Harry, cont., cont.

As I said, below, Matthew is reminding us that Harry might become King, and that this should give pause to monarchists. And yesterday I was busy endorsing his campaign to point this out again and again (see below for links). But after sleeping on the matter, I now suppose he is wrong, in fact, and that I’m wrong to endorse his campaign.

Because if Harry were to threaten to succeed to the throne, and if he were to be deeply unpopular among the elites in this country, then he wouldn’t succeed. It’s as simple as that. Edward VIII was pushed into abdication, after all, and it’s not too difficult to imagine circumstances in which the Cabinet, Parliament, media, top civil servants, even senior courtiers (what a word!), or permutations and combinations among them, would move decisively against the prospect of King Harry, but precisely in order to save the institution of monarchy, in which they are generally so heavily invested, rather than to undermine it.

The point, however, is to undermine it.

And that requires continually refocussing arguments away from the personal failings of these inadequate and objectionable human beings (fun though it is to dwell on these) onto the complex institution of the British Monarchy and the forces that sustain it, in order to create a world in which nobody can utter a word in its defence without the experience of deep embarrassment.

We’ve got a way to go, but we’re going to win this one in the end.

(Roll on the bourgeois republic!)

Harry, cont.

Matthew Turner is doing a splendid job reminding us again and again that defenders of the monarchy must willingly accept that under certain not implausible circumstances Harry will become King, and will appoint the Prime Minister, dissolve Parliament, give consent to legislation, waste half an hour of the PM’s time every week, encourage, advise, and warn, etc., the whole Bagehotian shebang.

I think I’m happy to make his solo a duet, with a couple of caveats: first, to emphasise that Prince Charles is still my most-detested royal by quite a bit; second, to note that I’d still dislike the monarchy, obviously, even if all the members of the royal family were men and women of unimpeachable virtue and all-round human excellence devoted to the common good; and, third, to remark that nothing’s really changed this last week: we knew, or could easily guess, that the royal family in general and Prince Harry in particular are full of stupidity, ignorance and objectionably right-wing prejudices: all that’s happened this week is that we’ve got a nice new peg to hang things on, and some juicy photographs.

(There are matters of principle here, which can be debated dispassionately, but there’s also a political campaign to wage, and what that needs right now is the the spread of an attitude of naked contempt for monarchy and its political, economic and social supports. That’s what this post is contributing to.)

I will also join Matthew by quoting this passage that he found in the Independent, because it bears repetition:

“If the boys had got what they wanted when they went into the [costume] shop, Prince William might have been photographed trying to look like a black man in primitive clothing, while Harry would have been posing in the death’s-head uniform of the Waffen SS.”

And I’ll also point you to this post of Matthew’s, which provides a good example of just how blinkered apologists for aristocracy can be.The Virtual Stoa says: The Royal Family is a disgrace, it should be a criminal offence to use an aristocratic title, the public schools should be closed down, high taxes on land ownership should be introduced with (among other things) the aim of getting a significant proportion of the upper class to emigrate.

And, if need be, we should suspend the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Act in order to force such measures through: aristocrats and their apologists (both secular and ecclesiastical) opposed the ideology of human rights every step of the way from the eighteenth through to the twentieth centuries; they of all people have far less claim on the protection of a generous and expansive rights regime than the rest of us.

Monarchy shames us all, or it bloody well ought to, and the sooner we are rid of it in this (so-called) United (so-called) Kingdom the better for all of us.

Dead Socialist Watch, #136

G. D. H. Cole, Fabian and Guild Socialist, born 1889, died 15 January 1959.

Anyone know whether his detective fiction was any good or not?

The best GDHC anecdote’s a posthumous one. This, from Alan Bennett’s diary, published in Writing Home:

7 December [1984]. To a party at the Department of the History of Medicine at Univeristy College. I talk to Alan Tyson, who’s like a figure out of the eighteenth century: a genial, snuff-taking, snuff-coloured, easy-going aristocrat – Fox, perhaps, or one of the Bourbons. He is a fellow of All Souls, and when Mrs Thatcher came to the college for a scientific symposium Tyson was deputed to take her round the Common Room. This is hung with portraits and photographs of dead fellows, including some of the economist G.D.H. Cole. Tyson planned to take Mrs Thatcher up to it saying, “And this, Prime Minister, is a former fellow, G.D.H. Dole.” Whereupon, with luck, Mrs Thatcher would have had to say, “Cole, not Dole.” In the event he did take her round but lost his nerve.

