In proposing to limit EU migration, and withhold the additional payment of £1.7bn now due, Mr Cameron is like a drunk, refused entry to a nightclub by a bouncer, who decides to “make something of it”. He is already past the point where he might avoid loss of face: his choice is between looking a fool, and complete humiliation. Surely someone in his government has some understanding of international law: we obey international treaties, freely entered, because they are better than going to war.
That was a way of putting it, not satisfactory but very satisfying. I am sure you can sense the warm, self-righteous glow I feel, pontificating like that. At one time, to make such pronouncements would have made me a pub bore, but now I am a blogger, and can do it from my own living room. Whatever. I was wondering why in 1660 some invited the King back, and others acquiesced. It is all to do with how we avoid killing each other. I love blogging, I can play with such grand topics if I wish.
On the flimsy basis of Peter Ackroyd’s book, I would say that the army, having installed Oliver Cromwell practically as king, with regal powers, needed a single strong figure for the loyalty of the nation. Oliver’s son Richard was not it, and he did not want to be. There was no legitimate authority other than the King. All law is based upon force- I am a legal positivist, more Kelsen than Austin, seeing that the basis for law in any country is force, either revolution or conquest, and that law has no value without policemen and bailiffs; but where the initial force was applied long ago, people come to obey out of habit, consent and the desire for a quiet life, which is more comfortable for all concerned.
Um. Social contract. I don’t have to have planned this, or made it consistent- it is a blog- so will just drop that in. And I feel I can break the law, either as some theoretical supreme act of martyrdom to moral principle, or breaking speed limits etc.
Why invite the King back? It was the only way to achieve stable government. One might hope that the King, remembering his father’s vicissitudes, would not behave like a tyrant- this was a forlorn hope in the case of James VII/II, but we got rid of him. The people believed that the King was bound by law, needing Parliament’s consent for taxation.
After 268 years of increasing internal peace since the last mainland battle (except for the Troubles) we are, more or less and on the whole, governed by consent. I waffle because it’s a blog, and because a definite statement eludes me. The Government can do what the people don’t want, but not too much. Being a republic would symbolise that. The last vestige of our Grundnorm– the Norman Conquest- would melt away, and we would be a free people, governing ourselves.