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My kids have Jubilee projects to do for school. I’d like to object to this because I’m opposed to the institution of monarchy. I don’t consider the coming celebrations of Betty Windsor’s 60 years on the throne as harmless or fun. I see it as the barefaced promotion of class inequality as natural, even desirable.

I’d like to ask the school to excuse my kids from this exercise but I’m worried that it will single them out; make them politically conspicuous and so perhaps cause them grief at the hands of their peers. Kids can be very sensitive to standing out in the 'wrong way'.

I also live in Loyal Ulster and so I’m reluctant to draw attention to my anti-monarchist feelings in front of my neighbours. Many would see me as a Lundy!

I really resent the school treating the Jubilee like it is something uncontroversial that the whole community can support and enjoy. It clearly isn’t despite the picture painted by the BBC of one nation under the royal-groove.

I wonder would Louise Mensch champion my right to not feel intimidated at this time as she did Nick Clegg’s, when UK Uncut held a street party outside his house at the weekend?
Original Lee

There are some battles that arent worth fighting. You cant win and you could hurt your kids

That's what I've concluded, Lee.

To be fair to the school, I suspect that they have to be seen to mark the Jubilee in some way. Schools in Northern Ireland are often exposed to the sectarian politics of the place in unwelcome ways; Holy Cross being a particularly well known case. Rather more comically a Catholic school was critised by a Willie Frazer, a unionist spokesperson, for flying the flags of Poland, Turkey and Italy on Facebook.

Fraser mistook the Italian flag for an Irish flag, and commented: "This is a school in Tyrone flying the Irish flag on the school grounds why".

HE also claimed the school was "the junior headquarters of SF/IRA youth, or it may as well be".

"I wounder do they also train the children in how to use weapons, for it seems they can do what they wont."

Full sorry story here:

My point is, even schools may feel coerced into 'celebrating' something thy know many of their pupils and their parents are uncomfortable with or opposed to.

I find that there is something deeply unpleasant about stealthy intimidation that accompanies royal occasions, that belies the BBC's version of happy comunal festivities. I wonder is the situation the same in the rest of the UK?

I would like to object to the existence of the BBC on the same grounds. After all, the fact that the head of state is inherited rather than elected is a political issue.The BBC should be neutral and not in the way that the Daily Telegraph is.

Rabelais, Lee is right. But there will be other issues where you can make a stand.
Willie Frazer is an offensive fool: maybe he is looking towards standing again at the next District Council Elections!
Original Lee

When I was in the US, we faced on a daily basis a similar provocation. All school kids are required at the start of the day to pledge allegiance to the flag and the president of the USA.Both I and my son found that deeply offensive, but we were in a country where people were pledging allegiance at the drop of a hat and singing God bless America. There are flags everywhere. People drive around with flags on their cars and Support Our Troops stickers; all petrol stations and shopping malls have gigantic flags; and many houses have a flag outside. Every sports event starts with the pledge and the singing of the battle hymn of the republic, and the flags are massive and everywhere. This was clearly a battle we couldnt win. My son and his friends used to quietly recite obscene poems during the pledge. That is not uncommon.

It's like that where I live now. Mine is the only house in the street which hasn't been painted red, white and blue.
Original Lee

Do you mumble obscenities under your breath ?

I don't even know what an obscenity is.

God save the queen
She ain't no human being
There is no future
In England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
There's no future, no future,
No future for you

God save the queen
'Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
when all crimes are paid for

its almost taboo in this country to criticise the Monarchy because it implies that we'e all equal - as a matter of principle - whereas fashionable arguments about economic fairness are usually less explicit or equivocal about absolute equality.

its a sure sign of the morally degenerate nature of bourgeois culture.
Jon Teunon

Rab: I still vividly remember making a paint and cut out figure of a British Guardsman (I think he was in a Scots Guards uniform) at Primary School in Hertforshire back in 1977 along with the rest of the class. Not surprisingly I enjoyed the whole exercise. Still didn't stop me from from growing up to be a Republican!

So you're responsible for Scotland leaving the Union Jon.

I'm sure Rabs instincts are right - being seen to challenge the school's teaching has its risks. I had much the same issue with religious education in my children's school and decided to put up with it. as Jon says most children are capable of reaching their own conclusions when they are ready.

personally I don't talk much with my children (now entering their teens) about politics very much. I gave then a choice whether to eat meat although we never cook it. I taught them the basics of evolution and I've made sure that any comments they picked up of a racist or discriminatory nature were challenged.

I suppose theres a risk that they will grow up to be "well adjusted" Tories !

However I'm not sure that 'politics' can easily  be 'instilled' in young people by adults whether parents or children .

Just look at the Miliband brothers. They were taught to be socialists by their parents and then there's Hilary Benn.
Jon Teunon

So you're responsible for Scotland leaving the Union Jon.

Surely you mean for the SNP losing the devolution referendum of 1979 Michael? My influence can only extend so far!!!

The 1979 referendum result was probably my fault. I was in Scotland and voted against devolution. That said, I thought then, (and still think,) that what was on offer then was unsustainable. – A complete pig’s breakfast.

I have just been watching one of the most sycophantic displays of obsequiousness towards the monarchy in the Scottish Parliament, by the First Minister. Any respect I had for him has now gone.

Michael, I'm not going to defend the FM, or the SNP but let's not get side-tracked by the necessary nonesense of the constitution. What matters at the moment is the arguements the SNP but forward in Gvt and in relation to the referendum: the influence of the Left within the SNP and beyond the SNP.

If you respect the monarchy you disrespect democracy. The FM is a humbug.

According to the Guardian the Queen only has £132m in her purse. However, this is mitigated by a handsome income from the state. At a time when many don't have enough to live on.
Original Lee

Watching Salmond fawning over the queen is surely not a pretty sight. But I agree with Paul that the issues at stake in the referendum are far more important, and we shouldnt get distracted by a side show.

That just illustrates that you are standing in the wrong place.
Original Lee

Everyone is always standing in the wrong place.

Not so.
Original Lee


Perhaps nothing is certain but it was always inevitable that you would say 'Tis' one day.
Original Lee

Nothing is inevitable ?

Apparently the queen is down to her last 134 million, so still needs that public money coming in.
I'm sure that Alex Salmond noted that, has informed her majesty she will always be around in scotland as a distant relative of the Stuart dynasty, and any chance of a cheap loan as he is skint.

Michael, I agree with your point about respect. But if Salmond is a humbug then so were Benn and so are those LRC and other Leftish Labour MPs who affirm their Allegiance to the Crown. Not to seek to advance working class interests if you are a LP socialist MP would be to be a humbug.

The point about Windsor’s wealth is well made. So far as I know Salmond both supports the monarchy and has never quibbled about the family’s personal wealth.

About 10 days ago, the Queen was cheered to the echo on a visit to Accrington, one of the materially poorest towns in England. That shows the nature of the task in front of socialists as much as anything in the wider economic crisis.

Labour MPs had to decide a long time ago whether to take the oath of allegiance or fail to represent their constituents in parliament. In retrospect, they probably made the wrong decision, in my view.It was a battle postponed and thereby lost. Now we reap the consequences of it. Better to accept the challenge. A republican is better than a nationalist, but trying to combine the two is an error. An internationalist is better than a nationalist, particularly when they are a republican.

The argument over the Queen is presumably only partly an issue about the Constitution because the Queen doesn't have defined constitutional powers.

The arguments is whether power and wealth in society should be inherited or not and whether therefore having an elected head of state is appropriate. That is a meaningful debate.

The issue of who runs Scotland is not. Arguments about indepemdence are not arguments about principle. They are arguments about arbitrary lines on a Map
Jon Teunon

I don't see why we should give up on apparent lost causes like Republicanism just on the grounds that there are more important matters to be going on with. Even though the British left (in the broad sense of being to the left of New Labour) is losing every available cause at present I think it would be rash to assume that this is because we are over stretched or lacking focus.

I think it is more down to our argument as a whole appearing too vague and out of step with the majority of people. Perhaps appearing obsessively anti-Monarchy might reinforce this impression but I wager that the anti-consumerist tag is even more of a trun off for many more people. So ultimately our principles need inform our response rather than sheer expediency.

So I think neglecting opposing such a blatant example of unearned wealth and privilege makes socialists look inconsistent and unprincipled with the risk of alienating a lot of people who instinctively turn the TV/radio off at the merest mention of a Windsor. If socialists can't even try to support these people who else will?
Original Lee

I don't see why we should give up on apparent lost causes like Republicanism just on the grounds that there are more important matters to be going on with.

I see no reason at all why you shouldnt dedicate your energy to this if its what really interests you, and there is no reason why I or others should join you if we feel that other priorities are more important.

