News Archives 2002 and 2003
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2000 and 2001
Windsors Worked With Traitor
Anthony Blunt was allowed to continue working as Surveyor of the King’s Pictures despite a belief in Buckingham Palace that he was a Soviet spy, according to historian Kenneth Rose. The allegation is made in his new biography Elusive Rothschild.
The suspicion is reported to have arisen in 1948, three years after Blunt began working for the Windsors. The monarch at that time was George Windsor, whom Mr. Rose believes shared the suspicion that Blunt was a traitor. Blunt was re-appointed to his royal post when Elizabeth Windsor took over as monarch in 1952. She subsequently made him a "knight."
Blunt made a secret confession in 1964 but that was not made public until 1979.
BBC Under New Pressure
Media giant BBC is no longer to be exempt from public inspection of its financial records, according to press reports. If an amendment to the Communications Bill, is passed the National Audit Office will inspect the Corporation’s as it does most other taxpayer-funded organisations. The government, which has long protected the BBC from demands that it account for its spending of £2.5B is expected not to oppose the amendment.
The BBC protested the proposed change in the law, insisting that it’s independence would be impaired.
Liz Windsor Sues Manhattan Co-op
Britain’s head of state is taking legal action in the Manhattan federal court against an apartment co-op on Park Avenue in New York City. The dispute is over extra fees charged by the co-op when new residents move in.
The apartments are owned by the Canadian government and used by its diplomats. However, in a manifestation of the absurdity of monarchy, they are nominally owned by Ms. Windsor, who also acts as Canada’s head of state.
Nightmare Hits Netherlands Royal Family
A scandal of the type common in Britain has now hit the royal family of the Netherlands.
Fred Lammer, a biographer of the Dutch royal family told the Independent that "This is all a nightmare come true; for years the Queen prided herself on avoiding the type of thing which has so damaged the British monarchy. Now it seems the skeletons are being rattled and, if anything, what’s emerging here is even more damaging."
What has emerged, in a feud between Queen Beatrix and estranged family members, are accusations that the queen has ruined their livelihoods with a sustained campaign of slander that involved the use of the courts.
So-called Princess Margarita, niece to the queen, has alleged that Beatrix is a tyrant who has ignored and insulted her and her husband because she disapproves of their marriage. Margarita’s husband said that he had been the victim of "psychological terror." He described the queen as drinking excessively and falling asleep at her birthday party. The couple also say that their home has been bugged and their mail intercepted by the Dutch intelligence service.
Canadians May Be Freed From Feudal Oath
A Canadian public service reform bill will end the requirement that public servants in that country swear allegiance to Britain’s Windsor family. Instead they will swear or affirm that they will carry out their duties impartially and to the best of their abilities.
At present government employees in Canada who are not monarchists must be humiliated by a declaration of loyalty to a feudal and foreign institution or lose their jobs.
While Canadian republicans have welcomed the democratic reform, that country’s Monarchist League is lobbying for the continuation of feudal obeisance, declaring that it is an "egalitarian" means of ensuring that a public servant will "act for us all as a fellow subject."
Parliament Votes Against Elections
A majority of MPs have voted to prevent election by the people of the legislators who sit in the second chamber of parliament. There were 272 in favour but 289 against.
In the House of Lords, where legislators-for-life were able to vote on whether they should be chosen by the people, three-quarters voted to block democratic reform.
Most observers had expected the Commons to compromise on one of seven options for reform presented by a joint committee of both houses of parliament that mixed varying proportions of elected and appointed legislators. All of seven were voted down by MPs, however.
Some MPs put the blame at the door of PM Tony Blair, who had confessed his opposition to a democratic second chamber shortly before the vote. Both he and Chancellor Gordon Brown failed to vote.
Twenty-five members of Tony Blair’s government did vote against his preferred outcome - an all-appointed second chamber. Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith supported the election of 80 percent of legislators.
The joint committee will now consider what to do next. Most observers thought that the failure of MPs to agree would delay change until after the next general election.
The possibility of removing hereditary and clerical legislators as an interim step has been put forward by Downing Street. Supporters of a democratic chamber may resist that, however, as all the remaining legislators would be state-appointed.
Jack Cunningham, who chairs the joint committee, has proposed an alternative approach - indirect election by the members of the Scottish parliament, the Welsh assembly and the as yet not existent English regional assemblies.
Republicans Not Wanted In Britain
Britain is set to join Canada in banning republicans from citizenship. A government panel chaired by Bernard Crick has recommended that immigrants to Britain should be allowed citizenship only if they first swear allegiance to the Windsor family, which is entitled to appoint the nation's head of state. In Canada republicans who have lived in the country for many years and who may be married to Canadians are refused citizenship because of their democratic beliefs.
British law already bans republicans from sitting in the legislature, working as police officers or senior lawyer or serving in the military.
Blair Admission In Democracy Row
Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that he is opposed to the democratisation of Britain’s legislature. Mr. Blair told MPs that a second chamber that was partly elected by the people would not work. He also opposed a fully elected parliament. Mr. Blair said that the reformed House of Lords should be appointed by a state commission.
Leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook accused the Prime Minister of ignoring a Labour Party promise that parliament would be democratised. Some Conservative MPs joined the criticism of Mr. Blair, supporting an entirely elected second chamber.
Poor Prospects for Democratic Legislature
The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons has written to all MPs asking them to support a reformed House of Lords that is still 40% unelected.
MPs debated reform on 21 January and both chambers of parliament will vote in February on seven options for the make-up of the reformed House.
The government led by Tony Blair has not stated its preference, although there have been press reports that the Prime Minister does not wish any of the legislators in the second chamber to be elected by the people. Leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook favours the election of the majority of the legislators. However, he has been severely criticised by senior government minister Derry Irvine. Mr. Irvine has said that a partly elected house would be a "disaster". He added that electing legislators to the second chamber would weaken the House of Commons upon which there is currently little effective restraint.
The difficulties in reconciling the different views on the composition of the second chamber, together with cumbersome parliamentary procedures, may mean that reform is put off until after the next general election.
Windsors and Fabians Co-operate
The Windsor family has said that it will co-operate with a Fabian Society investigation into the future of the British monarchy by answering questions. The Fabian Society is a Labour Party think tank. It does not envisage an end to the right of the Windsor family to permanently hold the position of head of state. Its commission on the monarchy includes two legislators-for-life and one so-called knight.
BBC Change of Mind?
Sports & Culture minister Tessa Jowell has stated that the BBC would have to justify its right to tax television owners if its public broadcasting charter was to be renewed in 2006. In the past Ms. Jowell has said that it was almost impossible to think of any change to this arrangement, as the media giant is, in her view, too much loved and trusted.
The Prime Minister’s broadcasting adviser added to Ms. Jowell’s comments saying that there was no longer a "cosy and complancent"relationship between BBC and government.
Call To End Oath In Wales
The presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly, Dafydd Ellis-Thomas, has told a web site affiliated to his Plaid Cymru party that assembly members should not have to swear allegiance to the Windsor family. The use of "royal" to describe major events in Wales, such as the Eisteddfod should also end, he said.
Mr. Elis-Thomas, a republican, said that he would try to have the Government of Wales Act 1998 amended to remove the obnoxious requirement that Welsh legislators swear the feudal oath. He also suggested that the assembly stop inviting Windsor family members to make official visits to Wales.
Mr. Elis-Thomas was speaking in a personal capacity
Windsor Interference Confirmed
Records unsealed by the Public Record Office reveal that the son of Britain’s hereditary head of state has been using his privileged position to try to influence public policy for thirty years. This has undermined claims by supporters of monarchy that an advantage of hereditary right is that it ensures that the head of state in politically neutral.
Mr. Windsor was criticised during 2002 for using his privileged position to achieve undue influence on the government. The newly published records show that this abuse is not new and that his father has done the same. In the 1960s Philip Windsor wrote to Prime Minister Harold Wilson to urge that he resist demands for independence from Britain's Caribbean colonies. Mr. Windsor claimed that the peoples of those islands "saw their relationship with Britain to be much the same as the relationship between the Scilly or Channel Isles and Britain."
Millions Escape BBC’s Tax
Two million people watch TV without a licence, according to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, reducing the annual income of state media giant BBC by more than £200M.
Although the maximum fine for not paying the tax on free speech is £1000, the average is only £100, with £41 in court costs added. More than 50 per cent of those fined still do not pay for a licence to view.
The MPs on the Committee complained that retailers do not always report to the BBC when a customer buys a TV, VCR or computer, making it harder for Capita plc, the BBC’s enforcers, to track down licence resisters.
The committee also reported that 71,000 households licensed to watch TV were harassed nonetheless by BBC enforcement agents.
Windsor Bows to People
Hereditary head of state Elizabeth Windsor has bowed to public pressure by agreeing to pay the market rent on an apartment in Kensington Palace occupied by a cousin and his wife. The relatives have been paying £69 a week for the five bedroom apartment which has a market rental value of £120, 000 per year.
People’s Rights May Be Denied in Legislative Reform But People Will Foot Huge Bill
A legislative chamber with no elected legislators is among the options for reform of the House of Lords to be considered by parliament in 2003. It is included in seven choices set out in a report by a joint parliamentary committee which may lead to legislation a year from now. The 600 unelected legislators could cost the taxpayers £230M a year.
The committee, in which 12 legislators-for-life from the feudal Lords carried equal weight with 12 elected members of parliament, agreed that the powers of the reformed chamber should not be expanded. They were split over whether the second chamber should have democratic legitimacy, however.
The seven options for the composition of the chamber set out by the committee include a fully elected chamber, although it is clear that it was frightened by that prospect. Others allow for elected elements of 20, 40, 50, 60, and 80 per cent of people’s representatives. The option of no elections is also included. In all but the democratic option a state appointments commission would appoint some or all legislators.
The committee recommended that the 91 hereditary legislators who still sit in parliament should lose their seats. Those of the current legislators-for-life who did not inherit their seats might continue to be legislators for as long as they wanted however, since the committee was "not attracted" to the idea of removing their privileges. New law-makers would sit for 12 years.
The joint committee made no definite recommendations on whether the supreme court should continue to be a part of the legislature. Nor on whether the Church of England should keep its power to appoint legislators. However, it did hold out the possibility that judges might continue to sit in parliament even if the supreme court became independent. It also suggested that that other religious groups might join the Church of England with a privileged place in government.
No other democratic legislative chamber would have as many legislators as the 600 proposed by the joint committee. Earlier this year Public Accounts Administration Select Committee recommended that membership should be only 350. The consequent cost to the taxpayers of this huge assembly would be £230M each year, £170M more than at present.
Commentators expect members of the House of Commons to favour election to 80% of the seats in the reformed chamber, while legislators-for-life will vote for only 20%.
The joint committee report is here
Treasury Threat to BBC Extortion
According to press reports Chancellor Gordon Brown has ordered an enquiry into the funding of the BBC. This might mean the end of the licence system or a sharing of the £2.5bn take with other broadcasters, according to Independent.
A source told the newspaper "There are people in the Treasury who suspect that [the Department of Culture] is captured by the broadcasters." Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell recently stated that reform of the licensing system was almost impossible
PM Pushes for More Legislators-for-Life
According to press reports Prime Minister Tony Blair is pressing for the appointment of more legislators-for-life to sit in the House of Lords, despite plans for democratic reform due in January. The so-called "peoples peers" are appointed by a government commission.
The PM’s plans are said to have been resisted by other leading members of his Labour Party in parliament. As a result the commission has put 423 applications from would be legislators on hold.
A joint committee of both houses of parliament is expected to report in the new year with options for the future of the feudal House of Lords.
Ban on Catholics to Stay Says PM
Primer Minister Tony Blair has told MP Kevin McNamara that there will be no change to the law that stops Britain’s head of state marrying a Catholic.
Mr. McNamara, who has campaigned for the 1701 ant-Catholic Act of Settlement to be repealed, wrote to Mr. Blair in August, reminding him that he had stated publicly that the Act was "plainly discriminatory."
In his reply the Prime Minister denied that there was any need to change the law as none of the 21 Windsor family members in line to succeed Elizabeth Windsor as head of state on her death was married to a Catholic. Mr. Blair also indicated that the law should not be changed as reform would undermine the privileged position of the Church of England as state church.
Windsors Complains of BBC Bias
The Windsor family has sent the BBC a letter described by the Daily Telegraph as "furious." It complains of bias and inaccuracy in a programme on the future of the monarchy.
The On The Record programme commented on the expense of the recent Windsor jubilee and on tax-funding of the family’s "regal lifestyle."
The Telegraph suggests that the Windsors were unhappy that no mention was made of reductions in their take from the taxpayers in recent years, nor of queen Windsor’s payment of income tax since1993. Interviews with republicans and left wing MPs were also considered inappropriate.
The Windsor family has become used to a deferential attitude from the BBC which has played an important part over many year in maintaining public support for the feudal institution.
Corruption At Heart of Royal Household
Writing in the "Independent", columnist Andreas Whittam Smith has alleged that there is corruption in the Windsor family palaces. He said that millions of pounds had been made by Windsor servants selling mostly official gifts. Mr. Whittam Smith called for every gift received by the family during the last ten years to be accounted for. He said that the investigation should be undertaken by the police or an official tribunal.
Mr. Whittam Smith also alleged that the royal warrants issued to suppliers of goods and services to the Windsor family had been used to shake down the firms concerned. Lower prices had been demanded by the palaces in return for the renewal of the prestigious warrants. And some family servants used the treat of non-renewals to persuade reluctant businesses to give large discounts on their personal purchases. Mr. Whittam Smith suggested that this was a part of an arrangement by which royal staff received low pay but could make good the loss by such sharp practices.
Mr. Whittam Smith is a former film censor and now oversees the management of Church of England investments.
Government Wants End To Innocence Presumption Right
The fallacy that democratic government is a sufficient safeguard for human rights has been exposed again by the announcement of government plans to legislate to deny the presumption of innocence in some cases of alleged rape. In six sets of circumstances accused persons will be required to prove their innocence by showing that consent to sex had been given if parliament approves legislation to be proposed by the government.
