New poll: Long to reign over us?

by Stephen Tall on December 29, 2007

The poll for Liberal Voice of the Year 2007 will soon be going live – but, in the interregnum, we thought we’d ask that timeless classic: do you think the British monarchy should be abolished?

The hook to hang the question on is provided by the news that 78% of British people want the monarchy to be retained, according to a poll by Gfk NOP commissioned by historian Professor Peter Hennessy, a guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

Some 78% of respondents agreed that Britain should still have a royal family and 19% disagreed. Asked if the monarchy should end when Queen Elizabeth dies, 68% disagreed and 28% agreed. … When asked if there will be a monarchy in 30 years’ time, 80% said yes and 15% said no. … Meanwhile, a separate poll has suggested that most young people would keep the monarchy, despite more than half saying the royals do not provide value for money. Nearly 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds would keep the royals and overall only 16% of people would vote for a republic.

But do you agree? You can vote now: eyes-right for our poll.

Here are the results of the last poll, started at the beginning of December, which asked: where on the political spectrum would you like the Liberal Democrats to be?

Here’s what you said (in order):

A socially liberal and economically liberal party: 35% (255 votes)
A socially liberal and economically left-of-centre party: 30% (222)
A socially liberal and economically centrist party: 26% (189)
A socially conservative and economically left-of-centre party: 4% (30)
A socially conservative and economically liberal party 3% (23)
A socially conservative and economically centrist party: 2% (13)
Total Votes: 732

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I recently blogged on this, and can’t be bothered typing it all out again, so I shall leave a link:

In summary, republicanism is impractical and expensive. Rather like republicans claim the monarchy is, really…

by Jennie on December 29, 2007 at 2:37 pm. Reply #

I wish Lib Dems would grasp this issue, but of course we won’t because of polls like the above. The monarchy is a dead duck, but obviously we need to plan for an “orderly transition.” This will take time, and we should be putting forward constructive proposals now.

by Laurence Boyce on December 29, 2007 at 3:47 pm. Reply #

So, allowing for the unavoidably unscientific nature of these polls, 61% want the party to be economically liberal or centrist.

Presumably the 9% who want us to be socially conservative are either trolls, mad, or have a strange sense of humour.

Monarchy – I’ve voted abolish but yes, there is little capital here and it would have to be replaced with a system that didn’t compromise our current constitutional balance.

by Julian H on December 29, 2007 at 4:21 pm. Reply #

I think the monarchy question is largely irrelevant right now.

What is needed is for us to have a serious look at the constitution since powers which are nominally held by the monarch are now held by the Prime Minister who can exercise them with little oversight.

I’d prefer to see constitutional reform to lay out the limited powers of government. I don’t care if the monarchy is kept as a relic, or whether its abandoned, what I care about is the concentration of power we have in the Prime Minister’s office and in Whitehall in general.

by Tristan Mills on December 29, 2007 at 5:46 pm. Reply #

It ia fashionable these days to be modern, but when it comes to the monarchy we stop being modern and let it continue.
Personally I have long been fed up with the sycophantic reporting of every last detail of the Royal family, but since we are inundated with it I do find myself struck by the cruelty of this disfunctional upper class institution. Princess Diana did not fit in, Prince Charles never loved her and loved Camilla instead, before they even met. Diana was simply meant to serve a purpose and was made to suffer.
Well thats what it seems like.
I say we should stop this tedious side show and let them sort out their problems as non-entities like the rest of us.

by Geoffrey Payne on December 29, 2007 at 6:37 pm. Reply #

I think the monarchy question is largely irrelevant right now.

If the Queen were to suffer a heart attack, it would be very relevant right now because we would have a complete and utter twerp as head of state. We must prepare now I tell you!

by Laurence Boyce on December 29, 2007 at 6:54 pm. Reply #

Hereditary power is both ridiculous and cruel. Look at the suffering that Charles has endured in his life, and that he is passing on to whichever of his kids it is who is next in line. If he truly wants to be head of state then let him stand for election – Charles Windsor for President. At least it would only be for a limited period, not a life sentance. I might even vote for him.

by tony hill on December 29, 2007 at 7:50 pm. Reply #

You really think that the shenanigans with the royals are because they are royal and not because they are celebrities? And don’t give me that bollocks about them choosing to be famous. Lots of people get thrust into fame and get buggered about by the press. Lots of people have crappy relationships with crappy husbands who love someone else. Some people even get killed by their families for refusing to marry who they are told to.

The monarchy is not “hereditary power” because they have no real power. It’s hereditary celebrity, at best. As Tristan @ #4 says, the enormous amount of power concentrated in the hands of the PM right now should be people’s concern, not who gets to read the speech at the opening of parliament.

by Jennie on December 30, 2007 at 1:31 am. Reply #

Question for those in favour of removing the monarchy. Actually, several.

1) What are you going to replace it with, a US style directly elected executive? Can you point me to a country with such a thing you consider well governed, or at least as well governed as the European monarchies?

2) If a ceremonial presidency along the German or Irish lines, what’s the point? We’ve already got a ceremonial head of state.

3) Regardless, what do you say to the hardcore monarchists here and in places like Queensland, Australia that would find the very idea of removing them reprehensible?

Removing the monarchy acheives nothing constitutionally, you just end up replacing it with something either equally irrelevent or worse. But you do piss off a bunch of people, many of whom are otherwise fairly liberal.

Much more important is to clarify the powers of The Crown and sort out the way we’re governed overall.

by MatGB on December 30, 2007 at 1:33 am. Reply #

In a democracy, those who hold high public office should either be elected or appointed by a fair and open process.

How can we reject the hereditary principal with respect to the House of Lords, yet uphold it with respect to the monarchy?

Now, let’s be clear what the hereditary principle means in practice. The heir to the throne succeeds, whoever he or she may be, regardless of suitability to do the job.

Nicholas Soames sees this as a strength. I disagree. Imagine the consequences if Prince Harry ever ascended the throne? And what would the state of the monarchy be today had Queen Margaret succeeded King George?

The hereditary principle is a complete lottery.

Some say that really bad monarchs can be removed. Like Charles I and James II, both of whom tried to arrogate to themselves absolute powers. But in each case much bloodshed and turmoil was required to do it.

And don’t be beguiled by the unhorseing of Edward VIII. Edward didn’t go because he was a twit, or because he supported Hitler, he was forced from the throne because he insisted on marrying a divorced woman.

The sycophancy shown towards the Saxe Coburg Gothas sickens me. How can so many of our fellow citizens continue to worship this ghastly bunch of parasites despite all we now know about them?

We should spend the final years of Elizabeth’s reign to plan for the future. If we don’t, the result will be King Charles and Queen Camilla. Charles Windsor, a man who launched a media whispering campaign against his own wife, and who is so insufferably vain that he requires his ladyfriends to call him “Sir” even while they are doing it. How can a man like that command the respect of the people?

And how can we condemn a racist who claims that his race is genetically superior to other races, or who maintains that his race has been chosen by God, yet in the very next breath proclaim the special status of the Saxe Coburg Gothas, whose family members are showered with public funds and treated with absurd deference by politicians, the media and much of the populace – almost as if it is some kind of quasi-religious cult?

The source of the monarch’s legitimacy is his/her claim that he/she has been chosen by God. If that claim is exposed as a deceit, then his/her legitimacy collapses.

by Angus J Huck on December 30, 2007 at 2:30 am. Reply #

Angus, everything you say would be completely correct if there was any system that would not be worse.

Seriously, like Mat says, and preferably without seguing into a long and rambling rant about how awful it is that we have the monarchy in the process, COME UP WITH A BETTER ALTERNATIVE. Then you might start to convince some of the 78% of people who disagree with you.

by Jennie on December 30, 2007 at 2:35 am. Reply #

We already agreed last time to make Millennium Elephant head of state. Why are you two closet royalists? It’s completely out of character. There’s something going on here we’re not being told!

by Laurence Boyce on December 30, 2007 at 2:52 am. Reply #

I don’t think any liberal would suggest replacing the monarch as head of state with an executive president: liberals are not in favour of concentrating power. Therefore yes, a ceremonial head of state as the Irish have. I know we have one already – the argument is about whether it is right at this time in our history to have someone in the post who is there because of who their father or mother was. As regards power, we are all the Queen’s ‘subjects’: you might say that is a matter of semantics, but have a good deep look at the nature of our society and perhaps you will glimpse the way in which it is structured from the top to keep everything fundamentally the same as it always has been. The monarchy in our society is analogous to the Berlin Wall in relation to communism: remove it and the ingrained obeisance to a fossilised social structure will crumble to be replaced by something more vigorous and democratic.

by tony hill on December 30, 2007 at 8:10 am. Reply #

You know, I used to get all republican about this sort of thing. Now, as I grow more liberal, I find myself agreeing mostly with Tristan. The real outrage is the power our politicians gather around themselves.

I accept all the arguments about liberals abhoring the hereditary principle. And I do, as a rule, just that. To me it seems right now that the monarch is the only person able to whisper “memento mori” in the ear of the Crown Prince of Downing Street.

I could even picture a situation in which the Crown could be a guarantor of our individual rights and liberties ahead of our rapacious politicians.

But if we had to get rid, given that doing so would involve a lot of constitutional change anyway, might I suggest the Swiss model where a senior member of the elected executive takes the role of head of state each year.

I have responded utterly indifferent – there are more dangerous fish to fry at the moment.

by Jock on December 30, 2007 at 12:50 pm. Reply #

Jock says:

“But if we had to get rid, given that doing so would involve a lot of constitutional change anyway, might I suggest the Swiss model where a senior member of the elected executive takes the role of head of state each year.”

That is roughly what I argued in a previous thread on LDV.

I suggested that the model for the Presidency should be the municipal Mayoralty. Someone with a big ego but vaguely inconvenient is elected by the House of Commons for a 12 month term. It might even be done on a buggin’s turn basis. President Prescott one year, President Johnson the next, and President Oaten the year after that.

All a President would have to do would be to entertain and chaperone foreign dignatories, and officiate at a few state occasions.

I would have no problem with the various Windsors continuing to pursue their charitable and philanthropic endeavours, and I would not have any difficulty with theatres, concert halls and race meetings calling themselves “Royal”.

A private monarchy could continue doing the stuff people like best without the Queen being head of state or she or any member of her family being legally privileged or in receipt of public funds.

Now that we have abolished the hereditary peerage, titles such as “duke” and “earl” are purely decorative and anyone can use them (you can even buy them) provided you are not trying to impersonate someone.

I do not see any problem with Elizabeth Windsor calling herself “Queen” even if she ceases to be head of state.

The royal soap opera (as Malcolm Muggeridge once called it) would trundle on completely separated from government.

Everyone, apart from Nicholas Soames and Lord St John of Fawsley, would be happy, would they not?

by Angus J Huck on December 30, 2007 at 7:12 pm. Reply #

Of course I would like to abolish the monarchy, but what’s the point – they’d only elect Charles as President!

by Martin Land on December 30, 2007 at 7:54 pm. Reply #

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