The big day is closing up on us, with all the inevitability of a death sentence/England World Cup attempt and all the dread and misery that surrounds the two. David Cameron’s already been using the Royal Wedding as a stick to beat “politically correct” health and safety mad councils, declaring that people should be free to have street parties to celebrate the special day.
Needless to say the same principle does not apply to those want to demonstrate in the City Centre of Glasgow (unless you’re the orange order) or defend much more basic rights to protest at all – as we saw with the wave of political policing a few weeks ago, and now the shocking decision to prosecute Alfie Meadows for “violent disorder”.
Cameron’s argument is also pretty spurious given the total lack of enthusiasm for the Royal Wedding, particularly in Scotland where the only street parties in Glasgow were cancelled due to “lack of interest”. Pro-royalists will point towards a Guardian poll saying that the majority of the UK still thinks the monarchy are “relevant”. Unfortunately there is no regional breakdown of this poll – as it’s almost certain the support for the Royal Family in Scotland will be much lower than in England.
Despite this poll, even the most ardent Royalists must accept there’s a distinct lack of interest around this Royal Wedding compared to previous equivalents – Prince Charles and Lady Diana being the most obvious example. More and more people have had the scales removed from their eyes in how they examine society across the UK – millions of people no longer believe in the political or economic system, and are fundamentally pissed off with Britain full stop. This means there’s a constituency of people – even if it is a minority – who are able to see how unfair and bonkers it is to spend millions on the monarchy whilst politicians demand massive cuts to public services.
But the facts are the monarchy plays a useful role to the class of politicians, bankers, millionaires, media tycoons, industrials and spivs who run the UK. The monarchy are useful in three ways – socially, diplomatically, and politically – to the wealthiest in British society.
To take the first item, the monarchy are useful socially because they instill the idea amongst the population that not only is it ok to be filthy rich, but it’s ok to be filthy rich for no other reason than you were born into it. Given the massive amount of inherited wealth in the UK, that’s an idea a lot of powerful people in the UK would quite like to see made normal and not challenged. In fact, not only is it not challenged but the idea that folk can be millionaires out of our expense is put forward as something good and worth celebrating – somehow we “all benefit” from the monarchy, because of tourists, national unity etc. It’s at this point I would like to remind readers that Mickey Mouse is not made head of state in the USA because of folk going to Orlando, Florida for their holidays.
The monarchy are also useful as diplomats – they can engage in the grubbiest work with dodgy bastards and despots free from criticism. Take Prince Andrew – he’s been a close associate of Colonel Gaddafi, a corrupt Kazakh billionaire, a paedophile businessman and a Libyan arms dealer. Just being linked to one of those is generally enough to force a politician into an insincere, stage-managed, Thick of It damage-limitation style resignation. But not for the Royals – you can’t make them resign, nor can you attack them, lest you damage an “institution”. This makes them very handy for doing the dirty dealings of the British state all around the world. It’s also why the attendees at the Royal Wedding include the people who have been firing upon unarmed demonstrators for democracy all across the Arab world. If just one of these gange of murderers turned up at Labour or Tory party conference there would be an outcry – but because it’s the apolitical Royal Family, we can’t criticise that or be called “unpatriotic”.
The final reason the monarchy are important is the big one – politics. It may seem strange, given that we are repeatedly told that the Queen’s powers are only token – sure she has the ability to dissolve Parliament, but she’d never actually do it etc. The reality is the Crown Power’s of the Monarch have not only been used, they have been used multiple times within living memory.
Crown Powers have been used to prorogue (discontinue but not dissolve) the Canadian Parliament after the ruling Tories faced a vote of no confidence. It was used later on to suspend Parliament in Canada after the Government faced allegations of torture conducted by the Canadian military in Afghanistan.
The Crown Powers have also been used to deny justice for the people of the Chagos Islands – an Order in Council under Royal Prerogative was used to stop islanders who were evicted from their homes to make room for a US military base returning, despite Court rulings that would have allowed them to return.
The powers of the Monarch have gone even further, they have been used to dissolve a democratically elected Government against that Goverment’s will in Australia. Here the Labor Government had won a majority in the House of Representatives but not in the Senate, allowing their political opponents to block the passage of legislation. The Labor Prime Minister went to the Governor General to seek new elections for the Senate – but was instead dismissed by the Queen’s representative in Australia, an unelected Governor General. It’s use of these undemocratic powers which means that just under half of Australians backed Republicanism in 1999.
The campaign group Republic in the UK lists various other abuses of Crown Powers here – including but not limited to the banning of trade unions at GCHQ, the power to go to war and dissolution of Parliament for partisan reasons.
The bottom line is that while the Queen herself may not decide to go rogue and implement a dictatorship, her powers are used by supposedly democratic politicians throughout the rebranded British Empire to bypass parliament and civil rights. Crown Powers are a useful box of tools for these politicians, it’s for those reasons – and not tourism – that the powers of the monarchy still exist.
The Scottish Socialist Party is proud to be the only political party in the mainland UK to organise against the Royal Wedding and for Republicanism. We want an Independent Socialist Republic – different from the SNP’s view of Scotland, which would still have the Queen as head of state, and Crown Powers still able to be used on a supposedly independent Scotland just as they were used on Australia and Canada. We will be supporting two Republican events over the next couple of days,
The first is an SSP Republican Social at 7.30 in Maryhill Central Halls this Thursday. We will be having political speakers, music and song agitating and arguing for a Democratic, Socialist, and Republican Scotland that controls it’s own destiny and where the rights of all it’s citizens are determined by a Constitution – and not a feudal relic.
Secondly – on the big day itself – we are supporting a demonstration on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, to turn it into a Republican Mile. It’ll be on this Friday from 11.30 onwards and we hope it will provide a useful social for those of Her Majesty’s Subjects who were unfortunate enough not to receive an invitation.
VIVA LA REPUBLIC AND OFF WITH THEIR HEADS.