Tag Archives: Republicanism

The Inconsistency of the #RoyalBaby Curmugeons

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http://twitter.com/robertsharp59/status/275632654727122944

The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant, and my Twitter timeline and Facebook wall have immediately been filled with curmudgeons complaining that the issue of #Leveson and other important stories will get buried. I think this may be an over-reaction – there will be other news reported in the papers tomorrow.

Most of the comments in my timeline were meta – discussions about the discussion, not a discussion about the news itself. This is unsurprising because of course, there is no actual analysis that can be done on this kind of story: Kate is pregnant. The kid will be born about 7 months from now. They will one day be monarch, regardless of gender.

I have little patience for those complaining about the level of coverage. Britain is an immensely influential country, and a new head of state – one that could potentially reign for decades – has just been designated. We went nuts for discussion of the US Presidential election, and the French Presidential election. The opaque appointment of a new Chinese leader was also well documented. Why should the emergence of a new British Head of State be any less talked about?

The madness is not the level of coverage given over to this story. The madness is that British heads of state are still chosen by the hereditary method. If you are annoyed, irritated or angered by the news overload, but you’re not a republican, then you’re just being inconsistent.

Making Do With The Monarchy

Heart and head are split over the monarchy. The moral case for a Republic is unassailable, yet I was filled with delight at yesterday’s pageantry. How to rationalise this?

I think it’s a form of what we call Making The Best of a Bad Job. A useful comparison is with the Premier League, a more regular spectacle. The way that league is commercially arranged is clearly damaging to football as a whole, and ticket-buying fans do not get value for money. Yet that doesn’t stop us thrilling at another close run title race, or another brilliant goal by the most obnoxious of the overpaid stars, Wayne Rooney.

In the sphere of politics, I entirely object to the counter-productive format of Prime Minister’s Questions, a barrier if ever there was one to reasoned policy-making. Yet, while it exists, I can enjoy the event and value the fact that our leaders can be held to account in such a robust manner.

So it with the Royal Wedding. I can hold that the Hereditary principle has no place, however ceremonial, in modern politics. But while it exists I can enjoy a history lesson that incorporates Bank Holiday drinking, street parties (including one in London a quarter of a million people strong), and the the pinnacle of UK fashion design. This not principle in action, but pragmatism. Making do with what we have. A very British trait, no?