Thoughts on the Monarchy

For a unionist to admit to being less than a wholehearted monarchist is often difficult, especially so during the 60th jubilee. Alex Kane, a unionist and open republican, has a very good analysis during which he almost becomes a pragmatic monarchist. It is worth reading in totality but his main argument centres around the stability the monarchy under the present Queen has helped provide.

I have mentioned before that not all unionists are wholly supportive of the monarchy. Personally I am a moderately reluctant pragmatic monarchist.

From a properly fundamentalist Christian position a monarch is inappropriate. Cromwell refused the crown and on his tomb was written “Christ not Man is King”. That said Cromwell did have most of the powers of a king, his position of Lord Protector did pass to his son and his puritanism would probably be less than popular with most current British republicans – as would his record in Ireland be with Irish republicans. One preacher I remember from my childhood who was definitely the maddest I heard (he counselled that if left behind after The Rapture one should join the Israeli army and that there was no doubt the world would end before 2000) did say that democracy was unbiblical. Equally though monarchy was condemned in the Bible and the children of Israel condemned for demanding a king. It is slightly unclear how judges were selected in the Old Testament and the levels of fundamentalist lunacy required to try to re-establish a pre monarchical Israelite society in the UK are such that anyone proposing it should probably receive medication.

Turing away from fundamentalist to more mainstream religious objections to monarchy there is the fact that the Queen is head of the Church of England and must be a Protestant: indeed a member of the established church. This counts out very large numbers of us as either as dissenters (the one time that odd Irish republican obsession with the differences between Protestant denominations is relevant), non Christian or even non religious. However, the objection that one must be a member of the Church of England to be monarch is less relevant than the objection that one must be born into the House of Windsor to be head of state.

There is the fundamental fact (to give the word another outing) that the monarchy is undemocratic (though ironically of course ending it in the teeth of public support for the institution would itself be highly undemocratic). However, the lack of democracy is not actually an enormously big deal in a politically impotent head of state: clearly if the head of state is the Prime Minister or if the President has significant political power democratic election is essential.

Theoretically in a republic any of us could become the head of state. However, the reality is that if one has a head of state separate to politics it usually ends up being a former politician or other supposed worthy. In the UK we could end up with President Blair or previously President Thatcher both of which are prospects which would fill most with horror: even a President Major would be pretty dreadful. This being the UK and the hypothetical president’s job being above politics there is the danger some sort of joke candidate could become our head of state: President Clarkson is a further horror to contemplate. Alternatively we could combine both former politician with celebrity and add complete national joke to the mix by having Lembit Opik as president (provided he recovers from his wrestling match).

As Alex Kane (and many others) have pointed out the Queen has rarely put a foot wrong for the last 60 years. Cynics may say that she has done this by having an army of advisers and never saying anything of substance. That said Princes Charles and Philip have managed to say nothing of substance and still be controversial at times.

In a positive sense the Queen manages to embody a Britain that many hark back to: a kinder, gentler country yet one with a more important place in the world. She seems to manage this, however, without becoming mired in the inappropriate deferentialism, socially constrained and class ridden society which the fifties at times seemed to represent. Somehow the Queen manages to represent the best parts of the old order to those who want hark back to them yet also a caring and progressive face.

The reality of course is that we know nothing about her private views and what we know of her day to day life is choreographed and released in the most controlled fashion. Our image of the Queen is often a construct of the nicest parts of our own and our relatives characters which we then project onto her whilst leaving aside the less noble parts of our ourselves and others. For conservatives she is a conservative: for progressives a progressive. For some she is a fairly big C conservative for others a Social Democrat. For a few she represents “The Fascist regime” but as Jeremy Paxman (a former republican turned pragmatic monarchist) points out that is simply absurd.

Republicans have admitted that this is a poor year for them. Their time might come but that still seems fairly unlikely. One day Charles will probably be King and he has during his long tenure as heir to the throne said and done some fairly foolish things. He is most unlikely ever to be held in the state of near worship the Queen is, but equally as he has aged into being a man who’s public utterances are increasingly pleasant, harmless and anodyne – the perfect ones for a constitutional monarch. Charles is also now complete with a wife who whatever of the past has managed, since joining the royal family, to avoid saying or doing anything remotely out of place (though her husband was probably better at reading the weather). Following Charles is William, again another construct both of the media and the public’s own mind, yet one who manages to embody much of the Queen’s popularity and add to it some of his late mother’s star dust. He is complete with a fairy tale romance and marriage to an ordinary girl (though of course Kate Middleton’s is no rags to riches tale: rather a riches to vast riches one).

Some amongst the intelligentsia have suggested that despite all the riches, education and privilege the royals are actually somewhat unsophisticated even slightly boorish with little real appreciation of the finery around them. In reality that tends to rebound on those who make such suggestions marking them out as intellectual snobs with little understanding of normal people: ironically making the royals more accessible by the appearance that their tastes are more normal.

The British monarchy is then a farcical and daft institution, a bastion of inherited privilege and hereditary idleness saved only by an octogenarian who apart from the ability to fix Second World War vintage truck engines has no relevant skills. Her family is dysfunctional and at times seems committed to self destruction. Despite all that, however, the Queen is adored and the institution of the monarchy is supported by the vast majority. Clearly no one would propose a constitutional settlement so daft in the current world. However, the constitutional monarchy we have is actually a common position within Europe and is one which has served this country well. In its present and likely future it seems to be working and is better than any alternative could realistically achieve. For those reasons as well as its overwhelming popularity it seems that the UK is likely to stay as a Kingdom and not a United Republic.

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  • A thoughtful piece here by “Turgon” and a welcome contribution. As he observes being unionist is not to be a royalist although there is a pragmatic alliance.
    Things change over time…admittedly centuries. He will be relieved to know that the madness of the preacher is matched by the madness of others I have encountered in recent years.
    Some years ago, I made the mistake of thinking that an interest in the history of the early 18th century was just that………history. But it led me into contact with modern (sic) Jacobites ….they havent gone away you know…….and even the strange and downright crazy world of the “legitimist”.
    To these people Monarchy is indeed sacred….biblical.
    Put simply their world….Satan himself was the first republican. He tried to overthrow GOD. And Satan is the patron saint of republicanism.
    I am an unwelcome presence in the Jacobite world because of my worship of Satan.

    Again its difficult to comment on the events of the past few days without wishing to score points and in the spirit of “Turgons” post here Id make some observations. First is my long held belief that there is an element of soap opera about the institution. That there are characters notably Prince Charles who is played by an actor called Charles Windsor…in rather the same way that Ken Barlow is played by William Roache.
    The lefty schoolteacher who was sent to prison for a CND protest circa 1961 is very different from the Conservative Party member who plays the part.

    But the past few days showed several layers of thoughts on the monarchy. The first is to say that it seemed relatively harmless, and showed Britain particuarly England at its best……even if it did seem slightly “conservative” “middle class” and “home counties”.
    Irritatingly for a republican the problem isnt the monarchy/royal family but rather the tweedy cousinage of hangers-on and courtiers. It offends against egalitarianism and there is a distinct egalitarianism in the best of Norn Iron unionism.
    I feared that the Jubilee would be a second Twelfth and like all things I fear, I tend to mock it and made a rather cheap point that as we were having two Twelfths this year…..2013 would be cancelled.
    But actually in Norn Iron, I thought the Jubilee was rather muted. I dont think BBC News led on the subject (I think they saw the big news as the Olympic Torch)………and on reflection I think the BBC locally did not serve Norn Irons royalists well.
    They seemed to go for the “feel good” factor of the Olympics at the expense of a bigger story which they might (wrongly as it turned out) believed to be divisive.
    As the Diamond Jubilee is clearly one of the major commemorations of the decade then it does not say much for the prospective treatment of other events.
    Difficult as it is for a republican to say, I think the local royalists really deserved better from the BBC.

    Yesterday we went down south to a beach. Coming back thru Banbridge, my wife pointed out that she had “expected more” in the town. Banbridge is a town which dresses up for the Twelfth with an arch in the centre of the town (is it called the Cuts?) but indeed I did not notice many flags or bunting.
    I tried to rationalise this as the Jubilee appealing more to Britishness than Unionism or appealing to Conservatism/Church of Ireland rather than to working class/free church.
    That the Jubilee might be a bigger thing in Helens Bay than Banbridge. Or that Waringstown might be different to Banbridge. Indeed it was. About four flags in town and some “Royal Standards” and bunting of union jacks at the local (state) primary school (which in itself raises questions about neutral environments or are “state” schools necessarily exempt from neutrality on the monarchy?).
    The Free Presbyterian Church between Waringstown and Lurgan had no flag but most Sunday drives past the Church show it displaying a British and Norn Iron flag outside. I admit that struck me as strange.
    The area of Lurgan around the Gilford Road roundabout had maybe about four flags and in Lurgan town, the offices of Stephen Moutray MLA and Sam Gardiner MLA had flags. As had a shop which sells loyalist memorabalia.
    But all in all it was strangely subdued.

  • lamhdearg2

    Should have got yourself up the shankill fjh, wall to wall colour, agree with you on bbcni, but as a local press watcher not a surprise,
    “hereditary idleness” and “an octogenarian who apart from the ability to fix Second World War vintage truck engines has no relevant skills”, bit harsh that.

  • Well there will always be an element of the “poorer the area the bigger the arch”.
    But there is perhaps two conclusions to be drawn.
    One is that the event was a little subdued but under-reported.
    The other that it was celebrated to the max and under-reported.
    I can only report my own observation.

  • Turgon

    A fair criticism. I was trying to be harsh and in so doing I show myself somewhat small minded: saying such about a grandmother is a little unfair. Yet harsh as I try to be I admire the Queen greatly: or at least my construct of what I want the Queen to be. I would be delighted if I ever met her, I would bow to her and call her Her Majesty etc. etc. and I am sure I would tell all my friends about it.

    The monarchy is a daft institution with no relevance in the modern age yet it is one I support and I strongly suspect I will support even when Charles who cannot even fix a truck engine becomes King. It is one of the more charming foolishnesses of being British.

  • Granni Trixie

    It is interesting to read of the “muted” experience in Ni as I was thinking myself how different the experience in Brighton was to that in London (my locations at present). In Brighton it was v. Low key in comparison to the capital. And even in the latter case I was reflecting that for all e flag waving there was a good humour and inclusivity whi h was light years away from the NI experience. I detect no jingoism or strong nationalistic feeling,just a god reaason for a party. The sentimentality, mind you, is a bit much.
    All in all I suppose I am trying to say is that we cannot depend on the impression tv etc conveys of the celebration as they are London-centric.

  • salgado

    Granni – my experience in Oxford was also rather low key. A few pubs had flags up and there was allegedly a few small street parties (the one in my street seemed all but abandoned due to the weather).

    The preference seemed to be for small scale parties with family and friends rather than any flamboyant public event. My american housemate was very disappointed in us.

  • wild turkey

    ” My american housemate was very disappointed in us.”

    salgado, was that american disappointment with the low key oxford lacking ‘flamboyance’ ?

    i am not, repeat not, making a political point. The INSTITUTIOM of the british monarachy and all it entails, or coattails, is ripe for obvious criticism. i leave that to others more articulate.

    but strictly from a, shall we say cultural perspective, i was a bit awe struck with the obvious affection and respect which many people have for the queen ER2. and from my american perspective i could not think of one pre-eminent american leader; political, cultural, social even celebrity, which would be held in such general esteem and affection. the closest i was able to come up with was Muhamed Ali, Willy Mays or Betty White. .. hmmm.
    in america there is no one agreed, historical central focus. come to think of it, there is no agreed center full effing stop. so perhaps Granni Trixies point about the seeming London-centricity of the events explains to me why something even vaguely similar could and would never occur in the states.

    anyway, Turgon, you are to be commended, and thanked, for a thoughtful, articulate and provocative post…..

    and now back to PB and the transit of venus


  • There are constitutional arguments both for and against retaining a monarchy but I would agree substantially with Turgon. The only argument that really matters is the fact that the Monarchy is popular with the vast majority of people in Britain.

    Speaking personally, I have an emotional attachment to the Monarchy. That, and the sense of being British, is so inextricably linked that I find it very hard to get my head around the idea that somebody like Alex Kane can be a Unionist Republican. Is there any other institution that could bind the four parts of the United Kingdom culturally in the way that the Royals do?

    I cant think of any. After all, the first Unionist was a King, whose nickname is part of the name of our flag. What a drab country the UK would be without the Royals. I also can not see how the people of the constituent parts of the UK would want to stay together without the Monarch, particularly the English.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon, I thought that was a very good article.

    You make reference to a couple of the things that monarchists trot out, such as Kane’s note “she hasn’t set a foot wrong”. To me this is not the point, as given that she has little or no powers of her own, not setting a foot wrong essentially means making no uncleared speeches without checking with the government, saying little or nothing in public, and waving, smiling or shaking hands on cue. It’s also questionable on the basis that the royal family did rather obviously suffer from a leadership crisis in the 1990s. One might guess that “reforms” were made during that period to create the polished and rather media-savvy presentation we see now.

    The point about Presidents also repeats that old conceit that under a republican constitution the directly-elected President would act as both the head of state and the head of the government. This need not be the case and arguably should not. We should talk instead of perhaps a President Patten, President Field or President Kinnock. Or perhaps even President Coe.

    I wouldn’t call the Queen a fascist at all, as an individual she is rather inoffensive. It’s the whole expensive, pompous edifice, and the undemocratic nature of it all, that irks me.

    I think you are right to say that republicans have no immediate prospect of winning the argument. The opportunity will come when Charles takes the throne. I’d agree that the prospects for King William seem rather brighter, but mainly because he keeps his mouth shut and reads from a script rather than taking up his father’s irritating temerity to annunciate on matters of which he has little understanding.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Seymour, I am not sure that HMQ “binds” the UK, especially given that we are facing the immediate prospect of Scottish independence with the Welsh poised to follow; and we’re at the point here where a significant proportion of the NI population, approaching half, would respectfully decline to take an oath to her.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Queen has rarely put a foot wrong for the last 60 years”

    Who cares its about the job not the person.

    I would be interested what other job people think should be given out on the basis of your parents.

    Hi I am the son of a brain surgeon and I am here to do your operation. Me ma has rarely put a foot wrong for the last 60 years doing the job. So your OK with me!

  • “saved only by an octogenarian who apart from the ability to fix Second World War vintage truck engines has no relevant skills.”

    While I’m sure this is said with tongue partially (completely?) in cheek, it’s worth remembering that one of the quirks of British Parliamentary Democracy is that no similar bar is set for ministers of the Crown, or in the Republic either.

    For example: the current Irish President is a sociology lecturer yet he wields an office of significant constitutional import, particularly in respect of powers to dissolve the Oireachtas and refer Bills to the Supreme Court. How many modules of Constitutional law did he take in his youth? How would the public have reacted if he were appointed Attorney General instead?

    The current Taoiseach has been a TD since 1975 – what had he achieved by the age of 24 when elevated to his late father’s seat?

    The last three Irish Ministers for Finance were barrister, barrister and the incumbent (teacher) – and look how well that’s going.

    By comparison Queen Elizabeth was heiress presumptive before assuming the throne, and was being schooled in how to perform the role of monarch from a decade before her accession – just not “in school”. In fact given the circumstances of their accessions she was likely far better prepared that her father was.

    I bet there’s many a university that wishes her position allowed her to teach seminars in the relationship between Heads of State (although not many of those would get away with her remark to the King of Spain re Gibraltar), between a Head of State and a Head of Government, the flexibility of a Head of State without an election cycle (compare to Obama who must squeeze everything in between Inauguration and the MidTerms Campaign) and the role of a Head of State in wartime (Korea, Suez, Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan…)

    I don’t say this to commend the monarchy – personally I think that irrespective of efforts to press Charles’ case I suspect republicanism in Canada and Australia could pass a tipping point with his mother’s passing – merely that it delivers a different perspective on governance to other systems and there’s something to be gained from observing it.

  • lover not a fighter

    Just for a counter argument.

    1; Would the compliant press (certainly at the moment) tell us of any ” putting a foot wrong ”

    2; What if the replacement does’nt pass muster. Does everybody just ignore this and wait for the demise. And what if that were sixty years ?

    3; Certainly the Queen works for most parts of Britain but what of NI where she does’nt cross the community

    4; Giving free reign the úber Monarchists will push the envelope too far. The Television media have lost the run of themselves and by going ott will have turned off at least some. There is only so much sycophanism that the general public can stomach.

    The Queen does the job for most of Britain but will it carry on ? Who knows ?

    There are many instances in history where one hero or another or even an institution has had the mass’s acclaiming them on the streets only for the same mass’s to have a very contrary view not that much later in time.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, good article, used to think similarily to you, but will confess I have become more of a monarchist in recent years, not a “legitmist” like FJHs “friends” but a wee bit more than a pragmatic monarchist too, I will live with the Anglicanism for the sake of the Christian basis it is built on, I suspect many mainland (even some Irish) Catholics would hold similar views (and of course the Queen is Presbyterian 2 months of the year).

    There are many many other reasons, but I’m too knackered atm. 5 events over, off to another one in 15 min, might add a bit more then, just one final point, the idea of President Clarkson is horrific, and I’m a bit of a fan.

  • Mister Joe

    …the obvious affection and respect which many people have for the queen ER2…

    No Scottish roots, Wild Turkey? She is ER1 to that nation.

  • Drumlins Rock

    1: the press would turn on their own granny, if not the UK press there are plenty from overseas based in the UK without such qualms.

    2: Give him a chance, I bet if he dosn’t pass msuter he will be sidlined, however I think he will be an excellent King.

    3: When she comes to visit, and increasingly the honours, show quite a cross-community balance, when she meets Marty that will break further barriers down.

    4: I have noted that is a risk, however I think with the Euro’s & Olympics coming up there won’t be time for any real “backlash”.

  • lover not a fighter

    Not bad responses there Drumlins Rock. The Monarchy does seem to work for Britain.

    It would be intersting to see how it would play out if some one was not suitable. Mind you it survived Edward and Mrs Simpson.

    The future is unknown ground though and again just as a contrary argument it would be interesting to know what the less well off and say those not doing that well from todays society feel.

    Mind you their views are not taken into account for anything else so why would it be here ?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “The Monarchy does seem to work for Britain.”

    Not if your a Roman Catholic.

    “Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
    Shall win our country back to Thee;
    And through the truth that comes from God,
    England shall then indeed be free.”

    Faith of our fathers

  • Mark

    DR ,

    If the Queen is human ….. there have been Max Clifford moments that we’ll never hear about . If Charles becomes King , then Max Clifford needs to open an office at the palace .

  • Drumlins Rock,
    English Catholics are a breed apart.

  • cynic2

    “Mary’s prayers”

    Is that Bloody Mary whose hobby was burning protestants?

  • lamhdearg2

    A shock to me was when in spain last year during the Royal wed, now many English catholics (big on crucifix and holy medal wearing*) where fawning over the Royals, it seams they put their pride in whats good about their country before their religion, which they on the face of it at least, pay homage to.
    * some CofE folk wear crucifix also.

    Glad to see the Duke on the mend, I feared he may have been more ill than was being reported and that the Queen was putting on a stiff lip, so not to ruin the party, as would be the style of a woman of immense character.

  • Local hack

    I have never understood why, in this country, all unionists are quick to pledge their love and devotion to the Queen – why can’t you be in favour of the embryonic link to Britain and against the ideal of an hereditary head of state and also more contradictory most unionists also pledge to be devote Christians – all these contradictions are odd, but then that is NI.

    BUT if I must, while this was an interesting read there are points which have irked me.
    “She has not put a foot wrong in 60 years” that may be true of her walking style, but in terms of actions it is very different – mention Diana for one.

    Also the point of having a “joke” head of state is pure farcical – is Obama a joke?? And surely you would not see elected heads of state rolling our of night clubs, marrying bigoted Greeks or been linked in with all types of conspiracy theories around the death of a wife – pure ridiculous sweeping statements with nothing to back it up.!

  • Dewi

    I’ve tried to spend most of my life ignoring them – but Union Jacks everywhere in Cardiff for this nonsense? We ain’t even on the flag.

  • Shibboleth

    If you think the queen is bad then consider that Martin McGuinness, Dana or David Norris all pursued the head of state role.

  • Shibboleth

    Dewi that’s because you Welshies capitulated before the rest of us.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Shib & Dewi, sure the Welsh via the Tudors managed to get their bums on the English & Scottish thrones.

    Hack, heard of Alex Kane? he is the best known exception, and not really religious. The theology is complex, and extremely diverse.

    FJH, I have picked that up over the years, it is hard to comprehend that England was once the Vaticans “showcase” country, just like Ireland became. Yet those little glimpses come through, how the Dukes of Norfolk survived I will never comprehend.

  • DR, its complicated.
    After all Ireland was not “invaded” by Protestants but rather by pre-Reformation Catholics.
    And “official” English Catholicism retains a lot of that superior attitude from Laudabilitier.
    But there is a certain degree of hypocrisy. The more historic of London churches …the embassy or immediate post-Penal churches are in the hands of that “aristocracy” and certainly its a source of amusement (previously embarrassment) for an Irish Republican to hear a homily comparing Mother Theresa with Margaret Thatcher……or bidding prayers for “our sovreign lady the queen” (which of course would largely be ignored by the likes of me….if I was a Catholic as I dont think I have ever stated myself to be).
    But even within the “aristocracy” there is some double standards. For example a blog some years ago written by a priest begged forgiveness that his hands were full when a carriage containing the Duchess of Cornwall was passing…….and he could not raise his hat.
    Not exactly a blog written in Crossmaglen or Coalisland……but written by the chaplain to The Royal Stuart Society (!!!) which kinda defeats the purpose of it all.

