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It gets delegated to the policy group which will be pre-empted anyway when Cameron eventually makes a speech refering to the oath. If Cameron says anything abut the oath it sets a precedent and a potential clash between the policy group and Cameron.

"And he made clear that any change would have to take place in the context of the United Kingdom as a whole, and could only come about – if at all – following extensive cross-party consultations at Westminster."

Sorry, Mr Lidington. If this is an attempt to roll back from your ill-considered position and assuage Tory anger it's a botched job.

We don't want this cretinous idea put on the agenda by anyone - let alone a Conservative frontbencher. It's no coincidence that a Labour MP, Nick Palmer, has expressed interest in it. Now left wing republicans can pick the ball up and run with it - on a 'cross-party' basis.

As long as Britain is a constitutional monarchy the Oath should reflect that. After all, if the UK became a republic we wouldn't then be alowed to individually alter the Oath to mention a king across the water.

Editor - when did you give Mr Liddington view of the thread (or did he know what we were saying already); or was it just a welcome reconsideration of hasty words when he saw the reports and realised what a duff idea it sounded?

Editor - was this before or after CHome exploded with outraged bloggers?
If after - when did you give Mr Liddington view of the thread (or did he know what we were saying already); or was it just a welcome reconsideration of hasty words when he saw the reports and realised what a duff idea it sounded?

don't know why my draft went out - must have pressed a control key by mistake (these mac keyboards!)

Ted, it's true that this blog exploded with outrage. But it's also true that there were level-headed counter-arguments which IMO won the day.

Tory Thug, calling the idea of an optional new oath "cretinous" is as intellectually shallow as calling republicans "creeps".

Mark - while I think there were some, should we say, unhelpful contributions I cannot agree the alternative oath option won the day. I think that there is within this party a respect for both the monarch and her position which means our leadership needs to tread carefully.

I think Mr Liddington "when pressed" should have said " I don't deal in speculation". It sounds to me like another media event that one of our spokesmen went into unprepared for the "so what would you do" questions.Like DC in PMQs going for the flip flop question you have to plan for the replies.

Mr Liddington presumably went into the interview with an objective of showing Sinn Fein a barrier to peace, instead he created a story which positioned the Tory party as suggesting changing the Oath of Allegiance. He left Sinn Fein in a stronger position than before he answered the question, able at a later time to ask for this "promise" to be fulfilled - against the wishes of the Unionists, who will see this as another weakness in UK support to the unionist population of the UK.

The man needs to be fired! Reshuffle!

Ted: I'd agree with you that the "no change" argument on the other thread carried the most posts. Mark F had limited support. My own view, I'm-not-really-bothered-and-we-might-as-well give-it-a-go found precisely zero other takers.

What I'm not clear about is where this news leaves us. But then, I'm not really bothered, am I?

I suppose I'm bothered because my family left the UK three centuries plus ago, and I'm British because my family stayed British subjects.

Unlike Selsdon I liked my passport stating I was a British subject - which well into the second half of the last century defined being British. It was the allegiance to the Crown and the commonality of us all being British subjects (Canadian, South African, Australian, New Zealander etc were all citizens of other states but all subjects) that created the ties that bound the old dominions together. The Canadian ice hockey team could represent Britain in the Olympics in the twenties because they were subjects of the Crown.

Suddenly in the 70's & 80's (as a result of the EEC accession and the end of Empire) being British suddenly narrowed to only the UK.

The monarchy is what in the end holds this country together - which is what Sinn Fein recognises. England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland are a construct of monarchy not of democracy. Isle of Man, Channel Islands are associated by monarchy. Take that away - and removing references to Royal, changing Oaths does take the actuality of monarchy away from everyday life - and it becomes an arguement around economics (would England be better of if we didn't subsidise that country?)

Australia rejected Republicanism not because they wanted to retain the monarchy - after all we rejected our common British subject status with them in the 70's, and now our immigration officials harass them on entry. They rejected it because removing the actuality of the monarchy exposed internal tensions and constitutional balances.

Changing an Oath of Allegiance isn't a little thing, I'm-not-really-bothered-and-we-might-as-well give-it-a-go fundamentally redescribes our state.

Maybe its time we did 'modernise' but as I'm a conservative there's a lot of me that thinks it isn't broke, it doesn't need fixing.

As far as I know, Ted, David did not see the thread until very late last night - after the irish Times piece would have been written.

Ted: Unlike Selsdon I liked my passport stating I was a British subject - which well into the second half of the last century defined being British.

I'm with you on that one: bring back the old stiff blue passport! You really felt like someone waving one of those around as you marched through customs, daring the natives to cause any trouble. The Euro-burgundy floppy booklet doesn't do the business; it might as well be a cheap tourist's phrasebook or one of those old I-Spy notebooks (whatever happened to the Chief Spy?).

Your point about the monarchy being an important link in the unity of the country is also well-made. I value the fact that the elected executive is, however notionally, subject to someone who can't be spun, bribed, threatened etc. - and in a paradoxical way the fact that our institutions owe allegiance to someone who isn't elected ensures a greater transparency and democratic fairness. There is something higher than party. It's the political equivalent of throwing soil into the grave: remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return etc. etc.

In the scheme of things the wording of the parliamentary oath probably isn't the crucial lynchpin in the system, however. The oath has been changed before for eminently sound reasons, and other more important oaths (e.g. the coronation oath) are revised more frequently. If a whole stack of republican MPs get elected I'm not really happy with the idea of making them swear an oath they patently don't believe in, and it would be useful to offer them an alternative version (not a replacement) so that they could identify themselves.

It's not something I would have thought was a priority, but I can see why you'd make the change as part of a tactical package to wean Sinn Fein towards democratic responsibility. But it's a rather pointless exercise unless at the same time you withdraw Sinn Fein's ability to claim expenses without taking the oath, or if you soft peddle enforcement of the laws against gangsterism. However, the more I hear about this idea it sounds more like another bout of drippy get-with-it modernisation, rather than hard-headed calculation.

So, I didn't like Blunkett's plan to change the name of the "Crown" Prosecution Service, and I might take a different view on oaths for police officers and the armed forces. Ultimately I'd like to see the proposed new wording of the oath - if we junk the Queen in exchange for promising to uphold vibrant, dynamic multi-cultural society then I'd throw the idea in the river.

In summary - and this is probably something on which we can all agree - the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary has probably got more pressing things to worry about than this.

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