We Her Majesty's Prisoners..?
The monarchy is a regression. It represents a class ridden society at its very worst:
If you oppose the class system you should oppose the monarchy. This is because the monarchy perpetuates the idea of class. There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, the queen isn't just a head of state she is a figure that the public are expected to bow and pledge allegiance to. Underpinning the notion of a royal family is a belief in a society in which people (subjects) are expected to know their role in society and not question or challenge the status quo.
Secondly, in a society based on the class system certain positions are only ever available to the privileged few - the royal family exemplifies this. Because our head of state is determined by the hereditary principle it means that our head of state can only be determined as a result of the lottery of birth. This means that the overwhelming majority of the population is permanently excluded from the position of 'head of state.' In addition to this because of the royal family's link to the Church of England it is impossible for anyone who is non-Christian to ever be head of state. If you believe that Modern Britain should be a meritocracy where every job / position of authority is accessible to anyone regardless of their background then you should oppose the monarchy.
The hereditary principle allows for incompetence:
Monarchists argue that the royal family has been trained in the arts of diplomacy and impartiality - and that this means that they are best suited to act as our head of state and represent our nation overseas. Monarchists also argue that because members of the Royal family have to be politically neutral - this allows them to remain above the political fray and act as a symbol of national identity to all people regardless of their political persuasion. Repeat fanzine argues against this. The royal family is out of touch and out of date. It seems absurd that a task as important as our head of state can arbitrarily be assigned to someone not on the basis of their ability but on the basis of the womb in which they were born. The result of this is that people who are not best suited to the job cause embarrassment (Prince Phillip and his gaffs abroad) after national embarrassment (nazi uniforms) - and that's without mentioning all the monarchs from the past who decided to go crazy!! An elected head of state chosen by the public could be voted out if they made a catastrophic mistake or proved to be a national embarrassment. Under the status quo the nation could be stuck with an incompetent monarch for a generation or more - in this context reform is the only sensible option.
The monarchy costs too much:
Monarchists argue that the Royal family only costs the British tax payer 66p per person. Repeat fanzine argues that if you divide any figure by 60 million people it suddenly sounds a lot smaller! The royal family receives over £150 million a year in taxpayers money. This is too much when there are still children living below the poverty line and when in Britain the gap between the rich and poor is increasing. Instead of being spent on the monarchy, money currently spent on the royal family would be better spent if it was directed towards the welfare state, helping impoverished families, or if it was directed towards improving education and hospitals.
Monarchists often argue that Britain's economy would suffer if we were to get rid of the monarchy because tourists wouldn't visit anymore. We argue that there simply isn't the statistical evidence to justify the monarchy as being one of the primary reasons why people holiday in Britain. A recent study by Republic noted that only one royal residence (Windsor Castle) features in the UK's top 20 tourist attractions. If anything, abolishing the monarchy would increase tourism. This is because by abolishing the monarchy many current royal residences could finally be made accessible to the public - and could be converted into museums and restaurants! The Queens' art collection is valued at ten billion and is mostly hidden away from the public in disused air hangers around the country. If the monarchy was abolished it could finally be displayed - this again would act as a massive draw for tourists!
The monarchy undermines the concept of parliamentary democracy:
Under the Treason and Felony Act of 1848 it is treason if " any person whatsoever, within the United Kingdom or without devise or intend to deprive our most gracious Lady the Queen from the style, honor or Royal Name of the Imperial Crown of the United Kingdom." This means that under current law MPs are effectively banned from discussing the monarchy in the House of Commons - even if that's what their constituents want. Further, mps are forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. We object to this because we think an MP's primary allegiance should be to their constituents and not a monarch! We also object to this because it presents MPS with an unfair moral dilemma, they have a choice - either they swear allegiance to the queen, or they are not able to enter parliament. In the past, some Northern Irish elected MPS have not been allowed to enter parliament because of this. Their constituents were effectively disenfranchised.
Monarchists argue that the Queen has no real power and that the monarchy is effectively window dressing. We argue that this is an analysis that ignores case studies such as 'the dismissal' which occurred as recently as 1975, in which the Queen's representative, the Governor General dismissed a democratically elected Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, and instead appointed opposition leader Malcolm Fraser in his place.
It also ignores the disproportionate influence that members of the Royal family can have on public opinion (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4312780.stm) or on political affairs (http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/farming/features/charles.shtml). This level of influence has the potential to represent a major step back for democracy. It is profoundly undemocratic for a member of the royal family to hold sway over any elected MP - it undermines the gains of the Magna Carta, the English Civil war and the Bill of Rights, all of which established the freedom of Parliament to make laws and elect members without royal interference.
The royal prerogative is undemocratic:
Using the powers of the Royal prerogative the government is able to:
- dissolve parliament
- declare war
- conclude treaties
- call general elections
- appoint peers, ministers, judges
Without consulting parliament or the public. This demonstrates how the sovereign powers of the monarchy can be used to run Britain on undemocratic lines
The monarchy doesn't mean anything anymore:
The problem with the monarchy is that people on the whole are largely indifferent towards it. This is important because in order for the monarchy to fulfill its role as a symbol of 'national unity' people have to have some level of respect or at least emotional attachment to the institution. We argue that this has been systematically eroded. Media intrusion has resulted in the humanisation of the royal family. The net effect of all the scandals the royal family have been through during the media age is that it has lost its ability to captivate a generation without memories of the war or empire. The reason for this is that through their publicly shared mistakes members of the royal family were revealed to be just as human as the rest of us - and from the perspective of 'the subjects' this resulted in the magic (and the ability of the royal family to connect with its subjects) fading. The royal family tried to portray itself as 'the model family' and with each scandal / servant memoir it became increasingly hard for people to believe in the monarchy as a source of moral authority - which leads us to the present situation, in which the British tax payer is paying for an institution that it no longer really cares for, and one that fails to fulfill any of the criteria that it was originally supposed to accomplish.
If we no longer believe they were divinely appointed to rule
If we agree that they cost to much
If they don't mean anything to anyone
If their public actions are an embarrassment
If we acknowledge that leaving something as important as our head of state to chance is madness
Its probably about time we did something about it isn't it?