The Queen’s attendance at Cabinet was an awful idea

December 18, 2012 1:05 pm

I had a very uncomfortable feeling about the Queen’s visit to Cabinet today. At first I thought it might just have been the obsequious fawning of the print and broadcast media alike as they sought outdo each other in the bowing and scraping stakes. But although I found that stomach turning, that’s not the root cause of my discomfort.

Nor was it seeing the Cabinet – who allegedly run the country – line up to bow and curtesy before HRH. (Although the Republican in me wanted nothing more than for someone to shake her hand and greet her in a more conventional way, perhaps by saying “Nice to meet you Mrs Windsor”.)

No, what made me feel uncomfortable was that Elizabeth Windsor’s decision to turn up at today’s Cabinet meeting flies in the face of hundreds of years of (increasingly positive) precedent. The gap between the Royal Family and politics has been widening over the course of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. And in a mature democracy it should be widened far further, not narrowed.

Now I don’t want to sound po-faced (although I’m almost certain that I do), but it’s important to remember than in Britain (without a written constitution) just how reliant we are on precedent.

Having the Monarch present at a Cabinet meeting for the first time since the 1700s – even if it’s just for a nice chat – is not a positive precedent to set, and harms much of the sensible (but wrong) case for a constitutional monarchy.

The argument from traditionalists and monarchists whenever the role of the Royals in politics is raised as an issue is that the Queen plays a merely ceremonial role. That although she can choose a Prime Minister, veto legislation or call an election, that she chooses not to displays how benign she is.

We can now add “attending Caninet meetings” to the list of things that the Monarch can probably do if they want, now that the precedent has been set. They can sit there – benignly of course – as many of the major decisions of state are made and discussed.

What could possibly be wrong with that?

My concern as a Reasonable Republican, is that this increases the soft power held by the Royals, as well as the theoretical hard power they also have at their fingertips. And whilst the current Monarch is widely considered above politics (and is hugely popular), the probable next monarch is not above lobbying cabinet ministers, and is an intensely political animal.

Now on top of all of the other powers he stands to inherit, and the weekly audiences with the PM (a perfect opportunity for ear-bending), the precedent has now been set that the Monarch can attend meetings of the Cabinet. And sit in the Chair with the arms that denotes that the person seated there is “first among equals”. Quite literally usurping the Prime Minister’s seat.

And whilst the political whims of Prince Charles (architecture, alternative medicine) may seem rather benign, it is not so long since Britain had a monarch whose politics were far less benign.

That’s why I’m deeply uncomfortable about the Queen attending Cabinet. I fear the precedent this sets for more political future monarchs, who might see this as another diplomatic weapon against a democratic government they opposed.

But hey, I’m probably worrying for nothing. And what a lovely present they gave her…so it was probably worth it…right…?

  • OldSlaughter

    Ha ha. A barrel is scraped.

  • http://twitter.com/northernheckler nilsinela boray

    I’m with you – a so called ‘constitutional monarch’ should have politely declined any invitation

  • Hugh

    “a Cabinet meeting for the first time since the 1700s”

    All the other reports I’ve seen say it’s the first time sine Queen Victoria, so I don’t think you’re right. Since it was also a special occasion to mark the Jubilee, I think you’re slightly overplaying the danger posed to our constitution.

    • RedRiding

      The Cabinet Secretary and a historian on Today R4 this morning could find no evidence that Victoria attended a cabinet meeting…she apparently used to send letters to be read out,
      So the 1700s date appears to be correct

  • charles.ward

    “Having the Monarch present at a Cabinet meeting for the first time since
    the 1700s – even if it’s just for a nice chat – is not a positive
    precedent to set …”

    Surely it’s not a precedent if it has happened before.

    “We can now add “attending Caninet meetings” to the list of things that
    the Monarch can probably do if they want, now that the precedent has
    been set.”

    No we can’t. If I invite you into my house it doesn’t entitle you to enter whenever you want. The monarch can’t now demand to attend cabinet meetings, that’s absurd.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=715486331 Alex Otley

      Your house analogy is a bit simplistic. Given that Charles Windsor already has a reputation for sticking his nose in there is always the possibility of him using this as a precedent. Of course it requires the consent of the government, but if there’s a very pro-royal government and this sort of thing becomes more common then it would start a trend of the royals getting more involved rather than less so. Not a good thing.

