Even longer to reign over us

A poll commissioned by ITN has shown a clear majority in favour of Queen Elizabeth II remaining on the throne until her death, and just 13% support for a British republic. Support for the Prince of Wales becoming Monarch appears to be lower than that for his eldest son.

  • Monarchy is an anachronism, “worth by birth” a disgusting concept. I pity British “subjects”, and their self perpetuating slavery. I am free and bow before neither man nor god.

  • slug

    Accident of birth is a very fair way of selecting the head of state: everyone has an exactly equal (very small) chance of being born to be king.

  • micktvd

    And I’m sure similar percentages of populations in republics would reject a return to monarchy. It’s change and chaos that people fear above all.

    Personally, I prefer Voltaire, the Rights of man, and the Declaration of Independence to the divine right of kings.

  • TL

    They should really call it quits after this queen. Make a clean break and join the modern world.

  • Martin

    We never had a revolution to create the myth that nearly all republics have for their founding legitimacy. We never had a successful 1776, 1789 or 1916 to honour. I’m sure few on this board would want us to revere Cromwell as a kind of Washington.

    Our national myth is, instead, the monarchy. It confirs legitimacy on the actions of the (democratically elected) government in the same way the Declaration of Independence did in the US or the Proclamation in your part of the world. Personally I would rather rever a person as the symbol of the state than a flag or a piece of paper – but that’s just personal. I think the Queen has done a good job but, admittedly, we have been lucky in that.

    Anyway, I never see similar criticisms about the Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Swedish or Norwegain Monarchies from our near neighbours. It’s history rather than any real problem with the principle of constitutional monarchy that raises heckles the other side of the Irish sea.

    In fact the western democracies I admire most – the Netherlands, the Scandanavians and Canada – are all constitutional monarchies. Democracy has been far more successful in Spain since Juan Carlos II than it was under the Second Spanish Republic in the 30s whose legitimacy was hugely compromised. A consitutional monarchy can, therefore, be a useful tool to keep the forces of reaction on board for social progressives to make the required changes without provoking them.

  • TAFKABO

    I guess I’m one of the 13%.
    Though it has to be said that the single greatest argument in favour of the British monarchy is that it works.
    I’d like to a British republic on principle, but I don’t lie awake at night worrying about it.but I do see trouble ahead, because Charlie is such a self important tosser that he doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.If he ever becomes king,and starts telling people how things ought to be run, expect to see the numbers in favour of a republic to rise pretty sharpish.

    Our day will come……

  • Jo

    I am one of the 13% too.

    I guess we are saddled with Liz for another 20 years then?

    Actually, I admire Cromwell as well.

    Not for Drogheda, needless to say, but the guy had something I like..oh yes, he beheaded a King.

    Something a little less dramatic to rid us of the adulterers and fornicators and install an ELECTED HEAD OF STATE – following, preferably, the Irish example of keeping men from that office for a century 🙂

  • TL

    Well said Martin, however, with a monarch you roll the dice. You really don’t know what you’ll get. This beauty, however, stays the same…just as inspiring as the day they wrote her:
    http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm
    It also speaks to the power of the mind rather than the accident of birth.

  • slug

    “We never had a revolution to create the myth that nearly all republics have for their founding legitimacy. We never had a successful 1776, 1789 or 1916 to honour. I’m sure few on this board would want us to revere Cromwell as a kind of Washington. ”

    We have 1688 which is all about the power of parliament over absolute monarchy.

  • fair_deal

    1688-90 secured what Cromwell wanted

  • Martin

    “We have 1688 which is all about the power of parliament over absolute monarchy.”

    1688 was a particularly English revolution/invasion by RSVP (“Hey William, mate, this James is a t***er like his Dad – fancy coming over for an invasion next Tuesday? We’ll leave the key under the matt while we put together this here Bill of Rights.”) – hardly the sort of thing that inspires a national consciousness like Lexington, the GPO or the Bastille.

    Anyway 1688 kind of proves my point, the monarchy can’t live without Parliament, and Parliament can’t live without the monarchy.

  • slug

    “1688 was a particularly English revolution/invasion by RSVP (“Hey William, mate, this James is a t***er like his Dad – fancy coming over for an invasion next Tuesday? We’ll leave the key under the matt while we put together this here Bill of Rights.”) – hardly the sort of thing that inspires a national consciousness like Lexington, the GPO or the Bastille.”

    I think that peaceful power transition from top down to bottom up was why it is sometimes called the Glorious Revolution.

