The weakness of Britain's democratic culture has been demonstrated by an extraordinary attack on republicans by former cabinet minister Norman Tebbit. The prominent conservative has alleged that MPs who have signed a House of Commons motion to end the requirement that legislators swear allegiance to the Windsor clan, are attacking the state or wish to swear allegiance to the European Union.
“This seems to me to be an attack on the state itself” he said of a proposal to allow republican legislators an alternative to swearing a fasle oath of allegiance to the hereditary head of state and her family. Mr. Tebbit went on to say that “the people behind this campaign must either oppose the idea of anyone who is non-partisan having a role in the affairs of state or they would rather be swearing allegiance to Brussels”.
The parliamentary motion is supported by at least one conservative MP but it has shown that the British reluctance to recognise the legitimacy of basic democratic rights knows no party boundary. Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik told the Western Mail newspaper that he had “always been happy to swear allegiance to the Queen” rather than to his country or a democratic constitution. He added that the feudal system that denies most citizens the right to be considered for head of state “has a traditional and attractive place in British society”. The legislator said that he would vote against a democratic alternative to the monarchy.