"I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."
The oath that the representatives of the British people are required to swear if they are to take their seats in the legislature
The early Americans said that "All men are created equal" but failed to live up to the ideal. The British, with their European cynicism, have never really believed that an ideal was worth aspiring to. Although they like to think of themselves as presenting a model of democracy, their characteristic mistaking of "class" for quality has left them satisfied with something well short of perfection.
The highest public office, that of head of state, is open only to the members of the Windsor-Mountbatten family, the "royal" family. Although Britain now has large numbers of citizens of Caribbean, African and Asian origins, no Briton of African or Asian ancestry may become head of state. The monarchy is, quite simply, a racist institution.
The British like to refer to the British Parliament as the "mother" of legislative bodies. They mean to imply that the democratic legislature is their country's gift to the world.
But that is far from being the truth. Britain has no written constitution to guarantee the rights of the people. And in fact Britain's Parliament is so grossly undemocratic that the truth is hard to believe. Its structure reflects not the spirit of government of the people by the people but the ancient division of British society into "commoners" and aristocracy.
The legislative chamber for the democratically elected representatives of the people is known significantly as the "lower house," or the House of Commons. The "upper" house, the House of Lords is unelected. The government of Britain is thus divided between the common people and the Lords. And the House of Lords is really composed of people who call themselves "Lords." They believe that they are entitled to privileges of esteem and power. And they are recognised by the law of the land as having them!
None of these so-called lords have been elected to their positions in the legislature. Some were put there by the ruling party of the time. Some, incredibly, inherited their seats in the legislature from their fathers, who sat there before them!
No prize for deciding whether a country that tolerates this at the start of the twenty-first century can make any claim to be able to teach the world about democracy.
It is true to say that when the House of Lords gets too out of line with the wishes of the Commons, its decisions may be over-ruled, with some time and trouble. Nonetheless, here is a crew who have no right in a democratic society to any special say in the legislative process. A crowd whose presumptions would rule out them of consideration in any society with a truly democratic spirit. Yet in the "mother of democracies" they are allowed to initiate legislation as if they had been elected by the people. And to amend, obstruct and delay the laws proposed by the representatives of the people.
Not even in its elective government is Britain free from the power of inherited privilege. Every member of Parliament (like every police officer) must swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch. Republicans whose sense of honour will not permit them to lie about whom they owe their duty to, are thus excluded from representing the people.