Monday, September 19, 2022

This one reason is enough to make a referendum on the future of the monarchy worthwhile

So here's a polling observation of a very different sort from the ones I normally make on this blog.  If a pollster asks people how many sexual partners they've had in their lives, heterosexual men will on average give a much higher number than heterosexual women, which on the face of it doesn't make any sense.  There are potential statistical explanations that would square the circle, but it's generally accepted that the real explanation - or the main one - is fibbing.  Men tend to exaggerate their number of sexual partners and women tend to understate their number.  Men are either boasting or are too embarrassed to admit to a low number, while women tend to give an 'edited' version of their past, and justify that by thinking to themselves "that one doesn't really count because it wasn't a relationship".

And that's a rather useful analogy for the BBC at the moment, because they have a self-image of being impeccably impartial, the envy of the world in that respect, and regard anyone who questions their objectivity in even the remotest way as a tinfoil hat nutter.  And yet they've spent the last ten days churning out propaganda on behalf of the state in quantities that would make the North Korean state broadcaster blush.  How on earth are they going to reconcile what they've just done with their self-image of impartiality?  Simple: they're going to say "it doesn't count".  As far as they're concerned, anything to do with the monarchy is somehow totally different.  It's sealed off from the rest of their political output and no-one should judge them by it or even take it into account.

I'm not sure that's going to wash anymore.  Anecdotally, a lot of people who have given the BBC the benefit of the doubt until now have finally seen them for what they are.  But, as we discovered in Scotland eight years ago, an erosion of public trust doesn't mean the BBC will suddenly reflect or change.

Perhaps the only thing that would force them into a different approach is a referendum on the monarchy.  Until now, I've always thought a referendum would be a pointless exercise because there's at least a 3-1 majority in Britain for retaining the monarchy, and that's been very stable over time, so the outcome would be virtually a foregone conclusion.  But sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, and it may well be that a referendum campaign would in itself have a transformative effect on Britain.  For the first time ever, the BBC would be forced to treat the monarchy as an issue of political controversy just like any other, and to give parity of esteem to the arguments in favour and against.  Once that precedent has been set, it would be very difficult to go back to the sort of absurd adulatory output we've seen in recent days.

For clarity, I'm talking specifically about a Britain-wide referendum here.  If Scotland became independent, it would be a very different situation because I think a Scottish referendum on the monarchy would actually be inevitable sooner or later.  As Commonwealth Realms like Jamaica and Australia queue up to give their citizens the choice of a homegrown Head of State, it's unthinkable we wouldn't follow suit eventually.  And what's more, such a vote would be perfectly winnable for the republican side.


  1. I thought they'd have to give parity of esteem to both sides in 2014. Look how that turned out.

    1. Even the BBC's coverage in the indyref was nowhere near as one-sided as what we've just witnessed.

  2. I reckon BBC are well aware of their bias and propaganda and have appointed personnel specifically for that purpose I remember years ago there was a period of transformation during which there was discussion in the media about BBC being instructed how and what to report or rather what not to report , this was accompanied by threats of privatisation which many people don’t want, there is a love of the notion of a BBC which is being damaged in the minds of many because it is clearly a full on propaganda right wing organisation now.The professionalism it was had has been replaced by an overconfident chav attitude where it responds to complaints slowly lazily in an off handed matter often treating the people it serves as irrelevant

  3. Literally everyone I know!! with the exception of 2 pensioners aged 78 and 77yrs old have said to me that they've had enough of this coverage of the Monarchy.

    I think your right when you say James that this has to be a wake-up time for lots of people with regards to BBC agendas.

    The next several years will be quite telling I think, as Caribbean Nations become republics and Australia hopefully does the same, then new Zealand.... Scots will surely have to follow in part, towards independence. What about Northern Ireland and unification?

    They're may be big changes ahead (for the better) and this will leave England and the British state reeling.

    Again your right James, that a future independent Scotland holding and winning a Monarchy referendum is likely because GONE will be the BBC and most of the daily newspapers from Scotland, as by then Scotland would have it's own broadcasting media and daily papers with printing licenses (like Ireland has RTE). Westminster and the BBC would NOT be able to control the narrative on such a debate

  4. You should never underestimate the power of the media. Sturgeon and Swinney should have insisted on the devolution of control of the media during the Smith Commission. They made no effort at all. They are devolutionalists who don't want independence. They just love having a measure of power but always having the back up of blaming Westminster.

    The British State only cares about winning and they know complete control of the media is one of their most powerful weapons and they really don't care if a few people complain about bias.

  5. Somebody in the commentariat said that this coverage will have been planned for decades. No doubt it was based on what had been done for George VI, in 194?. I can't explain Channel4, STV, Sky etc. You'd have thought 'Scotland Tonight' could have held their usual discussion panels etc even if they were just discussing the Royal coverage.

  6. The polls were fairly consistent during the last year of the QE II reign. Net approval for the monarchy (excluding don’t knows) in the UK was 50%. Net approval in Scotland was 14%.
    From a Scottish perspective this is a hell of a promising position to begin a debate. From an English perspective, the margin of victory is insurmountable. In the extremely unlikely event that a referendum was called and an open and balanced, public debate was held, there’s a hell of a lot of history that’s been kept from the masses.
    Start with Queen Mary’s involvement in the events on Eaglesham moor, 10th May 1941.
    A referendum that resulted in a victory for the monarchist side in England with a defeat in Scotland wid be mair grist tae the mill.