Jon, Republicanism is not a lost cause, so don’t be downhearted. As Michael linked, there is Republic to join. I have not joined because although its coffee table republicanism is fine so far as it goes, its essentially valid position is constructed in ‘Janet and John’ terms.  Tony Benn in, ‘Arguments for Democracy’ puts the same arguments much more cogently.

What the Republic site says is all literally true and I would not dismiss it. But the powers Republic attributes to the Queen are almost all exercised as Crown Prerogatives; that is they are exercised on Ministerial, (usually Prime Ministerial,) capital A, ‘Advice.’ In what it says, Republic surprisingly avoids context. For example the suggestion that the choice of PM is in the end the Queen’s to make is simply absurd. Look at the way The Earl of Home, (he had not yet renounced his peerage,) was appointed in 1963. Look at the way Cameron was appointed 47 years later. Each in its way represented a constitutional innovation which diminished the Queen’s role as purported by Republic.

Oddly enough, since it was beyond Republic’s purlieu, their thesis is best illustrated by the way in which the respective Governors- General of Canada in 1926 and Australia in 1975, removed one Prime-Minister and appointed another. Ironically, in the former case the King’s representative was trying to strengthen the position of House of Commons in relation to his own  exercise of constitutional authority.

I agree with Jon. All the time monarchy, just like capitalism, is represented as being 'normal' and goes unchallenged then many people will just accept it as being the way things are. For some, it is only when what appears to be settled and given, part of how things are, is challenged and cogent reasons presented against its legitimacy that they seriously start to think about it. Of course, this is not easy for most people to do in home or work situations. The conscious left needs to take on the task. Perhaps next time when Charles becomes King.

No comment-I'm lost for words.
Jon Teunon

Paul: I agree that some organisations like Republic fail to make their case very well; however this aspect only affirms my tendency to be 'downhearted'!

Michael: To be fair Jan Royall may have a point (although being a Baroness she is hardly a very convincing and impartial advocate). For all we know Elizabeth Windsor may be an admiral human being who genuinely strives to do the best she can.

But for me this possibility only strengthens the argument against the Monarchy as it highlights how dependent the entire system is on the personality and competence of the current occupier. While a genuine monarchist should support the ruler however useless and self serving they are, those who are at pains to stress the qualities of Elizabeth W - however venal their motives may be in reality - actually highlight just how 'fair weather fans' the majority of British monarchists may turn out to be.

Enter Charles...even if they are not as suspect and arrogant etc as many of us already believe, if those like Jan Royall are even in half correct about the virtues of his mother, then any of his defects and shortcomings will be thrown into the sharpest of relief and very much count against him.

There is evidence that they are a dysfunctional family.My concern is that there are so many of them. I can't afford to keep them and nor can the British military budget tolerate the weight of them indefinitely. Can't we have a mass sale ? Somebody must be interested in a collection of royalist eccentrics.
Original Lee

The Queen gets a £44bn valuation for family 'Firm’
It is known as “The Firm” and perhaps with good reason. For a new study estimates the commercial value of the Royal family at more than £44 billion.

By Robert Mendick,  27 May 2012

The report suggests that the monarchy — if it was put up for sale and valued like any other business — is worth more than Tesco and Marks & Spencer combined.
It concludes that the Royal family exudes a “halo effect … from the pageantry and history” that is worth billions to the British economy.

The total value of £44.5 billion includes £18.1 billion of assets including the Crown jewels and royal palaces. On top of that, the monarchy is reckoned to be worth an additional £26.4 billion because of the economic benefits it brings to the UK, through the boost to tourism and other industries.

It is believed to be the first time that the monarchy has been given what would best be described in corporate finance circles as a market capitalisation value.

Brand Finance, the brand valuation consultancy that compiled the report, says that in contrast to the monarchy’s value at £44.5 billion, Tesco is worth £33 billion while M&S is valued at £7.4 billion.

Brand Finance’s Jubilee Report 2012, published this week to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, concludes: “The Monarchy is a powerful endorsement for individual and company brands and for the nation brand. We believe that it is making a significant contribution to the task of driving Britain out of recession.”

The report adds: “Monarchy is more than a historical throwback to the days of the British Empire but a much-needed impetus for economic growth in the United Kingdom.”

The findings will counter concerns that the extra day’s bank holiday on Tuesday June 5 will hinder attempts to drag Britain out of recession.

The report analyses the Royal family as if it were a company, examining its physical assets as well as its wider impact on the UK economy.

The report takes into account all the assets associated with the monarchy, including the Royal collection of art works and the Crown Estate properties such as Regent Street, and puts a value on them.

Brand Finance then adds on top what it calls “intangible assets” — including the boost that it says the Royal family brings to Britain through tourism and free advertising overseas.

The consultancy even puts a value on the system that allows about 800 companies, including the likes of Fortnum & Mason, John Lewis and Weetabix, to use Royal Warrants. The report estimates that Royal warrants are worth £4  billion to the companies that get the “The Firm’s” seal of approval.

David Haigh, Brand Finance’s chief executive, writing in the report’s introduction, said: “[The Monarchy] is one of the most valuable of all British brands. Whatever one thinks about the constitutional principle, there seems little doubt that the institution of monarchy adds significant annual earnings and long-term economic value to the UK.”
According to the research, the bulk of the £18.1 billion of “tangible assets” comprises the Crown Estate, valued at £7 billion, and the Royal Collection, priced at £10 billion. On top of that it values the Duchy of Cornwall estate at £729 million and the Duchy of Lancaster at £383 million.
The intangible benefits of the Monarchy are clearly harder to put a value on and the analysis will inevitably stir debate.

A Brand Finance spokesman said its estimates were based on what it called “the uplift to the economy attributable to the monarchy”.

The report reckons that the Royal family’s contribution to tourism is worth an extra £500 million each year to the British economy — which Brand Finance converts into an “intangible asset in perpetuity” of more than £16 billion.

On top of that there is an estimated £8.3 billion value attached to the revenue that the Crown Estate properties bring in; an advertising value of more than £4 billion for all the free publicity the Royal family receives overseas; and a further £4 billion value put on Royal Warrants.

The £34 billion “intangible asset value” of the monarchy is offset by an estimated £7.6 billion worth of costs. These include a long-term security bill of a little over £3.3 billion, while any potential buyer of “The Firm” would be saddled, according to Brand Finance, with Civil List costs estimated at £461 million and travel at £195 million.

But all that is offset by the economic boost to the UK, which the report claims is massively increased by such events as last year’s Royal Wedding and this year’s Diamond Jubilee, even taking into account the extra bank holidays and the work lost on those days.
The report states: “When special one-off events … are taken into consideration, the benefit for the economy is enormous.

“Novelty mugs and tea towels aside, the public relations benefits generated through the world’s intense interest in the Royal family are equally significant … The value of what is essentially free publicity for the United Kingdom when considered in the long term, is enormous.

“The halo effect which results from the pageantry and history it represents, is something which is leveraged effectively by numerous brands, as well as the Monarchy itself, to provide a boost to both the economy and the brand of the United Kingdom currently valued at £44 billion.”

Full report:


Can we buy shares ?
Original Lee

Wouldnt that be something...convert the monarchy into a coop !

I feel quite oppressed by monarchists at the moment. It's keep your head down and your mouth shut time. It's like living in an authoritarian state.

The only flags and bunting around my way are in the supermarket, so far none in the windows or hanging from houses round about. If the sun shines there will be barbecues no doubt, but the money will go on bacon, burgers and chicken plus beer etc.

I don’t necessarily draw the conclusion that people around me are republicans or socialist, just indifferent to the monarchy.

Don't you live in Peterborough ? I know Peterborough with its Tory MP. I live surrounded by fluttering union flags and the occasional republican hanging from a tree.
Jon Teunon

Even in deepest Surrey those houses sporting unions flags and bunting are very much in the minority; I suspect mass indifference is the overriding response from most of the UK - staunch monarchists and Republicans are probably considered equally eccentric by a large proportion of the population!

You obviously haven't noticed that monarchists have taken over the entire BBC. Of course, you could argue that they already had control of it, but now it is more explicit.

Chewie, all I can say is I’ve seen one pensioner in disability buggy with a St. George flag flying at the back and he is about ninety two. We know the BBC is the mouthpiece of the state so it’s going to promote the monarchy, possibly allowing the odd dissenter in the name of free speech, but not to be taken seriously.

