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Highlighting news stories important to the Civic Republican
particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.
First of all let us salute a discussion on the BBC that actually questions the continuation of the monarchy and dares to mentions the ‘r’ word.
Yes, Andrew Neil, if not the others present, acknowledged that the word ‘republican’ is in the English dictionary – a rare event on the public broadcasting service. It would appear that only the old big hitters, like Neil or David Dimbleby, can get away with that. It is difficult to imagine any of the newer generation of commentators and so-called “comedians” being able to.
The discussion which Neil kicked off by remarking how it had been "a busy week for royal toadies" was hardly a republican discussion in the true sense in that there was no mention of how a constitutional republic actually works and it conformed to the standard BBC agenda of seeing everything purely in terms of the monarchy.
The only way in which a post-monarchical state was characterised was by the usual image of a "President Blair" or, as Michael Portillo said, a "President Boris Johnson" put in place of Queen Elizabeth or her successors. This was the depth of their republican vision.
The whole discussion centred on the personality of the reigning monarch, as if the future of the nation depended on this factor.
"Royal historian", Kate Williams said: “Our monarchy seems to be in rude health but underneath it all it is more fragile than that. The Queen is 88 and not getting any younger. A lot depends on her and it could all swing with a change of monarch”.
The consensus in the studio was that the Queen is an essential bastion of the British monarchy whereas doubts surround the younger royals.
The familiar argument was that the queen maintains her position through ‘mystique’ - with Diane Abbot going on record as saying that “if we knew as much about the queen in her private life as we know about Prince Charles it would be different”. She did not expound on this.
Well, she may be privy to information not in the public domain, but what is firmly in the public domain is that Queen Elizabeth is head of state of the Cayman Islands which, under her watch, as an annex of the City of London, is a haven for tax avoidance, multinational accounts used to distort the market against local enterprises, money looted from Russia, the Arab states in North Africa and Third world countries, as well as all manner of shell companies shielding funds from drug running, arms dealing, trafficking, piracy and terrorism.
In spite of all this, not difficult to come by, information, Portillo tells us that the “queen has never put a foot wrong”. What he means is that the queen is protected from criticism by a compliant media fearful of the royal influence.
Press freedom in Britain is an empty fiction. It does not and cannot exist in our monarchist state
Portillo tells us “Luckily [my emphasis – it is all down to luck apparently!], the royal family has not been touched by corruption in modern times”.
He can say this, safe in the knowledge that the short memories of those present will not recall the scandal of Prince Andrew’s profiting from his position as Britain’s International Trade Representative a few years ago or Prince Edward selling his position as a royal for his failed PR company.
Later Kate Williams tells us that Princes William and Harry are “much loved” and that Charles “looks like a good father to them”.
Williams was introduced as a “royal historian” and so no doubt she has to be careful what she says or she will find her sources cut off and her livelihood in jeopardy, but even for one of Andrew Neil’s “toadies", surely “much-loved” is going way over the top. If it were true, which it is not, then the British people are apt to choose strangely the people upon whom they lavish their affections.
Any “good father” would be ashamed of sons who conduct themselves like these two. A “good father” would not have allowed his sons to grow up to be like these two.
Harry must take the biscuit for revolting conduct. It is on public record (no thanks to our “free press”) that he cavorted with prostitutes in a Las Vegas hotel, was then dispatched to Afghanistan as a PR exercise to improve his image, where British and American soldiers died defending him against a Taliban attack provoked by his arrival, and then on his return from “combat” he boasted that he had killed some of the enemy.
Now, no professional soldier ever has, or ever would, speak of killing combatants publicly in this manner. For them killing another human being is a matter of regret and they only bravely carry it out due to dire necessity and with a great sense of remorse.
In the interviews, this weekend, of those who fought on the Normandy beaches on D-Day not one spoke of their duty in eliminating the enemy as a point of pride.
None of the exceptional men and woman who fought in Afghanistan have ever attempted to publicly aggrandise themselves on account of killing others in combat. None ever would.
