Saturday, 23 July 2011

"You can't have Disneyland without Mickey Mouse."

One of the most common 'argument's 'for' the monarchy that we hear is this myth of the great tourism revenue the 'royal' family are purported to draw into the country. Even fairly intelligent people will trot out this commonly held belief as though it were some kind of unanswerable trump card. Embarrassing though this is as an argument for the basis of who a country's head of state should be, let's deal with it first as if it were a valid reason.
There is no actual basis in factual proof for this claim. Indeed quite the opposite would be the case, as the fact is that publicly owned palaces, castles and houses are being used as private residences by one family and they or their officials are blocking them being opened up to the public as a source of revenue. If this were not the case perhaps Buckingham Palace could be our Louvres displaying the 'royal' art collection, which is also owned by the public but which the public can currently see only 10% of (100,000+ items). But the situation now is that, although asked to by the previous government, the current custodians refuse to open up the palace more to even be self-sufficient, but come cap in hand to government asking for yet more money for its upkeep and fuel bills. source 
Also the 'royal' family are not themselves on display anywhere, so if any tourists did come here to view same, they're likely to be disappointed. Would you go to Norway, Denmark or Sweden to see their 'royal' families? Why do you think people would come here to see the Windsors? Despite the enormous hype surrounding 'royal' weddings Visit Britain's own data has shown tourists actually avoided this country in the periods surrounding them. link
But the crux of the matter is in fact "So what?" People are apparently wedded to this belief and the title of this blog was an 'argument' used on the radio by a monarchist who rang during a phone-in with Republic's Graham Smith. This crystallises the nonsense that this argument is. The land of Mickey Mouse does not have Mickey Mouse as head of state, it currently has Barack Obama and its head of state is accountable, removable and answerable to the people who elected him. We have a head of state chosen by accident of birth, who is none of these things, who is trundled about and whose speeches are scripted by others. We have the Mickey Mouse head of state, and it's embarrassing. Especially in 2011 when we go to war to 'bring democracy' to other countries, it looks extremely hypocritical when we ourselves can vote for less than half our government i.e. not for the House of Lords and not at all for our head of state.
With every new generation of 'royals' a claim of monarchic 'modernisation' is made - but nothing ever really changes. It's not in the interests of the people who take advantage of its unaccountability and secrecy, the anonymous officials who hide behind buildings "Buckingham Palace says" this and "Clarence House denies" that, who have access to millions in public money every year with opaque accountability - a system screaming out to be abused, where else would villains want to be? Neither is it in the interests of the politicians to change it as the dodgy deal done with monarchy centuries ago, before women could vote, before working men could vote, before any man who didn't own a certain amount of land could vote, hands the prime minister and privy council great powers - too much of the wrong kind of power. Not the accountable powers of elected representatives but the tyrannical powers of a monarch. This intolerable institution is suffocating for democracy, for the country and for the sacrificed human beings at its centre. "I'd rather have stayed in the navy, frankly." "Any bloody fool can lay a wreath at the thingammy." and what was Elizabeth's reaction when she saw that symbol of the great white hope for the monarchy and supposed tourist attraction, Kate's wedding dress display? "Horrid. Horrible. Creepy." Yes. It really is.