The proposals were made on 19 November by Home Secretary David Blunkett in a paper called Protecting the Public. They followed an earlier announcement that the government wished to end jury trial in many cases and the long-established protection against a second prosecution for the same offence. The government also wishes juries to be able to take into account the accused person’s previous criminal convictions when deciding on guilt in the present case.
The proposed changes to the law have been widely condemned. However, the primary loyalty of most legislators to their party rather than the people is likely to ensure that the law will be changed as the government wishes.
Leading Tory Calls for Royal Reform
Michael Portillo, a senior minister in the last Tory government, has called for British monarchy to be modernised. However, in his speech at Trinity College, he did not indicate what changes he would like to see. Mr. Portillo said that for his traditionally and strongly monarchist party to advocate such change would be equivalent to the decision of the Labour Party to renounce state ownership of industry.
First Family Conviction For 353 Years
Anne Laurence, daughter of hereditary head of state Elizabeth Windsor and otherwise known as the "princess royal", has been convicted of allowing a dog to attack two boys near the family castle at Windsor. She was fined £500 and ordered to pay £250 compensation to each of the traumatised boys.
Other members of the families of Britain’s hereditary heads of state have escaped conviction since 1649 when deposed king Charles was executed for treason.
Windsors Seek To Defuse Scandal As World Looks On
The Burrell affair has continued to shake the monarchy despite Windsor family efforts to reassure the public.
In the Independent former Tory MP Michael Brown suggested that “the monarchy is shakier than we imagined . . . . we may be about to witness the demise of the old establishment.” He mocked the feudal ceremonials of the royal opening of parliament as a “faintly ridiculous annual pantomime.” Mr. Brown said that the Windsors should no longer be considered above the law.
The Windsor family has announced that it had set up a private enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the trial of family butler Paul Burrell, including the part played by queen Windsor in the sudden collapse of the trial, an allegation that one Windsor staff member raped another and that official gifts have been sold for personal gain. The enquiry is to be headed by the chief assistant to Charles Windsor, Michael Peat. The lack of credibility caused by his role was reinforced when Mr. Peat stated that he would not be interviewing Ms. Windsor, whose actions had been the cause of the public criticisms leading to the enquiry, nor members of her staff. The Windsor enquiry will not have access to the police, bank and tax records that would be required to establish the truth of allegations.
The Burrell affair has been covered by the news media of much of the world, with the nation’s feudal system again causing ridicule.
Civil Rights Threat From Government
Parliament is to be asked to take away long established civil rights, queen Windsor told parliament when it resumed business recently.
If government proposals become law the protection against a second trial for the same offence that has existed for almost 800 years will be abolished. Juries may also be informed of previous convictions before deciding the guilt or innocence of the accused. And the right to jury trial will end in many cases.
Britain does not have a constitution that would prevent parliament removing basic rights.
Windsor Scandals Put Pressure on Monarchy
Britain’s feudal constitution is being questioned by legislators following the recent farcical collapse of the trial of a former Windsor family butler and an allegation of rape against a senior official working for Charles Windsor, heir to head of state.
The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons has indicated that it will be extending its investigation into the constitutional position of the Windsor family. It intends to look into the many powers given to the queen under the royal prerogative. A member of the committee told the Independentnewspaper that the committee might also question the queen’s immunity from legal action.
The trial of former butler Paul Burrell exposed the ability of the Windsor family to undermine the integrity of the criminal justice system, by withholding evidence with impunity, by influencing police and prosecutors, and by having evidence unrelated to the public interest suppressed with a public interest immunity certificate.
Britain’s willingness to regard the private interests of a dysfunctional family as of the highest importance also exposed the country to international ridicule. Mr. Burrell’s statement that he was required to stand throughout a three-hour conversation with Ms. Windsor vividly illustrated the absurdity of the deference on which monarchy is based.
These events followed shortly after Ms. Windsor’s jubilee celebrationns which royal apologists claimed reinforced public support for the continuation of feudalism in Britain.
Gulag Survivor Resists British Tax on Free Speech
Vladimir Bukovsky, who defected to Britain in 1976 following 12 years in Soviet labour camps and psychiatric hosiptals, has joined the resistance to th BBC licence. Mrs. Bukovsky intends to refuse to pay the £112 tax, which may result in his imprisonment. He believes that the broadcasting giant has broken its charter by exhibiiting bias on European intergration. Mrs. Bukovsky joins a campaign that has support on both the left and right of British politics. The left wing New Statesman has compared the licence fee to the poll tax that caused a taxpayers’ revolt some years ago.
The BBC is now demanding that some computer owners pay its tax even if they have no TV. This is because some computers are able to receive TV programmes. Sellers of such computers are obliged by law to report the name and address of the purchaser to the BBC’s enforcement department.
Rape Embarrassment for Windsor
An allegation by army veteran George Smith that he was raped by a senior member of the staff of heir to head of state Charles Windsor has added to the embarrassments of the Windsor family.
Mr. Smith, who was employed as a valet at the time, says that he was raped in 1989. He did not report the attack to the police and now claims that his allegations were covered up by Windsor family members.
The alleged rapist is still working for Mr. Windsor, who is entitled by Britain’s feudal constitution to become head of state on the death of his mother. Mr. Smith was paid at least £30,000 by the family when he left its employment following the alleged rape.
Some observers have suggested that fear that the rape allegation might be raised in court was the reason for the head of state’s last minute intervention in the trial of Paul Burrell.
PM In Staunch Defence of Hereditary Privilege
Prime Minister Tony Blair this week rushed to defend the hereditary rights of head of state Liz Windsor following widespread criticism of her involvement in the prosecution of butler Paul Burrell. He said that queens should continue to be exempt from the public duty of giving evidence in court. Mr. Burrell was acquitted of charges of stealing from his former employer, Diana Spencer, because of Ms. Windsor’s eleventh-hour revelation that he had spoken to her of his intentions.
Mr. Blair said that there should be no enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the trial, claiming that Ms. Windsor had been in a “difficult situation.” He added that it would be “unfair” for queens to be obliged to give evidence in court but offered no explanation of why that was so.
Legislature Silenced on Royal Immunity
Members of Parliament have been forbidden to debate a motion
that called into question the exemption of the head of state from normal legal processes. The motion also called for queen Windsor to refund to taxpayers some of the costs of the recent prosecution of the butler of her deceased daughter-in-law. The expensive trial might have been avoided had Ms. Windsor told the police of a conversation with the butler in which he revealed his intention of removing some of his former employer’s possessions.
The suppression of debate on the monarchy by the people’s representatives is an enduring feature of Britain’s semi-feudal institutions of government. Legislators who will not declare loyalty to the Windsor family are barred from Parliament.
Windsors Hurt By Trial of Servant
The success that monarchists have had in depicting queen Liz Windsor as beyond personal reproach has suffered a severe blow from the collapse of the prosecution of Paul Burrell, a former employee of the Windsor family.
Ms. Windsor’s last minute recollection of a conversation with Mr. Burrell resulted in his acquittal of charges that he had stolen from the estate of Diana Spencer, former wife of the heir to the position of head of state. Allegations have now been made that the failure of a material witness to come forward sooner amounted to obstruction of justice. However, Ms. Windsor’s status as hereditary head of state makes her immune from prosecution.
Under Britain’s feudal legal system Mr. Burrell was prosecuted not in the name of the people but by the Crown Prosecution Service in the name of the queen, although she was also a potential witness and had an interest in the outcome of the case. Deference to her may have been a factor in the failure of the police to question her about her knowledge of facts which may have exonerated the accused and in the failure of Mr. Burrell to fully disclose the nature of his conversation with his former employee.
The trial of Mr. Burrell confirmed the secondary status of private individuals in Britain’s semi-feudal society. The prosecution refused to read parts of a statement by Mr. Burell in open court. And it applied for a public interest immunity certificate to suppress evidence of a conversation between the accused and Ms. Windsor. Such certificates are normally applied for to protect the confidentiality of sensitive state information. Because the Windsor family if a part of the state apparatus in Britain’s bizarrely feudal system it would have been possible to use such a certificate to protect the Windsor’s from public disclosure of matters that might embarrass their family.
Some observers have suggested that the disclosure by Ms. Windsor was withheld in the hope that it would not be necessary. It was then made at a stage when it would cause the trial to collapse, with the intent that deference for the family should not be undermined by its members being subpoenaed to give evidence. Harold Brooks-Baker of Burke’s Peerage told The Independent that a constitutional crisis could have resulted had Ms. Windsor or her son been subpoenaed to appear in court. He expressed concern that that would have degraded them and might have lead to the end of their hereditary right to Britain’s senior public office.
Licence Challenge Rattles BBC
Lester Herne Hill, an eminent Queen’s Counsel, has been hired by the BBC to advise on how to deal with the refusal of journalist Jonathan Miller to pay its licence fee, without which viewing of TV programmes or owning a VCR is illegal in Britain. Thousands are routinely prosecuted by the BBC each year for not paying the £112 tax on free speech. The retention of an expensive lawyer in this case has been seen, therefore, as indicating the broadcasting giant’s anxiety about resistance to its tax becoming organised and more widespread.
Most of those successfully prosecuted in the past have admitted to owning a television when questioned by BBC police officers. Often they do not appear in court to contest the case. Mr. Miller has threatened to fight any prosecution as far as the European Court in order to defend freedom of communication in Britain. Britain’s denial of its citizens’ right to receive broadcasts from broadcasters other than the BBC or own a video recorder unless the BBC tax is paid is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a recent poll by the Daily Telegraph 58 percent of those polled thought that the licence fee was no longer justified. The BBC maintains that most people believe that it gives good value for the money it extorts.
Committee Split on Lords Reform
According to press reports there is a split in the joint committee of legislators from the two Houses of Parliament drawing up recommendations for further reform of the House of Lords. Some want to make recommendations that include the composition of the new chamber, while others want an agreement on broad principles first. The committee had been due to report in the first week of November.
Republicans Speak Out As Windsor Visits Canada
Queen Windsor’s official visit to Canada has highlighted the increasing influence of republican opinion in a country that still acknowledges her as its head of state and prints her picture on some of its postage stamps.
Deputy Prime Minister John Manley took the opportunity of Windsor’s visit to say that “It is not necessary . . . for Canada to continue with the monarchy.” He added that he would prefer a “uniquely Canadian institution” to replace her.
Tory Leader Joe Clark insisted that Mr. Manley’s remarks required that he be withdrawn as Windsor’s official escort on her arrival in Ottawa. His condemnation was echoed by a Monarchist League official who described the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments as “insulting.”
Toronto Sun writer Michael Mandel agreed that the British queen “really doesn’t get much respect” in a Commonwealth country more interested in hockey stars than queens. Not only was she to be greeted by a republican but she had not been asked to deliver the speech from the throne at Canada’s parliament.
Perhaps for the first time during a Windsor visit to Canada a republican group, Citizens for a Canadian republic, will be handing out leaflets making the case for a monarchy-free Canada. The public launching of the group as Windsor’s visit drew near has ensured it a great deal of media attention.
While most Canadians still profess allegiance to the British monarchy, the voice of republicans is increasingly heard. This is most clearly the case in Quebec.
Sixty five percent of the people of Quebec, according to an opinion poll, favour discarding the feudal institution. Unlike other provincial governments, the government of Quebec has not invited queen Windsor to officially visit the province.
Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois and Quebec separatist, announced that he would boycott the federal government’s formal dinner for Windsor. Mr. Duceppe said that he did not recognise her as queen of Canada or of Quebec province. In April the Bloc, refusing to recognise the people of Quebec as loyal subjects, declined to sign a motion of condolence on the death of Windsor’s mother.
Police Chief Calls For End To Feudal Attire
The Chief Constable of the Thames Valley police has called for British lawyers to stop wearing wigs and gowns in court. Peter Neyroud also said that the Latin and Greek phrases loved by British lawyers should be dropped.
Mr. Neyroud accused lawyers of practising "bizarre rituals" in court, describing them as "the best possible system for excluding the involvement or understanding of the general public."
According to The Independent the Chief Constable’s appeal will be strongly resisted by the Lord Chancellor who is head of the judicial system as well as a government minister and legislator.
Comments so critical of the feudal vestiges that encourage the deference essential to Britain’s unique class system are most unusual coming from such a senior official.
Wrong Sort Barred From Legal Profession Promotion
An 18-month enquiry in the way in which judges are appointed and lawyers promoted has revealed that those considered "leaders of the profession" are given preferential treatment. The enquiry apparently found indications that highly competent lawyers are not promoted if they are not active in the right social networks.
The results of the enquiry by a senior academic are to be published later this year. Press reports suggest that it will recommend the ending of secrecy in the way that barristers are chosen for promotion to the status of QC. The report of the enquiry is expected to call for an independent assessor to take part in the feudal-style procedure under which a government minister decides who are the most capable barristers.
Lawyers who find favour with the government and are promoted to QC are able to charge up to a third more than junior barristers. At present unsubstantiated criticism from judges or other lawyers can result in a lawyer being barred from promotion.
Windsor Undermines Monarchist Excuse
Charles Windsor, son of the British monarch, has struck an unintended blow to the monarchical system. The heir to head of state has been revealed to be using his status as queen Windsor’s son to badger the elected government into changing policies with which he disagrees. In frequent letters to government ministers he has criticised human rights safeguards, health and safety regulations and a proposed ban on hunting foxes.
This revelation has effectively removed the monarchist excuse that an head of state who has not been obliged to contest an election is able to be non-partisan on contentious political issues and able therefore to united the nation to an extent impossible for a politician.
Canadian Challenge to British Monarchy
Canadian politician Tony O’Donohue and Citizens for a Canadian Republic are challenging Britain’s Act of Settlement in the Canadian courts. In the case of O’Donohue v The Queen Mr. O’Donohue claims that the 1701 Act contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter forbids discrimination on the grounds of religion but under the British Act only Protestants may be monarch. The British monarch is Canada’s head of state.
The Canadian government’s response has been to argue that since Mr. O’Donohue is not eligible to be monarch he is not suffering discrimination. The case is due to resume on 18 October.
