Labour MPs demand end of loyalty oath to Queen

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Labour MPs are demanding a change in the traditional oath to the Queen after being forced to go through the "meaningless" procedure before they take their seats after their second landslide victory.

Tony Blair is anxious to focus the Queen's Speech on Wednesday on delivery of better public services, but some of his backbenchers believe it is time to remove more power of the Monarchy over the democratically elected MPs.

Some outspoken backbenchers made their protest last week when they were required to swear the oath of allegiance to the Queen before taking their seats.

Alan Simpson, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, said: "The oath to the Queen has outlived its usefulness and needs to be changed. I'm sure a lot of MPs regard it as a posthumous reference to Freddie Mercury."

Labour MPs Paul Flynn, for Newport West, and Mike Wood, for Batley and Spen, told surprised Commons clerks they were taking the oath as republicans by conviction and under protest.

Before taking the oath, Andrew Mackinlay, the MP for Thurrock, once voted the backbencher of the year, said that his allegiance was to his constituents and the "common people". Mr Mackinlay said the oath should be a mandate from his voters.

Protests to the Loyal Oath have been made in the past by several MPs and ministers. Tony Banks, the former Sports minister, after the last election crossed his fingers as he read out the brief pledge of allegiance to the Queen, and John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, has mumbled the words.

However, Labour MPs are growing more restive with the practice and want to include it in the overall modernisation of the Commons in Labour's second term.

Some MPs would like to see the oath changed from a commitment to serve the Queen to a more explicit pledge to serve their constituents.