Saturday, 10 April 2010

By the Queen, a proclamation ...

Last Tuesday, she ...

... was paid a visit by him ...

If you don't know him well enough to call him Gordon, you call him "Prime Minister" or "Mr Brown". Under no circumstances do you call him "Prime Minister Brown". And you most certainly never, ever call him "Premier Brown" (whether pronounced - in escalating order of teeth gritting aversion - "Premmy-er", "Preemy-er" or - and I can hardly bear to even type this - "Prim-eer".)

The headlines are "Gordon Brown Calls General Election" but in reality a process much more woody than the holding of a press conference has been taking place.

The reason why the Prime Minister called on the Queen at Buckingham Palace was to recommend to her that she dissolve the present parliament and call a new one. The latter act implies the holding of a general election to the lower house of the new parliament, the House of Commons. (The upper house, the House of Lords, is not elected - it's composed of what in other countries would be called "life senators" appointed by the government with a vestigial representation by hereditary aristocrats - dukes, earls, barons etc.)

Her Majesty, being a good constitutional monarch assented to the advice of her Prime Minister and agreed that, on Monday, she will meet with her Privy Council in order to approve a Royal Proclamation dissolving parliament and calling a new one. The text of the proclamation on the occasion of the last British general election in 2005, as promulgated in that raciest of tabloid rags, the London Gazette, was as follows. Before you start reading, observe how the language is replete with ordering Lord High Chancellors and requiring writs forthwith to be issued - there is not a single mention of developing visions, partnership approaches, next steps or engaging with key stakeholders





Whereas We have thought fit, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, to dissolve this present Parliament, which stands prorogued to Thursday, the fourteenth day of April: We do, for that End, publish this Our Royal Proclamation, and do hereby dissolve the said Parliament accordingly: And the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Members of the House of Commons, are discharged from further Attendance thereat: And We being desirous and resolved, as soon as may be, to meet Our People, and to have their Advice in Parliament, do hereby make known to all Our loving Subjects Our Royal Will and Pleasure to call a new Parliament: and do hereby further declare, that, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council, We have given Order that Our Chancellor of Great Britain and Our Secretary of State for Northern Ireland do respectively, upon Notice thereof, forthwith issue out Writs, in due Form and according to Law, for calling a new Parliament: And We do hereby also, by this Our Royal Proclamation under Our Great Seal of Our Realm, require Writs forthwith to be issued accordingly by Our said Chancellor and Secretary of State respectively, for causing the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons who are to serve in the said Parliament to be duly returned to, and give their attendance in, Our said Parliament on Wednesday, the eleventh day of May next, which Writs are to returnable in due course of Law.

Given at Our Court at Windsor Castle. this eleventh day of April in the Year of our Lord two thousand and five in the fifty-fourth year of Our Reign.


At the Court at
Windsor Castle the 11th day of April 2005
The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council

Her Majesty, having been this day pleased by Her Royal Proclamation to dissolve the present Parliament and to declare the calling of another, is hereby further pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order that the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland do respectively, upon notice of this Her Majesty’s Order, forthwith cause Writs to be issued in due form and accordingly to Law for the calling of a new Parliament, to meet at the City of Westminster on Wednesday, the eleventh day of May 2005; which Writs are to be returnable in due course of Law. 

Just be grateful I'm sparing you the constitutional niceties as to whether it was necessary for the Queen to dissolve parliament at all given that, under the Septennial Act 1715, it would expire at midnight on 10 May 2010 in any event (it seems that, by convention, parliament is always actively dissolved even if just a short period before its natural expiry). And/or whether it's necessary for the Queen to prorogue parliament before it's dissolved (no, but it seems to be commonly, though not invariably, done).

What's the Latin for "put that in your pipe and smoke it"?


basha said...

As always a good and interesting post

Kathie said...

A report on National Public Radio this morning characterized the current political campaign as the "Americanization" of UK politics:
(click on the sound icon on the page to hear the entire story)

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates' debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at it, you lose

-- Paul Simon, "Mrs. Robinson"

Kathie said...

On an entirely different topic (also on NPR this AM):

"'Huge Disruption' As Icelandic Volcano Eruption Grounds European Flights":

Apparently the sulfurous volcanic stench has already reached the Hebrides, and all airports in the UK (even Heathrow) were being closed this AM due to volcanic ash that's drifted eastward at the same elevation as that at which commercial flights travel.

The remaining question is how much farther south this menace will spread (Paris is reported to be watching closely now) -- hope it doesn't reach the Azores, for your sakes, as well as for Californian friends of mine who just flew in for 3 weeks' vacation on four different islands.

Neil King said...

Indeed yes, Kathie, the volcanic cloud is the really big story being masked by the election debate headline.

Iceland achieves what Al Qaeda failed to on 11/9, the closure of UK airspace.

Not content with refusing to repay the billions they owe us for bailing out their bank, they go and dump their volcanic ash on us as well. We fought these people in the Cod War, you know ...

Kathie said...

Isn't Iceland also one of the non-signatories to the anti-whaling treaty, if memory serves? This surely does not settle well with Portugal or the UK (not to mention my US).