Some wonderful news from Britain today. If you write a letter to government ministers urging a change of course in public policy, or lobbying for a pet cause of yours, the public has no right to know about it, or what you have written. That is, if you are Prince Charles or a member of the Royal Family.
The “man” who is incapable of squeezing toothpaste onto his own toothbrush without the help of a butler, who travels the globe by taxpayer-funded flights and royal trains while encouraging the rest of us to take short, cold showers to stop global warming has carte blanche to meddle in public affairs. And we, the people, have no right to know what he is saying or lobbying for, because to inform us would be to jeopardise our perception of him as a politically impartial future monarch. Impartial my ass.
The Guardian reports:
Three senior judges have ruled that the public has no right to read documents that would reveal how Prince Charles has sought to alter government policies.
The high court judges have rejected a legal attempt by the Guardian to force the publication of private letters written by the prince to government ministers.
Cabinet ministers have conceded that the prince’s private letters – dubbed “black spider memos” because of their scratchy handwriting – contained the prince’s “most deeply held personal views and beliefs” that could undermine the perception of his political neutrality.
First of all, the mere fact that Prince Charles takes time out of his busy schedule (mostly involving wearing kilts and hiking in Scotland, as far as I can tell) to write to government ministers about anything at all is what undermines the perception of his political neutrality. If he was politically neutral then his royal highness would not have the burning desire to write to British government cabinet members about all and sundry.
The article continues:
[Attorney General Dominic] Grieve had argued that disclosure of the 27 “particularly frank” letters between the prince and ministers over a seven-month period would have seriously damaged his future role as king. The attorney general said there was a risk that the prince would not be seen to be politically neutral by the public if the letters were published.
“This risk will arise if, through these letters, the Prince of Wales was viewed by others as disagreeing with government policy. Any such perception would be seriously damaging to his role as future monarch because if he forfeits his position of political neutrality as heir to the throne, he cannot easily recover it when he is king,” Grieve had said.
Well, I’m glad that the Attorney General of the United Kingdom is worrying about such important matters when we have so many pressing issues about the devolvement of power in our country, the limits on government intrusion into our private lives and the fact that so many people are actually suffering in this country thanks to the many structural problems created by the political elites of years past, the last disastrous Labour government and our current coalition government’s slapstick attempts to correct them.
[The Guardian] won a landmark victory last September when three judges in a FoI tribunal ordered the government to publish the letters as it was “in the public interest for there to be transparency as to how and when Prince Charles seeks to influence government”.
However, a month later, Grieve, with the support of the cabinet, issued the veto which overrode the tribunal’s decision.
Seriously. How messed up is our country when some over-entitled government minister can override the ruling of a court of law? Written constitution and proper separation of powers, anyone? Good idea? No?
On Tuesday, the lord chief justice, accompanied by Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Globe, dismissed the challenge, finding that Grieve had acted in the public interest in a “proper and rational way”.
However, Judge said that the power of ministers under the FoI Act to issue a veto and override a decision reached by judges raised “troublesome concerns”, particularly as even a ruling by the supreme court could be overridden.
“The possibility that a minister of the crown may lawfully override the decision of a superior court of record involves what appears to be a constitutional aberration,” he said.
“It is an understatement to describe the situation as unusual,” he wrote, adding that barristers could find no equivalent in any other British law.
You think?! Since our newly created UK Supreme Court is in actual fact not supreme at all, perhaps we should rename it. How about the Court Of Second Last Resort Prior To Ministerial Intervention?
Of course, it is not just Prince Charles who seeks to lobby the government in support of his pet projects or issues of the day. The fact that David Cameron, George Osborne and Ed Balls all attended the recent Bilderberg 2013 meeting in Watford where they hobnobbed with the financial and business elites of the world with no reporting as to what they discussed or agreed to is ample evidence of this.
But why do we let an aging, entitled, sheltered and pampered little man meddle in our politics like this? This is the year 2013. This is no longer acceptable.
The article concludes:
Ministers argue that the letters must be concealed as it enables the prince to air his views privately with ministers so that he can “be instructed in the business of government”.
No. Prince Charles, in his ludicrous and anachronistic role as heir to the throne and future monarch, is entitled to be instructed in the business of government. Instructed. That means that the government elected by the people formulates policy, makes decisions and takes actions, and once it has done all of that, tells Prince Charles about it after the fact. What it most certainly does not mean is that Prince Charles gets to write his black spider letters, weighing in on all matters of public policy. Because that is influencing the business of government, not being informed about it.
Hundreds of years ago, people sincerely believed that these ridiculous people were granted the divine right to rule over us and represent our nation as Heads of State by God himself. That is no longer true, and the price for them keeping their palaces, treasures, land, unearned military uniforms and the servile adoration of the masses is that they shut up and keep their noses out of public policy. That’s it. End of discussion.
Prince Charles’s meddling has to stop. It is embarrassing and inappropriate in the extreme.