So, today it’s all been about constitutional and electoral reform. The New Party promise to deliver the things they promised to deliver 13 years ago with a majority of 160. The flagship idea is a referendum on the Alternative Vote, which is not proportionate, and which would favour the New Party themselves, and another on Lords reform, which they could have delivered a long time ago if it suited them. The Real Tories are proposing a nonsensical set of proposals which would lead to parliament endlessly debating any old shit that people sign up for on the Interweb, whilst the Lib Dems are proposing what they always propose.

But none of them propose what would be in my view the most far-reaching and radical constitutional reform, which is the disestablishment of the Church of England. There are many good reasons why this would be a good thing; not least for Catholics, who are institutionally excluded from power. Look at how Blair still felt he had to wait until he had left Downing Street before declaring himself a left-footer; or how we still feel so threatened by the Papist menace that the heir to the throne is prevented from marrying a Catholic by law. Fair enough that the Bishop of Rome shall have no jurisdiction in this realm of England; but why should any other religious group have any jurisdiction either?

I would like to see Britain becoming a secular society, with no special dispensation for people with religious views over agnostics or atheists. I would like to see an end to faith schools, whether they are funded by seemingly benign vicars or Saudi Wahibists. I do feel that a jury have a right to see the face of the accused in a trial. I do feel that Catholics, Sikhs, Jews (unconverted, unlike Disraeli), Hindus, or Muslims should have the right to become Prime Minister. And all of this is impossible so long as the Prime Minister gets to choose Anglican bishops (I know it’s nominally the monarch who chooses, but in our system the Prime Minister has all the powers of the monarch), or so long as the Bishops sit in the House of Lords. If political parties are serious about an elected Lords, then the Bishops will lose their seats anyway. If we are serious about ending discrimination, then the privileged position of the Cof E has to end as a first step towards secularisation.

Here in Wales, the Church of Wales has been disestablished since 1920, and this is the sexiest nation on Earth. So it must be a good thing…

5 Responses

  1. yammerman says:

    Dang it Ian I can’t find anything to argue with there and I’m thrilled to find myself living in the sexiest nation on Earth.

  2. bob says:

    This bit I wholly agree with: “I would like to see Britain becoming a secular society, with no special dispensation for people with religious views over agnostics or atheists.” as everything else would flow from that. As far as I’m concerned, giving people seats in the Lords or dispensation to marry royalty on account of their preferred voodoo makes as much asense as elevating them on the basis of supporting Manchester United (apologies for alluding thusly, today of all days) or being over six foot two, or opening their eggs from the pointy end or the blunt end.
    Once you’ve got this sorted, could you abolish the Lords, Royalty and establish a republic Ian? Oh, and the F.A. It would be thrilling to feel like we’re starting to venture out of the 17th century in terms of our institutions…

  3. IDW says:

    That’s a very robust ‘render unto ceasar’ view Richard – I’m impressed. Not aware of the Christian Surfers or the non-capitalized church, but will certainly look them up. Ian, I couldn’t agree more, I think the special position of the C of E is increasingly anachronisitic, undemocratic and impossible to justify. Well done the welsh.

  4. Richard says:

    I’d like to speak for the entire church of england (no caps), and suggest that the church of england constituency within the Church of England has no objection to disestablishmentarianation. I suspect many who do feel fully integrated within the C of E would agree. The contract is with a higher power, not with the rulers of the land, whoever they may be. Even in the C of E. Or as the Christian Surfers say, when reminded that Church buildings are crumbling and Church power is in terminal decline: ‘Bring it on.’

  5. Mandy Kaim says:

    I’ll agree with all of the above and your previous election daily’s, looking forward to tomorrows edition.

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