      And it would be a precedent, because it overturns the previous precedent of the royals being careful to avoid politics.

  • AlanGiles

    Mark, I suspect if Blair or Brown had been PM at this time of the 60th anniversary she would have been invited and would have accepted the invitation. After all, to have refused might have looked just as political. It is widely believed she disagreed strongly with Mrs Thatcher in private and that the weekly audience could be frosty – I wonder what she says to Cameron in private?

    • Amber_Star

      I’m ever so glad I helped your career, David. I’ve always thought you were a nice young man; now you need to stop that oik, Andrew Mitchell, calling my subjects “plebs”; they’ll get ideas above their station! They’re serfs; & don’t you let them forget it! ;-)

      • Hugh

        Any evidence at all that the Queen holds such attitudes?

        • Chilbaldi

          Indeed. Didn’t Margaret Thatcher say that she suspected the Queen was a fan of the SDP?

        • Amber_Star

          LOL. Humour is also frowned upon when it involves the royals but politicians – our elected representatives – are fair game for satire, mockery & being the butt of endless jokes which mischaracterize them & the positions which they really hold on important issues! Thank you for illustrating the point which I was making!

          • Hugh

            Well, normally people mock politicians, however unfairly, on the basis of some evidence in support: Gordon Brown’s temper, for example. In its absence I’d say the humour tells us a lot more about you than Lizzie.

          • Amber_Star

            Do you have any evidence for your assertion that politicians are mocked on the basis of evidence? ;-) BTW, It’s nice to see you believe you’re on ‘pet name’ terms with the queen; I’d bet you don’t call her ‘Lizzie’ to her face though, do you?

          • Hugh

            Yes: no one ever mocked Gordon for being too cheery. I am on very good terms with the queen. Never a crossed word.

          • Hugh

            Yes: no one ever mocked Gordon for being too cheery. I am on very good terms with the queen. Never a crossed word.

          • Amber_Star

            I’m glad you’ve caught on to the flippant tone of this exchange. That’s made me cheery!

          • Amber_Star

            I’m glad you’ve caught on to the flippant tone of this exchange. That’s made me cheery!

          • Amber_Star

            I’m glad you’ve caught on to the flippant tone of this exchange. That’s made me cheery!

          • Hugh

            Yes: no one ever mocked Gordon for being too cheery. I am on very good terms with the queen. Never a crossed word.

    • aracataca

      I know that you hold the Queen in great affection Alan alongside Mervyn King and Natalie Bennet. No disrespect intended but I do find the list of people that you hold in awe as somewhat peculiar. While in general I am not an admirer of the Bolsheviks I do think their approach towards the monarchy had some merits.

      • AlanGiles

        Why do you always have to try to start these snide little arguments?. Whatever else you can say against the Queen, at least she didn’t send us to war on a false prospectus. Please, Bill – go away and play with somebody else. Preferably somewhere else rather than here.

      • AlanGiles

        Why do you always have to try to start these snide little arguments?. Whatever else you can say against the Queen, at least she didn’t send us to war on a false prospectus. Please, Bill – go away and play with somebody else. Preferably somewhere else rather than here.

      • AlanGiles

        Why do you always have to try to start these snide little arguments?. Whatever else you can say against the Queen, at least she didn’t send us to war on a false prospectus. Please, Bill – go away and play with somebody else. Preferably somewhere else rather than here.

        • aracataca

          Unfortunately I do not share your enthusiasm for Monarchy. That’s a legitimate point of view. I know you don’t really believe in democracy or the right of others to hold different views to yours but as a Labour Party member I certainly have a right to comment on what is ostensibly a Labour Supporters’ site.

        • aracataca

          Unfortunately I do not share your enthusiasm for Monarchy. That’s a legitimate point of view. I know you don’t really believe in democracy or the right of others to hold different views to yours but as a Labour Party member I certainly have a right to comment on what is ostensibly a Labour Supporters’ site.

          • AlanGiles

            Fair enough. What I was objecting to was the way you always try to start rancorous arguments with me personally. For example, the exchange the other day on the repulsive Grant Schapps. Although it is patently obvious that the high profile names on all sides of the house who moan loudest about what they perceive as “benefit cheats” are themselves guilty of the most appalling lapses with their own “expenses” you couldn’t let it go without several attempts go get me to change “all” to “most”. In fact I c an only think of one high profile name who wasn’t so tarnished, and even he has skeletons in the cupboard in a different way.

