Monday, December 24, 2012

The imperial delusion lives on

The SNP's Angus MacNeil and Labour's George Foulkes found some rare common ground a few days ago in condemning the Queen's 'silent' participation in a cabinet meeting, on the grounds that it breached a "vital separation of powers". Personally, I'm all for stunts like this - anything that undermines the ludicrous mythology of a monarchy that is "above politics" can only be a good thing, and means that the debate about the sort of Head of State we want in future will at least be marginally more clear-sighted. In a democracy, people who wield power are held accountable for their actions - or at least that's the theory. I look forward to Prince Charles being subjected to a long-overdue Paxman sneerfest one of these days.

No, what took my breath away was not the Queen's cabinet appearance, but the naming of a part of Antarctica in her honour. We know all about the extent to which individual Tory politicians lack self-awareness, but this is the clearest example yet of an institutional self-awareness problem on the part of the entire Tory/Lib Dem government. This is an administration that wants the world to believe that its upholding of British sovereignty in the Falkland Islands is not about imperialism, but self-determination. As I've said many times, that's a perfectly defensible position, because the Falklands are not an empty land - they contain thousands of people who want to retain the constitutional link with the UK, and who are the only stable population the islands have ever had.

But to ride roughshod over Argentina's Antarctic claim - which is no more or less legitimate than Britain's, because Antarctica really is an empty land - will send a powerful signal to the whole world that Britain's actions in the South Atlantic are in reality driven by the old, unreconstructed imperial impulse. Just how moronically insensitive can they get? Why not rename somewhere in the UK after the Queen? Or why not give her a beach in Pitcairn, if for some reason it really had to be an overseas "possession"? Oh no, that's not good enough for imperialist Tory governments - nothing but a continent will do for their monarch.

Yup, it's true - Cameron thinks he's Benjamin Disraeli. With a bit of luck, that delusion might just be taking a slight knock in 2014.

* * *

I feel slightly queasy. I can't stand Piers Morgan - but he's currently running rings round the American gun lobby quite brilliantly, and speaking vital truths to his adopted country in the unapologetic way they need to be spoken.

All the same, though - Piers Morgan. It's a bit like discovering that Political Betting's Plato is my local SNP candidate.

And on that downright disturbing note, I'll wish you all a very happy Christmas!


  1. Merry Christmas, James. Looking forward to reading more of your good work during 2013.

  2. James & Plato in a tree! You fancy her just admit it. Nobody can resist her supernatural powers of attraction.

  3. Could be worse when you find out that Plato is your Mum.

    Have a good festive period.

  4. Why, I wondered, did they choose to antagonise the Argentinians like that? It was unnecessary. They could have named anything they wanted, anywhere in Britain, after the Queen. And there must be endless mountains, lochs, valleys in the vastness that is Canada or Australia which could have been given as a joint gift.

    It smacks of thoughtless imperialism or complete blind stupidity, and unfortunately both is equally possible with this lot.

    In any case, we have been celebrating the Queen having the same job for 60 years. She has been thanked over and over again over the years and in particular during this year; she and her family have lived in splendour; they have had honours and riches poured on them, why on earth did they need to name a piece of land that she will never visit, for her?

    Thank you for all your hard work this year researching and writing this blog. It's still my first port of call. Happy Christmas, James.

  5. Thanks, Tris, and congratulations on another superb year at Munguin's Republic.

    Happy Christmas to you, Don and Marcia!

  6. What about the indigenous King Penguins?

  7. Have a great Christmas James and thanks for all the illuminating excellent blog work on here as well as your great posts elsewhere.

  8. Thanks very much, Mick, and keep up the good work yourself. Hope you're having a great Christmas.