Wednesday, 6 June 2012

God Save Our Gracious Leader

 So now that the Union Jacks have been furled (or at least spray-painted to turn them into George Crosses), is it an appropriate time for the big question?   Probably not.  But then it never is: which makes me suspect that it’s not really that big after all.  So instead let’s have a bit of fun with it.

To kick off, do we need a Head of State at all?  I’m talking constitution rather than society here.  All the Queen does, in our system, is rubber-stamp legislation which we, through Parliament, have already enacted.  (As an aside, just to stir up the stew, do Acts passed by the Scottish Parliament get the Royal Assent?  I don’t know.)  So that’s not much of a role.  She could say ‘No’, but I doubt she will.  So in theory we could just eliminate that whole top tier.  But we’re not that radical, so let’s assume the answer is ‘Yes’.

Which of course raises the more important question: what’s a Head of State’s job?  There are two models here, which I can conveniently characterise as the British and the French.  Other examples of the British model are Ireland, Sweden and Spain.  Of the French one, Germany, USA and Russia.  In the first, it’s constitutionally and politically formal and neutral; in the second, it’s politically (and often even constitutionally – think of Italy) active and partisan.
I don’t think the British would want a political President.  If I’m right, and we were to go for abolishing the Monarchy, we would be choosing a constitution in which a powerless hereditary individual was replaced by a powerless elected one.  Big deal?  But then there’s the social aspect.

That’s what really matters.  Given our history, I think we’re looking at a massive culture shock.  Some will say that that’s exactly what’s needed, a good shake-up – I agree , but if we have to shake anything, let’s start with the newly sprouted leylandii and the knotweeds rather than the mature oaks.  Whatever you may feel about injustice on the broader field, carping about irreversible historic wealth and privilege is a stupid place to start.  Get over the distractions – last weekend proves that we’re more than capable of enjoying distractions - and get focussed on the real stuff.


  1. Well said, but enjoy the distractions also. The distractions are as, if not more, important to many of us as, than, the important stuff.

  2. Indeed, well said sir. As an aside, I am continually amused by the national acclaim attributed to St George who was, in fact, a Syrian.

  3. I'm a bit weird about the whole issue. Being brought up in the West Indies with a fairly corrupt political system as the norm, I'm neither patriotic or overly political.

    I tend to think of the monarchy as being a tourist related business with absolutely no say in anything of importance.

    Outside of that, I'm not particularly interested. Perhaps I'm just intellectually lazy? I just think they're great celebrities who market the UK abroad. I wouldn't like to have their lives or to marry into theirs.

    Oh yeah and I'm with Sir Bruin, that whole St George thing is rather ironic.

  4. The Queen actually carries out around 400 official engagements per year. People say that the 2 mins she spends talking to them are minutes they treasure forever and never forget.

    That's her strength. She brings a lot of joy to ordinary people. She talks to them, makes them feel special and also brings much-needed cohesion to the nation because of what she represents.

    The fact that the tourists like the monarchy is nice and brings in lots of money, but HM's real role is to give us all a focus of cohesion. The Jubilee celebrations show just how successful she's been. God bless HM.

  5. I think we're in agreement here - leave it as is, it does no harm, a certain amount of good, and costs very little. Let's just hope the next one doesn't booger it up.

    I was wrong about Germany, by the way - the have a (largely invisible) president - the chancellor = prime minister.

  6. Yep - reading from the same hymn sheet. God knows we need as much social cohesion as we can muster right now.

  7. Oh yes, lets start with the scruffy stuff if we have to do any uprooting.