            You just seem to want to take a contrary stand for it’s own sake. I don’t admire Royalty per se’ (in my view some of the younger ones are pampered and fawned to without any good reason – If Prince William’s wife had not been a Princess, she would have been given some peppermint and a bucket rather than a long stay in hospital a few weeks ago). In the matter of the Queen however, this is a lady of 86 who has served this country well for 60 years, has never claimed to have walked past drawn curtains during the day implying that those inside are benefit cheats, she has never bought shame to this country (unlike certain members of her family), or like certain Proime Ministers with their war-mongering and cash for honours schemes. I think she is entitled to a modicum of respect from sll of us. You don;t have to admire the institution without having some affection for one of it’s members any more than you can have regard for a politician regardless of party, even if that party is anathema to you. When Natalie Bennett, whom you seem to have a particular “thing” about starts flipping her houses, or claiming for cleaning her duck-pond, or imaginary cleaning of her flat, or buys an £8000 TV set with our money, as dear old Gerald Kauffman did, or pleads mental ill-health to avoid facing charges and the consequences for embezzelling money to pay for her dry rot, then, you can rest assured, I will attack her with as much force as I do the tarry fingered of all the other parties.

          • AlanGiles

            Fair enough. What I was objecting to was the way you always try to start rancorous arguments with me personally. For example, the exchange the other day on the repulsive Grant Schapps. Although it is patently obvious that the high profile names on all sides of the house who moan loudest about what they perceive as “benefit cheats” are themselves guilty of the most appalling lapses with their own “expenses” you couldn’t let it go without several attempts go get me to change “all” to “most”. In fact I c an only think of one high profile name who wasn’t so tarnished, and even he has skeletons in the cupboard in a different way.

            You just seem to want to take a contrary stand for it’s own sake. I don’t admire Royalty per se’ (in my view some of the younger ones are pampered and fawned to without any good reason – If Prince William’s wife had not been a Princess, she would have been given some peppermint and a bucket rather than a long stay in hospital a few weeks ago). In the matter of the Queen however, this is a lady of 86 who has served this country well for 60 years, has never claimed to have walked past drawn curtains during the day implying that those inside are benefit cheats, she has never bought shame to this country (unlike certain members of her family), or like certain Prime Ministers with their war-mongering and cash for honours schemes. I think she is entitled to a modicum of respect from all of us. You don;t have to admire the institution without having some affection for one of it’s members any more than you can have regard for a politician regardless of party, even if that party is anathema to you. When Natalie Bennett, whom you seem to have a particular “thing” about starts flipping her houses, or claiming for cleaning her duck-pond, or imaginary cleaning of her flat, or buys an £8000 TV set with our money, as dear old Gerald Kauffman did, or pleads mental ill-health to avoid facing charges and the consequences for embezzelling money to pay for her dry rot, then, you can rest assured, I will attack her with as much force as I do the tarry fingered of all the other parties.

          • AlanGiles

            Fair enough. What I was objecting to was the way you always try to start rancorous arguments with me personally. For example, the exchange the other day on the repulsive Grant Schapps. Although it is patently obvious that the high profile names on all sides of the house who moan loudest about what they perceive as “benefit cheats” are themselves guilty of the most appalling lapses with their own “expenses” you couldn’t let it go without several attempts go get me to change “all” to “most”. In fact I c an only think of one high profile name who wasn’t so tarnished, and even he has skeletons in the cupboard in a different way.

            You just seem to want to take a contrary stand for it’s own sake. I don’t admire Royalty per se’ (in my view some of the younger ones are pampered and fawned to without any good reason – If Prince William’s wife had not been a Princess, she would have been given some peppermint and a bucket rather than a long stay in hospital a few weeks ago). In the matter of the Queen however, this is a lady of 86 who has served this country well for 60 years, has never claimed to have walked past drawn curtains during the day implying that those inside are benefit cheats, she has never bought shame to this country (unlike certain members of her family), or like certain Prime Ministers with their war-mongering and cash for honours schemes. I think she is entitled to a modicum of respect from all of us. You don;t have to admire the institution without having some affection for one of it’s members any more than you can have regard for a politician regardless of party, even if that party is anathema to you. When Natalie Bennett, whom you seem to have a particular “thing” about starts flipping her houses, or claiming for cleaning her duck-pond, or imaginary cleaning of her flat, or buys an £8000 TV set with our money, as dear old Gerald Kauffman did, or pleads mental ill-health to avoid facing charges and the consequences for embezzelling money to pay for her dry rot, then, you can rest assured, I will attack her with as much force as I do the tarry fingered of all the other parties.