  • BluesJazz

    ‘Mother Theresa’:

    Whatever Margaret Thatcher’s political ‘faults’, she was no promoter of poverty, unlike the lunatic ‘saint’.

  • quality

    The coverage has been truly sickening. All the people, her own son included, talking about her ‘service’ to the nation should probably look up the definition of ‘serve’. Family of glorified spongers.

    Having said that, a grandmother having to sit through and Jessie J (and other assorted musical calamities) I suppose has a novelty value.

  • JR

    The stronghold of support for the Royal family is undoubtedly in England. One telling statistic was the 10,000 street parties organised in England as opposed to the fewer than 100 in Scotland. On the news when they showed the royal beacons and while the ones in England were bright flaming towers of dry kindleing and brushwood. The ones I saw in Northern Ireland were very industrial looking, a dirty flame from what looked like an oversized camping stove.

    I personally believe that everyone is born equal and that rules out monachary in my book. That is before I get into the whole head of the church thing, the anti Catholicism or the fact that she was paid 32million of taxpayers money this year as a top up to her multi billion pound fortune and has her expenses paid.

    On the queen herself not putting a foot wrong, General Pinochet?

    My dad (a dyed in the wool republican) actually met charles at a business event in Armagh few years back. He was talking to Charles for a good 5 min and was quite surprized by him and impressed with him. He said he was clearly an inellegent man. Seems sad in a way.

    Give me Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese or Michael D any day.

  • JR has a point. If we are going to compare monarchs and presidents, surely the most likely presidential system that the UK (UR?) would find itself with would be the one the RoI already has. And people suggesting that we would have ended up with a President Thatcher overlook the fact that Thatcher (or Major, or Blair) wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance of winning an election.

  • a

  • Greenflag

    ‘I personally believe that everyone is born equal’

    Nonsense .Even in their mothers womb embryos/foetuses are already unequal . In mothers to be who are poor , unhealthy , smokers , drinkers ,overweight ,obese , or who eat less than the minumum requirement of folic acids (from veggies in their diet ) the ‘unborn’ are already on their way to a lifetime of disadvantage .Once born those who go straight onto formula i.e don’t get breast fed are again losers and so on .To those who arrive in this world in places like Hartlepool , Hull , Strabane or Ballymun their future social /economic mobility is already circumscribed . A few do manage to break the ties that bind but as we read from recent research in the UK and USA the chances of climbing out of ‘poverty’ are now lower in the UK than they were in the 1950’s and 60’s. Ditto for the USA .

    The Royal Family for all the symbolism and pageantry represents a class system which in essence goes back at least to the Norman Conquest .

    As the ‘absolutist’ nature of monarchy has been replaced by the ‘constitututional’ variety the ‘institution’ has gained new life . I can’t think of any UK politician who would make a better Head of State than Queenie and therein lies the truth behind all of the hype and jubilisation of HRH’s 60th anniversary of coming to the throne.

    It’s not the monarchy that’s an endangered species in the UK . It’s democracy and ditto for the USA and Ireland and the EU countries .Plutocracy and rule by the 1% is becoming the norm and thus the interests of the ‘haves’ are advanced over the interests of the have nots to such an extent that nowadays even those who have more than the have nots are having their share whittled away from them by the have mores and their children are being herded into lifetimes of more or less indentured low wage servitude .

    Here’s a link to Joseph Stiglitz’s most recent comments

  • “Give me Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese or Michael D any day.”

    Or Sean Gallagher? Easy to gloss over how close he came.

  • JR

    Nearly never bulled a cow mark

  • lover not a fighter

    And the conversation has turned to an unlikely place.

    Well done to the Shinners for saving us from Sean Gallagher.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mark Dowling,

    The fundamental argument that this all comes down to is democracy, allowing the people to have their say. Nobody could object to the Queen being head of state if she was elected.

    In your contribution above you are not promoting the Queen; you are promoting a number of alternatives to democracy including technocracy and dictatorship, essentially on the basis that (referring to examples of poorly performing politicians) people can’t be trusted to elect the right representatives to lead them. You need to take a step back and think about what you are saying.

    You say the Queen is trained and schooled in the job etc. That’s all well and good, but it is no guarantee of outcome. Her uncle was obviously also schooled and groomed for the job, yet nonetheless was found to be (to say the least) wanting when it came to his enforced duty. Also true of that reliable trump card for republicans, Charles, who causes real problems for many monarchists.