The United Commonwealth Society wishes all of you a Happy Commonwealth Day!
As alluded to previously during our election campaign and new member documents, the United Commonwealth Society is launching an official newsletter this year. The newsletter will be digitally sent quarterly to all members who have provided us with their full name, location (city and province/state/county), and e-mail address. If you are not a member, join today and e-mail us with your contact information to ensure you receive your copy!
We want all members to have a say in what the newsletter looks like. We would like your input on a) its name and b) the logo used for the front page. Please share your suggestions by e-mailing our chair.
We also welcome content for the newsletter. Anything of interest going on in your area? Have something you’d like to discuss with the membership? Please contact us and share your ideas!
2015 is going to be a great year for the UCS. I look forward to sharing our updates with you!
David J Haisell
The votes have been cast and the results are in. Please meet your Council for 2015:
Chair: David Haisell (returning)
Vice-Chair: Jon-Paul Teasdale (new)
Secretary: Edward Harris (returning)
Representative, Australia: Sam Carruthers (new)
Representative, Canada: Liam Hill, UE (new)
Representative, Caribbean Realms: Jason Green (returning)
Representative, Pacific Realms: Wilson Thompson, MBE (returning)
Representative, United Kingdom, Territories, and Dependencies: Jon-Paul Teasdale (returning)
I would like to issue my thanks to all who voted and my welcome to those who are new to council this year. I would also like to issue my heartfelt thanks to Stephen Hale and Rowan Smith for their service to the Society over the past two years.
I wish everyone the best for the coming year!
In the coming weeks the United Commonwealth Society holds its annual council elections. All posts are being contested, including:
– Regional Representative (Australia, Canada, Caribbean realms, New Zealand, Pacific realms, United Kingdom)
If you would like to help shape the future makeup of the UCS council, join today to cast your vote. It may be your name on the ballot this time next year!
I would like to thank the current council for their work this past term and wish all candidates good luck in the election.
David J Haisell
United Commonwealth Society
This past Tuesday, 18th November, was the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Imperial Federation League. The league, which you can read more about here, marked the first time anyone proposed that the self-governing territories of the British Empire should be governed as one. 130 years on, the United Commonwealth Society keeps the dream alive.
Recently, supporters of the United Commonwealth Society have had only two options to become members: joining our discussion groups on Facebook and Google+.
As of this month, supporters can join the UCS by email. Send an email to our chair at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, email address, and location. You will receive a welcome email in response with further details about your membership.
We are thrilled to be able to expand our range of membership options to you, our supporters. Help us grow as a Society and as a voice in the realms by sharing the graphic below with your friends!
Now that the dust has settled on the Scottish referendum, it is time to turn our attention to the next big referendum to be held in the Commonwealth: that of the future of the New Zealand flag. Shortly after his re-election as Prime Minister, John Key indicated that a referendum on the flag could be held as soon as 2015.
Mr. Key has labeled the the current New Zealand blue ensign a relic of the nation’s colonial past, and wants a design that is uniquely New Zealand, “Whether it’s stitched on a Kiwi traveller’s backpack outside a bar in Croatia, on a flagpole outside the United Nations or standing in a Wellington southerly on top of the Beehive every working day.” Others disagreed, pointing out the flag’s symbolism: the blue field, which symbolises the ocean that surrounds the island realm, and the Union flag, which symbolises its lasting connection to the Commonwealth.
New Zealand has no shortage of alternatives. Several flag designs have been proposed, most often featuring the “silver fern”, New Zealand’s botanical symbol, or the red Southern Cross from the current blue ensign. Nor is such a move without precedent; of the 15 Commonwealth realms excluding the United Kingdom, only Australia, New Zealand, and Tuvalu currently have an ensign as their flag. (The ensign is much more common among territories and subnational units; six Australian states, fourteen British Overseas Territories, two Canadian provinces, and both New Zealand territories fly ensigns as their official flags.)
Where, then, does this leave the United Commonwealth Society? It is perhaps not surprising that many of our members from New Zealand have expressed a desire to retain the current flag, as do several members from other realms. Does this mean that the Society’s official position – if, indeed, we should have one – should be the same?
Have your say by clicking HERE or on the image below to vote in our poll. Help shape the policy of this Society by having your say!
David J Haisell
10 October 2014
As UK politicians debate carving out their own fiefdoms in the name of English democracy, and we in the UCS contemplate how this might potentially help or hinder a future realm union, here’s my two penn’orth:
There was a move a decade ago to introduce elected regional assemblies in England. A referendum was held in the North East but roundly defeated. The plans were not federal and contained only very limited tax raising powers. Now, the Left has revived this proposal, perhaps in a more federal form, as the supposed answer to the West Lothian question.
However, I have to say that although I was an early supporter of regional governments, I do have 3 major objections to the plans, even in federal form:
1. They would create built-in Labour and Conservative majorities in most of the country.
2. They would be likely to be dominated by urban conurbations with very different priorities from their rural hinterlands.
3. By denying England its own over-arching demos, they would be designed to kill English national identity, while Celtic nations enhance theirs.
Although I can see the arguments for it, I am not sure I would like to live under a powerful Yorkshire parliament. I think current proposals for devolution to leading cities or rural areas that ask for it is probably the way to go there. And this should take place under an over-arching federation of the four nations. I suspect that pragmatically, this would be more popular and be better for the English economy and identity.
Westminster can set UK wide taxes for the federal government. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can then set their own taxes to pay (at least partially) for their national responsibilities. Cities and other special interest regions (like Cornwall, or Rheged), can then have devolved regional governments, if they want them, with limited additional powers, answerable to their local national government.
Although I have always raised the obvious objection to England as being too large to fit comfortably into a federation, I’m no-longer sure this couldn’t be made to work. Within the UK, federal issues would remain a matter for Westminster, which could continue to be constituted as presently, or perhaps with a few more MPs for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The national governments would continue to have no say on federal matters, just as regional governments below them would have no formal representation at the national level.
Future realm federation would be gradual and probably along a confederal model anyway. A future Realm Parliament could consist of a British-style House of Commons, and a second revising chamber that gave more influence to smaller states, perhaps consisting of part appointed and part PR members.
I see no reason the upper chamber representation for England couldn’t simply be adjusted to both reflect the country’s large population and prevent it from dominating the upper chamber. The most important chamber would be the Commons anyway, where English MRPs would have up to 40% of the votes. It would then be perfectly fair to give England substantially less say in the revising chamber.
28 September 2014