Harry with this statement plumbed the depths of his sordid ego. The guy is a jerk of the first order.
What did the “free press” have to say about this” What did his “good father” have to say about it? What did his grandmother, who has “never put a foot wrong” have to say about it. We know the answer
The Cambridge’s do not approach Harry's squalor in their public conduct but the incident in the South of France where the Duchess cavorted naked in public view and then had the temerity to sue the paper that published the resulting photos of this (not of course the “free press” in Britain) speaks volumes about how they plan to conduct themselves as more power comes their way.
The cowed British press will do its best to ensure they “do not put a foot wrong”.
Incidentally, let me give you a further example. I had read like most of us that William was studying at Cambridge University for a degree. On my recent visit to the Cambridge Union for the debate I participated in, I enquired of the inspiring and delightful students, who received my wife and me, as which college he was at.
This question provoked some amusement. Apparently he is not attending the university in the normal sense but he turns up from time to time for a little private tutoring and this will end with him receiving a degree. The whole thing is a sham.
This is not a trivial matter. It is part of the way in which, under the monarchy, honesty goes by the board. Our “free press” of course would never report this subterfuge.
Interestingly in the This Week discussion, Andrew Neil revealed himself as a ‘lateral republican’. I have no idea what that is but it means republican – I assume.
Diane Abbot MP on a previous programme happened to reveal herself as a ‘post queen republican’. She has now backtracked on this and said here that keeping the monarch was a “matter for the British people”.
Neil was not satisfied with this, saying she was British so it was also a matter for her. Abbot would not budge. She has obviously succumbed to royal influence and had matters of future personal advancement (especially now she has clearly hit a ceiling in her position in the Labour Party) fully explained to her.
Abbot's cowardice and willingness to walk away from her own opinions was a disgrace.
In spite of all this guardedness and trivialisation, a very significant point came out of the discussion. It arose during the discussion of republicanism in Australia following the recent tour of the (decently dressed) Cambridge’s.
This visit was portrayed as a great success with Neil saying that the media were all over them – as if the media are the sole barometer of public feeling. My own contacts there said that they were treated as Hello type personalities and this went down well with well staged events including koala bears and surfing boards.
Andrew Neil was in Australia recently and reported that “Australians are not rabidly monarchists but rabidly anti-politician”.
In Australia, as in Britain, and as in most of the western world, respect for politicians has sunk to an all time low. There are, no doubt, many reasons for this and it is a long term trend, but surely a major factor must be the sense that politicians have been corrupted by their closeness to the banking community and have shielded bankers from culpability for the distressed state of our home economies.
But whatever the reason, this is a matter that Democratic Republicans must firmly address.
We have to show that not all politicians are of the same mould.
We have so show that the corruption of the political classes is not inevitable.
We have to show that the DRP comes out of an entirely different political culture with deep principles that cannot be perverted by favour and graft.
We cannot expect people to simply take our word for it.
We have to demonstrate that this is the case.
Otherwise, the only beneficiary of anti-politician feeling may be the monarchy. It makes no sense, of course, because the monarchy is all part of the current system whereby money dominates. Indeed it symbolises and enshrines inequality and privilege in our society by its very nature. But in the eye of many it is apart from politicians and has a more benign, or at least neutral, agenda.
We absolutely have to expose this view for the rubbish that it is. The monarchy and current politicians are all in the same boat, pulling the same way.
There are those that are sympathetic to republicanism who think that a big change will come when Charles accedes to the throne. I am not so sure.
For the extent to which the monarchy is popular may depend much more on how unpopular politicians are. This was also a message that came home to me loud and clear in the Cambridge Union debate in February of this year. Andrew Neil's programme confirmed it.
We must show that the political system can be overhauled and that we can restore respect in politicians.
Not all politicians – the current lot are beyond redemption – but a new wave of Democratic Republicans with new principles and new integrity.
Yes, this is the painful bit where you start to feel guilty.
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