  • See if you guys had a republic there’d be nothing to stop you electing one of the two grandsons of the Queen as President… and Martin FYI, I have a problem with any monarchy, anywhere, I mentioned the british subjects because that’s what this thread was about, if it was a survey of Dutch people saying the same thing, then I’d be saying the same thing about them.

    If you want to bow down and kneel in front of someone because of the family they come from then I think that’s pretty sad, you must have terrible self esteem. Everyone is a worthwhile person, and no-one is born better, and I genuinely feel sorry for people who believe otherwise.

    If you want to invest the persona of the Nation in a physical person, why not do it in a President of your choosing. Instead you admit you are some form of underperson, not quite good enough because of your parents, and their family name. Stand up and be counted, be a man, cherish yourself and have some bloody respect for your abilities.

  • TL

    A nation’s persona shouldn’t rest in a person though, ideals are the way to go. I don’t want to base the notion of my country on that complete f@#kB@g moron that half of my jack@@s country voted for on their way home from a lobotomy.

  • Jo

    “Stand up and be counted, be a man”

    …ahem, post 7, your Holiness. 🙂

  • TAFKABO

    I don’t want to base the notion of my country on that complete f@#kB@g moron that half of my jack@@s country voted for on their way home from a lobotomy.

    Yeah, especially not when you could have Charles instead….

  • TL

    Yep Taf so the innocent among us are in the same boat I suppose.

  • Martin

    People like a certain mythos in their history. Over the last few days and weeks there have been endless debates on the boards here about the meaning of 1916 as people have alternatively tried to celebrate/debunk that mythos. Britain and Ireland both have bicameral legislatures with an largely appointed upper house, an elected lower house and a ceremonial head of state, are both in the EU and both have Common Law legal systems. So what’s all the fuss? On a purely practical level, the nuts and bolts of administrative polity, it is arguable that 1916 doesn’t matter. But obviously, simply from reading these posts, it does.

    As far as I can tell the fuss is about what the nation as a whole means. PopeBuckfast tries to tell me that I feel inferior to the Queen as a human being. I don’t. Read the Magna Carta. His is a misrepresentation and based on the superficial understanding of the outsider – much as my posts on the Rising probably betrayed the same ignorance.

    The monarch, as an indivdual human, is beneath the law as are we all, it is the monarch as the symbol of the traditions of our forefathers that we generally respect. It is a piece of potent symbolism nothing more, much in the same way as the Rebels of 1916 and the Tricolour (which are, after all, either dead or a symbol) are for Irish Republicans. Elizabeth Windsor as a person I can take or leave and have no real interest in meeting but Elizabeth II is invested with the respect of my people and I would ask that outsiders give the same respect – however silly it may seem to you and not suggest that we have “no self refspect” which surely is a wind up.

  • Martin

    Oh, and I’m not a British Subject, I’m a British Citizen. It says so on my passport. And I can’t type. So there 😉

  • Martin,

    Fair enough, that’s your call, I stand over what I said.

    Regards Post 15, I was talking directly to Martin, so the use of the word “man” was entirely appropriate your joliness…

  • Michael Shilliday

    The difference between a british Citizen and Subject is an interesting one. As far as I know a Subject is a citizen of a Crown dependancy like the Faulklands and has nno right of residence in the UK. But I’m not sure.

  • shamo

    New poll
    Please post votes below

    Should Charles Battenberg-Mountbatten-Windsor:
    a.) be King of Britain;
    b.) be re-named Cathal;
    c.) be dethroned and a British socialist republic declared;
    d.) get a life, and tell the kids to stop dressing up as Nazis.

  • Whenever I hear the idea being floated of a Republic I just look across to the USA and see what a hash they’ve made of it. Long live the Queen!

  • Jo

    Not too many Unionists arent monarchists I believe?

    I am not sure that Sam McAughtry is too fond of the Queen meself? Anyone else come to mind?

  • kensei

    “Anyway, I never see similar criticisms about the Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Swedish or Norwegain Monarchies from our near neighbours. ”

    Please, allow me. I find the idea of monarchy abhorrent wherever it comes up, and that goes for all those places. The difference is, they aren’t getting any of my taxes.

    And everyone misses the point of consituential democracy, guarenteed rights that aren’t easily dumped on. Where in England, a simple act of parliament will do, the ROI or the US might need a referendum. It’s seriously one of the best inventions ever.

  • Martin

    The difference between “Subject” and “Citizen” is really complex. Before 1981 everyone was the same but then Thatcher got paranoid about people from Hong Kong and other legacy nationalities and restricted right of abode to “British Citizen”. A few people lost their British Citizenship as a result (including Spike Milligan who became Irish) and my mother, when her passport stated she was no linger a “Subject” but a “Citizen” actually got rather upset.

