September 22, 2004

Hear! Hear!

Mark Steyn, speaking of an apparent move to abolish the position of Serjeant at Arms in Parliament, lays out some important principles that are at the very core of my own deep-felt Toryism. Here is the heart of Steyn's piece:

What does it say when you go to a busy working legislative body and see a guy wandering round in knee-breeches and buckled shoes? To me, it says that you're part of an ancient continuous constitutional tradition tested by centuries rather than merely being the subject of whatever modish fancies Blair's spinmeisters have picked up at some rebranding workshop.

If you mooch around the Caribbean, you'll know that the Speakers of those tiny, British-derived island parliaments love their wigs and maces and copies of Hansard: they advertise, in stark contrast to their neighbours in Cuba and Haiti, that they are the legal heirs to centuries of peaceful political evolution.

Blessed are those societies whose institutions endure long enough to become "anachronistic". It's one of the things that differentiates Britain from the Continent, where your average Mediterranean constitution dates all the way back to the 1970s. And it speaks volumes about the warped perspective of the Blairites that our customs' longevity should now be their principal offence.

That's what connects Labour's antipathy to both silk stockings and jodhpurs. In the normal ebb and flow of history, some things survive, some evolve, some wither. Given demographic trends and development pressures, I doubt if hunting would have been much of an issue in another 50 years.

But its abolition by national fiat is a repudiation of the past, a partial tear in the golden thread of history. A healthy society is like an iceberg: seven-eighths of it is below the surface, the accumulations of a shared history. When you hack away at that seven-eighths as obsessively as New Labour to leave only the here-and-now floating on the surface, it's easy to cut a country adrift.

And once you start hacking where do you stop? If the political establishment decides the people can do without the Serjeant at Arms, hereditary peers, the Lord Chancellor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, etc, it can hardly be surprised that, increasingly, the people seem inclined to the view that they can also do without the political establishment.

'Zackly. And I think this principle applies to an awful lot of different aspects of life.

Yips! to Mixolydian Don.

Posted by Robert at September 22, 2004 04:45 PM | TrackBack

I personally date the decline of Britain to 1971 when they decided to get rid of ye olde 12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound, and replaced this age-old system with a thoroughly Frenchified one of 100p to the pound.

Now of course they have the whole metric system bullshit. It's like Napoleon had beaten Wellington or something.

Burke has been revolving in his grave fast enough to air-condition the apartement of every elderly pensioner in Paris during their next heat wave.

Did I mention that I hate the French?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 22, 2004 04:56 PM
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