Dicey misquote

Have you come across this quote or this meme?

The House can in accordance with the constitution be deprived of power [when] there is fair reason to suppose that the opinion of the House is not the opinion of the electors.

It’s a blatant and deliberately misleading misquote. It’s from Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, A. C. Dicey, and if you search the text for “deprived of power” you will find the original of the quotation in Chapter XIV:

But the reason why the House can in accordance with the constitution be deprived of power and of existence is that an occasion has arisen on which there is fair reason to suppose that the opinion of the House is not the opinion of the electors. A dissolution is in its essence an appeal from the legal to the political sovereign. A dissolution is allowable, or necessary, whenever the wishes of the legislature are, or may fairly be presumed to be, different from the wishes of the nation.

So this passage is specifically about the DISSOLUTION of Parliament. The omission of the words “and of existence” from the quote make it sound like a circumstance may arise when it is acceptable to strip Parliament of its power, ie prorogue it. But in fact this section relates to when it is acceptable to dissolve Parliament, and return to the nation for a general election.

When people are deliberately misquoting books to support their point, you know that they know they’re in the wrong!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *