Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The weekend when democratic dissent became "bad manners"

So it's over at last. I think what I found most troubling about the Jubilee Weekend was the reports of republican protesters being shouted down and told to go away, on the grounds that they were "spoiling people's day". It suddenly dawned on me what it is about monarchism that makes it entirely different from other democratic political beliefs - it depends for its sustenance on the fiction that everyone, without exception, agrees with it. How else can we explain just how absurdly upset monarchists became at even the tiniest, vaguest reminder that there is an alternative to their own view? It also perhaps explains why the broadcast media, which usually makes at least some efforts to provide balance, shamelessly turned itself into an unalloyed propaganda organ over the weekend ("Britain is absolutely united"), and banished all but the most slavishly loyal monarchist views during their coverage - maybe they felt they would be "letting down" or unduly "upsetting" the majority of their viewers by reminding them that democratic dissent extends to the question of how the Head of State should be selected.

Heaven only knows how these people would cope with a referendum on the monarchy. Opinion polls currently suggest that a comfortable 70% would vote for retention, with only 15% opposed - but simply posing the question and countenancing the inevitability of a non-unanimous verdict would, I suspect, be enough to make many monarchists feel violently ill. Oh, and the campaign - how grubby.

* * *

This from the Herald raised a smile -

"Following talks between Mr Salmond and BBC chairman Lord Patten, who met the First Minister at Holyrood earlier this year, it has been reported that guidelines will be issued to the broadcaster's staff on how to avoid terms favoured by the independence and pro-Union camps.

Nationalist politicians have complained about the use of "separation" instead of independence.

Phrases favoured by the SNP such as "normal European state" are also likely to be discouraged."

Which is a bit like saying "14-18 year old males will be told not to drink Buckfast - and are also likely to be discouraged from attending Barry Manilow concerts". The latter is a worthy precaution, but almost certainly superfluous.


  1. It's been quite disturbing hearing how "Britain is united" behind the monarchy, when it clearly isn't, as Scotland's general lack of interest (admitted by the BBC)demonstrates.

    But things can change in a very short period of time. It was so when Diana was killed and the Queen mishandled the situation.

    People, it seems, like elderly queens and young princesses or princes.

    70% of the population may be rather fond of a little old lady with 60 years of doing what she does reasonably well under her belt, but I wonder if there will be anything like level of support for a rather unattractive and decidedly weird elderly man with nothing under his belt except a reputation for being more spendthrift than his grandmother, more demanding than Marilyn Munroe, more interfering in government than Queen Victoria... and with an unpopular wife whom he wishes to be Queen, when religious considerations demand that she cannot be (because she divorced her husband in order to get with Charles, and he [the husband] is still living).

    I suspect fewer by a long way.

    Unless Charles predeceases his mother, I reckon that the popularity of the monarchy will plummet, possibly to a point where we can get rid of them and their hangers on and the government can no longer use them in the way they have been used over this l-o-n-g weekend.

  2. On the subject of the broadcasting media fawning over the ‘royal’ family. Was I seeing things or did Reporting Scotland last night really make no reference to the astonishing news that our national rugby team went over to Australia and, for the first time in thirty years, beat the Aussies on their home patch? This was a truly historic victory and the flagship news programme of our ‘national’ broadcaster didn’t even see fit to mention it in passing. Excuse my French James but, what the fuck has happened to us?

    We’re going to be bombarded with reportage of the antics of the over-achieving footballers of England over the next month (well, the next two weeks anyway – heh-heh). After that, for the next month, we’re going to have the butcher’s apron rammed down our throats as these people try to force us to be British all over again (the ‘Jubilee’ was just a warm-up act for this). You would have thought that, in anticipation of these events, someone at BBC ‘Scotland’ might have thought to themselves, OK let’s release a little snippet of good news about the sporting jocks, just to prove that we at BBC ‘Scotland’ provide ‘balanced’ coverage. It seems that even that was too much to ask for.

  3. In answer to my own question, “wtf has happened to us”, the answer isn’t, as I used to think, internal colonialism. It’s worse than that. As a Scot living in Scotland today, it’s like living in a foreign country!

  4. How did the Queen mishandle the diana hysteria? The Queen of Scots was in Her own house in Scotland caring for her grandchildren.
    A mob formed in London and demanded that the said Queen return to HER PEOPLE. Their view being that the Scots were not her people and Scotland was a foreign country.
    I doubt that HMQ is stupid enough to understand that sort of labour unionist thinking and decided to do what she knew was best.
    The whole affair did serve to demonstratethe true scale of the contempt that english people have for Scotland and any claim to an equal stake in the UK.
    Perhaps more of the undecideds should be reminded of this truth amongst all the stronger together bilge.

  5. Now, when did any journalist, outside of a quote, actually refer to "a normal European state" when talking about independence? The main problem is not with the rhetoric of the committed parties, but with supposedly neutral media outlets adopting the rhetoric of one side exclusively.

  6. "Now, when did any journalist, outside of a quote, actually refer to "a normal European state" when talking about independence?"

    Never, whereas 'break-up', 'breakaway', 'separation', etc. are fairly routine, especially from London-based journalists.