          • aracataca

            With regard to your first point your use of the term ‘all’ when referring to
            those who demonise the unemployed was pertinent to the debate. Indeed it was the inference by those who demonise the unemployed that ‘all’ the unemployed are sitting about on their sofas all day that made your use of the term ‘all’ problematic. To spray everybody with the same brush on account of one or two common characteristics tends in my view to be invariably false- In a post Auschwitz world to say ‘they’ are ‘all’ like this or ‘they’ are ‘all’ like that has surely become self evidently false.

          • AlanGiles

            Bill. I have to make a correction – It seems the one-high profile name I
            was talking about (Field) was not entitrely innocent in the expenses
            scandal:

            http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/01/30/birkenhead-mp-frank-field-repays-expenses-of-4-000-plus-100252-25719080/

            Though – to be fair – he is a
            little innocent compared to the likes of McNulty and Grayling. Almost a virgin.

            What else about St. Frank?. Well:

            From:

            http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/frank_field/birkenhead?gclid=COn-5rCfprQCFefMtAodDncAGg

            “1. Remunerated directorships

            Medicash Health Benefits Ltd (non
            –executive). Address: Merchants Court, 2-12 Lord Street,
            Liverpool, L2 1TS. In my capacity as non-executive director I
            attend meetings and offer advice. I was appointed non-executive
            Chairman
            of the Board on 20 June 2011.”

            and (ibid)

            “Co-Chair
            of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration. Migrationwatch
            UK provides secretarial, research and administrative support,
            pays for printing costs and maintains the group’s website.
            Quiller Consultants, which is a consultancy, is paid by its
            client, Migrationwatch UK, to act as consultants to the group.
            (Registered 24 May 2011)”

            Involved in Sir Anthony Green’s nasty little xenophobic
            outfit as well….

            With all due respect, Bill I find your allusion to Auschwitz in this context absurd and rather distasteful. You read too much Rob Marchant

        • aracataca

          Unfortunately I do not share your enthusiasm for Monarchy. That’s a legitimate point of view. I know you don’t really believe in democracy or the right of others to hold different views to yours but as a Labour Party member I certainly have a right to comment on what is ostensibly a Labour Supporters’ site.

    • aracataca

      I know that you hold the Queen in great affection Alan alongside Mervyn King and Natalie Bennet. No disrespect intended but I do find the list of people that you hold in awe as somewhat peculiar. While in general I am not an admirer of the Bolsheviks I do think their approach towards the monarchy had some merits.

    • aracataca

      I know that you hold the Queen in great affection Alan alongside Mervyn King and Natalie Bennet. No disrespect intended but I do find the list of people that you hold in awe as somewhat peculiar. While in general I am not an admirer of the Bolsheviks I do think their approach towards the monarchy had some merits.

    • RedRiding

      Well Tony didn’t invite her after her 50th Jubilee in 2002 so why would they have done so on the 60th?

    • brianbarder

      The Cabinet wouldn’t have dreamed of inviting her to attend its meeting without first making sure by discreet enquiry of the Palace that the Queen would be happy to accept such an invitation. Personally I agree that it was a misjudgement on the Cabinet’s (or Mr Cameron’s) part even to take soundings about such an invitation, and on the Queen’s part to have agreed to accept it. It risked giving the impression, even though a false one, that the Queen is somehow associated with the Tory party (despite the presence in Cabinet of assorted LibDems too) and with the coalition’s policies of raping and plundering the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

      OTOH I would argue that the Queen should remain available to resolve certain kinds of constitutional deadlock or dilemma as someone widely accepted as being neutral in party political terms. She should be free to decide whether or not to accept the recommendation of a resigning prime minister regarding his or her successor, and also whether or not to agree to a prime minister’s request for a dissolution of parliament: that is, she should be free to see whether government could be carried on under a different prime minister from the one recommended by the resigning premier, and whether government could continue without the expense and upheaval of a fresh election, especially if it would take place very soon after the previous one and if its result seemed likely to be pretty much the same. She should be free to dissolve parliament if necessary without having been advised by the prime minister to do so if she judged that the prime minister’s government had lost the confidence of the house of commons and was no longer able to obtain Supply but that the house of commons had been prevented from holding a confidence vote by some kind of trickery. It’s also arguable that she should have the right to refuse to give the royal assent to a law extending the life of parliament beyond five years in peacetime without an election.

