“Every single mosque that is built in this country will affect every single one of us, because where there is a mosque there are Muslims and where there are Muslims there is radicalisation” – Jayda Fransen, Deputy Leader of Britain First
Just who are Britain First and why are they causing controversy?
Queen Elizabeth II becomes the UK’s longest serving monarch. Earlier this year a report was released detailing how much the Royal Family costs. Are they really good value for money or should we get rid? Scenes of Reason broke down the debate so you can get the info.
In the UK: At present we have a monarch, Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. She is now the UK’s longest serving royal. Well done, Liz!
Though the Queen is meant to stay out of politics and remain impartial, as head of state she has several duties. These include overseeing the opening of parliament and signing acts of parliament. Important stuff.
The Queen and the Royal Family also look after visiting royals and officials, and make visits to other countries. This strengthens diplomatic and economic bonds between the UK and other countries. Getting chummy; so we get their money.
The official royal website also describes the role of head of nation as “providing a focus for national identity”. Whatever the hell that means.
The Queen gets money from the government each year to pay for the running of her official duties.
This is done through the Sovereign Grant. In 1760, the Crown Estate (lands owned by the Royal Family) was handed over to the state. These lands owned by the state include farms, mines and public land. In return the Royal Family receives a payment each year to live on.
Currently: Each year the Queen gets the equivalent of 15% of the Crown Estate’s profits. Last year profits were £252.6 million, so the Sovereign Grant given to the Royal Family was = £37.9 million. Cor Blimey.
Sovereign Grant Act 2011 Sections 1(1) & 1(6) – Royal Finances paid by Treasury from funds voted by Parliament. pic.twitter.com/Cc9IlDz8MV
— Andy Wightman MSP (@andywightman) June 24, 2015
Earlier this year newspapers reported that Scotland will be reducing the amount of money given to the Queen.
Myth: With some of the Crown Estate being handed over to the Scottish government, the Scots will be keeping the profit money for themselves and won’t give any to the Queen.
This is untrue. As seen above, and reported on Buzzfeed the money comes directly from the treasury. Not actually from the profits of the estate. Sorry newspapers, you got it wrong.
Only 43 countries in the world are ruled by a monarchy.
Anti-Monarchy groups like Republic want to get rid of Queenie and the Royal Family. If this happened, the UK would likely become a Republic. The people and their elected representatives would nominate the head of state rather than a monarch.
“We call for an elected head of state to perform an important constitutional and ceremonial role. This is like the way it’s done in Ireland. This would give us an effective and independent head of state who can play a real role in national life.” – Republic
The Prime Minister is one alternative. Another option, favoured by Republic, is an elected head of state independent from the government. So, someone who is chosen by the people to represent the country, but not govern it. In theory, anyone should be able to put themselves forward for the position, just like MPs.
The Royal Family isn’t that expensive when you think about it. According to Buckingham Palace the Royal Family costs each person 56p a year. Bargain!
The Royal Family is good news for:
Tourism. Money brought in by tourism each year by the Royal Family is estimated at £500 million a year.
Charity. Around 3000 charities have a royal as their patron, boosting their profile and giving credibility to the cause.
Making connections. The Royal Family attend 2,000 official events each year in the UK and abroad.
Supporters of the Royal Family also say that we should sympathise with the Royals. They don’t get a choice in what they do and are expected to behave and live in a certain way. Life is so unfair.
And last time we got rid of the monarchy, in the English Civil War, it was only 11 years before we re-instated a King.
£500 million may sound good but according to the i100 Bees actually bring in more money than the Royal Family. That’s gotta sting.
You can’t sack the Royal Family. Having an elected head of state would hold them to account. If you do something you shouldn’t – you’re out!
Having a republic works for Ireland. Enough said.
As well as the day-to-day costs, we’re also going to have to fork out for a £150 million redecoration of Buckingham Palace. Lots of people are suggesting the Palace should be opened to the public, which would pay for the work.
And lastly, we really can’t call ourselves a democracy, when the head of state isn’t elected. Is it fair that a Royal is paid for by us, just because of who they are?
This year is the 800 year anniversary of the Magna Carta, a document which agreed how England was to be ruled. But what has this got to do with modern politics?
It’s a document written in 1215 which recorded “the liberties of England”. Basically a posh word for the laws of the land.
Most importantly the Magna Carta stated that the ruler of England (at that point King John) had to obey the law just like anyone else. At that point the laws were agreed by the King and his barons so this didn’t exactly affect ordinary people. Who needs fairness anyway?
Nonetheless the Magna Carta document is still regarded as an important step to creating the constitution of the United Kingdom.
A Constitution is a set of principles and rules which determine how a country is governed. It is the supreme law; which means how the country is run and outlines the rights and freedoms of the citizens of that country. No biggie.