Whatever Cameron and the Tory Party would like to think global capitalism isn’t dependent on an archaic feudal head of state in Britain. I think Coca Cola, Nike and the Xbox are far more important, so teenagers in their bedrooms are far more important than Daily Mail readers and their flags and pictures of Mrs Elizabeth Mountbatten re Saxe-Coburg and her husband Mr Philip Mountbatten.
Jon Teunon

Is it cynical to suggest that one of the causes behind the widespread and ingrained sycophancy in the media including the BBC is the desire of various journalists, editors and producers to increase their prospects of being rewarded in the honours list sometime in the future?
Original Lee

That is certainly not restricted to coverage of the royal family. Private Eye calls them "The Street of Shame" with good reason.

I've heard reference to an opinion poll which shows that 80% of the population support the monarchy, but can't locate it.

I feel quite oppressed by monarchists at the moment. It's keep your head down and your mouth shut time. It's like living in an authoritarian state.

Reactionary opinion seems to want to make an issue of it.

It parades the privalege in  multicoloured regalia, it has co-opted a flotillia of ships and has produced tables laden with cakes and sickly drinks under acres of Union Jack bunting. That makes a statement but it is low key and it demands that those opposed to privalege respond with explanation.

"why can't the man just eat the cakes and watch the boats. we're having a harmless celebration. he always has to spoil it by making a political point"

Gamschi described the appropriation of culture as an instrument of class war in his comments on the common sense.

it has become the "common sense" of the day that the Monarchy is a good thing - however the fact that something so obviously perverse has become 'accepted' as natural by so many makes it easy for the Right to sneak in arguments unchallenged.

my copy of the evening standrad was like a extended advertisement for the Monarchy. every line a subtext. Britain has a natural order from the Queen down to the happy and deserving poor. how could you possibly fail to concur.
Original Lee

Rolling Eyes  Rolling Eyes Gamschi  Rolling Eyes  Rolling Eyes

It is Gamschi when you've had a few. Those sickly drinks. Anyway, Jenny does make a good political point and shouldn't be mocked by crypto-monarchists like you.

School Jubilee party passed off peacefully, without incident or arrests. All the kids in outrageous fancy dressed. A huge parade of little kings, queens and beefeaters. And more union flags than you could wave a stick at. The whole affair looked like the BNP had gatecrashed a Monster Raving Looney constituency meeting.

To be honest, looking around the ultra-loyal little town I live in the celebrations look remarkably muted. The twelfth of July is coming and there is no more union flags and bunting out than usual.

I don't trust opinion polls on the monarchy at all. I suspect that a majority of people are happy enough to have Betty Windsor on the throne. There interest and support would wane if Charles takes over the firm and they'll comeback if Wills and his attractive wife steep up. There's a hardcore of monarchists but many others' allegiances depend upon the personality upon the throne. Given a bank holiday most of us will spend it with family and friends whatever the occasion, so what's the big deal?

What I really object to is the disproportionate and biased coverage of the event. If most people want to be subjects of her majesty, fine, but at least offer some balance to the reporting. Alas, the media and the broadcast media in particular is incapable of that. It needs events like the Jubilee, the Lympics, royal weddings, national sporting events and the occasional state funeral for commercial purposes, even the supposedly public service of the BBC.

The media will tell you that it only strives to reflect what is going on but actually it is active in constructing such events. Without wishing to sound too much like Jean Baudrillard when he said that the Gulf War never happened, but without the media, the Jubilee simply wouldn't be happening.

If you are disinterested in the Jubilee then you will find that the next few days you will watch television and feel like you are looking in on another country: a sort of strange facsimile of the place you live but warped through the lens of media. The UK topography of the UK will be recognisable to you but it will be peopled by the infantilized and eccentric.

Try not to be alarmed. Do not adjust your set. Normal service will be resumed in time.

We really can't compete with this. I've lived in NI and witnessed orange marches. The political left has no flair for these things in the UK. We should send a few dozen comrades to France to learn how it is done and then declare a socialist activists day every year on May Day.
Original Lee

mocked by crypto-monarchists like you

Shome mishtake,surely (Ed)

Chewie, I took a walk to the local paper shop, we have about a hundred households in our close and counted one bungalow and one house with union flags, red, white n blue balloons. So rabid support for the monarchy isn’t that high around here and my son went into town and says they are the only homes he saw with any bunting, I can only conclude that either people aren’t that interested and it’s all hype by the capitalist media and state, or the poor subjects are so hard up and down trodden by the austerity measures of the Tory/Liberal coalition only two households could afford a packet of balloon’s and a string of union flags to hang across the front of their homes. Very Happy  Idea  Crying or Very sad

It's just Peterborough. Have you seen the attendances Peterborough United get ? For a city that size it's a disgrace. They used to get almost as many when I lived there, it was half the size and in the old 4th division. No enthusiasm. No wonder they vote Tory. Charlie Swift is still on the council though. He must be well over a hundred by now.

Swift became an independent, as he fell out with the Labour Party, but you are correct there is a lot of apathy and it didn’t help matters when  Helen Brinton was elected as new-labour MP, the original Blair Babe and a total disgrace, a good example of ambition and ego exceeding intellect and ability.

Disgraceful behaviour.


Queen's Diamond Jubilee: A distraction from failing economy?-A simple question-05-30-2012

Our hidden poor: The desperate families begging for food handouts to keep alive

War on workers: Shock at employment law reform report

"I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress!" Gaffe-prone Prince Philip's latest howler to attractive blonde well-wisher

Why is it raining on the Thames Jubilee Gala day ? A gap in communications ? Cool

The Queen, Balmoral, and the need for radical land reform in Scotland

Jubilee celebrations staffed by unpaid, workfare security. The grime underbelly of it all...

Is this the last day ? Who here was invited to St Paul's ? I feel that the organised proletariat have taken a bit of a bashing, with just a few isolated incidents of defiance. We must do better next time. What is the 80th anniversary called ?

In december 1999 the "guardian" printed an article naming the 1899 list of top british landowners, compared with 1999. Needless to say they were aristocrats in the vast majority, and the two lists were practically identical. I'm sure that if you continued going back by a century each time to William the conqueror. The same names and titles with a few exceptions for treason would be there, which really sums up our aristocracy, monarchy and class system.

What shall we do about it ?

Now that the Jubilee is over, there are so many aspects of it to have boosted the sickbag industry; it is difficult to know where to start. But it did bring out this morning an aspect which would make me vote for independence if there were the remotest chance of an SSP lead Gvt in Edinburgh.

This morning on the Today programme, The English writer Tessa Dunlop was making a good fist of the arguments the liberal metropolitan elite put up against the Monarchy. I have considerable regard for Peter Hennessy, as the only bourgeois historian who is not at root a reactionary. – Even if he does seem to induce genuflection from Jon Cruddas. Hennessy was being his usual amiable and sentimental self. Dunlop ruined the thrust of her argument by smugly claiming in the way of her type that, ‘Celts’ were not supporters of the Union Flag and were, ‘straining at the leash.’
Fortunately for Dunlop, I’m unlikely to be Minister for Culture in the first Peoples’ Government.

Mention of the landed aristocracy and their power brings to mind that Balmoral in all its 49000 acres, is larger than the only remaining remnant of the Holy Roman Empire, Liechtenstein.

"What shall we do about it ?"

Well i know what we can't do, and that is to expect the current bunch of politicians in our main political party's to change anything. They can't even get the lord's abolished after one hundred years. That of course includes the labour party who are more entrenched in the class system and monarchy than anytime in their history. Until we can get a real socialist party who will carry out radical policies nothing is going to change. If this country continues to decline and working people find themselves in an edwardian social society. The upper classes will still be ok, they will still have their land. Something that defined their class centuries ago and still does, only radical land owning reform can break that mould. Rich man in his castle and poor man at his gate is still alive and well, and just waiting for a big return.

Getting a socialist party is easy. We can all join the SPGB. I think they've got three members at the moment. Getting one which is capable of doing anything significant is very difficult.
Original Lee

Miliband Hails 'Selfless' Queen

Everyone in the UK should aspire to emulate the Queen's "care for the common good of all", Ed Miliband said in a Diamond Jubilee message from the Labour Party.

Joining in a chorus of tributes to the monarch's 60-year reign, the Opposition leader said the weekend's festivities would also celebrate "everything that is best about our country".

The nation would be "showing solidarity and community in street parties and concerts all across this country", he said as he prepared to attend some of the highest-profile official events.

"On behalf of the Labour Party, I want to pay tribute to Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee," he said in a statement. "She has served this country and the whole of the Commonwealth for the last 60 years with unstinting energy, loyalty, and dedication.

"Hers has been a life of extraordinary public service. She exemplifies a care for the common good of all to which we can all aspire."

Throughout her reign, he said, the Queen had been "tireless, unflinching and unerring in her commitment to the people of Britain, and stoical in the face of personal loss. With Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at her side, she has serenely witnessed to three generations a selfless dedication to duty".

