Comment: Anyone surviving in public office for this long is a sign of something wrong

To say the Queen has succeeded by 'not putting a foot wrong' is to miss the point of a head of state

 

Our political system is profoundly flawed. It is just about democratic, giving the people the once-every-five-years opportunity to elect less than half our parliamentarians. Then we’re locked out as power rushes back to the centre, to the prime minister and his ministers.

That’s one reason why we need to get rid of the Crown – the source of the prime ministers’s power – and introduce a new democratic constitution. A Westminster system made good, fully elected parliament and a head of state with a genuine role to play in the constitutional process. Not running the country but guarding our constitution and handling political crises when they arise.

It’s also a matter of principle, an opposition to hereditary public office and a need for an accountable head of state. That’s why today’s milestone is not a cause for celebration. Keeping a job-for-life for life is not an achievement, and instead reflects real need for radical democratic reform.

The Queen has survived this long in her role as head of state for one reason: she has never had to face election or be held to account. When anyone survives in public office for this long it is usually a sign of something wrong, either in the country’s constitution or in the political culture. There is either a lack of will to challenge that person or a lack of mechanism to remove them – or both.

To say the Queen has succeeded by ‘not putting a foot wrong’ is to miss the point of a head of state and to set the bar for success very low indeed. The Queen has said nothing and done little that anyone can remember over 63 years in office. So instead we see commentators and cheerleaders projecting the nation’s history, changes and achievements onto the monarch.

The reality is that the Queen has succeeded only in serving the monarchy and the status quo. It is now time for the country to look to the future and to choose a successor through free and fair elections, someone who can genuinely represent the nation. It is time to challenge the ‘done nothing wrong’ narrative and challenge royal abuse of public money, challenge the £334m a year price tag, challenge the secrecy and stop the royals meddling in politics.

It’s pretty simple really. There is a democratic alternative, a simple way to make our Westminster system genuinely representative from top to bottom. It works in Ireland and elsewhere, and we can make it work too, and then some.

Instead of a tired old hereditary institution that locks out the people, let’s have something that celebrates, symbolises and practices democratic values. Rather than celebrating an election-free reign, let’s celebrate the power of the people.

Graham Smith is the chief executive officer of Republic

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