Posted 20 hours ago

Abolish the Monarchy: Why we should and how we will

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It’s a disarming opening, for sure, but – on the principle that you should always lead with your strongest suit – also an odd one, for, as Smith himself eventually says, questions of tourism are irrelevant to constitutional arrangements. I think this helped dispel a common straw man argument hurled at Republicans that we disdain our history and have no interest in people looking into it.

Questions about the source of its legitimacy and the contract between citizen and state go unaddressed, as does the big one: why is a republic more conducive to human wellbeing than a monarchy? The "locking-on devices" were in fact luggage straps, and he had in fact been in conversation with the police for weeks leading up to the arrest. I intend to try recommending it to reflexively pro-monarchy people who might be intrigued by the uncompromising title.I am in favour of a republic, but I am not entirely convinced by his arguments for keeping the Westminster system of democracy. He described a country of thousands of villages, where each village had it’s own unique belief systems, festivals and micro-cultures. There is no reference to Thomas Hobbes or Edmund Burke, let alone other, less famous, theorists of monarchy.

Most worrying is the way in which we have created a ruling elite that can bypass the elected Parliament. I once asked an Indian friend of mine (India being a republic), if there were ever such concerns when India became independent and lost their principalities. This is a very timely reminder of the constitutional absurdity of our taxpayer-funded Royal Family that is at war with itself. If you were hoping that the fall of the Windsors would at least mean no more tampon metaphors, think again.But I held off any strong public declaration of wanting to see the monarchy abolished out of respect for Elizabeth whom, I had already been led to believe, was doing a great service for the country in all the work she did with leaders around the world. After reading it, I feel slightly more hopeful that Britain has the potential to get rid of our monarchy before being submerged beneath the sea. I don't think it is possible to assess the quality of the written word without addressing the subject matter but that may just be my limitations. There is a growing appetite for answers to the questions that are raised when people turn away from the monarchy: what’s the alternative, how do I talk about this issue with other people, what are the facts I need to know about the monarchy, and can we really get rid of it?

Having said that, I thought the book would be a bit more balanced and do more to try and win over people who are on the fence. Smith correctly points out in this fantastic manifesto the fact that British media and public discourse does not allow for even a shred of anti-monarchy (thus pro-democracy) sentiment in the media or other spaces of debate, lest the lumpen learn that they’ve been duped into supporting their own (by all objective measures of wealth and political power) oppressors. This is Graham Smith’s experience of attending innumerable public and media debates with defenders of the institution.

Rather than take a values-neutral approach to issues beyond the narrow question of how the head of state should be chosen, Smith makes republicanism a vessel for his own values, which he dresses up as those of the British people. I mean, I was always going to enjoy a lengthy diatribe on why the UK should get rid of its outdated and expensive monarchy. When The Enchanted Glass: Britain and its Monarchy was published 35 years ago and until very recently, the British monarchy seemed pretty unassailable. The British Monarchy appears so invincible and unassailable that it’s defenders are getting complacent. This is the crux of the matter: it is likely that those who truly want to keep the monarchy are actually now in the minority.

Abolish The Monarchy renews and informs the debate, eviscerating the nonsensical claims of the royalists and setting the tone for a full-throated challenge to the monarchy.

It has been long enough that monarchists and the democracy-averse refuse to engage with polemics that challenge their beliefs in hereditary rule and concentration of power in an secretive, corrupt, inbred and embarrassing bloodline. With accurate statistics, primary source material and interviews where he and his team have faced up to the relevant authorities and gleaned the truth out of them, Smith demonstrates how all the classic excuses for keeping the monarchy are not just mistaken - they're plain wrong.

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