Mr Miliband said the coronation itself - with whole streets gathered round a single television set - and the silver and golden jubilees had all brought the country together. "We celebrate not just the Queen's reign, but everything that is best about our country and the values we share. The things of which we are rightly proud.

"We are a pragmatic nation, passionate about our traditions. We are proud of our home but open to the world. We are patriotic but generous of spirit. Positive and optimistic.

"Days like the Diamond Jubilee turn neighbours into communities where the young and the old come together in celebration. Showing solidarity and community in street parties and concerts all across this country."
He concluded: "The Queen's reign is a golden thread that links people across the country and across the generations: united in the respect and genuine affection for Her Majesty. And in the reverence she has inspired in people across this country, across the Commonwealth, and across the world."

He wasn't talking for me nor many other Labour Party members.I am on record as saying that the monarchy is a class issue.
Original Lee

He's not talking for you; but I imagine he is talking for the majority of the PLP, for a large swathe of members, and very much for the Newlabour leadership establishment. I am sure English Nationalist patriots, Jon and Mo' will be delighted. Put this together with Ummuna's hymns to the City, and one wonders why they dont just join the Coalition.
Jon Teunon

Mention of the landed aristocracy and their power brings to mind that Balmoral in all its 49000 acres, is larger than the only remaining remnant of the Holy Roman Empire, Liechtenstein.

Any genuinely left approach requires a far more equitable allocation of resources than we have at present - which obviously includes land reform. The fact that this is still the case in 2012 underlines how right-wing the UK still is - both substantially and symbolically.

As I have pointed out before Kevin Cahill has demonstrated just how the events from our distant past still dictate the circumstances of today:

This is a useful source Jon.I've passed it on through Facebook.

The book appears to be out of print Jon.

Although the book was published sometime ago, it really is worth reading.
Land ownership and how it was/is acquired and maintained is germane to the particular characteristics of capitalism in the UK. Although the link between land ownership and the aspiration for home ownership by many who live wholly or predominantly by the sale of their labour power is frequently ignored, it is nonetheless powerful. Add to this the deep obsession many of those who are economically working class but sociologically ‘middle class’ have with maintaining the value of their property and the social standing and exclusivity of their property’s location and we have a substantial strata in default support of the land owning  elite.

The obsession the sharp elbowed and interlinked sociologically middle class, (whichever political party they support,) have with what in most cases amounts to home ownership, rather than extensive land ownership, makes them loyal allies of those who do own land. The current mode of capitalism with its particular construction of celebrity and comodification even provides an expression of market driven culture with this the sociologically middle class very much in mind: Downton Abbey and the recent documentary about the Chatsworth estate. Of course the Guardian/Independent reading element is able to indulge a frisson of ‘radical’ distaste if they wish. But the fact of their own neo-liberal liberation for the self and the aspiration to a second home, (or indeed the difficulties of buying it,) ensures that this ‘radicalism’ soon passes.

The Book is available via Abe Books. They act as a link to many book sellers. The copies available seem very expensive. £45-120+

Can you put this on Facebook LRC Paul, below where I have posted please ?.

The information on the Website is some years out of date.It would be a pity if folks didn't have access to more recent information. Does anyone know where this may be found please ?

Jon Teunon

It is very disappointing to to read that the book is now so expensive - were they hard back versions Paul? Around 2004 I picked up a paper back copy at a remainder bookshop in Charing Cross Road for far less I think well under £10. Published in 2002 it was priced £16.99.

I completely agree with your point about the role of idealised and inaccurate programmes like Downton Abbey have as propagnada for the status quo. The attention to material detail (i.e. costume and architecture etc)in programmes like this not only helps to obscure the extent to how romantacised they are but increase its affect.

Add to this the deep obsession many of those who are economically working class but sociologically ‘middle class’ have with maintaining the value of their property and the social standing and exclusivity of their property’s location and we have a substantial strata in default support of the land owning  elite.

This is a very interesting point. Why so many people appear to fail to understand how much this aspect of our culture contributes to them and their children having to pay 'over the odds' and in so many cases being denied access to home ownership merits serious examination by the left.

People don't think about it. It isn't made evident that so much land and property remains in private hands. I have tried to launch a campaign to have the Normans evicted but the cunning devils have intermarried with the indigenous population, whoever they are. They seem to have done this everywhere they conquered. Swine. I will complain to my paternal grandmother about it. She is a Relf. This is a Germanic name brought into this country by the Normans. I don't understand why the site haven't updated their information recently. Is there no more information available ?

Jon, the books are hardback or paper back. I remember paying about ten quid in the 90s for a paperback copy via Postscript. (Always worth a look, by the way). I’m waiting for the book by Mark Perryman, - the latest beneficiary of Lawsonian favour, to become available in the remainders market. Meanwhile, bearing in mind that Mr Perryman as been granted an unprecedented three puffs for his book on the Compass site, I’d bet that he will be standing for the Compass Management Committee later this year.

Regarding your comment about home ownership, perhaps a more interesting question would be why home ownership means what it does mean in Britain. Additionally we could ask why much of the ‘Left’ have not simply advanced home ownership as some kind of norm, but have actively abandoned any commitment to social homes for rent…and have effectively joined in with the Tory agenda presenting social housing as nothing more than a place for life’s underclass. I cannot remember the date, but I well remember a letter in Tribune in the 00’s saying that the battle for council and housing association housing was lost and that Labour should give its political and policy support to owner occupation.- which of course it did.
Original Lee

Ed Miliband's Englishness Speech in Full

7 June 2012

Read Labour leader Ed Miliband's speech about what it means to be English here in full:

It is wonderful to be here in the Royal Festival Hall.
Built for the Festival of Britain in 1951, just a year before Her Majesty the Queen ascended to the throne.
1951 and the Festival of Britain and the Coronation in 1953 were landmark events for our country.
They helped to shape its modern identity.
2012 is a year when once again that identity is in the spotlight.
This week we commemorated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
It was a fantastic celebration.
I thought it spoke to so many qualities of our country:
Our sense of community.
Our gentle sense of patriotism.
Our stoicism and sense of humour in the face of terrible weather.
And the Union flag flying everywhere.
In two days time things will be a bit different.
The European Football Championship will start.
England is there.
But not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
It won't be about the Union flag so much any more.
Here in England, the cross of St George will go up.
It will fly from houses, cars, shops and pubs.
Then, before we know it, the Olympics and Paralympics will be upon us.
And we will be back to Team GB and the Union flag once more.
This is an incredible year to live in this country.
It is a once in a generation summer.
But these multiple allegiances, the coming and going of flags, raise serious questions too.
What does this summer say about the United Kingdom?
What does it say about our identity as a people in 2012?
The irony is that in one part of the United Kingdom, Scotland, the debate about who we are is in full force.
To stay in the United Kingdom or to leave?
To be Scottish or British or both?
But this debate about nationhood and identity should not simply be confined to one part of our country.
Those of us who believe in the United Kingdom must make the case throughout our country.
That's why today, as we stand between the Jubilee, the European Championships and the Olympics, I want to reflect on who we are as a country, and where we should be trying to go.
My case is this:
First, we are stronger together as a United Kingdom and that essential strength comes from our ability to embrace multiple identities.
The nationalist case, wherever we find it, is based on the fallacy that one identity necessarily erodes another.
I believe we can all be proud of our country, the United Kingdom.
And of the nations that comprise it.
Second, that means England too.
And those on the left have not been clear enough about this in the recent past.
We must be in the future.
We should embrace a positive, outward looking version of English identity.
Finally, we should also proudly talk the language of patriotism.
It is part of celebrating what binds us together and what we project outwards to the world.

Let me start with my own story.
All my life I have had cause to be grateful to our country.
Neither my Mum nor my Dad came from Britain.
As I have said on other occasions, they arrived here as refugees from the Nazis.
My Dad was 16 when he caught one of the last boats from Ostend to Britain.
He was a Jew.
German soldiers were moving through Belgium.
His very life under threat.
Britain took him in.
He joined the Royal Navy, trained for part of the time in Scotland, and then settled in London.
My mother arrived in Britain having spent the war in hiding under a false name, sheltered by heroic people.
Her father was murdered because he was Jewish.
Britain took her in too.
It offered them both not only refuge but a new home.
And it gave them a place to raise a family.
That was a wonderful gift.
But Britain offered my mum and dad more than that.
Our country allowed them to stay true to who they were.
They did not have to hide their past.
They did not have to pretend they were someone else.
Jewish but not religious.
I am a Londoner by birth.
I lived in Leeds during formative years growing up.
And became a long-suffering Leeds United fan.
I spent time in America and taught at Harvard for a while.
Added the Boston Red Sox to my sports teams.
I got elected as MP for Doncaster North.
Fell in love with Justine, not Jewish, from Nottingham and we had our two boys.
So you could say my family have not sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years.
This is who I am.
The son of a Jewish refugee and Marxist academic.
A Leeds supporter, from North London.
A baseball fan.
Somebody who looks a bit like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit.
If spin doctors could design a politician, I suspect he wouldn't look like me.
But I know what I am proud of.
I am proud to represent the people of Doncaster North.
I am proud to lead the Labour Party.
I am proud to be Jewish.
I am proud to be English.
And I am proud to be British too.

