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The British Republicans

Election officials censor republicans
"Monarchy is racist" banned

The Electoral Commission has refused to register "Monarchy is Racist, End Monarchy Referendum" as the name of a political party. According to Commission official Conrad Wells, "in our view the proposed name could cause offence to voters." The commission has not objected to names that call for non-Welsh people to be expelled from Wales or for a revolution by workers.

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which established the little known commission, gives it the power to censor party names that it believes are "obscene or offensive."

Prominent among the names that the Commission has not found offensive are those of the "Wales for the Welsh" and the "Workers Revolutionary" parties. It has also registered the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, the Ulster Protestant League and the Berkshire Stop the War parties.

The Commission has not admitted censoring other party names but has said that it may refuse the register the name of the White Nationalist Party. It has refused to explain which voters it believe would be offended by the name it has banned or why it considers the name "Monarchy Is Racist, End Monarchy Referendum" offensive.

"The Commission took the view that we were minded to reject the application for the registration of the "Monarchy is Racist, End Monarchy Referendum" party because, in our view, the proposed name could cause offence to voters if it appeared on a ballot paper."
Conrad Wells, Registrar

The action of the Commission is both a denial of freedom of expression and a partisan act favouring monarchists at the expense of the civil rights of republicans. It forms part of a long-established pattern of discrimination against those democrats who are opposed to the feudal institution of monarchy. Republicans are barred from sitting in parliament and from serving as judges or police officers. Until recently the BBC state broadcaster did not allow the expression of republican opinion on its TV channels and radio stations.

The Commission describes itself as independent and accountable directly to parliament. It is chaired by Sam Younger who worked for the BBC for 20 years. Remarkably the commissioners also include the founding editor of European Human Rights Reports, Graham Zellick. Other commissioners include another former BBC employee, journalist Glyn Mathias, and Karamjit Singh, who at one time was a trustee of the Citizenship Foundation.

Many monarchists are offended by the suggestion that an hereditary head of state has no place in a democracy. To protect them from offence is, therefore, to deny republicans their democratic rights. However, in Britain, which does not have a written constitution, there is no guarantee of freedom of expression. As long ago as 1943 the United States Supreme Court declared that:

""Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other maters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

In Britain in 2004 state officials have the right to decide what opinions may be expressed and how a political party may present itself to the electorate. They have used that power to stop a party saying that hereditary right to public office is racist. The same officials have allowed another party to call for the "ethnic cleansing" of Wales. There could not be a clearer act of discrimination against opponents of monarchy.

The Monarchy Is Racist party has advocated policies that in some respects are eccentric but now says that its only objective is to win a referendum to end monarchy. In any case it should be free in a democracy to express its beliefs in its party name, a right allowed to revolutionaries and Welsh chauvinists.

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