      But in some of these situations there should be a firm understanding that before exercising any of these personal powers, the monarch should consult the President of the Supreme Court, the Speaker of the house of commons and the Secretary of the Cabinet, and that he or she should issue a statement of his or her reasons if he/she decided to act otherwise than with their advice. The monarch should of course be free to consult anyone else of his or her choice.

      All this would be far preferable, in my opinion, to the procedures invented by Sir Gus O’Donnell (encouraged by Professor Peter Hennessy, both now Lords) before the last election, designed to prevent the Queen having any role in the formation of a new government in the event of a hung parliament. The O’Donnell Cabinet memorandum, accepted virtually without discussion by the party leaders and with no formal legal status although it has radically changed the constitution, put Labour generally, and Gordon Brown in particular, at a grave disadvantage when the 2010 election did produce a hung parliament. Brown was made to stay in No 10 until a new aspiring prime minister had managed to negotiate a parliamentary majority, instead of being allowed to present a programme to parliament and ask for a vote of confidence in it, as constitutionally he should have been allowed to do. We sometimes pay a heavy price for not having a written constitution in a single document. Better the Queen than Lord O’Donnell, IMFFHO!

  • Amber_Star

    Labour voters who roundly condemn wealth & privilege in politics are willing to throw their principles on a bonfire for one ridiculous, mega-rich family who believe they own us all. That makes me feel a bit despondent, actually.

    • aracataca

      Not me thanks very much.To purloin a phrase from Johnny Rotten: ‘There’s no future in England’s dreaming.’

    • aracataca

      Not me thanks very much.To purloin a phrase from Johnny Rotten: ‘There’s no future in England’s dreaming.’

  • JoeDM

    “The Queen visits a Cabinet meeting.”

    Whatever next? Maybe she’ll want to open Parlaiment !!!

    • John Ruddy

      Or even make a speech

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    Totally agree with you. Even Brenda – the Queen – didn’t look awfully comfortable. The monarch should be absolutely independent of politics – and that includes not (ever) attending Cabinet meetings. Whose stupid idea was this? Cameron’s? Well he is related to the monarch so it might seem the most natural thing in the world to him. What an idiot.

    • http://twitter.com/benkind Ben Kind

      “The monarch should be absolutely independent of politics”

      Oh come on! She’s the Head of State and meets with the PM every week for a chat. She runs the Privy Council. She even opens Parliament.

      Whilst the Monarch shouldn’t be in there every day lobbying for an extension to the Civil List (not that I think she does), it’s hardly like we live in Liechtenstein or Saudi Arabia or have a system where the Queen can insist on having someone shot just for the fun of it. There is nothing about what happened today that suggests anything other than a bog standard cynical political photo op.

      We remain safely a ceremonial monarchy.

  • Chilbaldi

    This article demonstrates why I will never get people in the republican movement. You obsess over the Queen and the Royal family. But you completely miss the point that they are UTTERLY IRRELEVANT in politics and their only role in the modern age is as idols for the likes of Michael Gove to worship.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1057176160 David Marriott

    Don’t you mean “Nice to meet you Mrs Saxe-Coburg and Gotha” Mark.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

    http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS9Z7vD7zSzB4tDDBnqx-juYnB137Q4CrhzD9_9jb0kvnFyKqlGbQ

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Does the Coalition now have a Royal warrant of appointment? Eeek.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

    Let’s not overstate the issue – she was there to pick up her jubilee present from them, nothing more. Though hopefully she gave them an earful like any other citizen would ave, given the chance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

    Let’s not overstate the issue – she was there to pick up her jubilee present from them, nothing more. Though hopefully she gave them an earful like any other citizen would ave, given the chance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

    Let’s not overstate the issue – she was there to pick up her jubilee present from them, nothing more. Though hopefully she gave them an earful like any other citizen would ave, given the chance.

