Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Any excuse for a party

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  • Islander, in reply to chris,

    I found that Chinese donation especially heartening chris – not least because there’d been a hefty earthquake there with hundreds dead-

    and Kracklite – I think we’ve already got a century of homegrown quirks as to the way we do things: I truly dont think we need ritualistic UK stuff transplanted here
    any more. (Note: almost all of our public ceremonies have – at bare minimum- an initial Maoritaka componenent, and – very probably- elements of the 3rd official language.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Islander,

    and – very probably- elements of the 3rd official language

    not so, yet

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Quirks I like; the more the merrier. Here’s to the accumulation of more of them. I am being a bit mischievous, I admit. Absurdity is a virtue in itself for me.

    As to the third language, here’s the video that convinced me that sign language is beautiful and expressive and not just a substitution code for English (even if it is Australian Sign Language):

    I would love to see more of this on official occasions.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    Well, at very least, it is turning up at major disasters...
    \
    I am so glad we have Sign as our 3rd official language - I was profoundly moved by "Seeing Voices" na Oliver Sacks (there are no Deaf in my whanau, but I worked - in woollen mills in the late 1960s (where deaf people were highly esteemed, because they had additional concentration powers) and their quick hand-flickers fascinated me...)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Islander,

    Well, at very least, it is turning up at major disasters

    I admire your optimism but only that one time, and only after significant lobbying. Great thing is there is so much room for improvement.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    Yes, indeedy-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Just to respond to Simon Grigg's diatribe against Prince Charles' more outre views up-thread (and no, I'm not endorsing the monarchy - I like the Irish model myself, if we can't have actual direct democracy, such as being able to recall elected MPs when we choose) ...As if "democratically elected" presidents of various countries (like the US) don't have their own bizarre views and seek to impose them where they can - quite directly in some cases; look at the abstinence-based "sex education" Bush and his ilk came up with.

    I have more respect for Charles discussing his views - fully knowing that he has absolutely no constitutional way of getting any of them implemented, even when he does become king - than the studied-but-unconvincing "neutrality" of Her Maj. One thing the Poms do well is harmless eccentricity - and if we put Charles in that category, fine. Just as valid as the mouthings of most of the slebs we hear from in the media. And quite often a lot less stridently assertive - he seems to be fully aware of the lack of actual power he has, other than that of celebrity in giving his opinions a greater audience in some areas.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to TracyMac,

    don't have their own bizarre views and seek to impose them where they can - quite directly in some cases; look at the abstinence-based "sex education" Bush and his ilk came up with.

    The elected leader of the United States has, whether we like it or not - or approve of the way the he was elected - a mandate to govern. The 'bizarre views' as you put them (and I'm not arguing with that at all, although they are widely held in that country) were there for all to see when the USA cast their votes in 2000 and 2004. Surely they came as no surprise.

    Such is democracy, as broken as it may be.

    Charles, as person, is perfectly entitled to his quackery and I guess follows in a grand tradition of eccentric - some much worse than others - monarchs that goes back hundreds of years.

    Even Victoria was - during much of her lifetime - regarded, probably correctly, as decidedly odd, only to have the reputation she now enjoys created by Disraeli as a pretty successful marketing campaign to personify Empire to the realm, and in particular India.

    I'm just not sure I want such a person as my lord and master, even if it is, in practice, usually ceremonial.

    That said, in the 20th Century monarchs were, from time to time, able to exercise a fair amount of behind the scenes influence on UK politics. Churchill in particular used to take policy to the palace for informal royal assent during wartime, often spending hours there. And twice the current Queen has made a call on who will form the government - in the 50s with Alec Douglas-Hume, and in the 70s with Wilson - the office still has some teeth.

    The last comes from the still extant and not insubstantial royal prerogative, which also still includes the right to declare war!

    Power may not be exercised often but it still has not been completely extinguished.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Actually Charles oversteps the line frequently, and has been publicly rebuked by RIBA over the Chelsea Barracks affair which lead to a rather embarrassing lawsuit.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1376 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Power may not be exercised often but it still has not been completely extinguished.

    Billy Bragg had a different take:

    The wedding was a just a display of harmless pageantry compared to the pernicious flummery of the Queen's Speech. Wills and Kate offer no real threat to our democracy, but the royal prerogative does, allowing the prime minister to exercise executive power without first consulting parliament.

    That's where reformers should focus their anger, not on two young people getting married. I wish them well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    The last comes from the still extant and not insubstantial royal prerogative, which also still includes the right to declare war!

    I think the PM has the right to demand her abdication immediately. So I'm pretty sure this power to declare war ends up being more of an obligation, whether the monarch agrees with the war or not.

    What I don't actually get about the monarchy is why they bother. If I was stinking rich, I'd probably prefer to just be a private citizen. Then I could actually use my money to influence politics, if that was my interest. It would be a suckful job being a famous royal, full of responsibility without power, constant scrutiny, obsessive paparazzi, tightly constrained timetables, etc.

    I can only see a few reasons why they don't self-disband:

    1. Through force of habit and upbringing, they actually believe they serve a public purpose.
    2. They don't know any other life. Seems weak to me, surely they are personal friends with many aristocrats who have a much better life. But perhaps those aristocrats don't rub their faces in it.
    3. There is a thrill in celebrity, quite aside from the thrill of power. In this, since the new entrants to royalty actually choose the life, they must be the kind of people who at least hold some belief that it would be grand.
    4. They're not allowed. This strikes me as the most likely reason of all. They're so powerless they can't even disband their own institution. The best any particular royal could hope for is abdication.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The G-G can be fired by the Prime Minister at any time, without cause.