Now I grant you, this is not an entirely typical story.
I am one of only quarter of a million Jews in Britain.
I have lived abroad, even if only briefly.
And being a politician is not a normal job.
But I think that my story is a British story.
To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity.
More than one place in mind when you talk of home.
A Welshman living in London regards himself as Welsh and British.
Someone born in London living in Glasgow remains a Londoner still.
This is the reality of modern day Britain.
Why does this matter to the debate about the United Kingdom?
In my view, it is absolutely central.
Of course, there are economic and political arguments advanced for Scottish separatism.
But even though they often don't admit it, the logic of the nationalists' case goes beyond politics and the economy.
It insists that the identification with one of our nations is diminished by the identity with our country a whole.
After all, they want to force people to choose.
To be Scottish or British.
I say you can be both.
This came home to me the other day when one of my neighbours in London, a Scot, made clear his wish to have a vote in any independence referendum.
It's not going to happen, but his point holds:
His Scottish identity is real, along with his identity as a Londoner and someone who is British.
London has one of the biggest population of Scots of any city in the UK.
Bigger than many in Scotland.
Having to say:
Scottish or British
Welsh or British
English or British
I don't accept any of that.
It's always a false choice.
And a narrow view of identity would mean concern for the young unemployed in Scotland does not reach Newcastle.
Or that we in England would care less for the pensioner in Edinburgh.
What a deeply pessimistic vision.
It's a mistake wherever you find it.
We know that when we think about this summer of celebration.
You won't have to be Scottish to wish Sir Chris Hoy well as part of Team GB.
And I guess there'll even be some people in Scotland who'll be supporting England in the football next week.
Nor is this unique to our present summer.
Throughout our history we've been improved by each other.
Think about our recent politics.
The poll tax.
The Scots led the way in rejecting the injustice of Mrs Thatcher's policy.
And the rest of the UK followed.
And with devolution, Scotland and Wales have led the way from the smoking ban to free pensioners' bus travel.
Think about our culture.
It has been continually reshaped by our shared conversations throughout history.
Our great musicians, poets, actors, artists, scientists constantly moving across national boundaries.
And think about our economy too.
There are more people in Scotland working for large companies headquartered in the rest of the UK, than there are working for companies headquartered in Scotland.
We have prospered and suffered together.
And it's not just about the present.
It's about the future too.
Alex Salmond says that his nationalism is a progressive, internationalist position.
He says he has a vision of Scotland moving forward, in Europe.
I know he means what he says.
Scotland does need to be a fairer, stronger, richer society than it is today.
On that the SNP and I agree.
But whatever peoples' views on Europe, economic and social progress can best be achieved by the United Kingdom staying together.
Our identities, our economies are too intertwined for anything else.
Change will come when we in the United Kingdom work together, not when we pull apart.

Yet if we are committed to enabling a vibrant Scottish identity to work within the United Kingdom as we are, so too surely we must do the same for England.
And that brings me to my second point.
We in the Labour Party have been too reluctant to talk about England in recent years.
We've concentrated on shaping a new politics for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
And this was one of the greatest achievements of the last government.
We have rightly applauded the expression of Scottish identity within the United Kingdom.
But for too long people have believed that to express English identity is to undermine the United Kingdom.
This does not make sense.
You can be proudly Scottish and British.
And you can be proudly English and British.
As I am.
Somehow while there is romanticism in parts of the left about Welsh identity, Scottish identity, English identity has tended to be a closed book of late.
Something was holding us back from celebrating England too.
We have been too nervous to talk of English pride and English character.
For some it was connected to the kind of nationalism that left us ill at ease.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Union flag was reclaimed from the National Front.
Since Euro 96, English football fans have helped to reclaim the flag of St George from the BNP.
Now more than ever, as we make the case for the United Kingdom throughout the United Kingdom, we must talk about England.
Because people are talking about it and we cannot be silent.
And because if we stay silent, the case for the United Kingdom in England will go by default.
There are people like Jeremy Clarkson who shrug their shoulders at the prospect of the break-up of the Union.
Others will conjure a view of Englishness which does not represent the best of our nation.
Offering a mirror image of the worst aspects of Scottish nationalism.
Hostile to outsiders.
England somehow cut off from the rest of Britain, cut off from the outside world.
Fearful what is beyond our borders.
Convinced our best days behind us.
I don't think like that.
I love the nation that we have.
And I am optimistic about the future we can build together.
Of course, political leaders should be cautious about simplifying our national qualities.
As George Orwell wrote in the Lion and the Unicorn: “Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different?... How can one make pattern out of this...”
But I know what I love about England.
What I remember when I think about English identity.
What I love is the spirit of quiet determination in the face of adversity and the sense of common decency that goes with it.
My father – as so many parents did —talked about the spirit of the Blitz.
I saw a modern version of it in Toll Bar, the part of my constituency that was horribly flooded, as many parts of Britain were, in 2007.
I saw neighbours being rescued by neighbours in canoes.
A community determined to rebuild its life together.
By the irony of modern Britain, Abraham, a Zimbabwean opposition activist, ended up in Toll Bar, just before it flooded.
I will never forget talking to Abraham afterwards.
He told me that despite the tragedy of people losing their homes, it was such a positive time to be in England and live in Toll Bar.
Because of the spirit of a community coming together.
I see a similar spirit now, in this summer of 2012, in my constituent, Sarah Stevenson from Bentley.
Sarah is one of our great sportswomen.
A tae-kwon-do World Champion with a real chance for a medal in the Olympics, perhaps even a Gold.
That's heroic enough.
But Sarah is so much more than that.
But even while she was training every hour she could, Sarah was also caring for her mum and her dad who were living with cancer and a brain tumour.
Taking time, to look after the people she loved.
Staying out of the spotlight when the world was at her feet.
Putting others before herself.
Caring as well as competing.
That's Sarah Stevenson's story.
And to me that will always be the best of England.
Now, there are so many stories of Sarah's kind in other nations too, of course.
There are many heroes in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland as in England.
And beyond our borders too.
Celebrating national characteristics does not mean claiming they're unique.
Or that we're necessarily the best.
But we can still celebrate Sarah's story.
A quiet determination.
A generosity of spirit.
A willingness to do things for others.
Without recognition or reward.
A sense that the people we love matter more than anything.
That we don't need applause all of the time.
All of that always stays with me when I think about England.

Even if Labour has been too quiet about England in recent years, it has not always been so.
As my colleagues Jon Cruddas and John Denham have done so much to remind us, there are great Labour traditions that can help us think about England.
These are the traditions of the early trade unionists and co-operators.
Of the great Victorian visionaries like William Morris and John Ruskin.
Whose writings on England inspired the founders of my Party.
At the core of our traditions are three sets of ideas.
First, that those looking for the best of England should always begin with its people.
The essence of English identity is not found with the grandeur of public office or in Westminster and Whitehall.
But in the courageous communities across our land.
Wherever people come together to struggle to improve their lives and the lives of others.
From those who campaigned for universal suffrage, for equality and for gay rights.
To those who tirelessly give up hours of their spare time to organise Sunday league football, meals on wheels, or to put on a Jubilee street party last weekend.
That's where the best of England is to be found.
Second, a belief that we should always come together to conserve the very best of our nation.
And we can do so without being Conservatives.
We've seen that over this last year in the battle to protect the NHS.
Just as we saw it in the campaign to protect England's forests from being sold off to the highest bidder.
We know that the greatest of our institutions save us from the worst of the market.
Protecting us from the continual calculation of pounds and pence.
Reminding us that there is more to life than money.
These institutions and values make us who we are.
Third, a belief in the ability to adapt, while still keeping our sense of ourselves.
England is a nation built from the start on trade with outsiders.
It has great cities that are world cities.
We must always debate the right approach on immigration.
And never run away from the issues it throws up.
Our villages and towns have always been mixtures of locals and newcomers.
At their best, these are places where people come together to make something new.
A common good.
Learning to live together, not separately, in new ways that serve us all.
These three beliefs –
in the dignity of the people,
in the necessity of conserving the things we value,
and in the possibilities of progress
underpin my thoughts about England.
It runs throughout my politics.
I have talked about the need to secure our poorest a living wage.
Because that recognises the dignity of work.
It's an idea that came from working people.
I have spent much of my leadership talking about the need for a ‘responsible capitalism.'
An economy that works for working people.
That preserves the sense of justice and fairness that people value against an unregulated market.
And I have talked too about the need to restore hope among people that politics can bring the change they so desperately want to see.
All of this speaks precisely to the English Labour traditions I have described:
A politics that starts with people.
That builds a sense that we really are all in it together.
That getting through tough times requires a common spirit.
And that a better tomorrow will be built on the solid foundations of our past.
There are some people who say that this English identity should be reflected in new institutions.
But I don't detect a longing for more politicians.
For me, it's not about an English Parliament or an English Assembly.
The English people don't yearn for simplistic constitutional symmetry.
Our minds don't work in spreadsheets, just like our streets don't follow grids.
But there is a real argument here which does unite England, Scotland and Wales:
And that is about the centralisation of power in London.
This resentment is felt in many parts of England.
A sense that our politics is too distant.
Too detached.
I believe—and this is part of our policy review---that the best reflection of devolution to Scotland and Wales in England lies in taking power out of Whitehall and devolving it down to local authorities.
But when we think of England and English identity, we must never drift into just a technocratic discussion.
This isn't simply about which powers to devolve to which local authorities.
Important though that is.
I believe that reflecting on what is best in our stories of English identity is about much more than that.
It helps us think about what we should really value in our nation.
What our priorities need to be.
And it guides us towards our future.