    Objectively national myths are often silly to a greater or lesser extent. It’s just a British Republic which would come about, hopefully, through dry legislative procedures would have none of the drama in their founding that the great republics like the American, French and Irish have. For a nation with such an interesting and eventful (not to mention violent) history as ours we would feel a bit left out just to meekly abolish the monarch through an act of parliament. We would need a damn good scrap like you guys had. I would rather just leave things as they are…

  • lib2016

    Martin,

    In a republic all power comes from the people and no person or group is above the law. In a ‘constitutional monarchy’ the government exercises power acting in place of the monarchy and so is above the law, hence such well-known exercises as declaring certain matters to be ‘in the national interest’ and the difficulty of suing the British Government under domestic legislation.

    The present monarch decided unilaterally that William Douglas Home would become Prime Minister of Britain and has other undefined powers under the unwritten British constitution.

    Both the present and the previous President of Ireland have acted to protect the Irish Constitution by referring government decisions to a body of wise men – not an insignificant action in today’s world of secret ‘anti-terrorist agreements’ where governments are constantly tempted to attack the civil liberties of their citizens.

    No doubt there are legal experts who can make my points much more clearly but since they don’t seem to be posting at present…..

  • “No doubt there are legal experts who can make my points much more clearly but since they don’t seem to be posting at present….. ”

    Somewhere in the wilderness, the lone Gaskin hears a cry for help…

  • Martin

    Lib2016, your identify real problems in the British constitution, but you are identifying the wrong causes. The problem in Britain is not the lack of a republic but the lack of a written constitution. The Swedish Consitution barely mentions the King and in Japan the Emperor is the “Symbol of the state”. Tony Benn had the idea of keeping the monarchy as a symbol but removing it from the machinery of Government. There was much in the bill he proposed which was unworkable but the idea he had of removing from the monarch the power of deciing on the Goverment in the event of a hung parliament was a very good one.

    I also agree that the principle of supremacy of Parliament, which precludes the courts from reviewing Parliament, is problematic. Canada, which shares a monarch with us, has a constitution and a charter of rights and freedoms which address many of the valid points you make and would stop many of the abuses that our lack of such a document brings about. Yet we have the same head of state. My view is that if the monarchy and parliament were brought under a written consitution in the Canadian or Scandanavian model then we would have the best of both worlds.

    The only 13% of people in the UK who support a reupblic show that if you are going to get social change in the UK you are going to have to work round and with the monarchy rather than against it, as in Scandanavia, rather than against it. It the Spanish Socialists had not established the republic in 1932 they could have embarked upon ambitious reforms with impunity. Franco would never have dared move against a government which had the legitimacy of being appointed by the King.

  • “a government which had the legitimacy of being appointed by the King.”

    What an oxymoron! Government should be of the people, by the people and for the people! Appointed by the King indeed!

  • Martin

    PopeBuckfast, what we have here is a clash of idealism against pragmatism.

    The Spanish Socialists came in in 1932 and introduced a much needed programme of land reform, redistributing to the workers the corrupt estates of the landlord class. They also abolished the monarchy. In my view the latter was a huge mistake.

    Franco and much of the right decided that the government had no legitimacy and, supported by a landowning class royally p**sed off about land reform, staged a coup which resulted in a bloody civil war and 4 decades of dictatorship.

    Compare and contrast with the attempted coup by the Spanish Military in 1982, where the military, similarly unhappy, staged a coup against the socialists. King Juan Carlos II went on TV, in dress uniform, stated the plotters had no support from him and as commander in chief commanded the military to return to barracks, and the whole thing collapsed.

    My suggestion to you is if the monarchy had been retained in 1932, the military would not have been as alienated from the state as they were, and land reform would have continued. As it was doing too much resulted in a bloody counter-revolution.

    “By the people for the people” is great but it’s a slogan. Sometimes slogans don’t deliver results. They don’t feed people. I would rather live in my constitutional monarchy with an NHS than in the great republic over the ocean with extortionately expensive healthcare. Idealism is, sometimes, very very expensive.

  • TL

    Yes our healthcare is expensive, but if I need an MRI I’ll get it in 5 minutes, not 5 months.