Another Commonwealth Nation Set To Become Republic
British Commonwealth member Tuvalu has started on the road to becoming a republic, according Radio New Zealand International. Saufatu Sopoaga, Prime Minister of the South Pacific Polynesian nation, told the broadcaster that consultation will begin in September, with a referendum scheduled for the end of the year. The Prime Minister said that Tuvalu would stay in the Commonwealth if a republican constitution was agreed..
Tuvalu would be the twenty-third member of the Commonwealth to become a republic during queen Windsor’s tenure as Britain’s head of state.
Prince Ernest of Hanover May Be King of England!
The absurdity of Britain’s monarchical system has been highlighted by the publication of a book claiming that the father of nineteenth century head of state queen Victoria may have been her mother’s secretary John Conroy, not the so called Prince Edward. According to monarchist beliefs this would mean that Victoria and her successors have not been entitled to the position of British monarch.
In his newly published book The Victorians A. N. Wilson writes that Victoria’s mother had a long affair with her secretary, Conroy. The noted biographer claims that medical evidence supports his theory that Conroy was Victoria’s father. If this is correct the so called Prince Ernest of Hanover should be Britain’s head of state, not Liz Windsor, according to a publishing director of Burke’s Peerage quoted by the Reuters news agency.
Windsor Told Train Too Expensive
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has recommended that if the Windsor family still needs exclusive use of a train it lease a private one instead of running its own at taxpayers’ expense. The train costs twice as much per mile as air travel. The committed also proposed that the Air Force stop making its planes available for the family’s private travel at discounted rates.
Last year the Windsor train cost taxpayers £600, 000.
Royal Matriarch Sent Hairdresser’s Bill To Taxpayers
Documents just released by the Public Record Office reveal that the so-called Queen Mother sent the Treasury a bill for £33,000 at today’s prices after a two-day visit to Tunisia in 1961. Items included £5,300 for catering, £633 for hairdressing and allowances for a 14 person military band.
The Treasury’s reluctance to pay seems to have angered the Windsor matriarch who said she had not wanted to make the trip. Eventually she withdraw her demand for extra cash and paid the bill from her annual handout from the taxpayers.
The newly released records tell also of how Liz Windsor’s cousin Alexandra extended an official Far East visit in 1961 by three days to visit friends in Canada at public expense.
No Knighthood For Critic of Upper Classes
Public Record Officer papers have revealed that the writer of the Jeeves and Wooster novels, P G Wodehouse, was refused an honorary knighthood for services to English literature in 1971 because his depiction of the British upper classes was seen as derogatory by upper class officials who recommended who should be honoured. Wodehouse, who was a resident of the United States and so not entitled to a full knighthood, was eventually honoured four years later.
Civil Rights Threatened
Juries may be told of charges of which the accused person has been acquitted, if government proposals become law. This is just one item in an extraordinary assault on civil liberties contained in a white paper called Justice for All.
If the proposals become law judges will be able to decide whether the jury should be told of previous court appearances, both when the accused was found guilty and when acquitted. The right to jury trial will disappear in many cases, however. These will include cases in which the judge decides that there has been intimidation of the jury.
The government also intends to end the double jeopardy protection which prevents retrial on the same charges following an acquittal. This would happen only with serious charges and when there was strong new evidence.
Hearsay evidence will be allowed in some cases. The police will be allowed to impose bail conditions, such as curfews, on suspects who have not been charges with an offence. Lawyers may be fined if they cause what the court believes are unnecessary delays.
In a separate development the government is also considering whether to require that all motor cars be fitted with tracking equipment to allow it to record all vehicle movements, in order to charge for use of the roads.
There is no constitutional protection in Britain to stop the legislature passing laws that take away individual freedoms.
BBC Empire Expands
The BBC’s tax-funded media empire has expanded again with its winning of the 12 year licence to provide digital TV in partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB satellite monopoly.
The BBC currently spends £200M each year on producing digital programmes that cannot be watched by the majority of those forced to pay its licence fee. BBC4, the "culture" channel, has no more than 11,000 regular viewers. The corporation plans to spend another £35M on its new digital platform, including marketing costs.
The government was keen to negotiate a deal so that it will be able stop analogue broadcasting in 8 years time and sell the spectrum. In return for its help with this objective the BBC will expect the government’s support for the continuation of the licence fee system that requires state permission for the use of TVs and VCRs.
Enron Scandal Threat To Wakeham
The US Senate has alleged that the directors of American energy firm Enron, including the so-called Lord Wakeham, allowed "questionable" and "high risk" accounting practices. The British legislator-for-life has also been named in a law suit by former Enron employees claiming restitution of disappeared pension funds.
Wakeham lead the commission on reform of the House of Lords that recommended to the government that the people of Britain not be allowed to elect the legislators to the chamber in which he sits by right of his title.
Anglicans Prefer State Privilege To Self-Government
Britain’s state Church has rejected a call for it to appoint its own bishops in favour of continued appointment by prime minister and queen. The Church’s acting general secretary warned its General Synod that the proposal could undermine the minority church’s privileged position.
The Church of England is officially recognised as the state church. Only its members are allowed to be head of state. It is entitled to seats in the legislature and taxpayers are compelled to contribute financially to its school system.
The General Synod also voted to modify its regulations on divorce. This will allow Charles Windsor, heir to head of state, to marry his divorcee lover without jeopardising his hereditary to replace his Mum as head of state.
More Evidence of Windsor Nazi Link
FBI documents obtained by the Guardian show that queen Windsor’s uncle Edward was followed by agents during World War II because intelligence reports indicated that his wife Wallis Simpson was guilty of disclosing allied secrets to a top Nazi official Joachim von Ribbentrop with whom she had had an affair. Ribbentrop later became Germany’s foreign minister. The surveillance was ordered by President Roosevelt and took place while the couple were in the USA.
American officials believed that the abdication of Edward as hereditary head of state (know as Edward VIII) in 1936 had resulted from his wife’s strong support for the Nazi regime in Germany. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would not tolerate Windsor as king in these circumstances. This is contrary to the official story that he gave up the kingship because otherwise he would not have been able to marry Ms. Simpson because she was divorced.
Simpson, who became know as the Duchess of Windsor when she married Edward, was believe to have given information to the Nazis during the 1940 German invasion of France. Americans believed that the co-operation was even worse.
British state papers that would through more light on this have been kept secret for fear that they embarrass to the Windsor family. Liverpool MP Louise Ellman has stated that she will be asking questions of the Lord Chancellor in Parliament to press for the unsealing of the official records.
Edward has been reported as saying that the United States should not join the war against Nazi Germany as Europe was finished. He told the editor of an American magazine that “it would be a tragic thing if Hitler was overthrown.” Allegations have also been made that Windsor hoped to become king of Britain again if the country was occupied by German forces.
Windsor Palaces Losing Visitors
Tourist visits to Windsor family palaces have fallen dramatically, according to new figures. Attendance at Windsor Castle have declined by nearly a quarter of a million over the last two years. Royal profits from these visits last year were £4M, compared to £8M in 1996.
Some of the recent decline has resulted from foot and mouth disease and the terrorist attacks on the USA, which caused many to stay at home. However, according to a report in The Independent the new figures "reveal an overall trend of declining interest in the royal palaces."
Although Buckingham Palace has manage to do increase its ticket sales aggressive marketing of other palaces has failed to halt their decline. The family’s director for palaces blamed this on the attraction of high profile non-Windsor attractions. He predicted a further decline in visits.
New Enforcer for Broadcasting Giant
Capita, a firm to which many public and private concerns outsource their support services, has taken over the collection of the BBC’s television tax from the Post Office. The broadcasting giant is paying Capital at least £500,000,000 for the ten year contract.
Capita’s 1500 enforcers will be trying to reduce from 8% to 5% the number of TV users who are thought by the BBC not to pay the annual tax without which watching commercial channels or using a video recorder is illegal. That would give the corporation another £60M each year for its portfolio of TV channels and radio stations, and for its web site and search engine. Students in particular are to be targeted.
The annual bonus of Capita chairperson Rod Aldridge will increase if his firm can force more people to pay the tax. His remuneration package in 2001 was £438,847.
£26,000 Train Ride Billed To Taxpayers
Charlie Windsor took the family train to visit the Eden botanical project in Cornwall last year. Taxpayers picked up the bill of £25,829 according to accounts published by his family. The total cost to taxpayers of the family train in the 2001 - 2002 financial year was £703,000.
In all the family spent almost £9M on their travels. They also charged taxpayers with £16, 452,000 for the upkeep of their homes, including £690,000 for telephone calls.
Another £8,153,000 of taxpayers money was spent on the “civil list.” Items included £45, 000 for wine, £442,000 for garden parties and £6M for 284 full-time staff.
Queen Windsor’s husband was given a handout of £359,000 and her now deceased mother £641,000.
Taxpayers were warned that in the current year they would be charged £450,000 for queen Windsor’s celebrations of 50 years as feudal head of state.
This was the first time that the Windsors had published such detailed accounts of civil list expenditure. However, they continue to refuse to allow the National Audit Office to inspect their accounts as it does with other spenders of taxpayers’ money.
The Windsors’ also receive millions from property holdings known as the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, which receive even less public scrutiny.
Windsor Tax Dodge Cost £20M
Liberal Democrat MP has estimated that the queen Windsor pocketed £20M from the tax dodge by which she escaped tax on the estate of her mother who died earlier this year.
Lords Reform Committee Bias Against Election By People
Only one Labour MP definitely favouring a second legislative chamber elected by the people has a seat on the committee of legislators that will make recommendations on the composition and powers of the chamber that will replace the House of Lords. Two of the other Labour MP members are opposed and five are wary of democratisation. The all-party committee will be chaired by Jack Cunningham, who is sceptical about the merits of electing all legislators.
The Conservative representatives will include former party leader William Hague and Ken Clarke. Liberal Democrats will be represented by MP Paul Tyler. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are expected to support a legislative chamber that is 80 per cent elected.
Barristers May Support Court & Parliament Separation
The Bar Council which represent barristers may call for a supreme court outside of Parliament if a motion is carried at its annual meeting.
At present the supreme court is a part of the legislature. Law Lords sitting in the House of Lords act as the final court of appeal.
Democrats have longed believed that the roles of making laws and interpreting them should be separate. There is also a greater danger of political interference in judicial decisions when the judges are legislators as well.
Derry Irvine, the Lord Chancellor or minister of justice, has opposed the creation of an independent supreme court.
MPs Complain Windsor Relatives Bilk Taxpayers
Members of the Public Accounts Committee have called on queen Windsor to stop providing subsidised accommodation for relatives in a London palace paid for by taxpayers.
Kensington Palace costs British taxpayers £1.3M a year. Some Windsor relatives pay no rent for a three floor apartment in the prime location property valued at £12M, and only £292 per month for maintenance.
The Windsors’ chief financial officer, Michael Peat, pays a monthly rent of £3,467 for an apartment in the same block. The market rent has been estimated as more than eight times as much.
MPs were not allowed to inspect the apartments occupied by Windsor’s relatives, though they were shown around Mr. Peat’s. They were told that the Windsor relatives would not be asked to move.
Windsors To Tell How They Spend Taxpayers’ Money
According to press reports the Windsor family intends to publish for the first time annual accounts showing how it spends £7.9M taken annually from taxpayers for what are know as "civil list" payments. The family’s chief financial officer Michael Peat denied that the family was responding to public criticisms. The first set of accounts are expected later in June.
The civil list accounts for less than half of the cost of the public maintenance of the Windsors.
Independent Scotland May Tax Windsors
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney has told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper that the Windsors’ exemption from death duties would end in an independent Scotland. If this were to happen Charles Windsor might have to pay as much as £16M on his mother’s properties in Scotland when she dies. A recent opinion poll showed that 85 percent of Scots believed the Windsors should pay the same taxes as others.
A leading Windsor family admirer told the newspaper that Mr Windsor would have to sell the family’s Balmoral estate if he was obliged to pay the same tax as other Britons. A Windsor family official said that tax exemption was necessary to ensure its financial independence from government.
Mr. Swinney also told Scotland on Sunday that it was not certain that an independent Scottish government would be willing to pay its share of the civil list hand-outs to the Windsors. However, the SNP has recently confirmed that it would keep Liz Windsor as head of an independent Scottish state, although it favours a less extravagant monarchy.
Majority For Canadian Head of State
A poll by Ekos Research Associates in May 2002 showed that 48 percent of Canadians would prefer a Canadian as head of state. Thirty five percent opposed the idea. However, only forty one percent of respondents favoured abolition of the monarchy in Canada.
The British queen Windsor is currently head of state for Canada.
Law Applies To Commoners Only
Former employees who were left small bequests in the will of the Windsor family matriarch, know as the " Queen Mum", will be fully taxed on them. Her daughter, queen Windsor, will pay no tax on the bulk of her mother’s wealth which she will inherit. The inheritance may be worth as much as £50M.
The tax-free inheritance may be seen as another reason for queen Windsor’s celebration this year of fifty years as Britain’s feudal head of state. Her personal wealth before the inheritance had been estimated at £300M.
Plot Seen In Commons Democracy Defeat
Members of Parliament have voted against a proposal that party officials lose some of their power to appoint members of scrutiny committees in favour of back bench legislators. Following the vote there were complaints of strong-arm tactics by whips who wanted the reform defeated. Seven members of the Blair cabinet and nine whips voted against the move which was lost by just fourteen votes.
Some MPs saw the vote as the result of a government plot to protect the power of the executive and as a foretaste of the tactics that the government will use to prevent the democratisation of the House of Lords when that is debated in the Commons.
Windsor To Pay No Inheritance Tax
Queen Windsor will pay no inheritance tax on the estate of her mother who died in April. The Windsor family matriarch, know as the queen mother, is believed to have left between £7M and £50M. However, her will is to be sealed to conceal the extent of the loss to taxpayers.
Ms Windsor negotiated the little known exemption in 1993 when much fuss was made of her agreement to pay income tax for the first time. Her refusal to pay the inheritance tax has been seen by some legislators as contradicting her recent pronouncement on the need for the monarchy to modernise.