Let me end with this thought.
What you might call the paradox of patriotism, growing up in the household I did.
At one level, although he would never have described himself as such my dad was a great patriot.
He loved his time serving in the Royal Navy.
He loved Britain for the home it had enabled him to build here.
The end of a foreign holiday would always be punctuated with the words: “It's so good to be home.”
At another level, he was very suspicious of narrow nationalism.
Scarred by wartime experience.
An avowed internationalist.
As I have grown up, I have realised that the two emotions are not in contradiction.
We must celebrate the great things about our country.
All parts of our country.
Labour has always been the party of the whole union.
Our very first MP was a Scot, Keir Hardie, who represented a Welsh constituency in a Parliament based in England.
It was a Labour Welshman, Aneurin Bevan, who gave our whole country the NHS.
It was an Englishman, Clement Attlee, who led the famous government of 1945.
And an Englishwoman, Barbera Castle, who brought equal pay legislation to all of the nations of Britain.
But our commitments don't stop at our borders.
Britain is at its best when it looks out to the world.
Here at the Royal Festival Hall, they are currently celebrating “the Festival of the World.”
What could be more appropriate when the Olympic and Paralympic Games come to our shores?
The eyes of the world are on the United Kingdom this summer.
People outside our country know that many people here are facing tough times.
But they also know that we have a country of which we should be enormously proud.
They see a country comprised of individual nations with their own heritage but a shared history.
They saw it in the Jubilee celebrations.
They will see it again in the Olympics and Paralympics.
These strengths should evoke more patriotism, not less.
A progressive patriotism.
Celebrating our differences but drawing us together.
Remembering our history.
But building a shared future.
Honouring our people.
And learning from their stories.
This is what I have learned from my own story.
This is what I am learning from our summer of national celebration.
And this is what I believe we all need to learn by reflecting on our country.
Original Lee

The left should love the Queen
Republicanism is the least successful democratic project in my lifetime, says Sunder Katwala.

“The King’s death really has swamped politics,” wrote a bemused Richard Crossman, the New Statesman’s assistant editor, in his 1952 diary. Even the Staggers office had become convulsed by debate over whether the magazine’s front page should carry a black border or not. The Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years in which the British left has been consistently surprised by the enduring popularity of the monarchy. This year’s surprise is that the monarchy has arrived in 2012 looking just as secure as it did in 1952, and rather more robust than it did 20 years ago. Perhaps it would be asking too much to suggest that the left should learn to love the monarchy, but it could learn quite a lot if it were to pause and try to understand the popularity of the British Crown.

For the Silver Jubilee in 1977, at least republicans could claim that the Sex Pistols captured the zeitgeist with their punk anthem “God Save the Queen”, which was banned by the BBC but still reached number two in the singles charts. The song’s taboo-breaking lyrics – “God save the queen/The fascist regime/They made you a moron/Potential H-bomb” – spoke to a generation. Thirty-five years on, with the monarchy more popular than it has been for two generations, many of those young punks are probably preparing to put out the bunting at a more sedate street party. I shall celebrate this jubilee, not protest it.

I can leave that to the few thousand who will join Republic’s anti-monarchy event. Its central target, rather oddly, is the jubilee flotilla on the Thames. Never before can the British left have mobilised to signal their disapproval against a thousand boats floating down the river on a summer Sunday afternoon. Republic promises “placards and speeches” in the area of Tower Bridge. Free speech and dissent are a good thing, so it all sounds very British. Presumably the aim is to persuade the million or so of their fellow citizens who will have turned out to enjoy the spectacle that it is time to dethrone the Queen. If the weather is good I, too, may head down to the river with my children. But I think we will probably watch the boats. Heresy for a former head of the Fabian Society? My teenaged self would have thought so.

I was a republican for a long time, growing up in the 1980s, living in Cheshire, in possession of a Scouse accent. My parents were from India and Ireland and it seemed the natural side to take. It wasn’t that I couldn’t identify with Britain. I grew up with the BBC. My parents both worked for the National Health Service. It had never occurred to me not to support England at football or cricket – especially against my dad’s beloved India – until Norman Tebbit tried to make it compulsory, by which time it proved a little too late to think about changing sides in protest. Yet the monarchy seemed to represent another Britain: tight, narrow and hierarchical.

I have given up. Partly it was the futility of the cause. Republicanism is probably the least successful democratic project of my lifetime, advancing not a single inch during the Queen’s reign. MORI found that 19 per cent wanted a republic in 1969 and that support has flatlined within a percentage point or so’s difference at almost every juncture across the four decades since. The jubilee effect has now induced a dip in support for republicanism to a record low of 13 per cent in a recent poll, as warmth towards the Queen combines with approval of the infusion of new blood from Kate Middleton.

Fortunately this doesn’t matter. No social change that matters to Britain is blocked by our constitutional monarchy. Britain was a relatively equal country for the first 30 years of the Queen’s reign, and more relatively unequal for the past three decades, if more socially liberal. Whether we are in or out of the European Union, whether we change the electoral system or elect those who sit in the House of Lords or devolve power or break up the United Kingdom are separate political choices. Those who want to emulate a more equal, Swedish-style society can hardly sustain a serious case for monarchy as the linchpin of inequality. Egalitarian Sweden has a monarchy, too, yet combines it with more equal opportunity and social mobility than the proud US republic, where attempts to challenge much starker structural inequalities often founder because of widespread belief in the “log cabin to White House” narrative of the American dream.

I was put off by the shrill and sour certainty of too much British republicanism. Any thinking republican can see that his is a minority cause, yet there is usually a complete lack of interest in why any sane person might disagree. The only explanation is that three-quarters of the population have been duped by monarchist propaganda. There is no democratic route to a republic without persuading a majority. Telling the people you need that they are stupid, unthinking drones has seldom proved an effective way to persuade converts. Democratic republicans are right to claim that theirs is a legitimate democratic project and, indeed, that it is in a noble tradition. However, they should also acknowledge that our constitutional monarchy, too, has democratic legitimacy as well as strong and sustained public support.

It was not always obvious that the British monarchy could adapt to the age of democracy. In the late 19th century, it struggled. Queen Victoria did not agree with Walter Bagehot’s description of her limited constitutional role. She did her best to keep William Gladstone out of Downing Street. The monarch was dangerously involved in partisan battles during the great constitutional crises over the Lords, to the paradoxical point of treason in supporting armed rebellion in Ulster.

Yet, from the mass enfranchisement of 1918, the monarchy proved an effective midwife to British democracy. It co-operated with the rise of the Labour Party, smoothing its path to being a trusted party of government. This helped to secure the allegiance of every Labour leader to the Crown, so that the monarchy faced no serious challenge at all from the New Jerusalem of Beveridge Britain.

The past 60 years presented new threats – declining deference and the rise of a 24/7 media culture; a social liberalism for which personal choice often trumps duty; above all, a change in who the British are, as we became a decisively multi-ethnic society. Had you described to Crossman in 1952 how much Britain would change over the next six decades, he would surely have been more confident that the monarchy would slip away into history.