  • lib2016

    Martin,

    Democracy is the way forward, not some halfway house like a ‘constitutional monarchy’ which seeks to retain power in any unelected group or person. As I understand it the applicable phrase is ‘bad cases make bad law’ and an army coup is a bad case, whether it’s by Cromwell or Franco. 😉

  • Martin

    TL, off topic, I had a rugby injury this winter and got my MRI within 2 days on the NHS. I have private health cover as well and could have had it even quicker had I wanted to use the policy. Don’t believe the hype from the vested interests in the private sector.

    The essential difference as I see it is that like in the American rich people, rich British people can get instant treatment privately should they wish, however British poor people have to wait, unlike American poor people who don’t get any treatment at all.

    Lib2016 – I don’t think you understand my point the point I was making was to keep the unelected person merely as a symbol, like a flag, and give ALL power to elected representatives. This, as I say, has happened very successfully in Sweden and Canada. Both are democracies – albeit imperfect like all democracies, both are very successful social and political models and both are constitutional monarchies.

    With due respect to you all over the Irish Sea I think that the Kingdom of Denmark was a far more forward looking and progressive country for most of the last 100 years than the Republic of Ireland was – although do I appreciate things have changed massively over the last 20 years and I certainly wouldn’t make that statement about today’s Ireland.

    Don’t confuse republics and democracies. There are plenty of countries in the world that style themselves republics which are far less democratic than any Western European monarchy. Would you prefer the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” aka North Korea or the Kingdom of Denmark? Give me Lego any day.

  • TL

    Martin,
    Glad to hear the waiting lists aren’t what is published:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4713527.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4485966.stm
    Likewise, don’t believe that poor Americans go entirely without health care, it isn’t the case. Medicaid/Medicare as well as many state programs provide health care for those who apply and qualify. It is low paid working class Americans that go without health insurance because they make too much for the state/fed programs, their employers don’t offer it and they can’t afford to buck up the unreasonable amount of money it buy it themselves.
    But we are working on it!!

  • PHIL

    I find the whole concept of monarchy quite nausiating, titles such as “your highness” or “your majesty” are just another way of saying “You are better than me”. Whilst I am a patriotic Englishman, I am definately one of the 13% that would vote for a republic.

  • Martin

    TL, it is well known that since local management came in waiting times vary hugely across the NHS, as the articles you link to point out. It’s rather inelegantly called the “Postcode Lottery” – the level of care on the NHS depends on where you live. It’s the same in the US in a way I guess. I understand Massachusetts, for example, has a really good scheme called MassHealth whereas residents of other States are not so lucky? You would know more about that than me.

    Like most wet liberals I am torn between overburdening the NHS when I can afford private treatment and the guilt of being able to afford it…I do appreciate that the system ain’t perfect by any means but in doing a balance sheet between “pride” and “shame” in the UK the NHS goes firmly in the “pride” column, whatever its shortcomings.

    Better stop as I am going completely OTT.

  • lib2016

    Martin,

    I accept only that certain people misuse language, and that democracy is an ideal for which we should strive.

    The idea of an unelected person as a representative of anything seems to me to strike at the heart of democracy. It brings to mind John Hume’s point about uniting people not territory. Either a person is an ordinary citizen or he is privileged. Heriditary privilege is automatically suspect to me.

  • TL

    You do get a kind of hereditary privilege in a democracy though don’t you? The Kennedys come to mind, and now the Bush family.

  • Martin

    TL has a point. Political dynasties emerge wherever you are. You could argue that a monarchical system is just more honest about it.

    These things are horses for courses – it took the French ages to decide they wanted a republic and I can’t see the English ever being too keen on the idea, although maybe the Scots and the Welsh would be more receptive. The Australians took a pragmatic view, stating in ’99 that they would rather have a flawed monarchy which basically works than the flawed republic they were offered, even though polls show most Australians are republican by inclination. Pretty sensible to me.

  • lib2016

    TL,

    Lots of that in the South as well but at least they do have to stand for election. As somebody somewhere said it’s too early to tell whether this democracy thing will catch on. Give it another few thousand years.

  • Roger

    “In a republic all power comes from the people and no person or group is above the law. “…except the people, presumably.

    In the middle ages the people of Mantua in Italy decided to stop having a republic and to have a dukedom instead. They appointed their most eminent citizen, the great poet Virgil, to the job. the fact that he had been dead for several hundred years made no difference to them. In the same spirit, i suggest that Elizabeth II should be queen in perpetuity, regardless of her state of health. If we are going to have a republic then a short list of eminent corpses should be drawn up- obvious candidates are Shakespeare, Darwin, Newton, Kelvin… and regular elections be held for the job. There is no point in having a sensible living person who has got better things to do with their time acting as a human rubber stamp.