    Not without cause. Read the legislation, Rich.

    well, surely within the first 90 days, anyway?
    we are all equal aren't we?
    :- )

    In many ways the CCC in Chch has been reduced to a Privy Council - no portcullis to drop but lotsa porta-loos to empty...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5060 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    And twice the current Queen has made a call on who will form the government – in the 50s with Alec Douglas-Hume, and in the 70s with Wilson – the office still has some teeth.

    Home was in 1964 – the situation stemmed from the Conservative Party having no procedure to choose a new leader after Macmillan’s resignation.

    In February 1974, no party had an overall majority. Heath was given a chance to continue in government by agreement with the Liberals, and when he indicated that this would not happen, Wilson became PM.

    In both cases the situation amounted to one of timing. The incoming government had to be able to win a confidence vote in parliament in order to take office.

    The last comes from the still extant and not insubstantial royal prerogative, which also still includes the right to declare war!

    That is exercised by governments, which is the source of Mr Bragg’s rightful concern. Many of the royal prerogatives (actually executive powers) have been subsumed by legislation – for instance, the issuing of passports was once a royal prerogative but is now covered by the Passports Act. It would be sensible if all such powers were brought under a statutory basis, but the tendency of our present government is to move in the opposite direction.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    I think the PM has the right to demand her abdication immediately.

    Are you sure about that? I know she can't abdicate with the approval of every state she 'rules' but I wasn't aware that HM's government could demand abdication. And of course each government from each country in which she is monarch would have to independently do the same to effect abdication. The empire is kaput.

    Either way, there's a pretty thorough wiki covering prerogative.

    I can only see a few reasons why they don't self-disband

    I think you missed the key one: destiny. For centuries the family has had their (once seen as divine) destiny drummed into them. And they sit at the very top of a tree of aristocracy which sees its place as determined by right. I've yet to hear any member of the royal family question that inherited right and destiny.

    The last person to walk away was Edward in 1936 and he walked away into a sideshow of extreme, if gagged, privilege.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think the PM has the right to demand her abdication immediately.

    I think not.

    Previous monarchs removed before their natural demise include:
    - Charles I, defeated by Parliament's army, captured, executed.
    - James II, deposed by invading army of William of Orange, fled.
    - Edward VIII, persuaded by Baldwin to abdicate, self-exiled.

    I think it requires an act of parliament, a few thousand troops, or both.

    I don't know what would happen if either the UK parliament or a Commonwealth realm were to deny assent to a monarch who wanted to abdicate.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Nice .. several!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    I imagine, although knowing nothing about how such things work really, that the reason tweets are taking forever to load is because suddenly, everything's really busy. Like, breaking news about the death of Osama Bin Laden.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Charles I, defeated by Parliament's army, captured, executed.
    - James II, deposed by invading army of William of Orange, fled.

    Both those pre-dated (and indeed led to) the various acts which define constitutional monarchy though.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I think you missed the key one: destiny.

    No, that was number 1:
    1. Through force of habit and upbringing, they actually believe they serve a public purpose.

    Are you sure about that? I know she can't abdicate with the approval of every state she 'rules' but I wasn't aware that HM's government could demand abdication.

    Not sure of the exact details, but if an act of parliament is required to force the monarch's abdication, then that makes it entirely within the power of the ruling party. The PM, being the monarch's closest adviser would most likely demand that the monarch take the course most likely to preserve the monarchy itself. Which is why they don't ever make outspoken statements against the government on important matters.

    That's my take anyway - it's not all written down clearly somewhere, because the monarchy realized after James II that their time had come and they were actually hanging on only by the grace of remaining popular, and not falling out with the actual power brokers. Perhaps some nutbar monarch might one day like to put it to the test. I expect a predicable outcome, with the people siding with the elected parliament, and the monarch being replaced. Possibly their entire family, if they pushed it too hard. I doubt there would be any deaths, but the precedent is rather murky.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'd suggest when discussing constitutional matters it’s important to differentiate between actions that require an act of parliament and actions that can be executed by a government without such an act.

    The former, in the Westminster system, include nearly everything. (In the case of NZ, where we have a Clayton’s BORA, acts of parliament can do absolutely anything, including deposing the monarch and executing them or their progeny should they be so unwise as to set foot on our soil. The UK itself would be constrained from this and other extreme acts by the ECHR).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    No, that was number 1:
    1. Through force of habit and upbringing, they actually believe they serve a public purpose.

    A was meaning something a little more than that - destiny through perceived entitlement. A thousand years of being told that your family is royalty because they were somehow destined to be by right - or worse - by god (a belief which played a part in Charles losing his head), can likely mould a family psyche.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    A thousand years of being told that your family is royalty because they were somehow destined to be by right - or worse - by god (a belief which played a part in Charles losing his head), can likely mould a family psyche.

    I don't think the ones in the last few hundred years have been quite so crazed. They're surely aware of their impotence, their endless duties, and the constant harassment by paparazzi. Their mates wouldn't have any of that crap.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

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