05:38 GMT01 October 2020
Listen Live
    World
    Get short URL
    12254
    Subscribe

    The Queen’s name has been dragged through the mud this week with the UK Supreme Court ruling that her order to prorogue Parliament was “unlawful.” The incident has focused attention again on the monarch’s role as Britain’s head of state.

    A Labour MP told a fringe meeting of republicans at the party conference in Brighton on Monday night the monarchy was “indefensible” in the 21st century.

    Steve Pound, who will be stepping down at the general election, told a meeting of Labour For a Republic: “It’s not about economics or money. It’s about where the power lies. Power has to be accountable. It has to be something we can take back from them. We have to have a president we can choose. I feel that day is coming.”

    Roy Greenslade, a journalism professor and former editor of the Daily Mirror, said recent events had helped to fan the flames of republicanism in Britain.

    He said: “The Supreme Court judgement reminded us of the Royal Prerogative, which allows the Crown to be in Parliament in the person of the Prime Minister. When it comes to prorogation you have to remember that the Queen acted unlawfully. The Queen acted unlawfully. That’s one to think about.”

    A YouGov poll earlier this week found 62 percent of Labour Party members wanted a republic and Monday’s meeting heard that both Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell were republicans, although they were not raising the issue.

    ​Mr Pound said: “Everyone has affection for the Queen…but does that affection roll down through the generations? Would we fight in the trenches for Prince Andrew?”

    Mr Pound said defenders of the monarchy give myriad reasons why the Royal Family should be retained but none of them were credible.

    “People say the Queen gives us stability. They say she is the rock in a crisis. B******s. She either gets involved or she doesn’t. I’m sorry but is the role of the monarch defensible in the 21st century? I’d say it is not,” said Mr Pound.

    Mr Greenslade agreed: “People say they’re harmless and they’re good for tourism. It’s totally untrue. More people visited Chester Zoo than Windsor Castle. The most visited palace in Europe is Versailles, which in case it escaped your attention (is in a republic).”

    He said: “Royalty is at the apex of the class system” and added that Britain would never be a truly egalitarian country while it retains a monarchy.

    Mr Greenslade said: “People say it is unpatriotic to be a republican. No, it’s not. Love of country does not preclude the liking of one’s rulers. We have the worst national anthem in the world. The only one devoted to revering one person. No atheist republican like me can sing the words of that pathetic song.”

    ​Mr Greenslade said he now lived in the Republic of Ireland, which he said was a “role model” and he said the last three presidents - Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and Michael D. Higgins - have “shown the virtues of an elected person who can represent their country properly with good grace.”

    He said: “The monarchy costs us £300 million a year, that’s 100 times more than the funding of the Irish president, and Ireland doesn’t have princes, dukes or duchesses jetting away to parties with despots, tycoons and paedophiles.”

    Mr Pound, a Roman Catholic, said one of the most lamentable aspects of the current system was that Catholics were forbidden by law from marrying into the monarchy.

    ​Ken Ritchie, one of the founders of Labour For a Republic, told the meeting about what US Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s father had told her as a child when she visited the Capitol in Washington DC.

    Mr Ritchie said: “He told her ‘that belongs to you. You own the government because you are a citizen. That’s yours.’ How many parents could go to Westminster and say ‘that’s yours’ to your children?”

    Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said removing the monarchy should be part of a complete restructuring of British society which for centuries has seen a “small economic elite in charge.”

    ​She said the monarchy was seen as a sideshow, a “third term issue” but she said: “You need to tackle the question of entrenched power and the monarchy is at the heart of that.”

    Ms Runswick said: “There could not be a better time than today to have this debate. The Supreme Court ruling was not just exciting but incredibly important. This was an attempt by an arrogant prime minister who has never had to face an election to exercise power left over from the days of absolute monarchs.”

    Mr Pound said: “Boris Johnson, who considers himself to be a cavalier of modern politics, is becoming more and more like King Charles I every minute and look what happened to him!”

    King Charles I, the last of Britain’s absolute monarchs, took on Parliament but was defeated in the English Civil War and executed in 1649, only for his son Charles II to be restored to the throne after the death of the Parliamentarian ruler Oliver Cromwell.

    In 1688 the Bill of Rights ensured the rights and limitations on the monarchy and in Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling, Lady Hale referred to it.

    Tags:
    John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Queen, royal family, Labour Party
    Community standardsDiscussion