A non-partisan journal of the left.

Monarchy not the main obstacle to a better tomorrow

Thu 7th Jun 2012

The concept of a constitutional monarchy does not sit well with me: it is a universally unfair, arbitrary and perpetually exclusive system, in that its aim is to consolidate financial, social and religious supremacy over ordinary people by those who have not earned it.

Those who rail against the inequity of royalty miss the point. Queen Elizabeth II, and her role as Supreme Governor of the church is not the main priority of the progressive left. Our most pressing targets are the leaders of our political parties.

As I think about our political system and the need for seismic change, I cast my eye across the English Channel.

Francois Hollande took the French presidency on a tide of promises. He’s made a promising start. He has taken a 30% salary cut, ended the private jet culture of Sarkozy, and has pledged to use scheduled train services to discharge his duties when travelling. The optimism of the French is familiar. After all, didn’t most of us throb with the same optimism in 1997?

Monsieur Hollande clearly has an advantage over Tony Blair. He sought election in a nation where it is no insult to be a proud Socialist, something which, to an extent, may explain Tony Blair’s revulsion at the politics of the organised left. I can only hope that Hollande learns from the mistakes of New Labour.

This weekend presents a plethora of comparisons and diametric differences between us and our Gallic neighbours. The Jubilee has thrust British monarchism under the spotlight. France’s eternal love for secular republicanism aside, their recent presidential election highlighted the stark, passionate, ideological difference between left and right.

UK politics has been homogenised by media moguls, multi-national corporations, and millionaire donors. If we are all honest, and step away from the flags of our political tribalism, the main party leaders all sound the same. They are products of the same upbringing, the same privilege, the same life experiences.

Cameron is a multi-millionaire graduate of Eton who has never experienced the toils of meaningful employment. Milliband is the offspring of university professors whose affluence has insulated him from the ravages of true working struggle. Clegg is a cushioned, wealthy product of private education, whose inevitable destination was a lubricated entry into Eurocracy.

To promote true change, you must feel anger, an emotion that our political leaders do not possess. They have not had to struggle. Injustice did not feature in their respective childhoods. They know nothing of the real impact of poverty upon our nation’s poorest children. Their life experience has been sanitised by their upbringing, and the commercialised, Murdoch-friendly agendas of their predecessors.

Hollande too, is the product of wealth. However, he exists within a political system whereby left and right passionately advocate massively different agendas for running the country and solving the deficit. Hollande has seen the arrogance of the French right, the ineptitude of Sarkozy, and the inherent unfairness of his predecessors policies.

In France, they have clear electoral choices. We can only choose between slightly altered versions of the same dogmatic subservience to financial services, earning the engrained distrust of organised workers.

The Tories will forever be the party of the rich. Labour used to be the natural home of those wanting more equitable ways of running this country of hard working, talented people whose jobs, savings, pensions and aspirations are being dissolved by the caustic advances of a blind Coalition.

We are the party of workers, and we should be as proud to say that, as Monsieur Hollande is to call himself a Socialist. It’s time to inspire people to throw off the shackles of homogenised politics by setting out radical, economically robust, progressive policies, advocated by candidates drawn from ordinary industry and the communities Labour is privileged to serve.

We need voting reform that will make parliament representative again, and we need to smash the grip of big business and millionaires in buying policy. The union funding formula needs updating too, in order to make the voice of workers more relevant and unified.

I urge my fellow agitators and Republican friends to amend their aim. To those who have packed London to celebrate the Jubilee, I say ‘Let them eat cake’. The targets of the political crosshairs should be the elite who have implanted themselves at the top of our Democracy. We need reform, and the will for the grassroots to reclaim its voice. We need a true alternative, and we need the Labour party to throw its arms around those who gave it life, rather than hold its nose in disgust.

It would be a mistake to use the current media glare of the Jubilee to push for a Republic. The country will be best served if the progressive left unite instead behind a campaign against the bigger injustice that is the ‘Camero-Milliarchy’.

I can imagine the placards now.
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