The party defines itself by the five core policies. So that members and non-members clearly understand what the party stands for, these cannot be changed. At present they are principles the details of which will be decided according to the party constitution
All other policies will be decided according to the constitution
Below is a provisional list of headings for the Mani-festo each with a link to a page
That page contains provisional ideas for discussion.
Read this, as work in progress. Only DRP paid up members can comment and so if you want to have your say:
Constitutional Court Supreme Court
Functions of Government Public Services Board Monetary Policy Board
National planning strategies
Coordination of regions
ISSUES DISCUSSED IN THE NEWSLETTERS NOT LINKED TO THE MANIFESTO
British Republican History
Are We the New Whigs?
Everyone today has heard of the Tories and knows what they stand for.
Everyone has also heard of the Whigs, but very few know what they stood for.
The Whigs and the Torys were always bitter enemies and that emnity is a vital part of British history.
The virtues of the British state - which are many - were largely created by the Whigs.
One of the malign aspects of our society today is fawning deference to the monarchy. But that is a Tory trait and always has been. The Whigs were anything but deferential to the monarchy and saw excessive executive power of the monarchy as an evil to subdue and fight against.
For this, they were frequently accused of being republicans - and the accusations were in many cases justified.
Whigs (or people that would become Whigs) fought on the side of Parliament against Charles I in the civil wars of the sixteenth century. They fought against the absolutism of James II and secured the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 – an event in British history that is universally recognised as one of its greatest achievements. This Whig revolution secured the future of parliament and permanently reduced the power of the monarchy.
In these struggles, the Whigs were not short of martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for what they called “the good cause”.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they continued to support progressive reform.
But why should we care about the Whigs today?
They ceased to exist towards the end of the nineteenth century. They were not replaced, as some would say, by the Liberal Party – certainly the Liberal Democrats of today have nothing to do with Whiggism.
The Whigs disappeared from the political landscape,
If Whigs are mentioned today, it is usually to say that they were exclusively members of the great landed aristocracy and so they are not relevant any longer.
But the Whig aristocracy was nothing like the royalist toadies that make up the hereditary peers of today.
The most remarkable thing about the Whigs -that cannot be overemphasised - is just how radical and progressive they were.
This extended far beyond the constitutional matters already mentioned, to freedom of speech, human rights, religious tolerance and social justice.
It also extended, crucially, to the modernisation of economic institutions to enable the country to move away from the mediaeval, mercantilist system - which was dominated by the monarch - to a free enterprise economy with independent private companies, supported by the state.
The Whigs were crucial to creating the building blocks of the modern economy, in which Britain was to lead the world.
Later on, they were to stand against George III’s war against American independence. They saw the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution as like minds and they supported the new American Republic.
Interestingly, the Whig identity for long had a currency in the USA, following that country's revolution, even to the extent that a Whig Party was created in nineteenth century America. The American Whigs were not of course associated with an aristocracy for the Americans had none, but their agenda was similar to their British counterparts,
The fact that Whiggism was entirely compatible with American republicanism should not surprise us.
The American Whig Party was successful enough to produce two Whig US Presidents. The most famous American Whig, on this side of the Atlantic, is Abraham Lincoln (although the Whig Party did not exist at the time he was President).
The British Whigs’ bible was John Locke’s Two Treatises on Civil Government, published in 1690, and this work was also central to the creation of the American republican constitution.
Fundamental to Whig beliefs was Locke’s assertion that the way to defend liberty was to defend property ownership. For this they are often accused of being partisan, for they themselves were the biggest and wealthiest owners of property in the land.
But this fact does not deny the correctness of the principle that, for people to have a stake in society, they need to have some degree of economic interest in it.
The Whigs would say that democratic enfranchisement means little with economic enfranchisement – and they were right. Their solution to this problem became the extension of property ownership to give everyone a stake in society.
Of course, we have universal enfranchisement now but with low turnout and voter disillusion it is hardly working well. The Whigs would tell that is inevitable when not enough people have a stake in the future of our society. There is too much exclusion.