  • Ken A. Biss

    “Anyway, I never see similar criticisms about the Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Swedish or Norwegain Monarchies from our near neighbours.”

    Those monarchies are so different from the British one, but even so they are not universally popular either. I happened to be in Stockholm when the old king died around 1970. We were in a nightclub when the music stopped and the manager went to the microphone to tell us he had passed away.

    Silence. Then a shout: “Kungen är död, leve republiken!.” (The King is dead, long live the republic.)

  • Joe

    Look folks,
    These monarchs, constitutional or otherwise, are simply the descendents of some of the most bloodthirsty rogues who ever walked the earth.
    Begone with them.

  • The Devil

    You are all Wankers……

    you need a queen a head of state a primeminister
    you need someone to tell you what to do, where to be, what to say, what to think.

    and why?????? because you are all mindless morons with no passion for anything other than the mudane

  • Twinkle

    It makes me laugh, when those in favour of a Republic talk of democratically electing a Head Of State!

    You will be presented with a number of Pre-Selected candidates – usually ex-politicians – who will usually disgrace themselves before the end of their tenure (ok Ireland excluded, but HOS’s are normally men)

    You will repeat the whole exercise every 4 years at huge expense to the taxpayer. And keep him/her at great expense for that period of time.

    Is there that much difference????????

    Twinkle

  • missfitz

    Martin
    I dont know what postcode you live in, but my experience of the NHS is not anything like yours. I waited 3 years to see a consultant, who saw me for less than 3 minutes. The extra time was taken up by me stunned by his diagnosis and speed, in direct contrast to the wait.

    I would also defend healthcare in america, as succintly summarised by you earlier. Most states have a level of indigent care, which is almost identical to NHS standards, except it is means tested. I worked in several indigent schemes and hospitals all over the states, and consider them generally fine institutions when compared to ours here

  • Michael Shilliday

    Martin,

    1) I’m nearly sure Spike Milligan was declared stateless just after the war, not in the 1980’s

    2) If you want to remove the Monarch from choosing the Government, then who does decide in a hung Parliament? The Monarch is the third element and Elizabeth, Charles (George?) or William choosing in that event does not scare me in the slightest

    3)Canada does not have a constitution and the Charter is just another Act of Parliament. Some guy tried to have the Act of Settlement struck down in the Courts as it was a breach of the Charter – didn’t work as the Charter is not any more Constitutional than the Act of Settlement.

  • TAFKABO

    Always amusing to see people look across the Atlantic for an example of a republic, when Britains nearest neighbour has a pretty decent system by anybodys standards.

    Likewise when people argue against a republic on the grounds that some idiot from Pop Idol might get elected, because whilst the Irish and lots of other nations manage to elect decent Presidents (Nazi Gaffes notwithstanding) the British people aren’t fit to handle the task.

    Slightly off topic, but I once remember watching a Party political boradcast for the Liberals,and John Cleese was extoling the virtue of Proportional representation.Dismissing the notion that it was too complicated he used the Irish as an example and argued that if they could handle it then surely the British could.

    Ho hum.

  • Brian Boru

    “Compare and contrast with the attempted coup by the Spanish Military in 1982, where the military, similarly unhappy, staged a coup against the socialists. King Juan Carlos II went on TV, in dress uniform, stated the plotters had no support from him and as commander in chief commanded the military to return to barracks, and the whole thing collapsed.”

    Juan Carlos II? Who is he. Have to wait till Juan Carlos I dies first 😉

    The fate of the second Mexican emperor after independence would seem to negate the theory that a military is in essence more likely to respect the constitutional system of government if the head of state is a monarch.

  • Katinka

    The British monarchy evolved over many centuries, and it is not to be surprised that there are anomalies in the (unwritten) constitution. However, there is a constitution, it is contained in acts of parliament, conventions and custom which has evolved over time. It is far from perfect, but it suits the Brits. Indeed a person like a monarch in my opinion is far better than some superannuated politician.

    The Irish constitution is very like the British, the president is the head of state, the prime minister runs the country. The American system is different. The ‘great experiment’ produced a president who is head of state and prime minister. It is a system which has problems too – very few US presidents could be described as ‘great’. Certainly both Ireland and UK have produced many more prime ministers who could be so described. And none required millions of pounds/dollars to get nominated and elected.

    And as for Australia. The republic referendum was soundly defeated. The Australians have a system which suits them. Don’t knock the monarchial system, it has as much relevance as a republic.