  • Gabrielle

    I suspect Charles will abdicate in favour of William anyway.

  • Gabrielle

    Queenie shouldn’t have worn blue to the meeting, it made her look partisan – which I don’t think she is. She’s tended to get on better with Labour PMs, particularly Wilson.

  • aracataca

    Can anyone tell me what a life of privilege and wealth being dependent on who slept with who 300 years ago has to do with democracy?

  • aracataca

    Can anyone tell me what a life of privilege and wealth being dependent on who slept with who 300 years ago has to do with democracy?

  • aracataca

    Can anyone tell me what a life of privilege and wealth being dependent on who slept with who 300 years ago has to do with democracy?

  • aracataca

    All designed to take your mind off today’s real news- that is halving the period of consultation needed when companies make mass redundancies!

  • aracataca

    All designed to take your mind off today’s real news- that is halving the period of consultation needed when companies make mass redundancies!

  • aracataca

    All designed to take your mind off today’s real news- that is halving the period of consultation needed when companies make mass redundancies!

  • aracataca

    The Central Committee of the Ekaterinburg Soviet will always occupy a place close to my heart.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      (for reference, the people who “executed” without due process the Russian royal family and some of their servants by firing into 11 bodies a total of over 150 bullets in a room within a house, but in a typically incompetent socialist manner, only managed to kill 8 of them. They then attacked the three still living with bayonets, killing a further two, and even after that had to batter the still living 19 year old daughter to death with rifle ends. The bodies were dropped into a mine shaft but floated up with the sink-water, and so were recovered and partially destroyed with acid)

      How very pleasant of you, particularly in a year in which the modern British monarchy has sat easily – and I would say equally – with the modern people of Britain in celebrating a most extraordinary year. It is instructive that nearly 100 years later and while partisan to a modern social democratic movement, this still pleases you.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      (for reference, the people who “executed” without due process the Russian royal family and some of their servants by firing into 11 bodies a total of over 150 bullets in a room within a house, but in an incompetent manner, only managed to kill 8 of them. They then attacked the three still living with bayonets, killing a further two, and even after that had to batter the still living 19 year old daughter to death with rifle ends. The bodies were dropped into a mine shaft but floated up with the sink-water, and so were recovered and partially destroyed with acid)

      How very pleasant of you, particularly in a year in which the modern British monarchy has sat easily – and I would say equally – with the modern people of Britain in celebrating a most extraordinary year.

      It is instructive that nearly 100 years later and while partisan to a modern social democratic movement, this still pleases you.

      • AlanGiles

        I agree with you. “aracataca” thinks it beyond the pale that I support the Greens. This makes me a dangerous left winger in his eyes, and yet in this thread he has twice made approving references to those who have sought to destroy something he doesn’t approve of by violent force.

        I sometimes think old Bill is just a wind-up merchant and says what he says “because he knows it teases”

        • aracataca

          The Green Party dangerously left wing? There are some Irish people you might want to run that past.

          • AlanGiles

            Bill, when I used to get frequent, if not daily tirades from “Renie Anjeh” accusing me of being on the “loony left” or a “Respect supporter” or having sympathy with the SWP, a Trotskiest and his other numerous hysterical and insulting accusations, you were almost always the first to “like” the comment or actually offer support.

            I really think it would be better for everyone if we ignored each other on this site, because I suspect there are times you just say things to try to inflame things. Re your response to Jaime: The current Queen, has never, to my knowledge inflicted violence on her people, nor been responsible for sending young people to their deaths to try to win unwinnable wars just to ingratiate herself with a Republican President of the USA, which is more than you can say for Blair, and continued under Cameron

          • aracataca

            Congrats Alan on avoiding the point.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          “A dangerous left winger”. I don’t think so Alan, partly because you have the good grace to state your position openly, and people have the opportunity to judge it on the facts. Also partly because what we now see is that both Labour and the tories are now losing their dominance as one of only 2 choices for government, and therefore the “danger” described by tribalists for both parties is in fact an acknowledgement of danger to their own power.

