Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Monarchy (the other side to the tale)

The  Monarchy

(the other side to the tale)

From the Middle Ages onwards, it was 'royal' dynasties that created unions of nations for the sake of collecting land, wealth and power. The UK, Spain, Russia and Austria-Hungary were nothing but the nation-collections of dynasties who used acquisitive marriages when conquest failed.

The rise of Nationalism in the 19th century was a manifestation of the rights of distinctive peoples to use their own language and culture to control their own domain and destiny. It is not by accident that the nations that won back their sovereignty usually opted for an elected head of state rather than a grasping hereditary family of nation-collectors

Let's begin our tale by looking at a counter argument to a popular pro monarchy video below:


- and here is a quick government estimate of the cost of the recent jubilee events.

  • The estimate for the jubilee's cost to the UK are between about 1bn to 3.5bn in this government assessment 2010. Assessment can be found here

According to the UK based pro-republican group 'Republic', the key monarchy cost figure is £150m, the estimated total expense for the maintenance and lifestyles of one family: 100 times the cost of the Irish presidency, 17 times the cost (per person) of members of parliament and without any return on our 'investment'.

60 years of one, unelected and unaccountable head of state is not something we should be celebrating in the 21st century. They claim we are a modern, liberal society but continue with a hereditary head of state is completely at odds with that.

Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle. And because we can't hold the Queen and her family to account at the ballot box, there's nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money.

Meanwhile, the monarchy gives vast unchecked power to the government, shutting out the people from major decisions that affect the national interest.

Expensive, unaccountable and a drag on our democratic process, the monarchy is a broken institution. A head of state that's chosen by us could really represent our hopes and aspirations - and stop politicians exceeding their powers.


LINK: Diamond Jubilee: A Bad Few Days for Journalism

The royal family still enjoy many of the trappings of feudal extravagance. They have over 700 servants and nine royal palaces and residences; which is far more than they need or deserve. 
Estimates of the Queen's personal, private wealth vary from £310 million to nearly £4 billion. Yet the royals are subsidised by the taxpayer at a time of extreme financial hardship for millions. It doesn't seem fair.  

In May, the Queen hosted seven royal dictators at Windsor Castle, including the blood-stained tyrants from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain who have violently suppressed peaceful pro-democracy protests. The invitation list was, according to the Foreign Office, drawn up by Buckingham Palace. 
These invitations to despots were completely unnecessary and unjustified. They were an insult to the many victims of detention without trial, torture and executions. The Queen appeared to put loyalty to fellow royals before human rights.  

Going back in time to 1975, the Queen's representative in Australia, the Governor-General, dismissed the democratically-elected left-wing Labor government of Gough Whitlam. It was, in effect, a coup d'etat. 
It seems hard to believe that the Queen was not informed in advance that the royal powers, as head of state of Australia, exercised through the office of the Governor-General, were not going to be used in this way.  

The Palace doesn't have a very good record as an employer. Most staff are not well paid. Royal service is, apparently, deemed to be a reward in itself. Historically, the Royal households were not an equal opportunities employer. 
Until the 1980s, it has been said that there were few black or Asian staff and relatively few women. The Grenadier Guards and Royal Household Cavalry remained all white. Not a single black face. This appeared to change only after a public furore.  

The honours system is cheapened by the persistent rewarding of undeserving royal favourites. Some honours are within the monarch's personal gift and are not based on recommendations from the Prime Minister and the Honours Secretariat. 
There have in recent years been prestigious honours for the Queen's pastry chef and gardener, among others. They have done nothing honourable or exceptional and do not merit such awards.  

One startling misjudgement by the Queen during her Diamond Jubliee celebrations was the absence of any publicly known beneficence towards the British people. No civic legacy was offered - no funding of a school, hospital, museum, library or other public institution to benefit the population. Elizabeth II does not appear to be generous to the public.  

Royalty represents the acme of the class system - a system of privilege, snobbery and deference, which is totally out of step with modern democratic, meritocratic Britain. It is a hangover from feudalism. The way people today are still expected to bow and curtsey to the monarch symbolises the insulting arrogance and elitism of royalty.  

Monarchy is also fundamentally incompatible with democracy. The highest public office in the land - head of state - should not be an inherited position. It should be open to all and based on merit, character and democratic election. The Queen would be welcome to stand for the post. If she won, which she might, I'd accept the result. She'd have a democratic mandate. Let the people decide.

Royal Babylon: The Criminal Record of the British Monarchy



No comments:

Post a Comment