  • Brian Boru

    “1688-90 secured what Cromwell wanted”

    That’s right Fair_Deal. Complete with the Penal Laws that robbed Catholics of all their rights to buy and inherit land, get an education, enter business, and practice their religion. No doubt he would have been most proud. A true tribute to the tyrant himself. The only thing missing were the massacres. A king who had removed the restrictions against not only Catholics but also Presbyterians was thanked for that by Presbyterians in Ireland by them fighting against him. History makes strange bedfellows.

  • kensei

    “However, there is a constitution, it is contained in acts of parliament, conventions and custom which has evolved over time.”

    Which, and pay attention as THIS IS THE KEY POINT, can be amended at any time by a simple act of parliament.

    Proper constitutional democracies can only amend the constitution by referendum. Which means there would be a hell of a time getting ID cards through in America, for example.

    “Certainly both Ireland and UK have produced many more prime ministers who could be so described”

    I really would disagree with that, but it’s besides the point.

    It is truly amazing how far people will gom in convincing themselves that priviledge by birthright is a good idea. It stupifies me. Honestly, you deserve rule by divine right. That would cure the problem fairly sharpish.

  • Brian Boru

    “However, there is a constitution, it is contained in acts of parliament, conventions and custom which has evolved over time.”

    But it’s not worth the paper its written on if it can be changed by the House of Commons and rammed through a government-appointed House of Lords. The most important aspect of a written constitution is that it is usually harder to change than a mere parliamentary majority vote – this is needed to ensure basic rights are continued throughout a period when governments will inevitably change from time to time. The essence of the republican model of government is that citizens have certain rights and responsibilities, and that a government cannot breach these rights. In the Republic of Ireland, only a referendum can change part of the constitution.

    Thanks to the Terrorism Act, praising the Irish War of Independence, George Washington or maybe Wat Tyler (Peasants Revolt) might conceivably land you in a dungeon. Such are the consequences of A: The absence of a definition of terrorism in the Act and B: The non-existence of a written constitution to protect freedom of speech. Today it may be Al Qaida targeted by this law. But who is to say that a future govt will not use the lack of clarity in this law to suppress political opposition, on the supposed basis of fighting “terrorism”? Thank gawd for our constitution.

  • Brian Boru

    I mean the UK Terrorism Act.

  • Eoin Madden

    “You will repeat the whole exercise every 4 years at huge expense to the taxpayer. And keep him/her at great expense for that period of time.”
    The expense isn’t that huge. I imagine the President of Ireland costs only a fraction of what HRH costs to keep in handbags and palaces.

  • Katinka

    Kensei, I am well aware that the British constitution can be amended by an act of parliament. Some people seem to think that because the constitution is not written, that there isn’t one. However, in the British system there are checks and balances. No government will unilaterally attempt to change the fundamentals of the constitution. If they do wish to change the constitution it will appear in a party election manifesto, and if that party is elected, then they have a mandate for change. A very good example of this is reform of the house of lords. (Not very well done, but that is a different matter). I am not sure that the introduction of identity cards is a constitutional matter, we have had them before; indeed I still have mine. And every NI driving license is an ID card….

  • micktvd

    And as for Australia. The republic referendum was soundly defeated. The Australians have a system which suits them. Don’t knock the monarchial system, it has as much relevance as a republic.

    I’m not sure if readers are aware that the Australian referendum on a republic was effectively sabotaged by the (pro monarchy) Howard Government. One reason was that the (majority) pro republic vote was fatally split by those who didn’t support the (selected by politicians) model for a president put up by the Government. Most Australians wanted a directly elected president, so voted against the model presented by pollies.

  • Donnacha

    As regards the Australian situation vis-a-vis the republic, the masses did not reject a republic in principle, merely the form they were being offered, thanks to the machinations of the arch-monarchist Johnny Howard. It was better to carry on as usual than to accept a flawed model for the country. Instead they decided to have another beer and head off to the beach…

  • micktvd

    Donnacha snap!
    by the way, I did vote against the referendum, for the reasons you describe, but I resent the accusations of heading off to the beach. 🙂

  • Donnacha

    What, were the races on at Tangmalangmaloo? In that case I apologise to yourself and all others on the West Island of NZ….

  • Donnacha

    Meanwhile, here in NZ, the monarchy debate is more muted. Although our eminently sensible and capable (it says here) PM Helen Clark is a republican herself, and has said the move to cut the apron strings is inevitable, there’s no rush. The Govt didn’t even bother to send her any sort of pressie more expensive than a congratulatory letter adorned with a commemorative stamp. The decision will most likely be made to move to a republic after the death of Liz Windsor, but given her genes and her comfy lifestyle, it’s probably a fair bit away yet.