Hollywood Actor To Speak For Canadian Republic
Veteran Hollywood actor Sean McCann is marking queen Windsor’s jubilee year by speaking out for a Canadian republic. On Victoria Day (20 May) he will take part in a dramatic presentation in Toronto to mark the 1837 hanging of two rebels. Three days later McCann will take part in a forum organised by Citizens for a Canadian Republic.
The Canadian actor told the Toronto Star how in 1960, working as a spotlight operator at London’s Covent Garden Opera, he walked out when queen Windsor and husband Philip came backstage after a premier. When he shouted "Up the republic" at a passing Windsor limo McCann was harassed by police.
Windsor Train Shown To Press
In an attempt to mollify critics of the £600,000 of taxpayers’ money spent annually on a railway train for the Windsor family reporters have been allowed a restricted view inside. They were shown blandly furnished accommodation with net curtains, including a lounge inhabited by Charlie Windsor the heir to head of state. No access was allowed, however, to the sections used by queen Windsor or her husband.
Windsor To Persevere
Queen Windsor has told British legislators that she intends to continue indefinitely as hereditary head of state. In a speech described by some commentators as radical Windsor spoke approvingly of Britain’s "richly multicultural and multifaith society."
Britain’s head of state is required to be a Protestant Christian. Only members of the Windsor family, which is ethnically European, are permitted by the constitution to hold the nation’s chief public office.
Cherie Booth Slights Windsor
According to press reports Cherie Booth replaced the curtsy required by feudal tradtion with a nod when she welcomed queen Windsor to 10 Dowing Street at the end of April. Ms. Booth was with her husband Prime Minister Tony Blair who had invited Windsor to dine with himself and former Prime Ministers to mark her fifthieth year as hereditary head of state.
Former Tory MP Says Oath Is "Mumbo Jumbo."
Michael Brown, one-time Conservative MP and currently a political commentator, has described as "Mumbo Jumbo." the oath of loyalty to the Windsor family that is required of British legislators. In an article in the Independent Mr. Brown called the oath "wretched" and said that it was a "constitutional idiocy" that an MP elected "on a platform that does not accept the monarch as head of state" is not allowed to sit in Parliament "without compromising the principles upon which" elected. He wrote also that it was "fantastic" that MPs were barred from debating the monarchy. The former MP reserved his strongest criticisms for the use of crown prerogatives by the government to make major decisions without the consent of Parliament.
Reforms to Bolster Monarchy
The Windsor family are planning reforms to bolster public support for their privileges, according to press reports. Charlie Windsor, heir to the office of head of state, will take over more duties from his mum. The plan is that he should act as a “shadow” head of state. He will have more access to confidential government papers which are sealed from public scrutiny and perform more ceremonies.
Michael Peat, the Windsor head of finance, will become Windsor’s private secretary. Peat is expected to put at Mr. Windsor’s disposal the skills he has previously used to persuade taxpayers to continue to pay the family’s bills.
Another element of the plan to improve the Windsor family image will be an annual report on the family by Richard Luce, the Windsors’ chief adviser, know as Lord Chamberlain, (though in fact not a lord but a knight). The reports also suggest that queen Windsor is willing to consider a review of the constitutional ban on Catholics becoming head of state and of the precedence in succession to head of state given to male members of the Windsor family over their elder sisters. There are no plans to open Britain’s chief public office to those of other beliefs.
The public relations package will also include greater public access to Windsor palaces and art collections, as well as the production of videotape interviews with Windsor staff.
Canadian Republican Movement Launched
The formation of Citizens for a Canadian Republic has given republicans in Canada a new voice. It was announced shortly before queen Windsor visits the former colony to celebrate 50 more years as head of state of both Britain and Canada. Tom Freda, one of the group’s founders, said that polls showed that more than fifty percent of Canadians wanted to replace Windsor with a Canadian head of state. He added that becoming a republic would be a declaration that the country was a “confident nation that no longer requires that last thread of colonialism.”
Another founder of the group Pierre Vincent made history in Canada when he kept his job as a federal civil servant after a two year battle to win the right not to take the oath of allegiance to queen Windsor.
Polls Show Monarchy Still Supported
Opinion polls in Canada and Britain suggest that the death of the queen’s mother bolstered support for the monarchy.
An NOP poll in Britain during the funeral week showed 54 percent in favour of leaving the monarchy as it is. Radical reform was supported by 30 percent and only 12 percent favoured abolition. Other polls have indicated that as much as a third of the population wanted Britain to become a republic.
In Canada Leger Marketing polled 50 percent supporting celebration of the royal jubilee in June, with 46 percent opposed. A smaller proportion, 43 percent wanted Canada to become a republic. In Quebec province, however, only 29 percent of those who took part in the poll wished to keep the
No More Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary has been renamed the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The controversial police service’s change of name is one of a number of reforms in response to charges over many years that it discriminated against the largely republican Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. The new police badge will include a Irish harp symbol, as well as a crown denoting the continuing power of monarchical Britain.
No To Royal Condolence From French Canadian Party
The Bloc Quebecois refused to support an official expression of condolence on the death of queen Windsor’s mother because the message began “We loyal and obedient subjects of your majesty.” Bloc Quebecois favours the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada.
Judge To Find Archbishop
Britain’s mixing of the executive, church and judiciary has reached a farcical new stage with the appointment of a High Court judge to head the Crown Appointments Commission. The Commission will short-list two candidates for Archbishop of Canterbury, from whom Prime Minister Tony Blair will pick one for forwarding to queen Windsor for formal approval. The judge, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, is classified as a Dame in Britain’s honours system.
Windsor Against Modern
Charles Windsor has threatened plans for a new building for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon by characterising it as "modern and horrible." Windsor dislikes modern architecture. His opposition to an extension to the National Gallery in London forced the substitution of an inferior building.
Republican Moves In Quebec
The Canadian province of Quebec is considering constitutional reforms that would give its government a more republican style. They include direct election of the head of government, separation of the legislative and executive branches of government, fixed election dates and proportional representation.
Intergovernmental affairs minister Jean-Pierre Charbonneau said that "Within three or four years Quebec could have a new political system."
Windsors Exempted From Value for Money Probes
The government has blocked a recommendation from Parliament’s public accounts committee that the auditor general be empowered to scrutinise how the Windsor family spends the £7.9M annual handout from the taxpayers.
A wide range of public agencies and even private companies are now to be inspected to ensure value for money following the recommendations of the Sharman Enquiry. However, the government rejected the inclusion of two of the most controversial beneficiaries of tax pounds, the Windsors and the pro-monarchy BBC. The state broadcaster took £2,371M from taxpayers last year.
Loyalist Insults Republican Ireland
Northern Ireland’s monarchist First Minister David Trimble has described republican Ireland as "pathetic, sectarian, mono-ethnic and mono-cultural." Mr Trimble, who leads the Ulster Unionist party and holds the Nobel Peace Prize, voiced his insults while calling for a referendum on whether Northern Ireland should leave the United Kingdom and join the other 26 counties of Ireland.
"Loyalist" politicians are confident that a vote now on the unification of Ireland would favour their side as Protestants are in the majority in Northern Ireland. Mr Trimble’s call for a vote seems to have been a response to recent claims that the increasing proportion of Catholics will eventually change this pro-British bias.
Irish Attorney-General Michael McDowell responded to the remarks by accusing Mr. Trimble of hypocrisy. He said that the Ulster Unionists had treated Catholics in Northern Ireland as second class citizens.
Mr. Trimble’s Loyalist predecessors forced the division of Ireland into two entities, one predominantly Catholic, the other mostly Protestant, by refusing to accept a united and independent nation.
Minister Calls for Equal Opportunities Feudalism
Patricia Hewitt, Minister for Women, has given the Labour Party’s love for the monarchy a strange turn by characterising male precedence in succession to the throne, but not monarchy itself, as "bizarre." Describing herself as an "Aussie-born radical" Ms. Hewitt commented that she was about to "celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a hugely successful monarch." Ms. Hewitt said that the amendment of the 1701 Act of Settlement, to allow female members of the Windsor family to have an equal right to become head of state would be a "symbol of British modernistion." The "radical" monarchist added that this reform was "very much something for Her Majesty to consider."
NZ PM Calls for Reality Check
The Canadian Broadcasting Company has reported that New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has stated that "'New Zealand
Australia and Canada should take a reality check
and become Republics."
Canadian Anger At Windsor Bias
Efforts by Charlie Windsor, next in line for the hereditary position of head of state, to boost British exports while on an official trip to Mexico, have angered some Canadians. Charlie’s Mum is head of state of Canada as well as of the UK. Her son’s promotion of British trade interests has been seen in some quarters as contrary to Canadian interests and as reinforcing antipathy towards the constitutional link between Canada and Britain.
New Zealand PM Snubs Windsor
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke chose to attend a conference in Sweden rather than greet Britain’s hereditary head of state when she arrived on 22 February to celebrate 50 years of feudal rule. Ms. Clarke said that she expected New Zealand to become a republic in the near future.
Child Abuse Protests To Greet Queen Windsor
Australian anti-child abuse activists have promised to protest when Britain’s hereditary head of state visits their country in celebration of 50 years in office. They will be releasing white balloons, an international symbol of campaigners against paedophilia, holding silent vigils and protesting wherever she goes.
The monarch’s representative in Australia, Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, has been accused of covering up child abuse by clerics and teachers while Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane.
The scandal is doubly troubling for Windsor. She appoints the Governor-General and is also the head of the Anglican Church, which is Britain’s state Church.
While in Australia Windsor will give public support to the former Archbishop by publicly meeting him and joining him for a private audience. The British monarch will thereby rebuff child protection groups that have asked her to distance herself from Hollingworth.
Opinion polls indicate that most Australians believe that Windsor’s Australian representative should resign. He insists that he will serve out the remaining 4 years of his term.
Australian Constitutional Crisis Highlights Reform Need
The Australian Republican Movement (ARM) has called on the national government to introduce a more democratic and transparent system for the appointment of the Governor-General in order to avoid a repetition of the constitutional crisis gripping Australia.
At present only the Prime Minister and the Queen of England may appoint or remove the Governor-General. The Prime Minister has refused to sack the Governor-General whose alleged cover-up sexual abuse by clerics and teachers has outraged many Australians.
The Governor-General is the English queen’s representative in Australia. ARM’s objective is the ending of the constitutional link between Australia and the British monarchy.
Quebec Government To Boycott Windsor Jubilee
The governing Parti Qeubecois is to boycott this year’s celebrations of Liz Windsor’s fiftieth year as hereditary British head of state. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Charbonneau said that his government would not "participate in activities linked to (jubilee) celebrations.":
Canada’s continued acceptance of an English head of state is particularly offensive to many French Canadians.
New Hope for Monarchy Free Ireland
Unofficial reports from demographers that 46 per cent or more of the people of Northern Ireland are Catholics has brought new hope that the whole of Ireland will be freed from monarchy. For many years about two-thirds of the population was Protestant and one-third Catholic. That allowed Protestants loyal to the British Crown to dominate the Catholic minority.
Already there are more school-aged Catholics than Protestants in the six counties of Ireland that are part of the United Kingdom. It is possible that by 2010 a majority of the entire populations will be Catholic. Although it is not certain that there would be majority support for breaking the tie with Britain and uniting with republican Ireland, Protestants would have lost their power to block that.
Railways Not Betting on Jubilee
Railway companies are refusing to run extra services for monarchists out late celebrating Liz Windsor’s 50 years as head of state. They fear that they will lose money if efforts to drum up enthusiasm for Windsor’s jubilee are not successful. The companies have asked for a guarantee that they will receive financial compensation if demand for their trains is low.
Government May Agree Fifty Percent Lords Election
The Daily Telegraph has reported that the government is ready to concede that half the members of the reformed House of Lords should be elected. However, this would come in stages. Only twenty percent would be elected at first. Another 8 years would pass before half the legislators were chosen by the people. There would be an intermediate stage after 4 years when 30 to 40 percent would be elected.
The Telegraph also reported that the use of proportional representation was being considered by the government. Lords elections would be at the same time as general elections to the House of Commons.
This development followed a motion signed by more than half of MPs calling for most members of the House of Lords to be elected. Among the more than 300 MPs signing the motion were 137 Labour Party members.
Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties want 80 percent of Lords members to be elected. The Labour government proposes that 20 percent should be elected.
The death has been reported of Margaret Windsor (a.k.a. Princess Margaret), the sister of the head of state.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he is deeply saddened by the death. The taxpayer funded BBC in its role as cheerleader for the Windsors is characteristically deferential but hedging its bets by playing down the likelihood of loyal subject crying in the streets.
Some of the most honest comments you may find are the Associated Press’s report that “Even her close friends have to call her ‘Ma'am,’ although members of the family are said to get away with ‘Margot’. If any of her companions cross the line of familiarity, they risk her famous icy, blue-eyed ‘acid drop’ stare”.
If you want a different insight into the kind of person that monarchy puts on a pedestal you might do worse that have a look at Kitty Kelley’s “The Royals”.
Our version of democracy, that elevates the rights of a family over those of the people, has effectively banned that book from sale in the UK. It’s significant, however, that Kelley devoted her introductory chapter to the Windsor who has just died. There is no need for the specifics of character flaws to refute the case for hereditary right. But if what Kelley writes of Margaret Windsor is true it brings home just low the institution of monarchy brings the British nation.
The Royals. Kitty Kelley
Church Claims More Followers
The Church of England has reported that on average slightly over 1 million followers attend its churches on Sundays, with attendance on other days of the week bringing the figure to 1.3 million. This is somewhat more than previously estimated.
According to press reports the Church sees these figures as bolstering its continued claim to the status of state religion. It complained recently about proposals to reduce the number of seats allotted to its bishops in the legislature.
The number of infant baptisms fell by 9 percent between 1999 and 2000. The Church admitted that overall these figures did not show that the decline in its support had stopped.
Labour’s Biggest Revolt on Church Schools
Forty-five Labour MPs have voted for a motion to water-down government plans to increase taxpayers contribution to religious schools. This was the biggest revolt by the ruling party’s MPs since the general election.