One of the most famous examples is the Constitution of the United States of America. This lays down how the power lies in the USA and outlines the civil rights belonging to citizens of the US. Woo, freedom!
That’s right. The UK is one of a very small number of modern countries which doesn’t have a written constitution.
Before you panic; things like your human rights and the laws of the country are set down in different treaties, documents and traditions which have existed for centuries. What we don’t have is one single document which brings all these different parts together.
The “Unwritten Constitution” is a group of traditions and practices for how the UK is run. For example, the idea of having a Prime Minister and how they are appointed (by gaining a majority in the House of Commons) is a convention. Whereas in America the Presidency is written in law by the constitution.
Last year the government held a committee exploring the idea of creating a constitution for Great Britain. They found that people liked the idea of having a constitution or a “second Magna Carta”, but couldn’t agree what should go in it. Go figure.
A written Constitution would make it clear who governs and how they are appointed. At the moment the UK head of state is the Queen. One of the options explored by the committee was having an elected head of state (like the Presidency in the USA) rather than a monarch. Bye-bye Queenie?
A new Magna Carta or Constitution would mean the UK would also have constitutional laws. These would ensure citizens cool stuff like “all men and women are equal” and the right to a private life in a widely acknowledged way, which could be referred to. So if a new law was proposed which could threaten those civil liberties the court can throw it out for being “unconstitutional”. Would this protect the rights of the people, or do you think it would slow the work of government?
Magna Cartas and Constitutions can lead to a LOT of legal headaches. In some cases it just makes things more complex. US Lawyers constantly find loopholes within the writings of their constitution.
Example: The US Supreme Court is currently deciding if there is a constitutional right for Gay Marriage. Supporters of Same Sex Marriage say that banning it is discriminatory which is against the constitution of the United States. Time to get lawyered up.
Once the Constitution is put into law it is extremely difficult to get rid of it or even change it. The American constitution has had only 27 amendments added since its creation in 1787. Realise a few years down the line that you missed something major? Tough Cookies.
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Today is the State Opening of Parliament. This means a new parliamentary year begins, and why the Queen outlines the new laws the government will try to make official over the next five years. The tradition of the Queen making a speech at the beginning of Parliament goes back to the 16th century. If it ain’t broke… As we’ve just had an election, the speech is even more important as it outlines David Cameron’s priorities as Prime Minister of an all-Conservative government.
The Queen usually makes a speech every year at the opening of Parliament. There have been a few exceptions to this convention in the past – twice when the Queen was pregnant, and also in 2011 when the government at the time (the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition) decided they needed two years to put their plans into effect, and by that we mean writing.
You betcha. First, the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace in an ornate horse drawn carriage followed by the Household Cavalry. Major points for style and also for being kind to the environment.
When she arrives a House of Lords official goes to get the MPs but the door is closed in his face. This isn’t just banter; it’s meant to show the separation between the Head of State (queen), and the government.
At around 11.30AM the Queen, now wearing robes and the royal crown will be handed the speech, written on parchment (posh word for paper). Queenie sits on the throne in the House of Lords and the commoners, meaning members of the House of Commons, come to listen to the speech. Real life commoners, meaning members of the public, aren’t allowed to come to the State Opening. Invited guests only: So far, so regal. The Queen’s Speech is written by government officials, but is signed off by the Queen before the opening of Parliament.
At the moment all we know are rumours. Bills expected to be in the Queen’s Speech include a referendum (where we all get to vote) on the UK’s membership of the European Union, new laws to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the country, and more powers to be given to Scotland and large English cities e.g. Manchester.
The Tories also want to get rid of the Human Rights Act , create a 7 day NHS and to give MPs a chance to take away the Hunting Ban – foxes beware! You can also expect new powers for the security services with something called the Communications and Data Bill. This means officials will have more access to messages sent via social media and calls made over the internet. People are calling it the “Snooper’s Charter” and people can’t agree on whether it’s a good idea….
The Queen goes back to Buckingham Palace and the MPs get lunch after their hard morning’s work sitting listening to a speech.
In the afternoon the Prime Minister then addresses the House of Commons and the MPs get to do what they do best – debate.
They vote on the speech – though the vote is mainly symbolic. In the past if MPs voted against the bill it could have been considered a vote of “no confidence” which basically meant “we don’t have confidence in the government – get out!” A vote of no confidence can trigger an early election and force the government to resign.
No Confidence Votes are still a thing, but the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 redefined how the vote has to be specifically worded. What this means for now: if the Queen’s Speech is voted down it will just be an embarrassing early defeat for the Conservatives.
AND HOW DO WE ALL FEEL ABOUT THIS…. NOT GOOD APPARENTLY?
What we learned today: the Queen’s Speech = the Government’s Five Year Plan. Due to the Fixed Term Parliament Act losing a vote on the Speech doesn’t mean the Government have to resign.