Evan Harris is now introducing his private members' Bill in the Commons. While it has no chance of becoming law, he has done well to prompt the government's move forward. A good deal of background, and relevant links to Hansard and other sources, about the recent history of this issue can be found in this earlier post about his Bill. It is good to see progress is being made, having been stalled by the extreme timidity on this issue of former Lord Chancellor Charlie Falcolner, in response to Alf Dubs' Bill and questions.
The Times had an excellent leader on this in December 2004, in support of my Fabian Executive colleague Alf Dubs raising this issue in his own Bill in the Lords:
The British constitution might always be puzzling. It should not take pride in being ostentatiously bonkers
The rules that surround the succession to the throne are among the most anachronistic and indefensible. The reform proposals would provide for new and far more relevant arrangements... it would be intriguing to see how any parliamentarian could publicly defend the present method of succession. "
So who could possibly oppose such a measure?
On Tuesday, I had an amusing phonecall which revealed the answer. The office of Mr Philip Davies, the MP who is Parliamentary Spokesman for The Campaign Against Political Correctness, got in touch to ask for some background on the issue given the Fabian Society's work on the issue.
I was happy to provide the relevant links from Next Left! I also asked for his position on the Bill. He would be against it. Was he against male primogeniture on principle? His office understood this to be the case. I was intrigued to know whether he saw the idea of giving first-born girls priority in the order of succession to second-born boys as political correctness going too far. I got the impression that this was the case, but an email inquiry asking for confirmation elicted only this:
Philip Davies will be talking the Royal Marriages Bill out between 9.30 and 2.30 on Friday. The precise fillibuster arguments he uses will be expressed then, but suffice to say he does not want it passed!
We will shortly found out.
The opposition frontbench rightly back a reform which should not be an issue of party political contention.
But what century do certain idiotic Tory backbenchers wish to live in?