On the importance of the Monarchy

Tom Utley in last weeks’s Sunday Telegraph with an apprasal of why the British monarchy actually works.

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  • May I be the first here to convey my Best Wishes to her Majesty on behalf of so many Sluggerites and hope that she continues to reign over us for many many years to come.

    God Save The Queen.

  • aquifer

    The T E Hutley ‘sentence’ within it is useful:

    “The factors that bind a society together.. ..can never be so strong as to dispense with those penal sanctions against the vandal, the thief, the sworn enemy of society itself, which are part of the normal apparatus of civil government and the absence of which signifies not a lofty regard for freedom, as is commonly supposed by ‘progressives’, but a contemptible indifference to the conditions and limitations that alone make freedom possible.”

    Freedom will always have limits in any real world.
    There is merit in having the state indicate that family and continuity has value, but the Monarchy is not necessary for this. The state might first look at family law, taxation, and welfare provisions which currently send the message that the condition of family life is no concern of the state. Within one electoral cycle perhaps, but growing numbers of single person households and feral children has costs for everyone.

  • bertie

    Hear Hear Watchman!

  • The Australian, Canadian, New Zealand etc monarchies also work for the same reasons.

    Happy Birthday Ma’am.

  • jim

    And here’s me thinking Elton John was the Queen of England.

  • Brian Boru

    “Elected presidents, with their partisan political allegiances, are much more divisive figures – as witness the recent upsurge of hostility across the Channel to that preposterous fraud, Jacques Chirac.”

    What could possibly be more divisive than specifically excluding Catholics from the throne? This is a sectarian rule.

  • mark

    The Jacques Chirac analogy is false – the sort of thing that is usually trotted out by monarchists. The US and France are unusual in that their head of state is a powerful politician. A more appropriate comparison for the UK would be with other republics that have a president who is essentially a figurehead (e.g. Ireland, Germany, Italy). They are perfectly capable of filling the same role as a monarch.

  • slug

    Mark et al

    Just looking at the examples given and our own experience of monarchs, it seems that females have a better record as head of state, whether as monarch or president, than men. Our own Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Elizabeth I and Victoria stand out.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    May i indulge in a tanget………

    An Irish chef is one of the favourites in a competition to be the one to cook for the queen and her guests for her birthday. He was recently asked how he would feel, as an Irishman, to cook for the Protestant British Monarch. His response;

    ‘In the past they made us take the soup, now we have to make the soup!’

    Funny stuff, i thought.

  • bootman

    Its a sad reflection of British society that it remains so blindly attached to this archaic and undemocratic institution.
    When will our neighbours grow up?

  • We should be very proud of our Queen’s dedication to us. Her behaviour and that of her husband has been beyond reproach. And at least the Duke of Edinburgh doesn’t play golf with paramilitaries.

  • heck

    I have developed and sudden attraction to the unionist view that only democrats should be allowed in government,

    let’s ban all monarchists.

  • Conor Gillespie

    “Just looking at the examples given and our own experience of monarchs, it seems that females have a better record as head of state, whether as monarch or president, than men. Our own Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Elizabeth I and Victoria stand out.”

    I’m sure that quite a few people on this island (myself included) are a bit offended by this inclusion of Elizabeth I in your list of benevolent British Monarchs. Her Munster campaigns alone are enough to smear the legacy of the “virgin queen” (Who Was By No Means a Virgin) in our modern conceptions (I wont even touch upon her involvement with Ulster– Not to mention that sycophantic propagandist of hers Edmund Spencer! Her crimes against the Irish aside, she also managed to drive the English Exchequer strait into debt by the time she finally popped off. On that note I’d also like to wish the current queen a happy birthday

  • “…Our own Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Elizabeth I and Victoria stand out.”

    Wasn’t the latter ruling over Ireland at the time of the famine when about a million starved and millions had to leave the country. Not something that any of the other monarchy’s of Europ experienced. A poor show in my estimation.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Niall: “Wasn’t the latter ruling over Ireland at the time of the famine when about a million starved and millions had to leave the country. Not something that any of the other monarchy’s of Europ experienced. A poor show in my estimation.”

    To be fair — not something I’m usually wont to do — there was little that could be done abut the blight itself. The Prime Minister at the start did make a good start at relief, but what tossed from office. His successors, through a mix of economic protectionism, perceived ethnic superiority and religious quackery decided that relief was not the direction they wanted to take.

    Even by Victoria, the power of the monarchy was limited, although not as limited as it is today.

  • I believe it was call ‘laissez faire’ policy – stupid then and stupid now.

    Vicky’s subjects suffering famine’s migration and starvation can be placed at her door just as much as any other ‘achievement’ of her great empire.

  • Brian Boru

    “Even by Victoria, the power of the monarchy was limited, although not as limited as it is today.”

    The monarch at this stage still had the following powers:

    A: Sack the government. (may still be the case)
    B: Veto legislation (this is still the case).
    C: Control of army (gone now).

    Therefore, should could have done the following to alleviate the suffering:

    A: Veto the new laws brought in to punish criticism of Parliament with transportation to Australia.

    B: Sack Lord John Russell’s evil government.

    C: Stop using the army to stop peasants getting food from the famine relief depots.

    D: Give a more generous sum of money of her own to help famine relief.

    I still see her as the Famine Queen.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    And this would have solved the problem *HOW*, Brian Boru?

    A) does not a thing to get more food into Ireland.

    B) Puts matters into a state of flux

    C) Maybe we’re getting somewhere, but by the time after the first gov’t fell, they were no longer relief centers, selling foodstuffs at a market rate. and,

    D) The closest thing to a constructive suggestion, if properly promoted and finessed so as to present it as a moral example and as a move to stave off “relief fatigue.”

    The blight itself, under the science and technology of the era unassailable. A better policy would have been to have the Royal Navy cease interdicting relief supplies, put someone in charge of the relief effort who could wrap their head around the fact that blighted fields draw no rents, therefore preventing a more local solution and ameliorate the Hunger — it was *NOT* a famine, it was a the failure of a single crop– to the best of their ability.

    As for evil… no, I doubt he was evil…venal, incompetant and possibly inbred, but not evil.

  • Doctor Who

    Dread

    ¨To be fair— not something I’m usually wont to do—there was little that could be done abut the blight itself. The Prime Minister at the start did make a good start at relief, but what tossed from office. His successors, through a mix of economic protectionism, perceived ethnic superiority and religious quackery decided that relief was not the direction they wanted to take.¨

    Very strange dread elsewhere on these Threads you have desribed the Famine as “nothing short of genocide¨ and you had the ill educated audacity to make a comparison with the Holocaust.

    Could it be that you have finally put P. O´Neill to bed.

    Good to see, keep it up.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Doctor Who: “Very strange dread elsewhere on these Threads you have desribed the Famine as “nothing short of genocide¨ and you had the ill educated audacity to make a comparison with the Holocaust. ”

    I come here for an arguement, in the classic sense… sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m up to it, and sometime I’m not. Like anyone, I have my hot-button topics (cough, the Plantation) and the things I can discuss dispassionately. Most issues, I can argue either side — maybe not with equal facility, but reasonably well, at least on good days.

    As for the Holocaust, I haven’t gone *that* far, so put the damn straw-man down… I’m crazy, I’m occasionally angry — I’m not *THAT* stupid. Just as if you compare someone to Hitler, as a general rule, you’ve lost the arguement, if you compare something to the Holocaust… I dunno man — it over, you’re done. There are things that approach it in size, but not in depth of evil, if that makes any sense.

    Now, I have said that the Great Hunger was A) able to be ameliorated and B) artificially and perhaps deliberately exacerbated, but, since I am still in a fair mood, I can point out that 1)without miraculous breakthroughs in science, the Blight was something that could not be dealt with by man, 2) Given the lack of television, et al, I suspect the folks who had power over the solution may not have had a grasp on the scope of the problem and 3) On the religious front, I really don’t have an ameliorating comment… but I tried.

    As much sympathy as I have for the fox, one should make an effort to understand the hound’s persective as well.

  • Brian Boru

    A specific action by Queen Victoria was to refuse an offer of 10,000 pounds in famine relief from the Turkish sultan on the grounds that it was higher than what she had given herself. It was therefore reduced to 1,000. When Turkish ships carrying Famine relief headed to Ireland, Victoria refused them permission to dock in England. Famine Queen indeed.

  • Doctor Who

    Boru

    “A specific action by Queen Victoria was to refuse an offer of 10,000 pounds in famine relief from the Turkish sultan on the grounds that it was higher than what she had given herself. It was therefore reduced to 1,000. When Turkish ships carrying Famine relief headed to Ireland, Victoria refused them permission to dock in England. Famine Queen indeed.”

    Simple Brian you are talking crap.

  • missfitz

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famine

    What part of the Famine wasnt a Famine Dread?

  • Conor Gillespie

    Doctor Who,

    “Simple Brian you are talking crap.”

    I don’t know if you can really justifiably say that Doc. I mean, Brian supported his claim with several examples while all you mustered up for your rebuttal was a personal attack. Ad hominem arguments can’t evade the fact that Queen Victoria made several restrictions on foreign aid (such as the donations of Turkish Sultan Abdul Mejid or on the generous donations from the people of Massachusetts ) for petty reasons of public image and embarrassment. Although these were obviously minimal factors in the context of the famine as a whole, they do serve to eradicate in the minds of many of the people of this island even the faintest notion that Queen Victoria made a genuine effort to substantially alleviate the effects of the blight. Famine Queen indeed.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Missfitz: “What part of the Famine wasnt a Famine Dread? ”

    Its all a matter of definition, Missfitz.

    famine: A drastic, wide-reaching food shortage.

    Ireland, being a food exporter, had no such shortage, per se. Livestock and corn were exported during this “famine.” The failure of the potato, however, did threaten the lower classes. Initially, the response from the Peel government was to intervene by ending the Corn Laws and supplying low cost food to alleviate the food shortage.

    Exit Peel, enter Russel. Under the Whig government, importing food to relieve starvation was ended, with a new emphasis on public works and work houses. Russel’s laissez-faire economic policy ended aid to those working more than a quarter acre, giving tenant farmers the choice of destitution after the crop failue or risk starvation during it. Additionally, local relief was to be paid by landlords through local taxes. This leads to a negative feedback loop… taxes were levied based on the number of tenants. To pay for local relief, the rate was increased. To control their tax burden, the landlords evicted tenants. Tenants go on relief. Rates increase to meet new demand for relief. Cycle repeats.

    The “Potato Famine” was the result of mismanagment following the British govenment through adherence to an economic policy that did not work under the circumstances presented. Add in other factors, such as the perceived cultural superiority of the British, which allowed the British to cast the Irish as lazy wastrels and the religious mummery that allowed the British Protestants to tell themselves that the blight was “God’s will.” Thus, the “Famine” was, arguably, no such thing. There was food to be had. This was the failure of a single crop, not a widspread food-shortage, either in Ireland or in the United Kingdom.

    The “Famine” has as much to do with British economic policy and social attitudes as the potato fungus. When you have the RN turning back relief ships to a starving population — a population that is starving as a result of the change in economic policy wrought by the change in governments — I have difficulty calling this a wholly “natural” event.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Then by definition, no famine is a natural disaster. Since there is always enough food to go around at any point in history, it must be a man-made disaster. Maybe famine is actually a political failure instead of an environmental one.

  • Cataegus

    The only unique, positive aspect to Royalty is as a tourist novelty act, but is the cost worth the gain? They belong in a bygone era with knights on horse back, let’s be rid of them; they are an anachronism.

    Yours CITIZEN Crat.
    (must take up knitting)

    Dread Cthulhu

    Well put.

    Liberal free market economics is what put the nails in so many coffins, there wasn’t necessarily a shortage of food it was just that the poor couldn’t afford it. Bit like many countries today, produce cash crops while people starve, nothing changes.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Belfast Gonzo: “Then by definition, no famine is a natural disaster. Since there is always enough food to go around at any point in history, it must be a man-made disaster. Maybe famine is actually a political failure instead of an environmental one. ”

    Not wholly… usually, its a logisitical failure or a failure of infrastructure. For example, the starvation in the Ukraine under Stalin was almost wholy manufactured, teh current food difficulties in Zimbabwe the result of economic populism / political opportunism, etc., but if you cannot physically transport the food from the areas of bounty to the areas of need, all the good intentions in the world won’t matter.

    Just because there is *always* enough food to go around on a global basis doesn’t mean that there isn’t a reason that the food didn’t go from areas of plenty to areas of need, although the number or reasons is lessening as the world “shrinks,” due to changes in technology. I think the Great Hunger was a failure of comprehension, wedded to perceptions of religious and cultural supremecy.

    Cratageus: “Liberal free market economics is what put the nails in so many coffins, there wasn’t necessarily a shortage of food it was just that the poor couldn’t afford it. Bit like many countries today, produce cash crops while people starve, nothing changes. ”

    Comme ci, comme ca. The problem is the market works best under “normal” conditions. The potato famine was *NOT* a normal condition. As movement of goods becomes more “frictionless,” it will work better, but it will still have those times where it will not work. As for producing cash crops, again, it depends. If those crops enable the farmers to make enough money to buy food for themselves and, if on a larger scale, pay their workforce to do the same, no harm, no foul.

  • missfitz

    Dread
    Point taken, and well made. I think we have gotten lazy and fall back to the short hand use of the word Famine, but you are absolutely correct to remind us all that there was a complex set of issues with ample food being produced, but exported to comply with the laissez faire economic policy of the day.

    Someone made the point about there not being television, but the newspapers of the day were full of stories, most of them harrowing and tragic.

  • Brian Boru

    “Then by definition, no famine is a natural disaster. Since there is always enough food to go around at any point in history, it must be a man-made disaster. Maybe famine is actually a political failure instead of an environmental one.”

    To one extent I agree with you. The refusal of governments to help the starving e.g. in Africa, is indeed a political failure and I have no hesitation in saying it. But the Irish Famine was all the more disgraceful in that this was supposed to be OUR government. This was how it treated its own citizens. So much for being equal in the UK.

    The food to feed the Irish people was in the country before being exported. The British govt fails in my estimation for A: Not stopping the exports as in 1741. B: Declaring the Famine over in 1847 along with relief operations (4 years were left). C: Passing laws punishing criticism of Parliament with transportation to Australia. D: The system of landlordism which impoverished the Irish through rack-rents. The resultant poverty – also a legacy of the mostly gone Penal Laws in which Catholics couldn’t even set up a business or enter certain professions – was also a decisive factor in that the Irish could not afford food. Hence they were bound to the soil like serfs in Russia.

  • bootman

    I could argue against monarchy but its just topo easy

  • Cataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    “If those crops enable the farmers to make enough money to buy food for themselves and, if on a larger scale, pay their workforce to do the same,”

    Definitely an IF statement but to add another; if there are more people unemployed than jobs the law of supply and demand suggests that the cheapest worker gets employed. All markets need some regulation to ensure fair play.

    But I agree with you a lot of problems generally cause famine, greed, war, xenophobia, contempt for others. The list is endless. Something very wrong with humanity and in the end may destroy us. Rising populations finite resources!

    Brian

    Don’t forget that catholic Irish were not the only ones disadvantaged. Anyone not Church of Ireland had a reduced expectation. Also Ireland was not unique what happened in the Highlands of Scotland was genocide. (and the potato blight hit there as well). I am not for one minute excusing what happened but different era and different people and values. All we can do is try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again here or elsewhere and in my estimation we are making a poor job of that.

    Back to Queenie and family. I think it is degrading being considered a subject of that lot, (a step up from slavery, a sort of serf) and all the deferential nonsense we hear on the media really does beggar belief, all right decent enough people, but people just like anyone else with all the same fallibilities even with their privileged start in life.

    I often feel sorry for them as they are prisoner in a gilded cage. We should set the poor creatures free.