Thursday, 10 March 2011

The monarchy, parts two and three

Last time on "antmoorfield rants incoherently", we discussed the issue of that august British institution of the Parliament and how its members are somehow unable to criticise that other august British institution the monarchy.

You may know, unless you herd goats in Mongolia for a living, that next month is this country's first real royal wedding for 30 years. (Chas and Cam don't count, cos he's a divorcee and she's a dog.) Oh the atmosphere is electric - the coverage on the media gets ever more hysterical and faux-patriotic, and TV presenters shriek such absurdities as "everyone wants an invitation to the royal wedding" (Kate Galloway) at such soul-splitting volume that dogs up and down the land have been known to run around their gardens yelping. (By dogs here I of course mean middle-aged female conservatives.)

There is a surprising lack of response to this media infatuation with two privileged toffs tying the knot. This is despite the fact that absolutely no-one I know is the slightest bit interested in the event, apart from middle-aged female conservatives. Everyone else knows that the wall-to-wall Kate and Wills (what a ghastly nickname) coverage is just a front for savage Tory cuts and the imminent double-dip recession. But still, a nice day out for all the family. And you'll get the time off if you've just lost your job....

Media orthodoxy scares me, as a liberal, as whenever someone (even when that someone is Sky's resident harridan Kay Burley) proclaims that the whole country is in favour of something, and overjoyed at the prospect of our future king and his beautiful queen having a fairytale wedding, I have to ask when we emigrated to Nazi Germany. I wasn't aware that free speech was forbidden. (Well, at least before the Bryant affair. Ref part one...)

Finally, it must be said that although I totally acknowledge that republicans like myself are a minority in this country (the figure's remained constant at around 20% since the 60s) there does seem to be a massive shock whenever someone says they are one. I don't know if this is just the rural naturally conservative area in which I live, but everyone I've told of my republicanism seems totally surprised and, even, kind of concerned. (You see? Why do I have to couch this in the language normally used to describe gay people coming out! This is a political belief, you know, not a sexuality!)

The apathetic majority, around 75% if figures can be believed, are not being allowed to consider both sides of the argument. When people bumble on about tourism, time and tradition, it seems to me that there is a wilful desire to cut off debate at source. Now the pressure group Republic have a brilliant denunciation of all monarchist arguments, so I have no need to go into the answers here. All I'm trying to say is that this country thrives on debate. There's no sense in refusing to talk about something because you think you'll lose the argument - children do that. Most people have grown up, on the whole. (Notable exceptions including Boris Johnson, Richard Hammond and the son and heir, Charles Windsor.) This is a debate that we need to have. I'd like to see a referendum on the monarchy, probably when the current Queen dies, and with both sides given the option to present their opinions fairly and without the media bias that currently existed. To me, this would give people the chance to talk about what it means to be British, what it means to respect traditoin and what, ultimately, is the point of democracy.

Signing off,


Vive la Republique!

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