(Cut-and-pasted from over here)

Charlotte Street is Splendid

This, from yesterday, is lovely:

A friend of mine suggests a new left blog, using the following formula:a. There will be occasional analyses of safely canonical texts from the Left tradition.

b. He will, however, carefully eschew any Marxist or even radical left analyses of the contemporary world. No mention of class, inequality, exploitation, imperialism; most conspicuously, capitalism will be spared any thoroughgoing critique.

c. Most of his energies will instead be devoted to chasing a spectral entity called the �liberal-left� as it manifests itself, especially, in X newspaper, and in decrying the �pseudo-left� as manifest here there and everywhere.

d. He will be comfortable with his citation on the blogrolls of various right-wing groupuscules and assorted reactionary ranters.

e. He will defiantly maintain that he is the authentic custodian of radical thought.

Mark concludes: “I told him that although I would support his venture I could hardly commend its originality.”

More Prince Harry

I quite liked the headline in the Express today (I don’t often say that): “ARMY TO SORT OUT HARRY (That’s the British Army)”. But the point of this post is to send you scurrying over to my brother’s site to read a Harry-themed post that effortlessly combines William Shakespeare and the story of a man in a viking helmet. But you all read his blog anyway, so I don’t have to.

Right-Wing News

Since we’re mostly focussing on Right-Wing Britons today, here’s another snippet, from the Guardian: [via]:

The Backbencher hears that Kilroy’s increasingly desperate search for a political home may be about to come to an end. Having been narrowly rejected by both the English Democrats and the New Party – a tax-cutting, British trucker-loving outfit whose logo depicts five blue people conducting a seance – Kilroy is apparently now hoping to lead a putative party called Veritas, set up by four disaffected members of the New Party’s national executive. The New Party “knows nothing about it” and Kilroy isn’t answering his mobile, but the Backbencher hopes to be able to confirm the wanderer’s latest perch shortly.

A moment of lucid reasoning from the English Democrats, as they realise that they shouldn’t touch RKS with the proverbial barge pole. Who’d have thought it?

Tories and Sex

Not a pretty combination, I know, but Peter the Great links to this fun story about how some Welsh Tories from a place I’ve never heard of called Delyn are trying to wrest their website domain name back from the clutches of evil pornographers.

(Why is it that Welsh Tories are vulnerable to this kind of thing, anyway? Lots of the spam messages that appeared at the VS over Christmas allegedly contained links to some Vale of Glamorgan Conservatives site, which was presumably going to sell me viagra or phentermine or low cost meds or something equally useful.)

Anyway, the detail I like is the “Email Alerts” box in the middle of the CNN page, which allows you to request notification about stories that appear about the “British Conservative party”, on the one hand or “Porn”, on the other. It’s a nice binary, though perhaps not quite the exclusive-and-exhaustive kind of non-deconstructable binary we like over here at the Virtual Stoa.

Three of a Kind

Listening to British radio in general, Radio Four in particular, and the Today programme in particular in particular has a tendency, even over a fairly short period, to induce various forms of self-loathing. This morning’s 8am news bulletin provided a splendid exception, with a lead story about Prince Harry dressing up as a Nazi, followed by the news that Mark Thatcher’s pleading guilty, followed, shortly after that, by an interview with Michael Howard at his lying worst on the subject of burglars and householders and the significance of the difference – which he never defined with any precision – between “unreasonable” and “grossly disproportionate”. So I arose in a very good mood to go and make the first cups of coffee of the day.

(In normal circumstances, I’d add Charles Clarke, on after Howard, to this succession of jokers. But, in fact, Citizens Windsor, Thatcher and Howard are more ridiculous figures than Mr Clarke, and, on this occasion, the Home Secretary was being sensible.)

The Guardian points out that the theme of the party Prince Harry attended was “natives and colonials”. I know he’s supposed to be thick, but can it really be the case that he can’t read more than the first two letters of each word?

UPDATE [12.20pm]: What’s going on? Mel P has something sensible to say, for the second time in the space of a week. Have I changed? Has she? Is it some New Year’s Resolution to stop barking like a lunatic on her blog and/or in her columns? As I say, what’s going on?

UPDATE [12.40pm]: Jamie, (in common with Melanie), has good things to say, too, but focussing on Harry rather than Howard.