No Damascene conversion

I note both Jeremy Corbyn and Jacob Rees-Mogg claiming that the people of the UK are sovereign. Corbyn refers to “the people in whom the sovereignty rests”, while Rees-Mogg appears to acknowledge the people as the source of all legitimate political authority when he say “sovereignty comes from the people to parliament”. This is interesting because it runs totally counter to the concept of parliamentary sovereignty which underpins the British state. It contradicts the tenet that political authority derives from the Crown.

Has there been some seismic shift in the constitutional foundations of England-as-Britain? How might such a momentous transformation have occurred unnoticed until a couple of British politicians let slip the new truth in the heat of parliamentary debate?

The answer, of course, is that there has been no change. The British political elite has not undergone some Damascene conversion to the concept of popular sovereignty. What we are witnessing is not enlightenment, but expediency. It suits the purposes of the main parties of the British establishment to arrogate the authority of the people as both advance positions and pursue ends for which neither has an clear mandate.

We may be sure that this new-found enthusiasm for popular sovereignty will evaporate quickly enough whenever the evident will of the people is inconvenient. Indeed, Corbyn immediately shows signs of backsliding when he says “there is no consent in this house to leave the European Union without a deal”. There’s more than a hint in that remark of parliamentary sovereignty being reinstated.

Such is British politics. Such is the duplicity and the hypocrisy of it. Such is the systemic disdain for the electorate. The will of the people is reduced to a mere gambit to be deployed as circumstances dictate before being put back in the box until needed again.

Scotland can do better.



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5 thoughts on “No Damascene conversion

  1. “Scotland can do better.”

    Yes, but will we ever? What is the Scottish Government’s Cunning Plan when WM inevitably says no to our polite request for a Section 30? Is it we throw ourselves on the mercy of the UN on a “right of self-determination” plea? Potentially another hostage to fortune position there, I think.

    It does have a CP, doesn’t it?

    Like

  2. You point out the discrepancy within the Constitution of the UK, the written part of which os the Acts of Union of the Scottish and the English Parliaments. Within that British Constitution are two contrary constitutional principles. The Scottish principle is that the People are sovereign, and the English Principle is that the Monarch in Parliament is sovereign. In Scotland the authority of Monarch and Parliament comes down from the people, who are not subjects, but the corporate Sovereign; the Monarch and Parliaments are the subjects of the People. In England the people have no authority; the Monarch and Parliament have unlimited authority and the people are subjects.

    This contradiction within the Constitution of the UK seems to have gone unnoticed, except by Lord Cooper of Culross in 1953. The reality is that the Engliah parliament of the UK assumes that the English Constitutional principle applies to Scotland. This is a violation of the Act of Union, I believe. Only by suppressing one of the foundational, constitutional principles can the Union exist.

    Now we have English MPs using the Scottish Principle in expedient statements. I believe, peter that you are correct in saying, “Such is British politics. Such is the duplicity and the hypocrisy of it. Such is the systemic disdain for the electorate. The will of the people is reduced to a mere gambit to be deployed as circumstances dictate before being put back in the box until needed again.” Only by independence can the Scottish Constitutional Principle function in Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

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