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December 26, 2012

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john b

Not technically a subject: Brits have been citizens rather than subjects since 1949.

Phil

Only 1984 actually - it was that year's Immigration Act that abolished the status of 'British subject'.

A Different Alex

Citizen or subject, I don't care what they call me. How do I remove them from office?

ajay

You vote 'em out. They reign at Parliament's pleasure. It would be more difficult to get rid of a council dustman. (He would have a union and a contract of employment.)

Alex

To be clear, the IA '84 got rid of the status of British subject for a very small number of very posh people who were too right-wing to accept that Eire wasn't in the UK any more, and that being a citizen of the UK was much the same as being a subject in the sense of the 49 Act.

john b

Phil/Alex: not quite.

The 1948 Act, and parallel Acts in the Colonies and Dominions, created the status of Australian/Canadian/(etc)/British Citizen, as a distinct and separate legal category from everyone in the Empire's previous status as a British Subject. So Britons' main nationality status has been as a citizen, not a subject, since the Act came into force in 1949.

Between 1949 and 1983, people who were citizens of Commonwealth countries held the status of Australian/Canadian/British Citizen (for nationality, voting, and everything important locally), *and* British Subject (only relevant for determining your rights when living in another country within the Commonwealth).

In 1983, the general term British Subject was renamed to the more sensible Commonwealth Citizen (a term which still has some legal power: it's why Aussies and Indians legally resident in the UK can vote in elections).

The term "British Subject" was restricted by the 1983 Act to the group that Alex mentions: people born in Ireland or India before 1949 who have never taken up Irish, Indian or British citizenship. There are presumably still a few of these around.

A Different Alex

ajay, since all the main parties are fine with hundreds of thousands of jobs going across the public sector, while none of the main parties stand for republicanism, then it is not in fact "more difficult to get rid of a council dustman".

ajay

Not more difficult - just less popular. In the same way that painting Stonehenge pink is less difficult than running a primary school. The difficulty comes from its unpopularity. But if most people wanted to get rid of the monarchy, it would be very easy indeed to do it.

A Different Alex

I agree that having a monarchy is popular. But I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to argue.

First, you seem to be saying that what people want, representative democracy will give them. I must've missed the wave of public enthusiasm for neoliberalism.

Second, you seem to be saying that if a policy can be overturned democratically, then there's no reason to claim that the policy is itself undemocratic. Now never mind that Parliamentary sovereignty is not necessarily a benevolent doctrine itself, are you really suggesting that if a future PM gave us a referendum on an enabling act, then that would be reasonable? What exactly are you arguing here?

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