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Tony Banks swears the Oath

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The late Baron Stratford was one of the most colorful characters to grace the British politics in the recent years. As plain the Rt. Hon. Tony Banks, he and his acidic wit served with distinction in the House of Commons. It was Banks who christened Tory leader William Hague as a “foetus”, adding that Conservative MPs might be rethinking their views on abortion.

His most controversial moment came when he was seen crossing his fingers when he took the oath of allegiance to the Queen. Since Banks was a fervent republican, there were much controversy, although Banks always insisted he was wishing himself luck in his new job as Minister for Sport.

The 500-year old oath has never been without controversy. At one point in 1998, even 15 dukes (including three royals) refused to swear it. At the start of each new parliament, all MPs take the oath, swearing on a bible or an equivalent sacred text: “I [name] swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.” The wording varied from parliament to parliament (it used to be so much longer). Non-believers and those like Quakers whose religion makes oaths objectionable, affirm: “”I [name] do swear that I will be faithful…” Many MPs think it should be scrapped; on the other hand a similar oath was proposed to be enacted in schools.

And there were those like Banks who brought humor to the occasion. John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, mumbled the words. Dennis Skinner, ad-libbed “and all who sail on her” after the words Queen Elizabeth. But this is nothing new. There were many MPs and Lords throughout history who pledged their allegiances to the constituents and the “common people” before swearing the oath. Tony Benn prefaced it with, “As a dedicated republican” in 1992, and atheist Charles Bradluagh refused to swear it in 1880, thus beginning first of his four ejection from the House.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

June 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm

10 Responses

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  1. As an American, I have little knowledge of the workings of the political customs, or even the structure of the government of England so this picture is a first see for me. Actually, being a Yank, I’m lucky to have minimal knowledge about the workings of my own government.

    One difference I do see from this post is that the oath for public service is to the document which is the base of our law, and not any person who may be in charge. Yes, I am aware of other differences, but this one I see outright.

    After all my years as an American, I suspect would either be a very different person, or not alive had I been born any other place.

    One thing I am constantly confounded by is the demand by other Americans to change MY country instead of leaving it for another which believes the way they do. Sorry for my rant, you may remove it if you wish.

    Eric

    June 4, 2010 at 4:29 am

  2. […] This site shows a photo of the late Tony Banks crossing his fingers while taking the oath, which caused a bit of a ruckus. In 1998, 15 dukes, three of them from the royal family, refused to take the oath. One MP added the words “and all who sail on her” after the words Queen Elizabeth. (A funny line, isn’t it?) The British monarchists and republicans may not care for each other’s views, but everyone still soldiers on without the nation collapsing. […]

  3. […] childishly (but amusing! possibly! to me at least!) imitating republican Labour MP Tony Banks and crossing my fingers. Neither of these are really ideal, but the fact is there is no way to become a citizen without […]

  4. […] oath of allegiance to the new Monarch. All MPs must swear allegiance to the present Monarch — though some republican MPs will cross their fingers when making the 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also present addresses of condolences and loyalty to the new […]

  5. […] new oath of allegiance to the new Monarch. All MPs must swear allegiance to the present Monarch — though some republican MPs will cross their fingers when making the 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also present addresses of condolences and loyalty to the new […]

  6. […] of devotion to a new Monarch. All MPs contingency swear devotion to a benefaction Monarch — though some republican MPs will cranky their fingers when creation a 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also benefaction addresses of condolences and faithfulness to a new […]

  7. […] new oath of allegiance to the new Monarch. All MPs must swear allegiance to the present Monarch — though some republican MPs will cross their fingers when making the 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also present addresses of condolences and loyalty to the new […]

  8. […] new oath of allegiance to the new Monarch. All MPs must swear allegiance to the present Monarch — though some republican MPs will cross their fingers when making the 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also present addresses of condolences and loyalty to the new […]

  9. […] of devotion to a new Monarch. All MPs contingency swear devotion to a benefaction Monarch — nonetheless some republican MPs will cranky their fingers when making a 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also benefaction addresses of condolences and faithfulness to a new […]

  10. […] of devotion to a new Monarch. All MPs contingency swear devotion to a benefaction Monarch — though some republican MPs will cranky their fingers when creation a 500-year-old oath. Members of both houses will also benefaction addresses of condolences and faithfulness to a new […]


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