The Kings and Prime Ministers of UK

2018-06-05T23:47:39+05:00 Mushtaq Ahmed

Contrary to the trend of the national politics in post-French Revolution of 1789, the power politics rotated all around the conservatives and liberals in imperial British in 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. After 1789 Revolution, the French monarchists were not as powerful as in UK. The French Revolutionaries, though succeeded in fully establishing an elected government particularly after the execution of French king Lois XVI on 21st January, 1793, committed the fatal plunder to empower the French military to rebuild the devastated republic. Vitriolic emergence of general Napoleon Bonaparte who abrogated the constitution and dissolved the national assembly and third estates, was the ultimate result causing restoration of military kingdom in 1804, only 14 years after the famous revolution of 18th century which virtually changed the face of politics in the Europe. So, France after burying the great revolution of 1789 on the dead body of monarchism and of the revolutionaries entered into another kind of monarchism—-the military dictatorship. Now the French general was the French King.

If we draw comparison between France and UK during the period from 19th century onward, we see that the military dictatorship was one of the major forces that prevented the fuller revival of monarchism in France, though military generals like general Joseph Maria de Gaulle attained power through ballot box for numerous times and remained inevitable during a half century in France. However, the political occurrences in British looked different from that of the same in France. The British army had no unipolar dimension in its mechanism as compared with its counterpart in France. Owing to its factional divide and regional grouping, it was only a reliable weapon, but not an exclusive factor or force, in the hands of the UK Monarch having unending support from Anglican Church, traditionalists and conservatives’ and organized groups in the English society. For, British is still United Kingdom while France is constitutionally “Republic”. Historically, kingdom and republic could never co-exist as the both contradict each other, yet monarchy or dictatorship and democracy or people government had been travelling in time and space in hand with each other, but a universal truth remained unchanged that monarchy and democracy are two jealous ladies sleeping with one man leading the power houses toward constant confusion, chaos and upheavals due to which society, civilization and state collectively face the breakdowns after apocalyptic end and ruins.

Generally, our children are taught that Great Britain is the home for democracy, for best form of democracy is Westminster form of government wherein a Prime Minister is the Chief Executive. Ironically, this superimposed narrative does not look competitive theory in face of history, which is testified by a little history of England from 1837 to 1952 consisting of only 115 years. Again, it is advocated that the UK king is bound to sign a piece of legislation even carrying a “his death warrant” but the history reiterates, contrarily. Empirically, we look no match of UK prime ministers with UK kings, as the later continued to enjoy the divine supremacy over the former. During the period from 1837 to 1952 only six monarchs reigned England: Queen Victoria, (r.1837-1901), Edward-VII, (r.1901-1910), George V, (r.1910-1936), Edward VIII (r.1936), George VI (r.1936-1952), Elizabeth II (r.1952-). Amazingly or shockingly, as many as 34 prime ministers lost their seats owing to constantly hovering sword of instability and chaos over the UK parliament having non-reconciling population in it. The powerful conflict between the conservative and liberals or moneyed class and the hapless masses was the cause transforming the parliamentary democracy entirely a useless form of government. Farcical emphasis on so-called balance of power or dichotomy of power appeared to be the great killer of transparency, efficiency and accountability. For, the Westminster parliament could play a role not different from that of Greco-Roman national assembly and senate on which ruins anarchic world at the name of monarchism was built. Repeating the follies of the past, the British Empire turned to be the worst enemy of her own being, igniting a fire engulfing the empire-cum-republic facing unending change of prime ministers . Lord John (r.1846-1852) was one of the luckiest prime ministers who completed six years term of premiership. Whig, Derby (1852) could hardly completed one year. Aberdeen (1852-55) remained PM for three years, Palmerston (1855-58) for three years, Derby Disraeli (1958-59) could completed only one year and Derby Palmerston (1859-65) six years. Palmerston die while in office. Lord Russel (1865-66) once again became prime minister who could survived only for one year, Derby (1866-68) became prime minister for two years and Disraeli (1868) again entered in premiership but could remained there for a few months. Gladstone (1868-74) enjoyed the office for six years. Disraeli (1874-80) for the third time become prime minister completing six years, Gladstone (1880-85) completed another five years and Salisbury(1885-86) became PM for one years and the same was the case with Gladstone (1886) who for third time became PM for a few months. Then came Salisbury (1886-1892) who completed six years. For fourth time, Gladstone (1892-94) became PM for two years. Gladstone from 1868 to 1894 became PM for four times, completing 14 years in premier office in totality.

Likewise, Lord Rosebery (1894-1895) took charge of premiership for one year. Lord Salisbury (1895-1902) remained PM for seven years, Arthur J Ballour (1902-050 remained PM for three years. Henry Campbell Bannorman (1905-08) became premier for three years. At last came a so-called parliamentarian Herbert H. Asquith (1908-16) who remained in the office for eight years. He declared the First World War in 1914 and fought it for further two years. Immediate cause of the war was surprisingly trivial one, though it appeared to be the beginning of the end of monarchism in Europe and liquidation of two great empires: The Great Britain and German Empire. At a time when Ottoman Empire withdrew from Serbia of Austria-Hungry, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Russian Empire started planning to occupy a little piece of land; however, the cause of the war was assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry by the Serbian military intelligence on 28th June, 1914, which directly resulted in outburst of the First World War. At the end, the impact of the war on the British was horrible. Three million British army men were either killed or wounded, infrastructure was demolished and war-machineries devastated. Total war expenditures exceeded 8.00billion UK pound, and foreign debt registered ten time increase, forcing the David Lloyed George government to deploy remaining military men in industry.

Amazingly, when war was in the mid, the PM Herbert H. Asquith lost his office. David Lloyed George (1916-19) became the prime minister with a revitalized energy to fight the war but he was exhausted only after three years. His first tenor ended in 1919 but he was made prime minister for the second time in 1919 who remained in the office for more three year till 1922. Andrew Bonar Law (1922-23) remained PM for one year, Stanley Baldwin (1923-24) for one years and J. Ramsey MacDonald (1924) for a few month. Stanley Baldwin (1924-29) was made again PM for five year and again came Ramsey MacDonald (1929-31) as PM for two years. Again Ramsey MacDonald (1931-35) was elected for four years. Stanley Baldwin (1835-37) completed two years as PM. Neville Chamberlain (1937-40) was the PM for three years. Subsequently, the spirit of the age brought a great hero of self-destruction Sir Winston Churchill (1940-45) who made a historic speech, saying: ‘we shall fight in France, on the seas and oceans, in the air, on the beaches, on the land, in the streets and in the hills, we shall never surrender’. He totally forgot the lesson of history from the First World War only two decades ago.

 

The writer is Ex-Director General Senate of Pakistan.

Trusthem@gmail.com

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