“And no disrespect to Her Majesty, we would wait until after her death to implement the plan, to which few would object, given that Prince Charles is the heir apparent”
“It can’t be long before cricket reinvents itself as baseball”
As we prepare to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne, some of us Britons think this would be a good time to point out that an anachronistic monarchy is just the biggest of many grand delusions ripe for shaking up.
The outside world seems to regard Britain as a quaint but living history film set. Our media and politicians conspire to keep this cartoon alive. Luckily for them it seems many Britons do find it difficult to shake themselves free from the past, however tenuous the link with reality.
The Monarchy delusion is the most important one of our endearing/useless/maddening traditions. There’s no shortage of other nonsenses which stay with us for no particular reason, other than they always have.
Let’s see, there’s the House of Lords, which former Prime Minister Tony Blair “reformed” from a mainly hereditary legislature to one that is mostly appointed. Blair thought appointed (by him) beat the hereditary principle and democracy. The House of Commons is supposed to control the government but is in fact controlled by it. No wonder we call it the Mother F……..$%£*&%$ of Parliaments.
Some Britons are convinced the National Health Service, an incompetent and outdated way of delivering health care, is the envy of the world. They won’t be shaken out of their complacency on this. If you tune into Question Time on BBC TV or Any Questions on BBC Radio4, any hint that the biggest bureaucracy in Europe is not an example to the world, a lynch mob forms in an instant. Evidence, which mounts daily, that the NHS provides an increasingly useless and often callous service is ignored, although the media is full of stories underlining this fact.
The BBC is also a relic of a bygone age. It still clings to its subsidised and monopoly status to the extent that if you buy a TV and physically make it impossible to receive the BBC, you will still have to pay £145.50 for a TV license. Yes, we still accept that it’s a good idea to be granted a license by the state to watch TV.
Some of our recent historical legends don’t bear much scrutiny. We entered WWII in 1939 to save Poland’s freedom, only to deliver it to the USSR and 50 years of slavery. Our heroic young pilots in the Battle of Britain sacrificed themselves against the Luftwaffe, but there was never a serious plan to invade England, while any attempt to launch a German landing fleet would have been smashed easily by our huge navy which dwarfed the German one.
The Commonwealth, apparently beloved by the Queen, is a collection of mainly former third world states which often have the common link of incompetence, corruption and kleptomania. But every couple of years there is a Commonwealth Summit to celebrate this ludicrous and meaningless grouping. An expensive Commonwealth Secretariat keeps the delusion alive between summits.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are occasionally persuaded to believe they are actual countries, as well as being a part of Britain. They are allowed to carry the pretence along by parading “international” football teams which purport to be from an independent country. Scotland is currently convulsing itself with the threat that it will tear itself free from Britain and become a proper country. This won’t survive a referendum, which the Scottish National Party (SNP) is desperate to avoid. After the referendum, the SNP will disappear.
Even some of our sports seem to be from another, dead, era. Cricket is kept alive because the BBC devotes huge segments of its radio monopoly broadcasting to report on it. But visit any county cricket ground and you will find a huge space in the centre of the prettiest towns, where on match days you might not find a quorum for tennis doubles. Cricket, in the face of declining interest, regularly tries to reinvent itself. As well as five-day international cricket, there is the three day game. There is one day cricket, 50-over cricket, and 20-over cricket, all designed to make the sport actually work and be more TV friendly. It can’t be long before cricket finds that it’s reinvented itself as baseball. And if you watch Rugby for more than five minutes it’s obvious there is something wrong with the basic rules of the game. Seeing a prolonged bout of massive kick swapping hoping for some kind of lucky break is deadly dull.
The annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge used to be a massive sporting event even in the late 1950s when ordinary working people who had never even travelled to these university towns would become light or dark blue partisans for the weekend. The event didn’t survive the TV era when it became obvious that this was not a top-class event, but the BBC persists in pretending otherwise, and offers blanket coverage once a year. This year the BBC got lucky. It was first race in about 150 years that was interesting, when a numbskull leftie swam across the River Thames and stopped the race.
Which brings me back to the Golden Jubilee celebrations. The Queen has no power. Her role is totally as a figurehead. The fact that she is an old lady, although obviously in rude health, underlines the fact that there can’t be much to the job. That there is still a hereditary head of state underlines the charming (or sad) fact that Britons prefer to live with delusions rather than face the perhaps unpleasant fact that the King/Queen stopped having anything meaningful to do about 200 years ago.
Should we dump the monarchy and bring in a Republic? That would mean failed politicians like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or John Major, might reappear as Presidents to flaunt themselves as important political players when we thought we were rid of them. Or we could abolish the monarchy and allow the Prime Minister to do the job. But that would be time consuming a
nd dilute the PMs chance to do that job properly. I can’t stand England-hating lefties either that would dump the monarchy
entirely, and I’m not mad about the forelock-tuggers who queue to prostrate themselves at the feet of royalty.
I think I have the answer.
Given that the job takes almost no intellectual capability, and only really adds up to opening fetes, we
lcoming visiting heads of state and reading speeches written by politicians, why not make it first prize in the national lottery? The winner and his/her partner would get the job for a year.
This would be so popular that millions of pounds would be raised, providing enough money to finance the reform of Parliament, privatise the health service and the BBC, payoff the national debt, and finance the ending of many popular delusions. And no disrespect to Her Majesty, we would wait until after her death to implement the plan, to which few would object, given that Prince Charles is the heir apparent.