One of the problems of being ANTI-monarchist is that you’re essentially defining yourself as Against Them. A Negative Force. It’s sort of exhausting, curmudgeonly, bad karma. On royal bank holidays, you’re the Pain-In-The-Arse griping about the Windsors as you quaff a sneaky wee beer under the bunting ( note. there’s no bucking funting where I live). You’re the one offending the Nice Oul’ granny who likes Kate.
And when the media do pay lip-service to republicanism (almost never) we’re portrayed as quaint eccentrics, with outlandish views ( worth a listen to this mad monarchist from about 3.20). Bizarrely, it’s often framed as evidence of how jolly good sports monarchists are – sort of Isn’t Britain Bloody Great Because We Tolerate Those Who Question Her MAJESTY….
Part of the problem is that the positive case for a Constitutional Alternative ( I know…yawn right ? ) can’t be condensed into a pithy tweet or retort. I’ve tried.
But it’s good to plant the seed of an alternative UK, a Head Of State.
I say this because the as soon as you mention an elected President the monarchists veins begin to bulge and wee foamy bits of spittle appear on their trembling lip until they play their Ace Card…
“What ? I suppose you’d prefer PRESIDENT BLAIR ?”
This is an utterly feeble line of attack and in fact an insult to the electorate. As if that’s the best option. As if the trauma of being abandoned by the Windsors would put the public into such a depression that they’d immediately vote for a war mongering lying politician that the majority of them hate. When some monarchist clown pipes up with the President Blair line it simply affirms that they’ve never had the imagination to contemplate any alternative to the monarchy.
So if not Blair, then who ?
I remember years ago some columnist writing – why don’t we make Michael Palin our head of state ? He seems like a lovely man, he’s self effacing and polite. He’s good at meeting people from other countries without spouting lazy racist stereotypes, he smiles a lot, drinks tea and is kinda funny. I don’t care who our first elected head of state is ( or indeed, if we need one), but the stardust Michael Palin thought is a useful one just to contrast with the turgid spectacle of the Windsors double-breasting their way through the next century.
Or Clare Baulding. I mean, OBVIOUSLY I can’t bear her Barbour-Jacketed Top Girl schtick- but y’know – she’s like an uber Windsor only more skilled with the media. Horses, poshness, sport, communicates. And she’s gay which gives a bit of international kudos (there’s certain places in Empire she couldn’t visit).
A president could serve ten year terms, or retire without it being ‘a constitutional crisis’. President’s can be black, gay, disabled, catholic, muslim, eccentric, transexual – all those things that the Daily Mail would scream about if the Windsor family showed any sign of. A president would be entitled to more personal privacy – after all, the press have an absolute right to sniff around the Windsors private life because of the unignorable fact that the Head of State is dependent on bloodline. If they’re shagging around, it’s a perfectly valid story.
A president would also want the job, as opposed to some poor intellectually feeble snob out of his depth forever moaning that he doesn’t get enough influence on politics.
And it wouldn’t cost us so much. They could have one palace, instead of 8. They would have met real people before, and not have been brought up surrounded by flunkeys.
Of course, we’d get a duff Head of State occasionally – but….we do anyway. And if we get a Boris, we can always vote him out.
Finally, in these political times, consider that the queen gets £13m annually, and Prince Charles gets £19m from the Duchy of Cornwall.
Michael D Higgins, the poet president of Ireland has a salary of €270,000.
One of his first acts when elected…. was to reduce it to €207,000.
Well played Mr President.