Although Liberal Democrats supported the amendment to force church schools to accept 25 percent of pupils from outside their faith in return for taxpayers’ money, it was defeated by government and Conservative Party supporters.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is said to be strongly committed to the plan to greatly increase the number of religious schools funded by taxpayers.
Pledge of Allegiance
A government White Paper has proposed that immigrants be obliged to take part in a citizenship ceremony, that will include a pledge of allegiance to the queen, in order to become British citizens. At present prospective citizens must merely sign an oath of allegiance. Applicants will be required to take English language courses and promise to uphold British democratic values.
What a British pledge of allegiance might look like
Tone Down Bias, BBC Tells Staff
BBC managers have told staff to that they should be less servile in their reports on the Windsor family. An internal email from TV news chief Roger Mosey to department heads said that this was to ensure that the Corporation kept in step with public attitudes.
According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph some staff of the tax-funded broadcaster, including specialist Windsor family correspondent Jenni Bond, have been angered by these instructions. The Telegraph reported that there are executives who believe she has grown too close to the Windsors. Ms. Bond has been satirised on a BBC impersonation show for her allegedly uncritical reporting of the family. She firmly denies the suggestion and says that she will not change the approach she has had for 12 years.
According to a recent MORI poll only 18 percent of Britons aged 16 to 24 had an interest in the Windsor family. The cartoon Simpson family interested 66 percent. However, 70 percent wanted Britain to keep the monarchy.
Opposition May Force Concessions to Democracy
The government is reported to be ready to make concessions on its blueprint for further reform to the House of Lords. This follows widespread opposition to its plan for a new chamber with a small minority of elected legislators.
The government’s preference for a chamber in which only 20 percent of the legislators were elected was agreed at a Cabinet meeting attended by deputy PM John Prescott, Home Secretary David Blunkett , Commons leader Robin Cook and Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine.
Mr. Irvine was later jeered by fellow legislators at a meeting of parliamentary labour party. He believes that more elected legislators would threaten the supremacy of the Commons over the Lords.
More than 170 MPs have signed a motion that calls for a "wholly or substantially elected" second chamber. At least 50 per cent of Tory MPs are said to be in favour of a chamber in which at least half the legislators are elected.
At Question Time Labour MP Bob Marshal-Andrews claimed that the reforms proposed by Tony Blair would produce a chamber "rotten with contemporary patronage."
Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith has called for a senate in which most of the members are elected. He told the "Sunday Telegraph" that there should be a 300 member senate, with 240 elected members. The rest would be appointed by an independent commission. Senators would be elected for 15 years from county constituencies in a " first past the post" poll.
Some senior conservatives are opposed to this plan, however. One expressed concern that such a reform might lead to a written constitution.
Labour Leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook has also rejected the Tory proposal for a more democratic chamber as a "recipe for gridlock."
Press reports suggest that the government may now be agreeable to 35 percent of the legislators being elected. It will oppose calls for an entirely elected second chamber, however.
Robin Cook admitted to the Public Administration Committee that the Prime Minister’s plan for a largely unelected House of Lords had found little support. He added that he liked the idea of members of the House being indirectly elected by regional assemblies. Mr Cook has spoken against a wholly elected chamber, however.
Prime Minister Tony Blair was reported at one point to be thinking of bringing reform of the House of Lords to an end if his plan.That would leave 92 hereditary legislators-for-life in place. However, he has now been reported to be ready to concede that a minority 40 per cent of the legislators be elected. A larger proportion is said to be opposed by ministers Irvine, Shaw and Blunkett.
The government is has also been reported as considering dropping its plan for elected members of the reformed chamber to be chosen from "party lists," a method of election that strengthens political parties at the expense of the people.
Labour Declares Love for Windsor
Labour party officials have tried to whip up enthusiasm for this year’s celebration of 50 years of Liz Windsor’s rule by encouraging MPs to declare that "We love the Queen."
The declaration of love for the feudal monarch is contained in a standardised press release circulated to local Labour offices. The release, intended for issue to local news media, goes on to say that "She is a symbol of what makes Britain great. I think it’s only appropriate that we show how proud we are to have her as our head of state. I think that many people in (the constituency) will want to do their bit" to celebrate the jubilee.
Alan Williams, Labour MP for Swansea was reported in the Sunday Telegraph as saying that the press release indicated desperation about the celebrations. Only 300 street parties have been registered so far, compared to 12,000 when Windsor celebrated 25 years of rule. So-called Lord Levene has recently quit his job organising jubilee events on behalf of the Windsors.
Legislators Form Republican Group
A group of Labour legislators has formed a republican group for members of parliament. It met for the first time recently in secret, to prevent interference by Labour whips upholding the party’s monarchist allegiance.
The group is open to members of all parties. All but one of the initial 21 members was a Labour Party member, however. They include Lords who apparently see no contradiction between republicanism and a system that allows legislators-for-life.
The Parliamentary Oaths Act makes it unlawful for republicans to sit as legislators.
New Train for Windsors
The Windsor eight-coach personal train may be replaced next year at taxpayers’ expense, the family’s finance chief, Michael Peat, told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.
The running costs of the train in 2000 were £600,000. That was on average £35,000 of taxpayers’ money each of the 17 times it was used.
Attempts to hire out the train to raise cash to offset these costs have failed. Nonetheless, Mr. Peat praised the train for helping the Windsors to arrive on time.
Windsors Not So Wealthy
The Sunday Express has placed the Windsors at 45 in its recently published list of the 300 wealthiest people in Britain. The newspaper estimated Liz Windsor’s wealth at £450M.
Capita Set for Extortion Contract
Capita, a support services firm, has announced that it is the BBC’s "preferred supplier" for the contract to enforce the TV licence. The contract would run for 10 years and be worth £500M.
Capita will take over responsibility from the Post Office in July if the contract is confirmed. In its press release the company claims both that its enforcement operations will increase revenue and that licence payers will benefit. It refers ominously to "extensive opportunities for innovative use of new technologies."
In addition to its infringement the International Declaration on Human Rights and the British Human Rights Act the use of a communications licensing system costs as much as £132M a year to operate. The first 1.2M of licence fees are use to pay for the collection.`
Bar On Republican Legislators To Continue
Republicans elected to Parliament will be given offices and allowed to use other facilities under new government proposals. They will continue to be banned from proposing legislation, taking part in debates or voting, however.
All legislators are required to swear an oath of loyalty to queen Liz Windsor and her family before they may represent their constituents in Parliament. English and Welsh MPs with republican beliefs have sworn false oaths in the past to avoid the ban. Irish republicans have refused to bend to feudal requirements and have been banned.
Free Speech Attack Defeated
The government has dropped legislation that would have made incitement to religious hatred a crime. Paradoxically, the victory for free speech was not a victory for democracy as the Home Secretary David Blunkett backed down only because of opposition from the illegitimate legislators in the House of Lords.
The special protection for followers of religions had been included in anti-terrorist legislation as a sop for Muslim critics. Blunkett withdrew it to ensure that the bulk of his proposals would become law. The new law would have been doubly dangerous as it would have left unclear what would constitute incitement. The Attorney-General would have had the power to pick and choose who to prosecute.
Royal Racism Allegations
An allegation by a former personal secretary to Charlie Windsor (a.k.a. the Prince of Wales) that she was forced from her job has not been upheld by an employment tribunal in Bristol, near Mr. Windsor’s Highgrove Estate.
Elizabeth Burgess, the complainant, told the tribunal that one of Windsor’s valets had said "What the hell would you know? You are just a fucking nigger typist." Ms Burgess, who had worked at the estate for ten years, said that "they wanted a white face at Highgrove and I was not that face." She believed that her complaint about the valet were not acted on because Windsor "adored" him. The royal estate was dominated by "the old school tie" and disrespect for black people was common, she said.
The tribunal ruled that allegations related to events five years ago could not be taken into account.
Last year another employment tribunal found that an employee of Windsor’s charity The Prince’s Trust had been unfairly dismissed. Trust managers made an "unreserved apology" to Darren Beckford who had worked for them for twelve months. Mr. Beckford had alleged that he was picked upon and shunned by other employees because he is black.
Church Demands More Legislators
The Church of England has demanded that it be allowed to appoint 10 more legislators than proposed in the latest House of Lords reform. The Church Commissioners say that the sixteen unelected clerics proposed by the government will not permit them "to offer an effective parliamentary service."
The Church of England, to which only a minority of the population is affiliated, is the only religious organisation entitled to unelected legislators.
No Democracy For Second Chamber
Almost two years after receiving a Royal Commission report called A House for the Future, and almost three years after the setting up of that commission, the government has announced its proposals for the "final" stage of reform of the second legislative chamber, the House of Lords.
There would be 600 members of the chamber if the government’s proposals were implemented, composed of the following:
16 Church of England clerics, appointed by their church, not elected by the people.
12 judges, appointed by a government minister.
332 appointed by the political parties.
120 appointed by a government commission as "independent" members. The composition of this unelected cabal would reflect the racial and "cultural" makeup of the country. Thirty percent would be women.
120, a minority of 20%, elected by the people of Britain.
The major parties would be able to appoint new legislators following general elections to the House of Commons, in order to ensure that the balance in the Lords reflected the new balance in the Commons.
The only good news for democrats was that the remaining 92 hereditary legislators would lose their seats. However, non-hereditary legislators-for-life are to be allowed to stay in the bastard chamber for another 10 year. Other legislators would serve for a fixed term, instead of the current life terms. The government has not decided whether it wants 5, 10 or 15 year terms.
The legislators would no longer be known as Lords. However, the chamber would continue to be called the House of Lords, with the legislators known as Members of the House of Lords! To put it another way, Lords would not be members of the House of Lords. And members of the House of Lords would not be Lords!
These legislators would lose the right to veto secondary legislation. They would still be able to delay such regulations as well as delay Bills that have been passed by the democratic chamber.
There has been little support for the government’s proposals. 155 Labour MPs signed a motion calling for wholly or substantially elected second chamber. Newspapers reported Tory MPs as characterising the proposals as an “insult to democracy.” Senior Conservatives were said to be considering aligning themselves with Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs in support of a “more democratic” chamber, despite their party’s past defence of hereditary legislators. Tories accuse the Prime Minister of wanting a second chamber composed of “cronies.”
A opinion poll conducted the week after the report was published suggested 70 percent support for an elected Senate to replace the Lords.
The government is allowing 3 months for consultation on its proposals. The report, called, Completing the Reform is available from
The membership of the Lords peaked in 1999 with 1273 legislators. Of those 758 were hereditary legislators. The first stage of reform reduced the number to 614 in 2000, including 92 hereditary legislators.
Monarchist Returned In Australia
Australian republicans have suffered a setback with the re-election of monarchist John Howard’s coalition. However, the likely successor to Howard, Treasurer Peter Costello is a republican, making another referendum a possibility if 62 year old Howard retires before the end of his three year term.
Following the election the Australian Republican Movement issued this statement.
The re-election of the Howard government on Saturday does not mean that the republic issue is dead! Whilst Mr Howard remains Prime Minister the Coalition Parties are unlikely to revisit the issue formally, but we must remember that there are many republicans in the Liberal and National Parties. Two new Liberal MPs elected to the Parliament, Tony Smith and Greg Hunt, are both strong republicans. The Labor Party, of course remains committed to the goal of an
Australian Head of State as do the Greens and the Democrats.
We must also remember that Labor Premiers' Beattie and Gallop have
commented on democratising the office of Governor and we will continue to work
with them and other State political leaders to encourage similar strategies and
debates. We may also look at the possibility of the Senate looking at the issue of
the republic as part of its Committee work next year.
In short, our work continues as it has since Nov 1999. We all know that
Australia will become a republic - this is what the Australian people want and
we have to find a way to ensure that desire becomes a reality. This is the issue
that will not and cannot go away until we have a republic. The sad absence of an
Australian Head of State will continue to crop up every Australia Day, every
Queen's birthday holiday and on every major national occasion. The need for us
to have our own Head of State is greater now than ever.
The ARM's work and advocacy is not dependent on the election of any government - it is dependent on all of us continuing to be committed to our
Windsor Pressured To Apologise
A planned visit to Canada by queen Windsor next year, to mark a further 50 years of British feudalism, could be upset by calls for an apology to French speaking Acadians. A member of the Canadian parliament has proposed a motion calling for Windsor to express her regret for the action of British troops who deprived the Acadians of their land in New Brunswick and expelled them from the province in 1755. Several Acadian organisations and representative are reported to have supported the call.
Boos For Charlie
"They’ll scream at anything . . . . The only person they don’t scream for is your host the Prince of Wales. When Gerri Halliwell invites cheers for the heir to the throne, they boo."
The Independent on 100, 000 school-age kids at London’s Party In The Park, sponsored by the Capital FM radio station and Charlie Windsor’s charitable trust
Blair Bypasses Scrutiny Committee
According to press reports Prime Minister Blair had his political ally Sally Morgan made legislator-for-life without first submitting the proposal for consideration by the House of Lords Appointment Commission. The Commission was set up by Blair to counter criticism that legislators-for-life are appointed for corrupt or partisan reasons.
Barristers Protest Loss of Rugs
Press reports suggest that barristers are angry about a demand that they stop wearing 18th century wigs in civil law courts. Justice minister Derry Irvine has declared that the comical wigs and gowns are out of date and should be given up. He expects that judges will follow suit.
In criminal cases, however, Irvine wants barristers to continue their bizarre dress habits. He said that this would maintain "solemnity and anonymity."
This distinction between civil and criminal courts seems to amount more to another expression of Britain’s class system, however. The disrespectful practice of adopting an odd mode of dress works to put those who are not senior lawyers “in their place” in a semi-feudal legal system in which criminal courts are known as "Crown" courts and the prosecutors as "Crown" prosecutors.
The Law Society, which represents solicitors, who do not wear a uniform in court, has called for the strange head gear to be given up in criminal as well as civil courts.
Windsors Take Another £35M
The Windsor family has published its first ever set of annual accounts, showing how it spent the £35M it took from the pockets of the people last year. Michael Peat, the family’s finance chief, pointed defensively to a £3M reduction in the Windsors’ spending. However, his accounts included these items:
£37,000 for a train journey to Scotland for a church service.
