Wednesday, 6 June 2012
United Kingdom v. Republic of Kafka
This short piece was prompted by a discussion going on over at George Szirtes' blog about the value or otherwise of the constitutional monarchy in the United Kingdom.
My first thoughts are that the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system that exists in the United Kingdom is good and right for the nation.
I feel that there is something of a refreshing openness about the way things are done in the UK. In particular I like it that Members of Parliament are responsible to their constituencies and return to them at periodic intervals to hold surgeries and to explain to the electorate living there what is going on and why and also to be available to address local issues. I really like this. It's an important and vital service and a safety valve. It's a point of contact which operates both ways; it's like the circulation of blood in the human body which goes from the top down and at the same time from the bottom up if you like a metaphor.
In the imaginary Republic of Kafka the system is very different. Lists of anonymous names are circulated at election times. Parties are voted for. Coalitions are cobbled together after weeks and months of wrangling. The ones who finish third can be the leaders. It happens. The whole business is like a body in continual need of blood transfusions. And this happens; anonymous ministers materialize and disappear with alarming regularity.
When things go wrong in the Republic of Kafka parliamentary investigations take place behind closed doors; there are 3 or 4 such investigations going on or just finishing even as I write these words. The outcomes of these investigations will not be clear and the good people of the Republic will not even get to see the questions and answer sessions on TV.
The President of the Republic of Kafka is elected by the parliament which as I have explained is an election of party lists. No individual is ever responsible to any constituency and so there is no way-in and no face to face feedback for the average person.
To me as a poet the UK's constitutional monarchy is like a butterfly whilst the imaginary Republic of Kafka is like a moth. The first flies in the broad light of the day and the other flies in the darkness.