Tuesday, 9 July 2013

For unto us a child is about to be born..

This is the one and only reference
I'll make to this event
With Wimbledon over, the country lurches on, Union Jacks waving, to the next big event - and we don't have long to wait. Only until this coming Saturday apparently when William and Kate will be having their baby. I wish them well as I would any couple expecting their first child but the ritual outpouring of uncritical adulation for the institution of royalty that the occasion will bring will really irritate me. I won't be alone. 

According to opinion polls, for decades there has been  a fairly constant 20 per cent of the population who would like to replace the monarchy with an elected Head of State yet there is no mainstream politician who speaks for these millions of Britons (and me!). Some prominent politicians must be closet republicans but stay quiet as they are fearful that they would pay too high a price if they ever challenged the prevailing consensus on royalty. A consensus so powerful that it suffocates debate and leads to an attitude of unthinking deference and self-censorship in the media. In recent weeks, for example, the Queen has received a 5 per cent pay rise and it was announced that £1million of public money had been spent to renovate William and Kate’s accommodation. Yet, even at this time of austerity and acute hardship, no mainstream politician had the nerve to breath a single word of criticism.

Let's rewind the clock back to 1894 when a politician spoke up for those millions of us who are republicans. On 23rd June 1894, a future king (Edward VIII of Wallis Simpson fame)) was born and Keir Hardie, who had been elected as the first Independent Labour Member of Parliament, spoke in the Commons:
“From his childhood onwards this boy will be surrounded by sycophants and flatterers by the score and will be taught to believe himself as of a superior creation. A line will be drawn between him and the people whom he is to be called upon some day to reign over and the end of it all will be that the country will be called upon to pay the bill".
Hardie spoke just over a century after the French Revolution with its rallying cry of 'Liberté, égalité, fraternité, The world had been thrilled, or terrified, by the novel idea that all men are born equal. No institution stands so completely in opposition to that noble idea as does monarchy. The central principle of monarchy is that some people are superior to others as a result merely of their birth or marriage. Hardie’s words are as true in 2013 as they were in 1894 but I'd be amazed if any of our present politicians has the courage to echo them.

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