£33,000 for a “prince” to travel the 110 miles from Salisbury to Birmingham.
£9,730 for one of the family’s “princesses” to travel to a rugby match
£6,602 for a flight to the opera
In all £5.5M was spent by the family on travel. Their 9-car train alone took £620,000 in tax pounds. Maintenance of the family’s scattered residences cost more, £15.3. Of this £2.6M went on improvements to the main London palace in Westminster. Gardening costs came to £448,000 and gentlemen at arms and yeomen were paid £83,000 in salaries.
Perhaps the most significant increase was that for public relations. £36,000 more than in the previous year was spent, a total of £550,000.
The publication of the accounts was presented as monarchical modernisation and openness. In fact it was an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of an increasingly sceptical people.
Chief accountant Peat claimed that in fact the Windsors cost the people nothing. Indeed, he asserted that the £133M annual income from the Crown Estates should be treated as the Windsor family’s contribution to the national budget, to be set beside their £35M of expenses. He failed to mention that the Crown Estates were given up to the state in 1760, shortly after the Windsors forbears emigrated to Britain. It has long been the people’s money and the Windsors all financial burden.
Charlie Windsor Demands Army’s Religious Division
Charlie Windsor, son of Britain’s hereditary head of state, is trading on widespread British deference towards his family in an extraordinary attempt to have the Ministry of Defence establish the first army regiment open exclusively to members of one religion. It would recruit only from Britain’s 500,000 Sikhs, members of a reformed Hindu sect.
Windsor’s plan was revealed at the end of a week in which there had been serious rioting over religious differences in Northern Ireland and following a Church of England report calling for 100 more tax funded religious schools. It seemed to be perverse response to allegations of racism in Britain’s armed forces, that has contributed to a low level of non-white soldiers.
Legislators-for-Life Love Dressing Up
A report in the Independent newspaper has highlighted the contempt for democracy felt by Britain’s legislators-for-life.
"We love dressing up," said one of the newer legislators, explaining their wearing of robes worth £4,000 each for the opening of the new session of parliament. "It’s the only chance we have to wear our regalia and show off."
Five legislators showed greater concern for animal rights than for democratic ones, insisting that the fur on their robes be replaced with an artificial substitute. In the "mother of parliaments" the uniforms vary with the rank of the legislator. A legislator caught wearing the wrong type of uniform may be expelled.
Canada Tells Blair No Place For Feudal Titles In Democracy
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has protested to his British counterpart Tony Blair about knighthoods given to two Canadian citizens in queen Windsor’s so-called Birthday Honours List. In a strongly worded letter he told Blair that "in no circumstances would Canada consent to the granting of an honour which carries a title." The Canadian Primer Minister implicitly criticised the semi-feudalism that characterises British society by adding that titles were "not compatible with the ideas of democracy as they have developed in Canada." Mr Chretian’s anger at the British action was given emphasis by a personal phone call to the British prime minister the day before the honours were announced. He followed this with his letter and a diplomatic note when the publication of the list showed that two Canadians had been given feudal titles.
The British government has refused to make public its reply to the Canadian complaint, characterising the unusual diplomatic row as a "misunderstanding."
Republicans in Canada and Britain have been surprised by the unexpected support for democratic values from a country which still accepts the British queen as its head of state.
Government To Spend £30M Of Taxpayer's Money to Honour Liz
According to a report in the Financial Times the government plans to spend as much as £30M of the people’s money to celebrate Liz Windsor’s 50 year run as queen of Britain. However, British business has put the kibosh on the Labour Party’s hope that much more could be raised to celebrate the persistence of feudalism in this country. According to the FT a representative of one leading company told it that "The popularrity of the Windsor family, which has plummetted since the Silver Jubilee, would weigh extremely heavily on our minds."
Setbacks For Democratic Rights Announced in Queen's Speech
The government announced its legislative programme for the next session of parliament in the 20 June "Queen’s Speech."
Included in the proposals was an end to the "double jeopardy" protection against a second trial for the same offence following an acquittal. In the United States the constitution prevents Congress from removing this protection but in Britain a simple majority in the House of Commons can take away the citizen’s rights.
The speech also included an announcement that more of the hereditary legislators in the House of Lords will be removed. However, although some of the replacements will be elected, most will continue to be legislators-for-life, unelected and unaccountable to the people.
Created To Rule Over Us
Prime Minister Tony Blair has asked queen Elizabeth Windsor to make a former official of the Labour Party a legislator-for-life in order that she may become a minister of state. Sally Morgan is Blair’s political secretary and is not eligible to be a government minister as ministers must first be legislators. Queen Windsor may bypass the people by appointing new legislators to the House of Lords.
The Prime Minister has been criticised in this case for cronyism. Few voices have raised against his use of the power to appoint legislators-for-life to suit the convenience of the ruling party.
Meanwhile another legislator-for-life, Jeffrey Archer, is standing trial on four counts of perverting justice, two of perjury and one of using a false instrument. If the Conservative legislator is convicted he will not lose his entitlement to sit in the legislature until his death.
Church To Take £240M From People
The Church of England is expected to ask the government to increase its levy on British tax payers by £240M. The money would allow the state church to open 100 more religious schools.
The expansion of the church’s school system has been recommended in a report written by legislator-for-life Ron Dearing. The state privileged but financially troubled church would be obliged to contribute only 10 per cent of the total £250M cost of its education expansion.
Although only 43 percent of the population are Anglicans and far fewer attend its churches, all tax payers will be obliged to pay the tax increase. This is expected to lead to more demands for tax payer funding for other religious groups.
British Asked To Admire Hundreds More
The British government has issued a list of hundreds of more people it believes the people should admire. They are named in the so called Birthday Honours List, published on the official (but not actual) birthday of Liz Windsor, the hereditary head of state. No figures are available for the cost to the tax payers of this essential public service.
Sale of State Bishops’ Palaces Proposed
An Church of England report has revealed that accommodation provided for bishops of Britain’s state church has an average value of £575,000. There are 113 state bishops and the total value of their palaces, castles and houses is £65M. Although it was concerned that the generous accommodation created a bad impression, the committee making the report found no evidence that the state clerics live “in a grand manner.”
The report was commissioned by the church in response to criticism of the costs incurred by the bishops. It calls for radical reform of the way in which an annual £17.2M is spent on the clerics. The report suggests that some palaces might be replaced with houses with no more than 5 bedrooms.
The 108 recommendations in the report have yet to be agreed by the bishops.
All tax payers in Britain are obliged to fund the Church of England regardless of their beliefs. Archbishops have seats in the legislature from which they cannot be removed by the people.
Canadian Foreign Minister Supports Republic
John Manley, Canada’s Foreign Minister, has declared his support for a Canadian republic. He said that he expected the monarchy not to survive more than another 50 years.
Canada, like Australia, have Britain’s Liz Windsor as hereditary head of state. Prime Minster Jean Chretien has recently declared himself a supporter of this undemocratic system.
Novia Scotia Opposition Opposes "God Save the Queen"
The increasingly controversial nature of the monarchy in Canada has been reflected in a recent move by conservative in Nova Scotia to have members of parliament sing the British national anthem, at the end of legislative sessions.
The leader of the opposition NPD, Darrell Dexter, has accused the supporters of the move of attacking the rights of the province’s Acadian minority. Britain expelled Acadians from eastern Canada when many refused to swear allegiance to the crown. One Acadian conservative member of the parliament has said that he will not sing the anthem.
York Archbishop To Lose Legislature Seat (On Retirement)
According to press reports the government is expected to break a convention that the Archbishop of York be appointed legislator-for-life on retirement from his church position. This ending of the convention that the state church archbishop should not lose his seat in the legislature on retirement is not planned as a step forward for democracy however. The Independent reported that the government wished to punish the present Archbishop who has used his unelected position in the legislature to criticise government management of the foot and mouth disease emergency.
Until 1903 Anglican archbishops of Canterbury and York were legislators until they died. In that year the state church agreed that the practice should end. Nonetheless it has been the convention since then that they should be made "Lords" on retirement from their church and so keep their seats in the legislature.
Appointed To Rule Over Us
In April 2001 the names of the first 15 of the new legislators-for-life were announced. Those who had hoped for "people’s peers" were disappointed. You can read the roll of dishonour here.
The apologists for an unelected legislative chamber had claimed that this reform would make it more representative of the people of Britain. In fact 7 of them were already "knights" who wear a "Sir" in front of their names. Indeed only 4 of the 11 males were not "knights." What’s more a majority of the illegitimate legislators had already been honoured one way or another by Liz Windsor, the "queen." Only 4 of the 15 were women.
Those considered "representative" of Britain included chief executives, directors and the former commissioner of London’s police service. According to "Lord" Stevenson, who chairs the appointments commission, it excluded candidates it believed would not feel "comfortable" in the House of Lords.
The appointments were received with widespread hostility. The Financial Times commented that all of the new legislators-for-life "could have been raised to the peerage under the normal procedures, which means that the pool of candidates for the Lords has not changed at all." Labour legislator Gordon Prentice said they were a "sick joke." Other MPs called for an elected second legislative chamber. The Daily Express complained that "The House of Lords remains a piece of the Dark Ages at the heart of our democracy." The new legislators were, according to the Mirror, "drawn from the ranks of the so-called great and good." The Guardian demanded "Not selection, but election."
At the start of April the British news media was in all-out excess mode over the “Sophie tapes.” Sophie Rhys-Jones, a.k.a. “The Countess of Wessex” (a one-time Anglo-Saxon kingdom in south and south west England) and a business partner had made indiscreet remarks while bidding for a public relations contract. She about the Prime Minister, his wife and the use of “royal” connections in help her business. And he about cocaine and sex. The prospective client turned out to be a journalist.
Ms Rhys-Jones benefits from a welfare handout of £141,000 in addition to her business income.
Salient features of the fuss.
In the press it was called the “bleakest day” for the royal family since the death of Diana Spencer
Buckingham Palace deplored “the entrapment, subterfuge, innuendo and untruth.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair declared himself “100% a supporter” of the anti-democratic institution of monarchy;
Trade Minister Kim Howells was allowed by the Prime Minister to say that the Windsor family were all “a bit bonkers.”
Some Labour MPs and Labour-supporting journalists rushed to insist that reform, not abolition of the curious institution, was what was needed. Dozens of Labour MPs signed a motion calling for reform of the monarchy and, in particular for a public register of the family’s financial interests. Tony Wright, who chairs the public administration committee of the House of Commons, argued in the Independent against abolition. He was apparently blind to the contradiction between his insistence that the monarchy was “not the private property of the Royal Family” and the hereditary principle that underlies it. One journalist went so far as imagine an hereditary head of state who would embody “the oneness of a multinational, multi-ethnic state.” Left wing MP Jeremy Corbyn called for the end of the curious institution but said that only a minority of Labour MPs were republicans.
Chris Smith, minister for sport and culture, called on the Windsor gang to act with “the highest degree of probity.” Apparently he did not want this interpreted as a call for their abdication.
Apologists for monarchy resorted as usual to smearing of republicans. We were accused by journalists of believing that abolition would “at a stroke” bring a more democratic society, of being “indelibly convinced that (we) are on the verge of the great moment” of abolition, “like Seventh-Day Adventists” and of contemplating the likes of Richard Branson and Joanna Lumley as president.
Conservatives mostly kept their heads down. Party leader William Hague noted that everyone makes mistakes. However, one Conservative MP signed a motion implicitly criticising members of the curious institution for using their positions to promote personal interests.
Many Apply To Be Illegitimate Legislators
3,200 people have applied to be legislators-for-life in the British parliament, under a new scheme intended to broaden the social base of the House of Lords. Seventeen live mainly outside the UK.
Ten of the applicants can expect to be appointed by the government to sit with other illegitimate legislators in the House. They will be accountable to nobody and it will not be possible to remove them from the legislature.
Britain Top of Crime League
Britain's reputation for law and order has taken another blow with the publication of new international crime comparisons. England and Wales have been revealed to have the highest overall level of crime in the industrial world. In crimes of violence, sex offences, burglary and auto theft the two nations are near but not at the top.
Seventeen countries took part in the International Crime Victims Survey, which was part-sponsored by the British government. While England and Wales tied with Australia for the top spot, crime in Scotland was just above the international average. England and Wales had the highest number of crimes considered to be "very serious." In robbery and sexual and other assaults, England, Wales and Scotland followed behind the most crime ridden nation, Australia.
Judicial Head Solicits For Labour Party
Britain's failure to separate judicial, legislative and executive functions has been forced into public awareness by the head of judicial system's soliciting of money for his party from lawyers.
Derry Irvine who holds the executive office of Lord Chancellor, is also a legislator, judge and head of the judicial system. He is responsible for the appointment of judges and the senior lawyers know as Queen's Counsels.
Mr Irvine invited Labour supporting lawyers to a dinner for which they were expected to donate at least £200 to the Labour Party. Many of the lawyers present would aspire to become Queens Counsel. Appointment as such would require approval by Mr Irvine.
One Labour supporting QC, Tony Scrivener, described Mr Irvine's action as "entirely inappropriate." He told the Independent that it "has never happened before in hundreds of years" in which there has been a Lord Chancellor.
Richard Dawkins Warns Against Tax Funding of Religion
The eminent scientist, Professor Richard Dawkins has condemned government plans to increase tax funding of religious schools. He warned that parents might feel obliged to feign religious belief in order that their children attend a good school and of children being indoctrinated with religious beliefs.
The Labour government has indicated that it would like to see more church run secondary schools and the Church of England has plans for 100 more schools.
There is no separation of church and state in Britain.
Labour Government Blocks Democracy Move
The Labour government is blocking attempts to allow legislators to discuss whether the reformed house of lords should in fact be as undemocratic in its composition as the government wishes. Liberal Democrats are insisting that the joint parliamentary commission that is consider the next steps in reforming the second chamber should debate the composition of the house. The house's labour leader, Margaret Jay, has told them that the commission must discuss only the functions of the reformed chamber. Because of this dispute the commission has yet to be set up.
