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Friday, 18 August 2017

Constitutional Conformity

The absence of a 'written constitution' in the United Kingdom has enabled the political class to elevate the office of Prime Minister to a level where almost all the powers of a medieval monarch are now concentrated in the small clique of people who control the country from the complex of buildings that have a modest front door at 10, Downing Street. The Prime Minister is personally responsible for the actions and statements that emanate from the buildings, though it is manifestly impossible for the responsible individual to produce the required throughput of work personally. Nevertheless, the general tenor of policy and the basic substance of statements must reflect positions that the PM is willing and able to defend.

One of the greatest mistakes that has been made by "number ten" in modern times was the decision to hold the referendum on EU membership of the European Union on June 23, 2016. Having been given the means of showing their contempt for the political class [in London and Brussels, especially] and having been pumped-up with ludicrous scare stories derided as 'project fear', a  narrow majority of the electorate voted to 'leave'. No particular means, terms or conditions for leaving were adumbrated, and this has enabled the 'Brexiteer' minority of Tory MPs insistently to pressure 'number ten' to adopt a perilous path that may well end up with the UK being economically isolated. The isolation of the UK by U-boats in two world wars almost starved the population: economic isolation could have a similar effect. 'Number ten' is not yet aware of that prospect; which probably means that they will sleepwalk towards it.

Meanwhile, in the USA the written Constitution has heavily been researched as this this-skinned, vain and intellectually challenged president displays increasingly challenging behaviour. On taking office, Mr Trump was determined that everyone should believe that his tenure was the most popular in history; hence his and his spokesman's absurd insistence that the crowds who gathered for his inauguration were the biggest ever. More recently, his extreme sensitivity has been shown by his abolition of his consultative bodies with US capitalism as soon as a few members resigned. His remarks about the riots that surrounded the statue of Robert E Lee in a small Virginia town have sparked a major storm, providing leverage for the left-inclined groups who want to be provoked by him to challenge everything that he says or does, and everyone who appears to align themselves with him. It is now a matter of speculation whether he will become bored with criticism to the point where his ego forces him to resign, or whether he will be goaded into actions that qualify for impeachment.

In both the USA and the UK there are campaigns to demolish statues of colonialists or slave owners from past eras, and to remove their names from the schools, colleges and hospitals that they founded. In some colleges, History, Sociology and Politics have degenerated into shouting-matches where 'white men' are blamed - as such - for all the misfortunes that have befallen 'white' women and men whose skin colour includes any hint of genes that are not definable as 'white European'. Academic institutions have been captured by people who promote these ridiculous non-historical assertions, and where any dissent is suppressed.

Women and minorities [including the men in many white minority groups] have been oppressed all over the world through many centuries; but such oppression is less prevalent now that it ever has been in the countries that one would recognise as being constitutionally democratic. It is possible to construct an argument that Robert E Lee was leading a campaign for states' rights, as a legal principle. The fact that victory for the Confederacy would have enabled him and his officers to keep their slaves is undeniable; but it can be argued away as a subsidiary matter to the constitutional principle. It suits the new left in the USA to ignore the constitutional issue altogether, and just to concentrate on the history of oppression and the perceived need to eradicate oppression [and all memorials to its perpetrators]. In so doing, they are prepared to use undemocratic and unconstitutional means to make their point: and thus they bring up the danger that extra-constitutional 'direct action' can be justified. President Trump is displaying an ability to fan the flames of such a movement, and could thus become very dangerous indeed. His way of defending the Constitution could endanger it.

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