“Constructing a Humanist Politics”



Issue No 9 Friday 31 October 2008



This week


·        Full Text of Speech in support of Civic Republican motion at Republic Annual Conference.



News Stories

Highlighting  news stories important to the Civic Republican view, particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.





·        Full Text of Speech in support of Civic Republican motion at Republic Annual Conference.



In Issue No 7 Friday 17th October 2008 of this newsletter, the AGM of the campaigning group Republic was referred to. This took place on Saturday, October 25th,  1pm - 5pm, at the Directory of Social Change, London.


At this meeting CRN editor, Peter Kellow, proposed a motion that sought to change the constitutional model proposed by Republic to that of a Presidential Republic.

This motion read as follows:

Republic campaigns for the abolition of the constitutional monarchy, in pursuance of the goal of a Modern Republic for Britain.

I move that the Modern Republic model advocated be based on tried and tested, widely recognised, Republican Constitutional Principles, as follows:

1.    There shall be a Separation of Powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

2.    The Executive shall be invested in the Office of President which shall be independently democratically elected and shall assume full executive powers.

3.    The Legislature shall be invested in Parliament which alone shall pass laws.

4.    The relationship between the Separate Powers of government shall be subject to a system of Checks and Balances.

Peter Kellow addressed the conference from the platform to propose the motion which was voted on following a lively debate in which members spoke both for and against the debate. The motion was defeated by about two to one.

The proposer was allowed four minutes to speak in favour of the motion. The full text of this speech was as follows:



There are members who believe that Republic should campaign purely and simply on the abolition of the monarchy and don’t want to propose what should happen after abolition.

What this is saying is: We have a plan for regime change plan but no post regime change plan.

But this is not what it says on the Republic website. There it proposes retaining the current constitutional arrangements except the existing monarchy will be replaced by a ceremonial president. Executive power would remain, as now, with the Prime Minister

There are three reasons given on the website for proposing this system. All come down to the same thing. Expediency. The phrase “quickest and simplest” stands out.

There are basically two types of Modern Republic – a presidential republic which this motion supports and a parliamentary republic which our website supports. With a presidential republic there is a clear separation of power between the Legislature and the Executive. With a parliamentary system the Executive, or Head of State, is compounded with the Legislature. The legislature chooses the Executive – as here parliament chooses the Prime Minister.

Why have most republics always favoured a presidential system with a separation of powers? Because republicans see that the main problem of any state is the accumulation of excessive executive power - dictatorship. By separating the power, dictatorship can be avoided.

Under a parliamentary system, such as we already have, there is no separation of power, and so more and more power accumulates with the executive.

Currently we have an office of Prime Minister which has far more power than the leader of any other liberal democracy. Amazingly the Prime Minister can even make changes to the constitution as easily as they pass statutes. This situation would be preserved in a parliamentary republic

Lord Hailsham described the office of British Prime Minister as an “elective dictatorship”. That is exactly what it is as the string of headstrong, control freak prime ministers that we have had demonstrates

But why are some present republics parliamentary republics?

Of the republics comparable in size to Britain in the developed world there are only two such– Germany and Italy.

Germany and Italy after the Second World War both adopted a parliamentary system for the same reason. Both had a recent history of fascist dictatorship and they did not want an office of President as it might - within their very special circumstances - come to resemble another dictator

To come back to the current Republic proposal for Britain, think about the idea of the ceremonial president? You simply will not get good quality candidates coming forward to take up such a meaningless post. It would not command respect. And the dangers of a second restoration would be real

For that is what happened before with our first republic in the seventeenth century. Parliament took all power onto itself. There was never a properly constituted executive. The stage was set for a restoration

Only with a democratically elected president with full powers and installed in Buckingham Palace as the Presidential Seat can the republic be guaranteed

Now, currently, our people don’t trust our leaders and don’t bother to vote.

Why? We can’t directly elect our country’s leader. The political parties select the leader

By contrast in 2007 the French directly elected their President with an 80% turnout

In 10 days, after a fascinating campaign, the Americans will directly elect their leader.

We won’t elect our leader in 2010. The leader will be chosen by the party machines.

It should be our democratic right, our republican right, to directly elect our leader - separate from parliament

No one else is going to change things. It is down to the republicans of this country. We can start by voting through this motion

Thank you


Peter Kellow Saturday, October 25th


In a future CRN an account will be given of the debate that followed this speech.



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…….Until next week