While it is amusing, if slightly ridiculous, to observe the craze that still surrounds the British Monarchy in England, I find the implications of the current constitutional settlement mind boggling. The Queen in Parliament as the font of all laws, the government doesn’t serve me ‘the citizen’ instead her Britannic Majesty, not to mention the virtually unregulated powers that are exercised by her Ministers, in her name. Ridiculous.I’m yet to hear a rational or convincing argument as to why the constitutional monarchy should be retained in this country, let alone in the many overseas dominions, and supposedly independent states that hold up the British Monarchy as their head of state. Despite this Jamaica which is 4,600 miles away and has been independent since 1962 still has Queen Elizabeth II as the head of State.
So imagine my pleasure when the recently elected (29/12/11) Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced in her acceptance speech that Jamaica will finally be shedding the shackles of the Empire. Not a moment too soon. Incidentally she also set out such a radical election programme that most commentators at the time thought she was committing electoral suicide – promising a review of Jamaica’s notorious so-called Buggery laws, which of course, prompted endorsements from queens all over the world. Anyways, Jamaica’s new PM has set out a plan of constitutional reforms, including replacing the Queen with an indigenous President and crucially replacing the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice as the country’s final appellate court.
While it is likely that Jamaica’s President will fulfil a role similar in nature to that of the current Governor General, while officially replacing the Queen as the head of State, I would advocate a much more radical departure from the Westminster style of government that is currently running the Caribbean island. The governments of most Caribbean islands that are former British colonies attempt to combine the Westminster style of government with a weak and malleable written constitution. What use is is replacing one figure head with another? Indeed, what use are figure heads full stop? The ridiculous levels of corruption that the Westminster system lends itself to, combined with the inevitable dangers of having a judicature which is subordinate to the legislature, to my mind are compelling reasons to have a directly elected executive president.
Back closure to home, the Queen is not showing any apparent signs of distress at the prospect of the total loss of her former colony. Personally I doubt she even cares. Much more important places are talking amount independence. And on the issue of Scotland, while Alex Salmond has assured the Queen she would remain head of state in the event of Scottish independence, one may wonder if you can ever achieve true independence if you share a Queen?