constitution
William Windsor must be fuming, sat at home in his Abercwmboi & Fitch T-shirt, prevented from cheering on the nation of which he’s the actual Prince, on account of holding a meaningless position as head of the English FA.
All his butties texting him from Qatar:
‘Where you to?’
‘Yma o hyd.’
The World Cup draw was always bound to expose yet more cowboy structural work in what passes for the UK constitution, as notions of loyalty and nationhood are played out on the pitch in front of us.
Appointing his son as Prince of Wales was King Charles’ first act as monarch; in reality, it is likely the only meaningful constitutional decision he will ever take as he faces a lifetime’s grimacing at all the legislative nonsense that he has to nod through without comment.
Royalty sits painfully atop a pyramid of dishonesty that claims to include the national consciousness of the Celtic nations, whilst denying their inhabitants any means to express this in the political sphere.
You are free to sing Dafydd Iwan songs in your bucket hat, and look! Prince William is pretending not to support England as a symbol of that freedom. The moment the sport is over, however, your Welshness must be packed away, in case you try to use it to raise taxes or decriminalise drugs.
Being Welsh is fine as a hobby, even royalty likes to try its hand at the anthem, but actual, grown-up nationality belongs to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. For proof, check out your new blue passport.
Away from the roleplay of sport, the Supreme Court this week laid bare the despotic nature of intranational politics in the UK. The creation of an American-style constitutional court in the UK was always fraught with danger for those wedded to the status quo.
Criticise the USA all you like for ignoring its constitution, but the document itself is a wonder of the Enlightenment: the desire for personal liberty codified in defiance of all other concerns.
The UK’s unwritten constitution, on the other hand, is so malleable and vague that it can be successfully tampered with by people whose intellectual ballast wouldn’t ground a moth. *Dominic Raab has entered the chat*.
So, creating a body of eminent lawyers to scrutinise the workings of the Heath Robinson mechanism of UK governance was bound to expose its incompetence and iniquity for all to see.
The court is charged with applying reason to the accumulated traditions and habits that the UK has used and abused to get its business done. The scales of justice are an inadequate metaphor, as the constitution has previously trundled on without the counterweight of any public scrutiny.
The Supreme Court is more akin to a brutally honest speak-your-weight machine. Ask it a question and the bald truth emerges.
‘What constitutional grounds did Boris Johnson have to prorogue parliament?’
‘None, he did it entirely illegally and had Jacob Rees-Mogg lie to the queen about it.’
‘Okay, by what constitutional mechanism can the people of Scotland trigger a referendum on independence?’
‘No such mechanism exists; the people of Scotland have no democratic route to self-determination at all.’
Powers as privileges
In the final, desperate days of the Scottish referendum campaign, the UK government, with the help of Gordon Brown, made 19 promises to the Scottish electorate in a successful bid to trade enhanced devolution for continuance of the UK.
Furthermore, it was put to the Scottish people that a vote to remain in the UK was the surest way of guaranteeing Scotland’s membership of the European Union. All 19 promises have been broken and, you may have noticed, Scotland is no longer a member of the EU.
In any other contractual agreement, such behaviour would result in severance and a requirement for damages to be paid.
Contracts, however, require consideration on either side, and the Supreme Court made it clear this week that there is nothing contractual about Scotland’s relationship to the UK.
Rather, Scotland is wholly subsumed by a union that devolves powers as privileges, not rights.
It was jarring to see the Sun newspaper on sale in our capital city on Saturday morning. The front-page referencing Friday’s game: ‘At least we’re on the brink of going through…’
One can only assume that is the royal ‘we’.
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