Up the Republic!

Submitted by martin on 22 May, 2018 - 5:36 Author: Martin Thomas

The ballyhoo about the Royal Wedding on 20 May 2018 is not harmless.

The campaign group Republic reckons that the Royal Family costs "£345m a year. The royals' official grant alone has jumped 145% since 2012, from £31m to £76.1m. Add to that costs met by councils, revenue from the Duchies and unpaid tax and you can easily see how the royals cost us so much.

"That £345m... is enough... to pay for 15,000 new teachers or 15,500 new firefighters".

It's only £6 a year for each of us? But to have a plutocrat ostentatiously eating a luxurious dinner in front of hundreds of ill-nourished people is an outrage even if the dinner, divided up, would give each of those hundreds only a morsel.

The Cameron government's Fixed Term Parliaments Act has deprived the monarchy of the power to dismiss the government at whim, as the Governor-General of Australia, acting as the Queen's representative, dismissed a leftish Labor government in Australia in 1975.

But powers remain. That powers to sign international treaties and deploy British troops are reckoned "royal prerogatives" means today that they are exercised by prime minister, not monarchs. Yet the same offence to democracy continues as in the older monarchic constitution: parliament is bypassed.

The Queen and Prince Charles have the power to veto bills that affect their private interests, and it is known that they use their political power, for example by having the NHS spend scarce cash on quack homeopathic treatments because they themselves favour that quackery (bit.ly/homeo-bg).

The building up of Harry Windsor as a "nice young man" is not harmless, either. If Parliament is deadlocked, the monarch's power to choose who should get first chance to form a government can be important. A monarch posing as someone "outside politics" could in a crisis do more easily what Italy's president Napolitano did in 2011-3, and install a "technocratic" government led by people "outside politics", or previously "outside politics", but definitely in the ruling class.

As Trotsky put it (Where Is Britain Going?): "Royalty is weak as long as the bourgeois parliament is the instrument of bourgeois rule and as long as the bourgeoisie has no need of extra-parliamentary methods. But the bourgeoisie can if necessary use royalty as the focus of all extra-parliamentary, i.e. real forces directed against the working class".

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