  • Occasional Commentator

    kensei,
    the ROI’s constitution isn’t doing much to stop McDowell’s crazy legislation. http://archives.tcm.ie/irishexaminer/2003/12/08/story577513338.asp .This isn’t the first time he’s trampled on basic rights without allowing any decent debate in the Dail. http://archives.tcm.ie/breakingnews/2004/02/04/story132707.asp

    A constitution (written or otherwise) is only as good as the judges and politicians who should implement it. But ultimately of course, the voters get the politicians they deserve.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    If you want to remove the Monarch from choosing the Government, then who does decide in a hung Parliament?

    The People. You just keep voting till you get a clear result. For example, between June 1981 and November 1982 we had to have three general elections in the Republic before a stable coalition emerged.

    Of course, it would also help if Britain got rid of your crazy electoral system. I believe Tony Blair currently holds ultimate power with about 36% of the vote?

    That’s democracy, and shows the fundamental psychological difference between a Republic and a Monarchy. The Monarchist instinctively looks for Someone In Authority to come along and tell the politicians what to do in a hung parliament. The Republican looks to the People to make their minds up.

  • David Michael

    Donnacha

    Good on your NZ government for its low-key and entirely sensible approach.

    How cringe-making was that when your ol’ neighbour Germaine Greer actually bowed the knee to Brenda.

    A mind like GG’s, an authority on literature etc, and she’s kowtowing to . . . to what exactly? Has anybody ever discovered what ER can actually do, besides open bridges, envelopes and her mouth?

  • Bilbo

    The worrying thing about support for Prince William over Charles is because he is young a goodlooking, is this really a criteria with which to choose the head of state. There are an awful lot of silly, silly people in the UK today as evidenced by this longing got William to be king.

  • ” is this really a criteria with which to choose the head of state”

    Bilbo, the British people cannot choose their head of state, and they seem perfectly happy with that, god knows why…

  • “Bilbo, the British people cannot choose their head of state, and they seem perfectly happy with that, god knows why…”

    The simple reason is that, as pointed out above, it works. We can look to the Republics in Southern Ireland or in the United States and frankly, don’t feel like we’re missing out on a huge amount.

    Wasn’t there talk of Bono or Saint Geldoff running for president of the Republic? If ever there was a reason to retain the monarchy…

  • kevymc

    In post 5 Martin said “Personally I would rather rever a person as the symbol of the state than a flag or a piece of paper “. I think that glosses over the idea that it is the explicit expression of the ideas and principles through that piece of paper that is supposed to replace ‘mythical’, and thus emotive and easy to exploit, ways of validating authority.
    That is the idea anyway, and it is one which is much more progressive and transparent than the idea of a divinely appointed source of authority which, if you cut away the machinery of Executive, Parliament, Judiciary, is what the authority of the British state actually rests upon.

  • Eoin

    “Wasn’t there talk of Bono or Saint Geldoff running for president of the Republic? If ever there was a reason to retain the monarchy…”
    But they didn’t run.
    If they had, we would have the option of voting for them or not.

    There was also talk once of William dating Britney Spears. She could have become Queen (maybe, eventually) and there would be nothing anybody could do about it.

  • Just what did the current monarch in Britain do, to deserve to be head of state of a progressive modern country like the UK? What merits did she possess other than being born before her siblings, with the right surname?

    She wouldn’t even be the head of state now if her uncle hadn’t abdicated, what a joke of a system! It’s indefensible, unless you’re privilaged under it, I guess… I can’t understand the serfs sticking up for their masters. I can understaind anyone being proud to be British, the UK is a great country, but to be proud that the system tells you you’re born inferior… it boggles the mind!

  • slug

    Pope: we in the UK could change the system if there was popular desire for it. The monarchy is there by popular consent.

  • elfinto

    With a few interruptions (notably in the 1650’s) the monarchy has provided Britain with great constitutional stability. That’s why it remains such a popular institution.

    The monarchy took a dip in popularity after the Princess Diana episode and that’s why there is a question mark over the succession. People do not really trust Charles and that is part of the reason why the present Queen remains so popular. She is a safe pair of hands. Remarkable for her unremarkability. People like that.

  • slug

    Elfinto – good points I agree.

  • Slug… I understand that, it’s the popularity that I find so crazy! To my mind there’s no reason on earth why you yourself shouldn’t aspire to being head of state in your own country…

  • elfinto

    A bit off topic but amusing nevertheless.

    Ray Davies, songwriter for the Kinks (for those of you who are completely out of touch), got an OBE or MBE last year. He had recently survived being shot by a mugger in New Orleans.