The combination of celebrity culture and social liberalism looked like it would do irreparable damage. The decision to let “daylight in upon magic” by showing the Queen’s home life in the popular television documentary about the royal family in 1969 seemed a disastrous choice by the mid-1990s.

The projection of the model family with its fairy-tale weddings was undermined by the House of Windsor soap opera of the Charles-Diana marriage and Fergie’s troubles. After Diana lost her title, her celebrity status outshone royal protocol. Yet the remarkable public grieving for the “people’s princess” that followed her death was never a republican moment, as was said at the time. In retrospect, it looks more like a democratising bridge to the accessible royal touch of the William and Kate generation. The gradual rehabilitation of Charles and Camilla similarly suggests that the Windsors’s personal troubles ultimately did as much, maybe even more, to normalise them as the “model family” footage had done, making them seem more like us, not less. The nation’s first family now reflects the everyday complexity of many a Christmas in households around the country.

The final surprise has been how, against the backdrop of Britain’s increasing ethnic diversity, the monarchy has become more relevant. The journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown surely exaggerates when she writes that “I am the only black/Asian republican I have ever met”, but perhaps only a little. Bernie Grant, Labour’s most left-wing MP of recent times, was among the most vociferous royalists, taking much pride in the Queen’s interest and reputation in the Caribbean. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was mocked for wearing traditional African dress each year to the State Opening of Parliament. However, by making the connection between his black Guyanese origins and his seat in the Commons, he was reminding us that we share more history than we think.

The Diamond Jubilee tour began in Leicester – which by the end of this decade will become the first city in Britain that is no longer majority-white. The choice of location was deliberate, to celebrate the rise of multi-ethnic Britain since 1952. It was a deeply contested development a mere generation ago. Enoch Powell declared it a case of national suicide. Britain was madly “building its own funeral pyre”, he said in 1968, unless it sent our parents back in time to ensure that no more of us would be born here. Seeing that sea of thousands of Union Jacks being waved by those who, Powell had said, could never feel truly British, not even if they were born and bred here, I felt confident that most people would now see he was wrong.

What is the story of the British monarchy, if not that of a thousand years of immigration and integration? It has rebranded its Norman, Dutch and German origins into sturdy English oak. In this, it resembles most of the main sources of modern British pride – literature and history, sport and science, the NHS and the army, too. The fear is always that the foreign infusion will make us less us, but that isn’t how we think about tea, or fish and chips, or curry, or the Christmas trees popularised by the German Prince Albert. We don’t even think of the Queen as having married an immigrant, so well integrated into British life has her Greek-Danish prince become. Prince Philip enjoys broad popularity, running neck-and-neck with Trevor McDonald ahead of sports and pop stars in an Ipsos MORI poll asking which foreign-born figure has made the biggest positive contribution to Britain.

Rather fittingly, at the first of thousands of street parties across the country over the weekend, refugee Britons will gather in Brixton at lunchtime on 1 June to express their jubilee pride and gratitude to their “Queen of Sanctuary”, as well as the country that has given them the chance to contribute to a new life. Talking to some of those involved, I heard of several routes to a jubilee connection. For Grace Adok, there was the memory of the Silver Jubilee party in her school classroom in Uganda. To Bob Vertes, who left Hungary with his parents at the age of nine, the monarchy represents the stability that allowed him religious freedom in Britain. Paul Sathianesan’s journey as a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka now gives him, as a councillor in Newham, the experience of conducting the borough’s citizenship ceremonies each week. You won’t meet a prouder, more loyal subject of the Queen as he welcomes new members to the new British family.

The central republican point is that it is irrational to prefer a hereditary head of state to one we choose ourselves. Everybody understands this offer, but most would prefer to choose the Queen and her heirs and successors. Yes, we could elect a politician or celebrity to represent our sense of who we are. For a few people, that would provide a liberating sense of opportunity. For many more, the dominant emotion would be a deep sense of loss. Our constitutional arrangements would become a little tidier, more rational, and a little more like those of most other countries.

What we would lose is a distinctive, living link to centuries of British history, tradition and change, deeply resonant of the history of state and church, empire and Commonwealth, sacrifice and remembrance. The historic connection can be expressed in abstract terms, across three centuries of the United Kingdom and beyond, but I suspect its emotional power comes from the role it also plays, more across decades than centuries, as a public backdrop to our personal histories, as our memories of these national high days and holidays remind us of who we were and what we were doing in, say, 1977 or 2012.

The case for and against the monarchy has little to do with the instrumental accounting for trade and tourism, calculating taxpayer pounds put in and numbers of public visits put out in return. It stems from how we want to think about who we are as a people and a nation.

Reason isn’t everything in politics. That is why George Orwell’s 1941 essay “The Lion and the Unicorn” set out a vision of a very English revolution that would “leave anachronisms and loose ends everywhere”. His socialist England would abolish the Lords, but not the monarchy. “What,” he asked, “can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.”

This jubilee is not only about the Queen. It is about us. As we reflect on six decades of change, we have a chance to decide whether Britain can be proud of who we have become. Perhaps you would still rather wish the monarchy away. But, if you can’t make the protest, do consider raising a small jubilee glass to that.

Sunder Katwala, the former head of the Fabian Society, runs the think tank British Future.
Original Lee

Queen Elizabeth: Our finest public servant
MAY 31, 2012

The Labour Group in the Lords, like the Labour Party as a whole, is made up of both republicans and monarchists.  Personally I am a monarchist – but I was married to a republican and our children have followed in his footsteps – and I will certainly be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee this weekend with great gusto. But whatever our views of the institution, we are united in our admiration and respect for the Queen as our finest public servant.

The world has changed exponentially in the last 60 years, but there has been one constant in the life of our country and the Commonwealth, the Queen who has provided six decades of sustained and dedicated service. One just has to look at the photographs and hear the voice of the young Queen Elizabeth to be aware that she too has changed, as in many ways has her role. But unstinting public service has been at the very core.  Whilst her life will always be far, far removed from most people’s reality, she has striven to get closer to the people that she serves, to better understand their lives.

I know many people in their 80s, including in the Lords, some of whom still make a great contribution to civic life and their communities, but I know of no other 86 year old who has such a punishing schedule, travels so widely and who has given so many years to serve their country.  Some may say that wealth and privilege protect the Queen from the rigors of normality, and undoubtedly that must help, but her patience and fortitude are remarkable. As a human being she must sometimes long to stay in bed rather than dress up and attend yet another function, taking an interest in people who might not be the most scintillating company, attending state occasions when she longs for beans on toast.

As Lord President of the Council and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, I was privileged to meet and talk with the Queen on numerous occasions. She was always extraordinarily well briefed, delightful and unfailingly kind. This view was shared by tenants of the Duchy whose farms I visited and who have a special relationship with her, one of warmth and mutual respect.

One of my finest memories is of a dinner I hosted for the Duke of Lancaster – that is to say, the Queen – and all living former Chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster. Formal dinners can too often be tedious but this one was enjoyable and full of laughter.

As we can see from the celebrations being prepared, the marking of 60 years of dedication to the people of Britain has fostered a real sense of community and national unity. Public service has become a cause for celebration.

We are all too aware of the falling esteem in which politicians are held and of people’s reluctance to engage in our democratic system, either as activists or voters. Complaints are often made that politicians do not listen or understand the public’s concerns, and that their lives are so distant from those they serve that they cannot provide solutions to their problems.  These usually misguided criticisms and perceptions have harmed the ethos of public service.

Yet the Queen, whose life has not been immune to many challenges and the intrusion of the media, has managed to maintain her distance whilst putting people at their ease and also her privacy and dignity whilst in many ways belonging to the nation. We politicians have much to learn.

So as the Jubilee celebrations unfold, whatever our views of the monarchy, we should raise a glass to the Queen, the finest public servant who has made an exceptional contribution to the life of our country.
Original Lee

As the Queen tours the country to celebrate her Jubilee, a survey of 1,006 British adults showed eight out of ten (80%) supported the monarchy.

Just 13% were in favour of the country becoming a republic, the Mori poll showed.

The Midlands was shown to be the most Royalist, with 89% supporting a monarchy. Just 9% in the region favoured abolishing the monarchy.

Meanwhile just 76% of people surveyed in the South were in favour of a monarchy, while 17% said they would support a republic.

Support for the monarchy was highest among the older generation, with around nine in ten (88%) aged over 55 and the same number of over 65s saying it should remain in place.

And Conservative voters were found to be most likely to support a monarchy, with 96% favouring a monarch over a republic, in comparison to 74% of Labour supporters and 84% of Liberal Democrats.

Simon Atkinson, deputy chief executive of Ipsos MORI, said: “Support for the Royal family has always been consistently high but the Queen will enter her Jubilee celebrations with support for the monarchy running at record levels.

