Wednesday, October 5, 2022

It's hard to think of a worse example of hypocrisy and brazen political opportunism than Alex Cole-Hamilton's two-faced stance on the monarchy

In the early days of King Charles' reign, I saw numerous tweets from Liberal Democrat accounts that gushed about various personal meetings with the Royal Family in a similar way to how teenage girls might gush about a meeting with Harry Styles. The Queen was referred to practically as a saint, and of course there were numerous declarations of undying loyalty to the new King.  As a veteran Lib Dem-watcher this was no surprise to me at all, but it may well have been a surprise to those naive enough to assume that a party called the Liberal Democrats exists mainly to further the cause of liberal democracy. In reality, the young Liz Truss was very much an outlier when, as a student Lib Dem activist, she called for an elected Head of State. The Lib Dems are for the most part a small 'c' conservative party, and if you want democratic radicalism you have to look elsewhere.  Remember that having waited decades to bring about their supposedly number one priority of proportional representation, they cravenly gave up on the idea as soon as the opportunity finally arose in 2010 and instead settled for a (failed) referendum on switching to another non-proportional system.  They even continued with the coalition after the Tories reneged on their promise of House of Lords reform.

Alex Cole-Hamilton typifies the servile Lib Dem approach to monarchy, and is always excruciatingly eager to share stills of himself in Royal company.  "Not your average day!" he enthused when posting a photo of himself shaking the King's hand, sounding as if he had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize or introduced to the Almighty.  And yet, periodically, there are articles in the Guardian in which Cole-Hamilton is quoted posing as a lefty anti-monarchy activist.  It really is like stepping into a parallel universe.  In the latest piece, he spits fury about the revelation that the King was allowed to vet the Scottish Parliament legislation to freeze rents - 

"The Scottish government should instead specifically list any changes made to legislation at the request of the King’s lawyers when it arrives at and goes through parliament. Everyone deserves to know how their laws are being made because transparency and scrutiny are pillars of our democracy."

I mean, is this the same man?  Could there possibly be two men who both happen to be called Alex Cole-Hamilton and both happen to be leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats?  OK, it's true that the SNP are, officially at least, a monarchist party and that in government they have acquiesced with the monarchical system, but it would be hard to plausibly claim that they are quite as hopelessly in love with the monarchy as the Lib Dems and Cole-Hamilton himself are.

Now, to be fair, it's possible in theory to be in favour of the principle of constitutional monarchy but to protest about the details of how the system works in practice.  But if that's what Cole-Hamilton wants us to believe his position is, there are two obvious points he needs to address.  Firstly, any secret vetting arrangement is effectively a form of collusion between the Royals and the government - but it's only the Royals who actually benefit from it.  Therefore, Cole-Hamilton cannot with any credibility attack the government for it without acknowledging the equal or greater culpability of the Royals.  I can see no evidence of him ever having done so, let alone him criticising the King directly.  Instead all I can see are fanboy selfies of him grinning inanely at Charlie-boy.

And secondly, he needs to accept that it's Scotland's place in the United Kingdom that has led to the Royals retaining these special perks in the post-devolution age.  The system derives entirely from the age-old practice at Westminster, which Lib Dem ministers were only too happy to uphold in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition from 2010 to 2015, and indeed in the Labour-Lib Dem coalition at Holyrood from 1999 to 2007.  As far as I can see, the Royals do not enjoy any special legislative vetting rights in the fourteen countries other than the UK in which the King remains Head of State.  It's thus inconceivable that the system wouldn't end in an independent Scotland, even if the monarchy was retained.  

But of course Alex Cloe-Hamilton doesn't want things to change.  He wants the status quo, while posing cynically as a critic of the status quo.  It's just about the most brazen political opportunism you'll ever see.  Perhaps that's what he euphemistically meant when he promised his party "fast bowling".  Bring back Willie Rennie's "Calypso cricket", all is forgiven.

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  1. Times Yougov poll Latest poll highlights: from twitter

    🟡 SNP up one seat to 49 at Westminster

    🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Support for Indy up 5%, knife edge result of 49% yes, 51% no

    🟡 SNP win a MAJORITY at next Scottish Parliament election

  2. Another poll for the Scotsman New Scottish Westminster poll, ComRes 30 Sep - 4 Oct (changes vs 23 - 28 Jun):

    SNP ~ 46% (+1)
    Lab ~ 30% (+5)
    Con ~ 15% (-3)
    LD ~ 8% (nc)