The Labour Party intends that the new house of lords should have only a small minority of elected legislators, in order that it should lack the legitimacy to challenge the house of commons.
Ban On Clerics To Be Lifted
A 200 year old ban on Church of England and Catholic priests sitting in the House of Commons will be lifted if a new law proposed by the government is passed.
Ministers of other Christian denominations and of other religions have never been barred from the legislature. The Church of England will continue to be privileged by the right of its bishops to unelected seats in the house of lords.
The government has no plan to end the ban on republicans serving as legislators.
Bush Faults Monarchy
United States President George W Bush expressed an implicit but surprisingly clear criticism of monarchies in his inaugural address on 20 January. Calling on Americans to serve their nation, he contrasted the responsible citizens who would do so with those who were "subjects."
"I ask you to be citizens: " Bush declared, " citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character." The President had reminded Americans of a republican principle with his statement that " what you do is as important as anything government does. " He quickly reinforced his appeal to republican ideals by closing his address with references to Thomas Jefferson, one of the signers of America's declaration of independence from monarchist Britain.
Success for Canadian Republican
The Canadian federal government has conceded that republican employee Pierre Vincent can keep his job without swearing loyalty to Britain's Windsor family. Mr Vincent has worked as a civil servant since 1996. However last year he was threatened with the sack if he did not take the oath of loyalty when he transferred from Edmonton to a job in a research centre in Alberta. All Canadian government employees are usually required to take the oath.
Vincent objected as a republican and French-Canadian that this requirement was a violation of his constitution rights. Following a Public Service Commission investigation the assistant deputy minister of natural resources Ric Cameron has exempted Vincent on the grounds of his years of public service.
Vincent is trained as a lawyer. However, he is barred from practising because of his opposition to the monarchists' oath.
Windsor Family Financial Abuse Alleged
The Windsors have been accused in Parliament of diverting money intended for restoration of public buildings to Liz Windsor's art collection. Alan Williams MP, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said that £14M earmarked for repairs to fire damage had gone instead to something called the "Royal Collection Trust." The legislator also asked why 14 Trust staff were given free or subsidised accommodation in royal palaces.
The head of the National Audit office, John Bourne, told the committee that although he was given all documents related to the finances of the head of state that he asked for he had no legal right to see them. He believed that he should have the status of external auditor with a right to demand such documents.
Australian Five Dollar Bill Not Defaced
The Reserve Bank of Australia has issued a special $5 note for the country's centennial celebrations that does not include a picture of Liz Windsor, the country's head of state and queen of the United Kingdom. A prominent Australian monarchist described the bank's action as "republicanism by stealth."
Major Newspaper Calls For British Republic
The Guardian newspaper has called for the United Kingdom to become a republic. However, it's 6 December editorial predicted that the referendum it called for would likely result in "public endorsement" of the Windsor family's privileges.
While questioning "how much longer Britain should remain a monarchy" and declaring that "we hope that in time we will move - by democratic consensus - to become a republic" the paper's leader writer maintained a traditional British deference with his insistence that "nothing we argue is intended to reflect upon the present royal family."
The Guardian did announce that it was making one practical challenge to the status of the monarchy. It will support a legal action against the ban on non-Protestants becoming head of state or monarch and against the privileged right of succession given to males. The action will be taken under European and British human rights provisions banning gender and religious discrimination. Strangely the newspaper did not refer to the inherently racist nature of hereditary public offices.
The Guardian also challenged the Treason Felony Act which outlaws the expression of republican beliefs and is therefore in breach of the European human rights convention's guarantee of free expression. It asked for an assurance from the Attorney General that it would not be prosecuted for publishing republican opinions. The assurance was refused. The paper's editor said that the Guardian "thought that a newspaper might set the ball rolling" as British legislators were forbidden from debating the role of the monarchy. In fact others have been publicly challenging the monarchy for many years without legal action being taken against them, including the newspaper's own Jonathan Freedland, author of Bring Home the Revolution.
In the same edition of the Guardian Mr Freedland made a strong case for a British republic. He commented that it would mean more than simply choosing a head of state for the first time. "We will at last be able to declare that there is only one sovereign in our land - and it is ourselves," he wrote.
The newspaper's leading article dismissed claims that the monarchy is an irrelevance with the statement that it is "it underpins every aspect of our current set-up - and stands behind most of the flaws or excesses of our system of government." Monarchy, it declared, had a "malign constitutional impact."
One startling omission from the newspaper's campaign was any recognition that monarchy is a denial of human rights, not simply an optional extra. Republicans in Britain are still banned from the legislature, judicial office, and from the police and military services. A referendum that supported the continuation of monarchy would lack democratic legitimacy therefore.
Note. In 1998 the Independent newspaper proposed a "republican monarchy" in which the monarch would have no political power.
Britain To Lift Ban On Catholics
The new Human Rights Act will force Britain to life the 300 year ban on Catholics becoming head of state according to a report in the conservative Daily Telegraph. The new law forbids religious discrimination and state interference in marriage choices.
The conservative newspaper claimed that the government had rejected recommendations made in a report it commissioned on religious discrimination because they would require reform of the monarchy. Seeming to confirm this, a government spokesperson told the Telegraph that although it was opposed to religious discrimination it did not intend to change the law in advance of a challenge in the courts.
Whatever changes may be made to the law to end religious discrimination, only members of the Windsor family will be permitted to be head of state.
Clergy To Be Allowed In Commons
Clergy who have been banned from election as legislators since 1801 will be allowed to stand in the next British general election. Bishops of the Church of England are already automatically made legislators-for-life with a seat in the House of Lords on their appointment by the state Church.
Over 1600 Apply To Be Legislators-for-Life
More than 1600 applications had been received for 10 newly opened bastard seats in Britain's legislature by the 17 November closing date. The 10 new illegitimate legislators will be chosen by Prime Minister Tony Blair and take their seats in March next year.
The legislators will be given the feudal title of "lord" or "baroness." They will be paid £81.50 each time they attend the House of Lords to interfere in the legislative process. "Outstanding integrity" is claimed by the commission that will examine the applications to be a chief requirement for appointment to these dishonourable positions.
Ambassador for Belize Made British Law Maker
Michael Ashcroft, a billionaire entrepreneur, until recently based in the Central American state of Belize, has been appointed a legislator-for-life in Britain. Ashcroft was Belize's ambassador to the United Nations. His spokesman said that he intended to be a "voice" on "Third World debt."
Ashcroft is Treasurer of the Conservative Party and was nominated to the legislature by that party. His appointment was confirmed by queen Liz Windsor. He cannot now be removed from his seat and may vote as he chooses. Former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath has described the appointment as "a disgrace."
According to Conservative Party accounts Ashcroft gave the party £1.4M in the year prior to his appointment as a legislator. Press reports indicated that he has donated at least £3M since the last election.
The price of a seat in the "upper" legislative chamber was estimated in the The Independent newspaper earlier in 2000 to be £2M.
Labour Opposes Democratic Legislature
The Labour Party annual delegate conference has voted for an undemocratic second chamber to replace the House of Lords. A proposal to allow the people to elect half the legislators was defeated in favour of a chamber of mostly unelected and unremovable legislators. Supporters of the 50% option accused the ruling Labour Party of using strong-arm tactics to defeat their proposal. Trade union and Labour Party bigwig Brenda Dean, a member of the House of Lords reform commission and herself a female Lord, told advocates of democracy that a senate-type chamber would bring gridlock and not help increase the representation of minorities.
A recent opinion poll suggests that 78 per cent of voters favour a second chamber with an elected majority.
Liberal Democrats Vote For Church-State Separation.
The Liberal Democrats became the first mainstream party to support disestablishment of the Church of England at their annual conference this month. Delegates agreed that the monarch should no long be Supreme Governor of that Church and that the 1701 ban on Catholics becoming head of state should be removed. The Liberal Democrats agreed that the monarch should not be allowed to hold high office in any religious group. They also called for Anglican bishops to lose the right to be legislators without election.
Catholic Church Takes Tax Payers Money To Promote Religion
The government has given the Catholic Church £20,000 of tax payers' money to promote Catholicism. The money will be used to print a guide for teachers in Catholic schools on how they should maintain the religious ethos of their school. Teachers will be assessed on how well they do this.
Ontario Government Drops Royal Pledge
The government of Ontario, Canada has decided not to force school student to make a pledge of allegiance to Liz Windsor. The decision as to whether to require the daily oath of obeisance to the English queen will be left to each school. The provincial government backed down after opposition from young people, teachers and republicans. Under a new code of conduct students will have to stand for the Canadian national anthem.
Liberal Democrats To Debate End to Church Privileges
The September Liberal Democrat annual conference will debate a proposal that the ban on Catholics becoming head of state, enacted in 1701, be ended. Delegates will also vote on whether to impose a ban on the head of state holding high office in any religious group and whether to end the right of Anglican bishops to seats in the legislature to which they have not been elected. The constitution now requires that the head of state, currently Liz Windsor, also be head of the Church of England.
Jersey Senator Calls For Independence
Paul Le Claire, a senator in the British dependency of Jersey has made a formal request for an referendum on cutting the island's link with Britain. Senator Le Claire made his request in response to fears among the people of Jersey that their low tax regime is under threat from European Union harmonisation plans.
Australian Republicans Vote
Members of the Australian Republican Movement are voting during August for 93 elected positions on the movement's national, state and territory committees and for "Young Republic" youth delegates. The ballot, in which members have been able to vote on line, will close on 1 September.
The Australian Republic Movement had been expected to disband after the loss of the referendum. Instead it is renewing efforts to rid Australia of monarchy.
Royalists Threaten Another Canadian
Senior managers at the Canadian Department of Natural Resources are threatening Pierre Vincent with the sack unless he will swear loyalty to Liz Windsor, the British queen. The Public Service Employees Act requires federal government employees to "bear true allegiance" to Liz Windsor and to her children when they take over the job. Liz is considered by the Canadian constitution to be queen of Canada.
According to CBC News Pierre points out that his Maritime Acadian ancestors were expelled from Canada 250 years ago when they refused to swear loyalty to the British monarchy. He also complains that the oath denies him his democratic rights to freedom of thought and expression.
The federal government, which has in the past sacked staff because of their republcian beliefs, is allowing Pierre Vincent to keep his job while it considers its position. Vincent has said that he will take legal action against the government if he is fired.
Australian Republicans Start to Rebuild
The Australian Republican Movement (ARM) is calling for nominations for its national and state executives, as a start in rebuilding the movement after its defeat in last year's referendum. Elections will be held in August.
National Director James Terrie said that ARM's new constitution would allow for a wide debate on the form of the Australian republic, including the direct election option. "This election," he said, "is the first step to achieving change which will be embraced by all Australians."
Government to Spy on Bank Accounts
Department of Social Security clerks will be given online access to citizens' bank accounts without a warrant if a new law proposed by the government is passed. Britain has no constitutional bar to prevent a majority in parliament agreeing to this.
Pay Cut for Windsors
Britain's richest family are to be allowed to keep their hands in the pockets of British tax payers for another ten years, the government has announced. The Windsor family will continue to draw £7.9M a year until 2011.
The new deal is a setback for the Windsors, however. In 1990 they cut a deal with the
the then conservative government based on an assumption that inflation would be at 7.5 percent a year. In fact it has been a third of that. Since 1990 the cost of family has fallen by 55 percent in real terms.
Royal Matriarch May Have Honours Honour
The Windsor family has disclosed that Elizabeth Windsor senior may be given an unprecedented opportunity to issue a special batch of honours to mark her 100th birthday. The family's matriarch has in her long life favoured appeasement of Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa.
Senior Judge Calls For Democratic Legitimacy
So-called "Lord" Steyn, a judge in Britain's supreme court, has called for an independent system for the appointment of judges. He wants a nine-person commission, chaired by a non-lawyer to recommend who should be appointed. Steyn said that this would give democratic legitimacy to the judiciary.
At present judges are appointed by the government, after secret "soundings" among members of the legal establishment. The consequence is that most judges are white males who attended the Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Parliamentary Committee to Consider Lords Powers
The government leader in the House of Lords has announced that a committee of legislators-for-life and elected members of parliament will be formed after the summer break to look at the role and powers of the reformed second chamber. It will not consider the composition of the house, which the government intends should be largely unelected, unaccountable and unremovable.
Prime Minister Defends Feudal System
A spokesperson for Tony Blair has told the press that the Prime Minister values his relationship with Liz Windsor and believe that her family has a "central role" in British life. This followed a proposal by one of his minister, Mo Mowlam, that the family should vacate its central London palace and Berkshire castle for modern accommodation.
The family made an unusual public response to the implied criticism of Ms Mowlam's proposal. It said that its palace in Westminster was a working head quarters for the family business, not just a home. The conservative party claimed that Mowlam's remarks in a magazine interview were evidence that the labour party was covertly opposed to the feudal institution of monarchy. The minister insisted, however, that she was not advocating that Britain should have a democratic head of state. In a bizarre development Ms Mowlam later apologised for any hurt she had caused to the family.
Pressure To Limit Democracy Alleged
The Independent newspaper has alleged that the chairperson of the Wakeham commission on reform of the House of Lords was put under government pressure not to make proposals that would conflict with its wish for an undemocratic chamber of limited authority. Mr Wakeham subsequently denied that any pressure was applied.
European President Breaks Royal Code.
Nicole Fontaine, the French president of the European parliament, has broken the code of silence observed by Britons who meet Liz Windsor. She revealed Ms Windsor's belief that Britain would join the European currency if it proved a success. A family representative complained about the breach of confidentiality which some saw as undermining the Windsors' mystique.
British Anger At Violence Claim
Many Britons reacted with anger to an American TV report that Britain is a more violent nation than the USA. The claim by CBS correspondent that this country is more dangerous than America were widely rejected as memories of recent press photographs of British sports fans bringing savage violence to the streets of European cities faded.
Tax Payers Taken For £16M
The government took almost £16M from the pockets of British tax payers to maintain palaces and 250 apartments for the Windsor family during the 1998 - 1999 financial year, according to the National Audit Office. In eight out of 14 royal projects examined by the NAO the cost to the taxpayers was in excess of the budget.