          (Sadly for me, the option of a Eurosceptic liberalism has yet to be taken up by either the Lib Dems or UKIP, so liberalism is espoused by only the Lib Dems, and euroscepticism only by the UKIP, and all of their other policies are mutually exclusive, and in UKIP’s case, often mad)

          Although having said that, there really are some properly dangerous people on both right and left wings. We all know about the tories, but I sat next to the partner of a colleague at a Christmas lunch a few days ago. She works for the local Regional College in education, and was breathtakingly hard left wing. Really a proper communist. I always try to be polite and a good conversationalist, but this was really a struggle. I stopped trying so hard when she stated that my parents “must” have been supporters of Augusto Pinochet and his regime because they paid taxes. This woman is less than 30, and thinks she knows everything.

      • aracataca

        I would of course prefer to remove the Monarchy by peaceful and democratic means.Historically however monarchies have typically given their subjects no option but to remove them through the use of violence usually because of violence which they themselves have inflicted on their subjects. As I’ve indicated elsewhere on here the inheritance of a life of privilege and wealth being dependent upon who slept with who 300 years ago has no connection with democracy whatsoever.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          I believe you will find that the Romanovs were not replaced by a democratic system and it was certainly not peaceful, if you read the history of the Russian Civil War before the real killing began with the Holodomor and later with the purges and the forced migrations of Stalin.

          In fact, the Soviet Communists killed three orders of magnitude more than those killed by the Romanovs, and never ever managed to hold a democratic election in 70 years of tyranny. The only thing they managed was to replace the technical definition of “serf” with a broader example of mass servitude.

          • aracataca

            ‘I believe you will find that the Romanovs were not replaced by a democratic system’

            Did I say they were ?

          • aracataca

            Please be assured JT that while I want to end the Monarchy in this country I do seek to achieve that aim through constitutional and peaceful means. Secondly I am not a fan of Soviet Russia.Thirdly IMHO the Romanovs were cruel tyrants who kept Russia poor, ill-educated and repressed.

        • Hugh

          Whereas cheering on a bunch of thugs who murder women and a child is the highpoint of the democratic process?

  • aracataca

    The Central Committee of the Ekaterinburg Soviet will always occupy a place close to my heart.

  • aracataca

    The Central Committee of the Ekaterinburg Soviet will always occupy a place close to my heart.

  • Hamish Dewar

    HM Mark not HRH,

  • Hamish Dewar

    HM Mark not HRH,

  • Hamish Dewar

    HM Mark not HRH,

    • brianbarder

      Well said, Hamish. Where did this idea that the Queen is HRH come from? The BBC constantly perpetrates this howler.

  • metrolivia

    The Royals do not think ‘they own us all’..how do you come to that conclusion? They represent us and accept our invitations to visit establishments and I get the impression they feel obliged to serve us, not the other way round!

  • metrolivia

    I would like to think that The Queen told Cameron to reign in his chancellor and stop punishing her subjects because some stupid bankers almost bankrupt her bloody Country! I can dream!

  • aracataca

    I have to admit that some of my anti-monarchist sentiments are due to my Irish background. Having said that, one of the main reasons my dad left Ireland (apart from being an economic migrant), was that he couldn’t bear the dominance in Ireland of the Catholic church. That is, Ireland may have cast aside the British and rule by a British monarch, but had replaced it with an unofficial theocracy. Of course, these days Ireland’s attitude to the church has changed radically.

    The Queen has always managed to appear to be politically impartial, but this visit to Downing Street does undermine that. Her choice of a blue outfit may not be significant – it was probably chosen for her by one of her minions – but it certainly looked like she was decked out in Tory blue.

    Have a look at this quite repellent photo of Cameron almost dislocating his neck in obsequience to his monarch – http://www.styleite.com/media/queen-elizabeth-royal-blue-cabinet-meeting/#0 – he obviously thinks her visit is an endorsement of him and his omnishambolic government. They really are all in it together.

    • aracataca

      Oh, and according to that link, the colour Queenie was wearing was *Royal Blue*, not Tory Blue. But of course it’s so easy to get the two mixed up.

  • MonkeyBot5000

    I’m also a republican, but I have to defend the Queen on this one.

    She didn’t just roll up to Downing Street and decide to crash a meeting. They were discussing change in the law around succession which is a unique situation – it’s legislation that’s directed at a single family and the head of that family theoretically can try to stop them.

