Byline: IAIN MARTIN ON POLITICS AND POWER
ALTHOUGH this country remains in serious economic trouble, two of our greatest institutions (the monarchy and the Armed Forces) proved yesterday that Britain can still put on a brilliant show when required and captivate a global TV audience. And for a few days at least, London has seemed like the centre of the world again.
At such times, it is customary for the British to feel a self-congratulatory warm glow about the enduring security of our great institutions and how fortunate we are to have such a strong constitutional structure in this country.
The truth, I'm afraid, is very different. Underneath all the pomp, our constitution is badly broken.
Yesterday's wedding obscures a painful fact: the British constitution -- which took centuries to evolve -- has been all but wrecked by just a few decades of vandalism inflicted by opportunistic politicians from all the main parties. They have been assisted by liberal judges, bien pensant academics and Leftist commentators intent on demolishing a system that actually worked rather well.
Their malevolent handiwork has led to the complete transformation of our constitutional and governing arrangements -- with predictably calamitous results.
Britain is no longer self-governing. Huge powers have been transferred to Brussels and our national sovereignty has been signed away to Europe.
Many of our laws and regulations are not really made by Parliament in London. They come direct from Brussels and are merely rubber-stamped by supine MPs.
Take employment law, one of the areas where the over-weening EU has been most aggressive. Since Britain signed up to the Social Chapter there has been a slew of anti-enterprise impositions on businesses and an explosion in workers' rights and the number of costly industrial tribunals. This discourages hiring and the job creation that is so badly needed after a deep recession.
And when it comes to the massive immigration that comes with the EU's open borders, myriad health and safety rules and environmental edicts (with endless interfering regulations on recycling), Parliament is also powerless. Even Britain's right to choose something as basic as its own weights and measures has been lost. Then there's the sick condition of the 'United' Kingdom and the devolution debacle. Separate parliaments or assemblies were given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by Labour because it was claimed that this would be enough to satisfy the demands of the separatist local politicians.
BUT already those separatists are back demanding (and getting) more powers. Although the majority population in England does not have its own parliament, it is forced to subsidise the Scots and Welsh -- leading to greatly unfair disparities in the provision of public services.
For example, in Scotland there is free care for the elderly, a long list of NHS-su pplied drugs which are denied to English patients as well as free tuition for Scottish and EU students (but, unsurprisingly, not for any English youngsters who might want to study there). Devolution has badly loosened the ties that once bound the UK so strongly together.
The 'reform' of the second chamber was a similar Blairite disaster. The ancient House of Lords that combined hereditary peers with law Lords and some appointed experts was not perfect, but it worked well for centuries as a revising chamber. It was swept away, and the place stuffed with political appointees. Reform created a flawed system that was worse than the one it replaced.
At the same time, another great institution -- the senior civil service -- was degraded and politicised by those in power desperate to alter its composition and make it more politically correct.
However, the mandarin class is not daft and has responded by switching its allegiance to the EU (often taking Europe's side in arguments with ministers). …