“Given the choice, 80% of Britons want to see Britain remain a monarchy, a jump of five percentage points, which could be attributed to the increased coverage of the Royal family because of last year’s Royal Wedding and this year’s Diamond Jubilee celebration.”

Ralph must be turning in his grave!

This is a modernised version of Blair’s ‘patriotic’ ideology of the late 1990s. Whilst it excises the ‘Cool Britannic’ claptrap with its crass commercialism and obsession with celebrity, the speech articulates better than did Blair, an essentially conservative British identity rebranded for the age of rightwing austerity and confidence, as English Nationalism. Lee I suspect will not agree, but Miliband appears to be putting clear blue water between Labour neo-liberalism and Maurice Glasman’s  ‘working class’ basis for English Nationalism.- Or rather Glassman’s attempt to a appeal  deeply reactionary construct of  the working class. Equally interesting, Eband makes a point of associating Jon Cruddas very specifically with this modernised reversion to pre-Blue Labour patriotism. We may conclude therefore that Cruddas has irrevocably broken with Maurice Glasman. This done, Jon Cruddas now has the ideology of English Nationalism as Labour neo-liberals intend to develop it,  if not to himself, certainly shared with those fellow elitists whose view of the working class is much more conventionally ‘new labour’ than Blue Labour.

Reading the speech, it is worth bearing in mind that James Purnell is close to Miliband and is the boss of the IPPR. He and the for some reason sainted, Billy Bragg, each in their different ways advocate the identity politics easily grafted onto an anti socialist Englishness. Each has claimed to identify aspects of English identity useful to the role of Labour in English politics.

Miliband has just been interviewed on the PM. No where in the interview did he mention such important aspects as appear as part of English identity as its strong politically working class socialist, co-operative and internationalist tradition.

But then he wouldn’t would he?
Jon Teunon

Regarding your comment about home ownership, perhaps a more interesting question would be why home ownership means what it does mean in Britain. Additionally we could ask why much of the ‘Left’ have not simply advanced home ownership as some kind of norm, but have actively abandoned any commitment to social homes for rent…and have effectively joined in with the Tory agenda presenting social housing as nothing more than a place for life’s underclass.

In response to your first question I think it is because home ownership appears to give such an advantage to the majority who do (a 2008 study by Halifax found that it was 69.8% although this was down from the previous year by 83,000 and this decline may have continued since due to the deteriotating economic situation).

Of course home ownership may not be such a blessing in reality as a 2003 report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation points out:

Finding that half of all people living in poverty are home-owners, this study calls for a re-evaluation of policy relating to home-ownership.

Half of those living in poverty in Britain today are home-owners. Yet policies aimed at those living in poverty are heavily skewed towards those living in rented accommodation. This report demonstrates the urgent need to re-evaluate our understanding of both poverty and home-ownership.

Drawing on data from the JRF’s Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey of Britain, it presents a detailed picture of the realities of home-ownership at the margins and provides evidence in support of the need for radical changes in policy towards sustainable home-ownership.

But the attraction of homeownership as an aspiration over rented accomodation seems obvious to me:

1)It can be passed on to relatives etc.
2)Any investment in it is liable to benefit the owner.
3)It allows a lot more freedom for the owner to choose where they live etc.

And so on. With home onwnership at times exceeding 70% those excluded indeed appeared to be in a separate class, denied the advantages I have highlighted above. Because of this once the revolution of selling off council homes had been carried out any relistic attempt to reverse this process while still being electable seems to have been ruled out - hence the willingness of so much of the left to accept this fait accompli with such apparent enthusiasm.

Whether this is for the better is of course another matter. And there is no obvious explanation why building more homes was abandoned, apart from perhaps the misplaced assumption that the 'market' would deliver any shortfall. In this sense both Labour and the Tories have clearly failed.

As the Queen tours the country to celebrate her Jubilee, a survey of 1,006 British adults showed eight out of ten (80%) supported the monarchy.

Just 13% were in favour of the country becoming a republic, the Mori poll showed.

The realistic prospect of a Republic in the foreseeable future is clearly negligible. However, the figure of those in favouring abolition of the monarchy never being higher than 20% (and at present even less) is very much tied to the personal popularity of the present occupant. What happens next may change the situation (although her grandchildren appear popular).

But it may be worth considering how other issues may compare to this one. For example what percentage of British citizens would describe themsleves as being socialist? How many would identify themselves as internationalists as opposed to nationalists or 'patriots'? What proportion would be willing to commit the necessary sacrifices in order to secure the required carbon emissions cuts according to the consensus of scientsists warning against anthropogenic climate change? And so on.

These factors may be connected in the sense that a majority of this country appear to be conservative and relunctant to change. Even though it seems increasingly apparent to some of us at least that radical change is necessary if we are going to avert catastrophe! Miliband's opportunism in pandering to deeply felt sentiments like patriotism and monarchism rather than trying to address far more urgent matters like climate change etc is clearly not going to solve the most serious problems facing us. However, it gives me no pleasure to suggest that it will probably make him more 'electable'...
Original Lee

Paul, I agree with the general direction of what you say. But I dont think there is any major policy differences between Glasman and Cruddas, Glasman has been putting out the same woogie-woogie for years. To the extent that he was known at all, he was known for these views when Cruddas befriended him and found Bluelabour with him. I think that Cruddas has just grown to distrust Glasman's capacity to manage his looniness. His unarticulated views are much more extreme than his published nonsense, and from time to time they slip out.

The thing about Newlabour is that it is and has always been highly imitative. It creates very little that is new or innovative. Glasman took Bluelabour from Phillip Blond. Cruddas took his communitarianism from the Big Society. Ed Miliband and Ummuna took their compassionate capitalism from Cameron. And the english nationalism stuff is an opportunist effort to capitalise on UKIP's successes, and to create something inspiring in England given that Salmond seems to have hit on a promising formula in Scotland. Cruddas is probably the least spontaneous and most "constructed" British politician I have ever heard. All of this stuff is manufactured for effect. It isnt organic, it doesnt hang together, and its all artificially derived. Cruddas shares a lot with Blair in this respect. Neither is an authentic personality. Its all stage acting.

Jon, I take your point about the realities of owner occupation and not being able to reverse the trend. But I’d still like to see Labour make efforts to rehabilitate the policy of building council housing for rent. It won’t do that of course. Meanwhile, the Tories via the always amiable and perpetually grinning Grant Schapps is pushing council housing more in the direction of the social housing schemes, they have in the US. Not a surprise, of course, but Labour will do nothing to reverse that trend; if/when they form a Gvt.  Although this will not apply to current tenants, the security of tenure and rights to succession are to be abolished. In addition, tenancies will be granted with the emphasis on people in work and will be terminated once the tenant is earning X.
Original Lee

Even leaving aside social policy, with the collapse of the housing market, from an economic point of view renting makes a great deal more sense.
Jon Teunon

I completely share your wish for a return to the social model Paul - however as you say both Labour and the Tories are not interested and showing no sign of moving in this direction.

I am not so sure Lee this is down to any 'collapse'. If at present 'renting makes great deal more sense', I would have thought that this is because the price of homes are so overvalued by comparison. The UK housing market has not collapsed - unlike in the US where prices are now considered 'about right' by many mainstream economists after a steep decline in value. (This has been attributed to a more 'realistic' - or perhaps brutal - approach to tolerating foreclosures in America and with owners having to accept a loss in value).

By contrast British homeowners have been relativley protected against foreclosures etc leading to a restriction in supply and a situation where prices are being kept 'artificially' high. For these reasons Britain's housing market is believed to be substantially overvalued with the assumption that this situation cannot last for much longer. But the expected fall in prices would then make homeownership more viable and worthwhile in economic terms as prices would then fall relative to those of rent and the condition for another housing bubble would return.
Original Lee
Jon Teunon

The first article only refers to the US (which I had pointed out has indeed already had a steep decline in property prices), the second one cites a Cambridge University study which agrees with my point that people are being pressurised into renting because of high property prices:

Most alarmingly, it finds that it is no longer just young, single people who are locked out of the property market and forced into an under-regulated rental sector due to rising house prices, falling real wages and banks that are unwilling to lend.

The same difficulties are now besetting families with children, many of whom are paying half or more of their income in rent and, as a result, have little or nothing left at the end of the month to save for a deposit.

And the final article claims that the UK housing market has gone back into 'hibernation' (with a 0.5% rise).

Nowhere is there any mention of there have being a 'collapse' in the present UK housing - although this could happen in the future. If one occurs then the economic advisability of buying will increase. Forum Index -> The UK State & Domestic Politics
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