But we should remember that by property the Whigs did not just mean buildings and land, but any kind of wealth. The principle of protecting all kinds of property was fundamental to the modern economy they wanted to create, for it meant people could innovate and create wealth with the knowledge that they would retain the fruits of their efforts.
Taxes had to apply, to be sure, but these were the province of parliament and, thanks to the Whigs, they were no longer subject to arbitrary dictate by an all-powerful executive monarch.
Overall, there is practically nothing in the Whig agenda that a modern Democratic Republican would be embarrassed by.
Their singular failure was to see themselves in a patrician role overseeing progress to cultural improvement, universal justice and distributed wealth.
The Whigs' answer to that was that only thanks to the aristocratic power that they wielded did the Magna Carta come into being, did the Glorious Revolution happen, was monarchical authoritarianism curtailed, was parliament preserved, did the nation achieve unheard of prosperity, did nineteenth century reforms happen.
The Whigs would remind us that it was the British aristocracy that alone amongst European aristocracies stood up against monarchy.
Whigs would say it was they who laid the foundations of modern republican constitutionalism and a modern free enterprise economy that the rest of the western world belatedly emulated.
Does this overstate their role? Absolutely not.
They were also beset by a further problem - the growth of populism in the nineteenth century together with its fellow traveller, jingoism. It is the growth of these that provided fertile ground for a simplistic unquestioning monarchism.
But the fact remains that we should truly miss them. The “ding-dong” between Whig and Tory that lasted for over two centuries is now reduced to a single Tory “dong”.
Socialism was to challenge the Tory ascendency in the twentieth century but is now a spent force.
We have seen the Labour Party leader, Ed Milliband, openly embrace the nineteenth century Tory statesman and propagandist, Benjamin Disraeli, with his “One Nation" slogan. The Libdems are fully in bed with the Tories in the coalition. Old Etonians crowd out the government ranks to emphasise the exclusiveness of Toryism.
The Whigs would have been appalled by this for they never sent their sons to Eton which, even in their day, was known as a Tory training ground.
The Whigs avoided Oxford and Cambridge for the same reason and sent their children mostly to Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities where they could benefit from an enlightened education.
The Whigs have been deliberately air-brushed out of the history books.
They were not perfect, but the absence of their anti-Tory steadfast defence of liberty, reform, free enterprise and social mobility has left a big hole.
The Whigs were nothing if not optimists. We now sorely lack their progressive optimism as we are mired in debt and hopelessness
We are now drifting backwards into unbridled Toryism where each person has to have their place and know their place. This was the meaning of Disraeli's "One Nation" that Labour have embraced.
Don’t expect to ever have personal wealth. The banks aided by government have stolen it all. Don’t expect good public services. The cupboard is bare. Meanwhile the rich just get richer and richer.
But, unlike the Whigs, the superrich of today do not see wealth as conferring responsibility – responsibility to give back to society what society has privileged you to accumulate.
There are indeed exceptions, who indulge in valuable philanthropy, but the majority of the superrich of today store their wealth away in tax havens and abrogate any sense of moral responsibility to the rest of us.
The Whigs' constitutional, social and economic agenda is still outstanding as work in progress.
They never gave up on the idea of progress towards a better life for all and neither should we.
We could do far worse than take up the legacy of the Whigs and use it against the now thriving Toryism that they loathed with a visceral contempt.
If the Whigs were around today, the logic of their position would lead them to a full blown republicanism. The sight of a gagged monarch and an all-powerful Prime Minister would have appalled them. It runs against everything they stood for
But the Whigs represent a deep current of British history. You simply cannot understand British history, unless you understand what the Whigs were about and what they achieved.
if you are not familiar with what this giant aspect of out history is about, it is because the powers at be do not want you to know about it.
Democratic republicanism must remind us of our republican past but also our Whig past. The line between the two was often difficult to draw.
Our history cannot make any sense without the Whigs – in spite of what our Tory dominated media and education system will tell you.
The world does not have to be all Tory.
The Whigs better than anyone can still remind us of that fact.
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