    When the Queen was presenting him with his award she enquired about the shooting and said that she hoped ‘they get the bastards who done it’.

    An amused Ray Davies later related the story to the media. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson swiftly issued a denial insisting that the Queen ‘would never use such language’.

  • Eoin Madden

    “With a few interruptions (notably in the 1650’s) the monarchy has provided Britain with great constitutional stability. That’s why it remains such a popular institution.”
    That may be true, but who is to say a President could not have provided similar stability?

    Also, though stability may have existed, with few interruptions, in Wales and England, at times other parts of the empire were not so enamoured with the monarchy.

  • elfinto

    Also, though stability may have existed, with few interruptions, in Wales and England, at times other parts of the empire were not so enamoured with the monarchy.

    That’s a given. Thus a monarch’s top priority was to remain popular in England. It ensured survival, sometimes literally!

    Different systems are suited for different countries, e.g. Ireland – republic, Britian -constitutional monarchy, Iraq – liberal democracy!!

  • Bilbo

    “Bilbo, the British people cannot choose their head of state, and they seem perfectly happy with that, god knows why… ”

    Not being a complete moron, I am aware of that, I was referring to the poll that this thread is supposed to be about in which more people wanted Prince William to succeed the Queen than people who wanted Prince Charles. My point was (as it was clearly lost on you), that I found this appalling. Its after reading things like that poll that makes me damned glad the public cannot choose the head of state, they would treat it as an extra big version of the X-factor no doubt. Sad times, sad, sad times.

  • elfinto

    I like that idea Bilbo.

    The Queen lying in state. Charlie, William and the rest of the Windsors have to perform a song live on stage and win a public vote. It would make great TV!!

  • Bilbo,

    “Its after reading things like that poll that makes me damned glad the public cannot choose the head of state, they would treat it as an extra big version of the X-factor no doubt. Sad times, sad, sad times.”

    I think you misunderestimate the great British public (to borrow a phrase from a president!). That’s a choice between Charles and William, who is to say that if someone else (perhaps Tony Benn?) were running, they wouldn’t be chosen by most people. You need to have a little faith in electorates, they’re not (that!) thick.

  • TAFKABO

    The monarchy is in big trouble, and I’m sure that the Royal family knows this.
    The trouble stems from the fact that the yare reliant on the media to partcipate in a promulgate the myth of Royalty.
    Thus we get the occasional pseudo documentary of William on a VSB type holiday, where he helps out some photogenic ethnics in Africa.
    We’re told that he even cleans the toilets as part of his duties, and we’re supposed to marvel at the fact he would stoop to doing the kind of thing most of us have to do every day.
    Most of Dianas popularity was based around the fact that she was willing to lower herself to the level of us mere mortals, and talk to us as ordinary people, not the scum we so obviously are in relation to her.

    But it only works if the media continues to be a willing partner in the deception in perpetuity.
    That is simply not going to happen.The Royals made a fatal blunder in deciding to try and use the modern media to gain more popularity, and we can see from the present Queens reticence to reveal herself that she understands this.
    For Royalty to succeed there has to be mystery.
    Watching William clean toilets seems like a good idea, but in the long run it will just serve to remind people that he has to shit, the same as everyone else.

    This love affair is doomed.
    And the republicans amongst us know that all we need is time, and we’ve got lots of that.

    Our day will come….

  • Elfinto – “The Queen lying in state. Charlie, William and the rest of the Windsors have to perform a song live on stage and win a public vote. It would make great TV!!”

    Careful there. Those of us who have only just now managed to wipe away the tears after Siobhan O’Hanlon’s death might use that tasteless little sally of yours as our latest excuse to take the huff, and start whine, whine, whining.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Thats an interesting point Karl, I seriously doubt that republicans will have the good grace to be respectful when the Queen does pass away.

  • elfinto

    KR,
    The sense of humour by-pass appears to have been successful.

    Michael,
    Well, let’s just wait and see. I suspect HRH will be around for a while yet. No use getting offended about something that hasn’t happened yet.

  • David Michael

    Michael Shilliday

    “I seriously doubt that republicans will have the good grace to be respectful when the Queen does pass away”

    Small “r” republicans like myself will accord her the same respect due to anybody who passes away, as you put it.

    If the deceased has done something meritorious, he or she will get more respect. One thinks in this context of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, that sort of person.

    We republicans don’t usually accord more respect to a person simply because an ancestor of hers lopped off more heads with his broadsword, or whatever, and so became top dog.

    I hope you can see this.