    Also, as said below, this isn’t setting a precedent as the monarch attended cabinet in the 1700s and no other monarch will be able to be the first since the 1700s.

  • http://twitter.com/youngian67 Ian Young

    I would call myself a reasonable republican but I have certain amount of sympathy with Cameron’s actions.

    Whenever even a Tory monarchist challenge archaic rules, forged in European religous wars, like the monarch not being able to marry a Catholic, we have to listen to a string of ludicrous conservative constitutional bores telling us how picking the threads of the constitution will lead to anarchy.

    I’m coming from a different direction and would like to see the precendent of Cameron’s pragmatism used to seperate church from state and remove the royal perogative from the PM.

  • AlanGiles

    Perhaps he didn’t fancy the competition 10 years ago? :-)

    Seriously, it is very rare indeed for a Monarch to attain 60 years reign and I suspect that any PM would have issued the invitation regardless of party.

  • rekrab

    After Cameron’s smug talk at PMQ’s today about the Gold bar situation, I think the Queen has a duty to address whether her comments have lead Cameron to think that the Queen is a supporting conservative?

  • Brumanuensis

    In fairness to the Queen, declining an invitation would have been equally constitutionally awkward, so she was placed in a somewhat invidious position.

    However, I agree that this isn’t a particularly healthy precedent to set, especially with Charles’ well-established fondness of sticking his nose into government business. His first namesake got beheaded for similar foolishness, whilst his second managed to avoid that fate but ended up undermining his own family’s claim to the throne.

    I’ve always thought it a tragedy that so little attention is paid, in popular history, to the trial of the Charles I. The revolutionary aspect of his execution wasn’t that he was killed; Kings had been killed since time immemorial. What made it extraordinary was that it was done after a trial – albeit a flawed one – and furthermore for the first time, a court claimed and exercised jurisdiction over a monarch. This huge symbolic gesture marked the end of the era of the monarchy being ‘above the law'; from then on, British monarchs had to acknowledge that their power was shared with other estates of the realm. As the opening of the indictment read:

    “That the said Charles Stuart, being admitted King of England, and therein trusted with a limited power to govern by and according to the laws of the land, and not otherwise; and by his trust, oath, and office, being obliged to use the power committed to him for the good and benefit of the people, and for the preservation of their rights and liberties; yet, nevertheless, out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people, yea, to take away and make void the foundations thereof, and of all redress and remedy of misgovernment, which by the fundamental constitutions of this kingdom were reserved on the people’s behalf in the right and power of frequent and successive Parliaments, or national meetings in Council”.

    And concluding:

    “All which wicked designs, wars, and evil practices of him, the said Charles Stuart, have been, and are carried on for the advancement and upholding of a personal interest of will, power, and pretended prerogative to himself and his family, against the public interest, common right, liberty, justice, and peace of the people of this nation, by and from whom he was entrusted as aforesaid.

    By all which it appeareth that the said Charles Stuart hath been, and is the occasioner, author, and continuer of the said unnatural, cruel and bloody wars; and therein guilty of all the treasons, murders, rapines, burnings, spoils, desolations, damages and mischiefs to this nation, acted and committed in the said wars, or occasioned thereby”.

    Now that’s something that everyone should learn by heart.

  • Brumanuensis

    What I find less excusable are the comments allegedly made by the Queen during her visit, as reported by the Mail (I know). They’re inappropriate for a constitutional monarch to make: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2249858/The-Queen-wears-Tory-blue-historic-visit-sit-Cabinet-meeting-ministers-whip-round-buy-placemats.html

    In the case of the gold bars remarks, it’s not even an allegedly, as you can hear her saying it on the video, when she meets Osborne.

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.shapely Martin Shapely

    The blue bloods and the blue noses have been colluding together for the last couple of years. We have had the posh wedding announced at the height of student unrest, the wedding itself timed for the same week as the local elections (where the tories did better than expected), the special jubilee edition of state opening of parliament being used as a smokescreen for anti NHS reforms to be rushed through, the royal pregnancy was announced early on the same week as the autumn statement ( the day after the budget Katey Watey appears looking a picture of health) and now this mutually beneficial p.r. stunt. I wouldn’t put it past these aristocrats to attempt to turn the next election into a referendum on the monarchy, another distraction from their incompetence.

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