The main components of the £15.8M were £7.2M for major works, £2M for routine maintenance, £1.5M for utilities and £500,000 for cleaners and porters. Work on wardrobes for the Windsors cost tax payers £70, 000, which was £19, 000 over budget. Changes required by the family to the design of wardrobes in three rooms added £9,000 to the bill. In all British tax payers had to fork out for the salaries of 160 palace staff, including 18 building surveyors and technicians.
Legal Caste System Alleged
The procedures by which British judges and senior lawyers are appointed have been described as a "caste system" in a report commissioned by the Lord Chancellor's Department or ministry of justice. A judge told the authors of the report that she or he did not know how the official elite of lawyers, known as "Queen's Counsel," were selected. "It seems to me that it depends on who you know, what committee you sit on rather than anything else" the judge said. A barrister described his own elite law practice as "a sort of 'golden road'" to becoming a QC or judge.
Most of those questioned by the authors favoured open and objective selection based on merit. At present QCs and judges are appointed after secret enquiries by a government minister. Eighty-nine percent of judges in England and Wales are male. Ninety-eight percent are white.
Government Sees Little Place for Democracy in Reformed Legislature
Margaret Beckett, the labour party leader in the House of Commons, has indicated that the government sees little room for elected legislators in the reformed second chamber. Beckett told MPs that she preferred that the chamber should be composed of unelected, non-partisan legislators chosen for their expertise, who should reflect the economic, religious etc. make up of Britain. She added that although her government was likely to broadly approve the Wakeham Commission's recommendations there were aspects on which it had not yet decided.
British Support for Monarchy Down
Less than half the population of Britain, 44 percent, would regret the abolition of the monarchy according to an opinion poll for the Guardian newspaper. This is down from 70 percent in the early 1990s. However, only 27 percent expressed a definite wish for a republic. The highest level of support for freeing Britain of the feudal system came from 18 to 24 year olds.
Manifesto Promise on Lords Reform
Prime Minister Tony Blair has told MPs that there will be proposals to complete the reform of the House of Lords in his party's next election manifesto. Blair was responding to a challenge from a conservative MP over his government's failure to complete the reform of the second house after the removal of most of the hereditary legislators.
Britain Lags in Literacy
Britain is behind the United States in the number of people reading at least one book a month and has a level of illiteracy similar to America's according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development. Nearly half of British adults are not literate enough to manage routine tasks, said the OECD. However, in hours spent watching television Britain, with its two tax payer funded channels, was top of the international league.
King In Waiting Snubbed By Legislators.
Twenty Labour members of the Welsh Assembly and 14 Plaid Cymru members turned down invitations to dine with Charlie Windsor, the "heir to the throne," on 11 May. Only eight Labour and three Plaid legislators attended the special dinner to which they were invited by the man who styles himself the "prince" of their nation. Apparently this was despite a special appeal made by the Windsor family head office when the likely low turn-out was anticipated.
Royal Oath For Barristers Ruled Against.
The High Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland has ruled that the Lord Chancellor, a minister of the British government, did not have the power to require senior barristers there to declare that they would "well and truly serve Queen Elizabeth 2nd" before they could be promoted to the position of "Queen's Counsel."
The Lord Chancellor has continued to block the promotion of republican barristers despite a recommendation by a committee of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland that reference to the queen be removed from the oath. He insisted that lawyers in Northern Ireland must make the same declaration as that required of those in England and Wales. No thought was given, it seems, to ending the discrimination against republicans throughout the United Kingdom.
The High Court ruling against the Lord Chancellor was based on his failure to consult the Bar Council and Supreme Court judges in Northern Ireland before reaching his decision. He may be free to re-impose the ban on republican lawyers after consulting with these groups. The two barristers who brought the action against the Chancellor have still not been allowed to practice as senior counsel.
Government Keeps Control Of Legislator-for-Life Appointments.
The government is to keep the appointment of legislators-for-life in its own hands, at least for the time being, despite the recommendation of the reform commission that an independent appointments committee be formed. Most members of the appointments committee announced by Tony Blair on 4 May, including the chairperson, will be appointed by him. Four will be "independent " and three will be "Lords" representing the main political parties.
The committee will nominate the non-party legislators, while the majority of the legislators will be named by the main political parties. The prime minister will continued to decide how many legislators are appointed and will be able to veto any he believes to pose a threat to national security. Tony Blair insists that this is a interim arrangement until the full reform of the illegitimate legislative chamber. No proposals for the next phase of reform have been announced.
Education of Republican School Students Threatened.
School students in Ontario, Canada are to be forced to pledge their allegiance to the British queen Liz Windsor, starting this autumn. Those who refuse may be suspended. The daily oath of allegiance was announced on 30 April by education minister Janet Ecker. The only exception she conceded was on religious grounds.
Ontario is the only province to require such an oath of school students. Opinion polls in recent years have suggested that as many as 60 percent of Canadians do not favour swearing allegiance to the British queen. Federal legislation to remove the reference to Ms Windsor's successors from the oath has not yet been enacted.
The loyalty oath has been described by Canadian republicans as an "oath of degradation." Some young Canadians are talking of walking out of school in protest. The oath is doubly offensive because the pledge of loyalty will be to a foreign head of state.
Film Star Renounces Knighthood.
Film star Anthony Hopkins has decided that American citizenship is more worthwhile than the knighthood bestowed on him by the British queen Liz Windsor in 1993. Mr Hopkins, who starred in The Silence of the Lambs, has given up the dubious honour of calling himself "Sir Anthony" in order to become a citizen of the United States. "I renounce the title of nobility which I have heretofore" used, Mr Hopkins declared after swearing allegiance to the USA.
Scottish Legislators Angry At Royal Symbol.
According to a report in the Independent members of the Scottish parliament are angry that a royal crown has been incorporated into the assembly's official emblem without their agreement. Many of the legislators are republicans, said the newspaper, and saw the crown as a mark of pre-democratic feudalism.
Liberal-Democrat Says Queen Should Not Be Exempt from Laws.
Liberal-Democrat legislator Simon Hughes has moved an amendment to the Race Relations Bill to require the "royal" Windsor family to abide by a strengthened law against race discrimination. The Windsor family believes that it is exempt from existing law s that protect members of ethic minorities against discrimination in employment. The percentage of ethnic minority staff employed by the family in London is significantly smaller than the proportion of ethnic minorities in London, where the family maintains its main facilities. The holders of Britain's chief public office, that of head of state, are drawn exclusively from the white European Windsor family. That would be illegal in the case of any other position.
Legislators-for-Life Rebel Against Code of Conduct
The unelected legislators-for-life in the House of Lords have threatened to resist a code of conduct that the elected House of Commons wishes to introduce. Labour legislator-for-life Stoddard told one newspaper that his unaccountable comrades should be left to regulate themselves.
Outrage At Sale of Seats In British Legislature.
Renewed claims that seats in the "upper" house of the British legislature are for sale has caused outrage in Britain. The uproar follows the appointment of Michael Ashcroft, United States resident and ambassador of the central American Belize, to the United Nations as a British legislator-for-life.
Following the announcement the Independent newspaper called for the ending of Britain's honours system and a stop to the public recognition of such feudal titles as "Lord" and "Sir." The honours system "dishonours our national life" declared the headline. The editorial argued that "the idea of calling people Lord or Lady should be left behind in the 20th century, by the end of which it was already out of date." It went on to say that the founders of the American nation "had the right idea" when they included the ban on noble title in the American constitution. The newspaper referred to the "venality" of "the continued sale of places" in the legislature and called for a second chamber composed mainly of elected representatives.
Mr Ashcroft was appointed on the insistence of the leader of the conservative party, who is entitled to nominate new legislators-for-life to represent his party in the House of Lords. Ashcroft is the party's treasurer and the biggest financial supporter of his party. He is said to have donated over £3M . What most distinguishes him from other party supporters who have been rewarded with seats in the legislature is that his business is based in the USA, he lives for much of the time outside Britain and was until last week the ambassador to the United Nations of Belize, another country in which he has business interests.
The elite committee which vets the nominations to the legislature had refused to endorse the nomination of Mr Ashcroft. It has now given way to pressure from the conservative leader, on condition that his nominee gives up the UN ambassadorship and makes Britain his home. This is the first time that appointment as legislator-for-life has been postponed until such conditions are met. Ashcroft has promised to comply by the end of the year.
Even members of Mr Ashcroft's conservative party were angered by his appointment. A former Tory leader in the House of Lords said that his appointment was "an affront to the dignity and standing" of the legislature. The current labour leader in that House claimed that what the conservative party had done was to "simply reward someone who has raised money."
Twenty new labour legislators-for-life were appointed at the same time. The Liberal Democrats were allowed to nominate another nine legislators and the conservative party, which has a majority in the Lords, got 4.
Legislators-for-Life Promise "More Trouble Ahead."
The legislators-for-life in the House of Lords are stepping-up their campaign against legislation proposed by the House of Commons. The Lords have defeated a number of changes to the law passed by the other house. "This is just the beginning . . . there is much more trouble ahead" claimed the conservative leader in the Lords, according to the Independent. He said that the Lords had greater legitimacy in doing so because most of the hereditary legislators have been removed. Even laws promised by the ruling party in its election manifesto may now be voted down by the Lords, according to the Tory leader.
The conservative party, which was unable to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons, still has more seats in the Lords than the governing labour party. To redress the balance somewhat the government has appointed 20 more labour supporters as legislators-for-life and 4 liberal democrats. Four of these legislators are former hereditary lords who lost their seats when most hereditaries were removed last year.
Elections Undermine Democracy, Claims Government.
The government's chief representative in the House of Lords has claimed that a fully elected second legislative chamber would "undermine democracy," according to press reports. She indicated that only a small minority of elected legislators, representing the regions, would be acceptable to the Labour party. The majority would be appointed by a government selected "appointments commission" that would cost taxpayers a minimum of £56, 000 a year for its task of usurping their democratic rights.
Windsor Family Protected From Embarrassment.
The hope of historians for revelations about the abdication of king Edward in 1936 have been dashed. The Bodleian Library has unsealed 10 boxes of the correspondence of Edward's legal adviser, Walter Monckton, but is holding back another for another 27 years! A letter from queen Liz Windsor's mum to Monckton has mysteriously disappeared. And copies of telegrams from Edward Windsor to Adolph Hitler, which may reveal more about the suspected Nazi sympathies of the then head of the royal family, were not to be found among the papers made public.
Charlie Windsor To Be Blocked From Throne.
According to a report in the Daily Express the British government wants to prevent Charlie Windsor becoming king. To give a taste of the respect that the monarchy inspires overseas we reproduce comments on this reported development by an American journalist in the on line magazine Slate.
"The Labour Government, which once really liked Prince Charles (why? I cannot imagine) has now changed its mind. After listening with increasing alarm to Charles' unwelcome pronouncements on things he has no business discussing like the Millennium Dome (he hates it) and fox hunting (he loves it, and of course it's a big talking point when he gets together with Camilla the Royal Mistress), the Labour Government has decided that on no account should Charles take on any of his aged mother's royal responsibilities when she get even older than she is now. How old is she? 75? 100? I can't remember." Sarah Lyall went on to comment that "The Labour government is worried about the terrifying prospect of Charles becoming king and spewing out all kinds of nonsense about anything that suddenly strikes his strange little mind."
The government plans to appoint 25 more legislators-for-life to the House of Lords, according to press reports. This has caused a row with the Liberal Democrats who have not been able to reach an agreement with the Labour party on an increase in their number of legislator Lords.
The Labour government is anxious to increase its representation in the second chamber because the unelected Lords have been blocking its legislation. The legislators-for-life have recently defeated the government on homosexual equality, trial by jury and campaign funding for London's first mayoral election.
Ancient City Rejects Royal Name.
Kingston upon Hull, the ancient northern England city, has decided to call itself plain Hull. No longer will the city use the prefix of Kingston, an abbreviation for "king's town," given to it by Edward I 700 years ago.
The idea of dropping the royal reference is part of a regeneration plan for Hull. Most local people and businesses have not used the name for some time and there is little opposition to the change.
Ban on republicans to stay.
Hopes that republicans might be allowed to sit in the British legislature have been dashed by the government. Reports last year had suggested that the ban on republican legislators who would not swear an oath of loyalty to queen Liz Windsor and her successors would be lifted to allow Sinn Fein members of parliament to take their seats. Now Northern Ireland minister Peter Mandelson has announced that the ban on legislators who will not take the oath will stay. The government will merely propose that Sinn Fein MPs should be permitted to use the parliament building and receive office expenses. They will not be allowed to join in the business of the legislature, nor will they be paid MPs' salaries unless they swear the royal oath.
Tiffs in Labour's Royal Love Affair.
Cabinet papers unsealed at the start of the new year have thrown some interesting light on relations between the Windsor family and the Labour party when it held power 30 years ago.
In 1968 Liz Windsor and husband Phil penned the queen's Christmas broadcast for the first time. In previous years a civil servant had drafted the short and invariably vacuous talk. However, Prime Minister Harold Wilson was alerted to an embarrassing reference to Britain's current "economic difficulties" under his government. The offending phrase was blue pencilled.
A year later George Thomas, Secretary for Wales, complained that Charlie Windsor was giving aid and comfort to Welsh nationalists. Charlie was due to be receive the title of "Prince of Wales." He had been learning the Welsh language to appease those who found fault in an English royal being foisted on them.
Thomas, an ardent monarchist who later became a legislator-for-life, objected to the suggestion by Charlie that there was a cultural and political awakening in Wales. He arranged for Liz to be spoken to about her son's behaviour.
Labour to Create More Legislators-for-Life.
According to press reports the government of Tony Blair is set to create as many as 50 new legislators-for-life to sit in the House of Lords. The intention is to make up the short-fall between the 222 Conservative lords and the 172 who support the Labour party.
The new legislators are likely to include a number of hereditary legislators who lost their seats in the recent reform. Among those reported to be on the prime minister's list are Beatle Paul McCartney and a Greenpeace activist who was recently arrested for damaging genetically modified plants.
For The News Before 2000