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Graham Stringer MP: The Royal Baby and Royal Discrimination

The MP for Broughton and Blackley on the logic of monarchy

Published on July 24th 2013.


Graham Stringer MP: The Royal Baby and Royal Discrimination
 

THE Tea Room is one of the holy of holies in the House of Commons. It is exclusive to MPs who abide strictly to an unwritten rule that conversations here are private and remain so. However the scene on Tuesday 29 January, earlier this year, was one of high farce and worthy of being described by a Wodehousian comic genius.

One of the reasons for The Queen’s extraordinary popularity is that after 61 years on the throne nobody has the faintest idea what her views are on contemporary political issues.

From 7.30 in the morning MP after MP entered in various states of distress and anger, they all had one grievance. They had voted the previous evening to continue the discrimination against Catholics in the British constitution. Why they hadn’t realised what they were doing requires a little explanation.  

Graham Stringer MPGraham Stringer MPJacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, had moved an amendment to the Succession to the Crown Bill which would have allowed a practising Roman Catholic to become king or queen of this country. This is the Bill that abolished the male preference primogeniture and entitles a first born daughter to become monarch even if she has a younger brother.

Because William and Kate’s baby will become head of state of 16 countries it was necessary that the Bill should not be amended, because this would have made it inconsistent with the legislation passing through 15 other Parliaments.  MPs knew this and didn’t trouble themselves by reading the amendment, which was defeated by 371 votes to 38.

Catholic MPs and those with large Catholic electorates were particularly annoyed with their own lack of diligence. A proposal to end discrimination against females had, with their support, continued the 300 year old discrimination against Catholics.

This scene came to mind during the celebrations following the birth of the Prince of Cambridge. Whether born to an aristocrat or a commoner the birth of a healthy baby is always a joyous event. This baby has been born into unearned privilege and wealth, but his choices in life are limited. There is a sense of a peculiar cruelty in having a pre-determined career path from age zero.

My wish for the baby would have been that he had been born into a republic. This is an extremely unlikely scenario as the institution of the monarchy is stronger than ever. The Queen and Prince William’s opinion poll ratings are both in the 90s. It is one of life’s mysteries; that why in our democracy people should voluntarily support the head of state being determined by birth, not votes or ability. But there it is.

Should republicans and democrats therefore have no opinion about our monarchy? I think we should. It is still offensive to discriminate against Catholics or other religions. We live in a more tolerant society than that of 300 years ago. The time has long passed when a Catholic monarch was a threat to the security of the country because he would more than likely align us with our long term foes Spain and France.

The 1700 Act of Settlement, which prohibits Catholics ascending to the throne, was, when passed, a progressive piece of legislation protecting Parliament against absolute monarchs. It is now a discriminatory anachronism and should be repealed.

One of the reasons for The Queen’s extraordinary popularity is that after 61 years on the throne nobody has the faintest idea what her views are on contemporary political issues. This is a necessary condition for a constitutional monarch. It is not a condition that Prince Charles can ever fulfil. I know his views on everything from GM foods to property development in West London. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I don’t, but this is not the point. It isn’t even that his views are outrageous, although some are, it is simply that it is outrageous that he has public views. The fact is he is politically active and this is not acceptable. If we are to have our next head of state from one gene pool then the crown would be better passed to Prince William or Charles’ intelligent sister Princess Anne.

Interestingly in the long view of royal succession while males always come before females the oldest did not always come before the younger. William II, who succeeded William the Conqueror and built Westminster Hall the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament, was not the Conqueror’s eldest son. Having a royal head of state maybe irrational in a democratic society but we can still bring some sense and logic to it. It is after all the prerogative of Parliament to choose the process of succession.   

A baby with blue eyes but not blue blood

A baby with blue eyes but not blue blood

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 24th 2013.

We do know that the Queen doesn't like Manchester though, don't we Graham? (Which I think she inadvertently let slip on a trip to Russia once.) Not a big fan of our Olympic bid either, was she Graham?

AnonymousJuly 24th 2013.

"My wish for the baby would have been that he had been born into a republic" Because a war mongering, Catholic hypocrite President Blair would be a much better option wouldn't it Graham?

AnonymousJuly 24th 2013.

Why do people think Blair is the only alternative to a monarchy?! We could have Mary Berry as President if we wanted - that's kind of the point of democratically electing our leaders.

David MooresJuly 24th 2013.

The Monarch is also the official head of the Anglican Church. How could a Catholic be the head of the Protestant Church of England? You might as well say a Protestant should be allowed to become the Pope, or a Moslem the head of the Jewish faith - doesn't make sense to me.......

1 Response: Reply To This...
Poster BoyJuly 24th 2013.

Sometimes you do wonder at the thought processes of our elected representatives...talk about missing the point. Or am I being naive, because the statement of the bleedin' obvious, doesn't support the construct does it Mr Stringer?

AnonymousJuly 24th 2013.

Another reason for "The Queen’s extraordinary popularity" could be our slavishly subservient media, who simply refuse to criticize the monarchy? I mean the jingoistic, pro-monarchy, class-ridden BBC is something else. (Full of liberal left wingers, my ar**!) State propagandists, even more cringeworthy than Kim Jong-un's state media in North Korea!

Hero
Manc GuyJuly 24th 2013.

"There is a sense of a peculiar cruelty in having a pre-determined career path from age zero." The same can be said about parents forcing religion upon their own children, rather than letting them decide for themselves when they become adults. That to me is cruel.

AnonymousJuly 25th 2013.

I wish Prince Charles would write some of his infamous letters to Manchester City Council, about unworthy planning developments up here too. He must only care about London though?

Oliver DowdingJuly 26th 2013.

So the Queen and Prince William have approval ratings of 90%+ and you say "It is one of life’s mysteries; that why in our democracy people should voluntarily support the head of state being determined by birth, not votes or ability. But there it is". What are the poll ratings for politicians, maybe even yourself, who are elected? 90%+? Or maybe less than 50%? Nothing else to add, your honour. Except, maybe you could ask people why they are so happy with the royals, and why their ratings are high and politicians are not?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 27th 2013.

That poll was commissioned by the British Brainwashing Corporation, as was the one which said 74% of us approved of the £7+billion public funds pumped into "their beloved" London for the Olympic Games. It's the state broadcaster for heaven's sake - it's there to promote & keep us all loyal to our centralist, class-ridden, public schoolboy controlled, elitist state. (And if their monarchy approval rating was below 50%, the BBC would have undoubtedly ditched this "news item poll" of theirs!)

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