A huge percentage of the British people are offended by the outright injustice of having a hereditary head of state. The blatantly undemocratic nature of the monarchy is all too obvious. The pernicious effect its undeserved privelege has on the whole of society from top to bottom is strongly felt.
But it is not enough just to think about abolition of the monarchy. Anti-monarchist feeling has been around for a long time but has never translated into a powerful movement. To make the cause worthwhile to the mass of people we need to think beyond abolition to the kind of society that we want to build.
In this we can draw on a long tradition of British republicanism that goes back 400 years. It was the British who played a major role in shaping the world republican movement and even established the first ever republic of Northern Europe.
Republicanism is an ancient tradition. From the beginning its purpose was above all to prevent any leader having excessive power. The Republican solution to this problem was to separate power at the top so that no one individual could accumulate too much power.
This is the solution that almost all republics have always adopted. Where western Republics have not had due separation of power and had only ceremonial presidents they either become mired in corruption: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal; or fail: the Weimar Republic. The only successful modern western republic without a powerful president is Germany, but there central power is balanced by powerful regions.
The other great Republican invention is to proclaim that the state does not consist of a person or an office. The constitution is the state. In republics citizens have a powerful sense of their constitution. It is the constitution that protects the people from authoritarianism.
In Britain today we need more than ever that protection. Because of our lack of a republican constitution, successive Prime Ministers have assumed more and more dictatorial powers. As long ago as 1978 Lords Hailsham said that the office of Prime Minister is an "elective dictatorship". Since then things have worsened.
As they have assumed more and more power, recent governments have ridden roughshod over the House of Commons. This is as true of the present coalition as it was of New Labour and the Conservatives before that
As historian, Sylvia Pinel, said in December 2008, "The House of Commons, is now managed by the government totally, absolutely and completely."
This could not happen under a Presidential Republican constitution as power at the top has to be shared.
In theory, the British Prime Minister, shares power with the head of state, the monarch. But because a hereditary monarch cannot exercise its considerable powers, all of its power goes to the Prime Minister. This is why we must replace the monarch with an elected President with full powers to balance those of the Prime Minister and Parliament.
This is sometimes called the American system. But that is wrong. The American founding fathers based their Constitution on the British system substituting the monarch with an elected President. Fundamentally the American system followed the British system.
Nowadays there is a widespread feeling that there is something radically wrong with British political life. We have lost faith in our politicians. Voter turnout is at an all time low. The major political parties have played out all their political ideas and in the process heaped destruction on the social, cultural and economic lives of many. The sense of failure, hopelessness and lack of direction is all-pervading. The present coalition promises us nothing but blood, sweat and tears - and huge pickings for bankers
The Republican Party is the party of constitutional change but it must be more than that. It must have a full set of policies to challenge the old defunct parties.
We need a programme that recognises what is of immense value in our society and seeks to refashion it according to the republican principles of virtue, freedom, opportunity, prosperity and peace
The most pressing shameful injustice of our current society is that the people who are directly responsible for our current economic mess, in which people are being thrown out of their jobs and their houses and being reduced to penury, are are still treating themselves to billions in pay and bonuses. The obscenity of this beggars belief.
But all the current parties fully support maintaining the current banking system which guarantees a massive trading advantage to the banks which no other business has. Banks can create money out of thin air and then lend it to individuals, businesses and the government and charge interest.
Political leaders pay lip service to free enterprise but we do not have free enterprise and a free market. The banks use their power to squeeze profits, create property bubbles and don't hesitate to call in loans bankrupting businesses if it suits them.
The interest that the government has to pay on its loans which ultimately derive from banks means absurdly high taxes for all, making individual and company finances parlous in many cases.
We need a banking and money revolution in which the government creates the money. This will then be spent into the economy and will attract no interest. The increase in the money supply will be far less than now and taxes will plummet.
Too good to be true? The current system is based on a flawed economic model and has nothing to do with running the economy for the benefit of people and productive businesses. The model has failed us many times. But we cannot simply hand sovereign money creation to leaders under the present system. That would be a recipe for a different kind of disaster.
We need the correct institutional structures for this and these only a fixed republican constitution can supply
The three usages are not mutually exclusive but indicate the a successive narrowing of the scope. Starting with the broadest meaning, these are:
design the constitution so as to create a just relationship between all citizens. Constitutional republicans recognise that a primary danger all societies face is the development of excessive power in the hands of its leader or leaders (executive) which then threatens the goal of justice. This concentration of power is avoided (a) by creating separate institutions of government having separate powers and (b) by rotating executive offices. Monarchy is incompatible with (b) and so anti-monarchism inherently forms part of constitutional republicanism.
3. Anti-Monarchist Republicanism.
Anti-Monarchist or Anti-Royalist Republicanism concerns mainly this last aspect of constitutional republicanism: the desire to abolish the constitutional monarchy. Anti-Monarchism is often motivated by the sense of outright injustice represented by having an inheritary head of state and by the pernicious effect that this
Civic Republicanism embodies an ancient concept of republicanism that goes back to Cicero and Aristotle. Civic Republicans start by arguing that in order to achieve a good society we need to encourage virtue. This begs the question: how can we create virtue in a secular society? In a religious societies virtue was encouraged by the expectation of reward in the afterlife but clearly this will not do in a "modern" secular society. Civic Republicans argue that virtue can be encouraged in a secular society by correctly designing our institutions. These institutions can be divided into (a) institutions that make up the government and (b) the institutions that make up the civil society.
2. Constitutional Republicanism.
Constitutional Republicanism concerns itself primarily with (a), the institutions that make up the government, that is to say, the constitution. Its goal is to
has on the whole of society from top to bottom. Matters concerning royal extravagance, unfair tax advantages and the expense of the civil list also motivate anti-Monarchist feeling. All these arguments are important to a Republican Party but it must also look beyond abolition to the kind of society we want. Abolition will represent a one chance to fix many ills. We cannot lose that opportunity.. A Single issue Party Will Not Do Single issue parties exist. But, for a party to be long lasting and for it to lay down a tradition, it must embrace the whole range of issues that society faces. For this reason the Republican Party must include Civic Republicanism and Constitutional Republicanism. It must advocate the abolition of the constitutional role of the monarchy, but its primary focus has to be the construction of the society and the constitution that follows abolition.