Monarchy or Republic? The Proposition is Premature

Posted on | Friday, 1 June 2012 | No Comments

On Tuesday 29 May 2012, I attended a debate at the Bishopsgate Institute entitled, 'Monarchy or Republic?’ The Panel of speakers were:

Supporting Monarchy
Jacques Arnold (former MP and member of Council of the Constitutional Monarchy Assoc)
Peter Conradi (journalist and author)

Supporting a Republic
Graham Smith (Republic’s CEO)
Joan Smith (columnist and author)

Before the debate commenced the audience were asked to vote on the proposition, 'should we end the Monarchy'.  4 voted 'no', 3 'undecided', and the remainder (around 60) voted 'yes'. The effect of this overwhelming support for the Republican argument resulted in raucous shouts of outrage whenever the Monarchists spoke and rounds of applause extolling almost every Republican viewpoint, regardless of the banality of many comments.

However, it soon became apparent to me that the whole argument of Monarchy v Republic is a side issue to whether we want to be administered within a true democratic system or a sham one.  I’ve blogged many times on concerns over our democracy here, here and here.  

I was one of the 3 abstainers by the way, but by the end of the evening, was left deeply concerned that so many in the audience blindly supported pro Republican arguments that were clearly flawed, or at the very least, were open to more critical debate. Here is an extract from the first speaker, Joan Smith which basically summed up the level of debate:

She commenced by proclaiming that she loves voting and elections, emphasising the value of our democratic process.  Her naïve faith in what I consider to be an outdated and dysfunctional process undermined her credibility from the outset.

Next she ploughed into the quagmire of the Sovereign’s wealth, tax concessions and restricted Freedom of Information (FoI) access. Well, excuse me for mentioning this but our Government gives away unmandated sums far larger than the Sovereign's collective wealth to failed banks and in Foreign Aid. I’ve only to mention Dave Hartnett to send shivers down the spine of HMRC when they reflect on their reluctance to claw back tax owed by major corporations. As for FoI (aka transparency), hello Mr Lansley can we have that NHS Risk Report please?

Already disillusioned by the banality of the lead speaker’s arguments, Ms Smith then announced, ‘the Queen was never interviewed for the job!’  Words almost fail me on this revelation by the obviously popular columnist and author, who incidentally complained that the Queen ignored her after the prickly journalist greeted HRH (at the Palace no less) with a simple ‘hello’. One suspects she’s carried the grudge ever since. Does Ms Smith believe for example that Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets ‘elected’ Mayor (elected incidentally by just 13% of the electorate) was interviewed before he took office controlling a £1billion+ annual budget and wielding almost despotic power? Or that any politician for that matter is interviewed other than by their own party electoral committees that are by definition not representative of the total electorate?

The remaining speakers swayed me to believe there is no substantive case for a Republic and I was getting an uncomfortable feeling that an angry petite bourgeoisie jealousy was bubbling to the surface through their flimsy arguments. Did this Republican cause consider that society ought to be respecting them rather than the untouchable Monarch – seen as a barrier to their own oligarchy’s upward mobility? One dreads to consider the prospect of a Joan Smith Lord Protector.

The final pitiful comment by Ms Smith was to decry the national campaign for the country to be bedecked in ‘red, white and blue’ to mark the Jubilee celebrations. But then perhaps that’s in line with a Cromwellian Puritanism that would denounce any form of revelry, or festivity.  Personally I’ll be flying the flag and hanging bunting - out of national pride; the celebrations are an opportunity for the nation to unite – young and old, poor and rich, black and white. One flag, one people. For the time being at least, God Save the Queen.


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