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I think this is a very well-put argument. I think that the furore that was provoked by the original presentation of David's comments was because they seemed to be yet another concession to Sinn Fein/IRA.

On a wider front, it is an interesting dilemma in that staunch republicans (of the more general sort, as opposed to the Irish sort) are faced with a decision to take an oath to swear loyalty to the monarch when given half-a-chance they would abolish the monarchy.

An alternative would be, as was mentioned in the previous debate, for a republican to take an oath of loyalty which recognised the fact that whilst being loyal to the country and its people they believed there should be a different form of government.

Believing that Britain should be a republic is a legitimate point of view. It isn't one I share, but there should be a mechanism for MPs who hold that point of view to take their seats, having taken a meaningful oath to serve those they represent.

Plus, again as was mentioned in the last thread, having republicans take a different oath means we can keep tabs on the blighters!

I would also like to thank DL for taking the time to put forward such a well-written piece, which clarifies who-said-what-to-whom-and-why.

As stated elsewhere, I would support an alternative form of Oath as a tactical means of calling the Fenians' bluff to dicover how serious they are about being parliamentary democrats. I am very reassured to hear that we are still firm on removal of any special favours for MPs who do not take their seats.

Well done to David Lidington for responding to the comments made by contributers to this site. A valuable excercise in party democracy.

I beleive i'm right in saying that their is a different form of words avalible to MPs of different faiths so that they do not have to swear an oath to God in a Chrisitan form. It shouldn't then be too difficult to look at other alternatives as the precedent is already there. However I agree with David that this situation is completely hypothetical and in realtiy the politcal pressure should be on Sinn Feinn, not mainstream political parties.

Thanks are certainly due to David Lidington for responding to the concerns raised here but his statement is troubling.

On the key issue of the wording of the Oath of Allegiance, he is prepared to contemplate the breaching of a principle without any real understanding of the implications of so doing.

He says: "...it is for the people to decide whom they elect to represent them and that the House of Commons should not create barriers to stop an elected Member from taking his or her seat. The analogy here is with the changes that the House made in the Nineteenth Century to allow Jewish and atheist MPs to sit."

Two red herrings. There is a clear distinction between religion and faith on the one hand and political opinions on the other. Differences of religious conviction are respected by the alternative wording of the Oath but by pandering to anti-monarchists we would (a) undermine the monarchy as a prescriptive element of our constitution and (b) open the door to other forms of relativism and pluralism. Should racists, European federalists, believers in the Caliphate and holders of minority opinions be allowed a specially worded Oath?

The argument that someone is barred from representing their constituents by a reference to the monarch in the Oath is spurious. The 'barriers' to a successful candidate taking his or her seat are entirely subjective. British democracy is based upon a constitutional monarchy. Those who don't like it are free to change the system by winning a majority of seats in the House of Commons and then abolishing the monarchy. Until then the Queen is their Queen too, whether they like it or not. To suggest otherwise to make a mockery of the system - which is, of course, exactly what republican refuseniks want. Mr Lidington should not be in the business of assisting them, however unintentionally.

David Lidington is happy to make loyalty to the Queen an optional extra. His big idea is nothing more than incremental republicanism.

I have to say that there is a strong argument which the previous two contributors have made, and which I find myself in sympathy.We are a monarchy and our MPs must respect that. There is far too much relativism in today's society.

I've found this thread very interesting and appreciate David Lidington talking time to post his reply.

Are any Sinn Fein leaders MEP's and if so do they take their seats in Brussels?

Can't an MP's salary be categorized and reduced if certain categories are not fulfilled?

I would echo Tory T 's post.After all the supine behaviour of the Blair government toward Sinn Fein/IRA with the resulting destruction of David Trimble(one of the few decent politicians in NI)and the UUP the last thing any Conservative should be doing is offering any help whatsoever toward that party.Remember we are a Unionist party too Mr Lidington.

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