When I was nine years old, I passed through Victoria Station in London with my parents and my grandparents. On the platform there were some punks, dressed in their classic costume, with various metal objects in their faces and outlandish hairdoes. Nowadays, that sort of sight is fairly commonplace, even after all these years, in Brighton. Back then I had never seen anything like it. I probably wouldn’t have seen them at all however, had my Gran not exclaimed, “Would you look at those young men? That is a disgusting way to behave.” My Grandpa replied, “Why, Mary? They’re just exercising their right to self-expression.” My grandparents were old socialists. I remember being very struck by my Grandpa’s unexpected attitude. This moment had a profound influence on me, although it did not inform my future dress sense.
In 1977 the Sex Pistols’ single God Save The Queen reached number one in the UK popular music charts, despite all the major record stores refusing to stock it and the radio generally refusing to play it. They were a badly managed manufactured boy band. They were also very unrepresentative of the deeply politicised punk movement. They did take risks though. One of these was hiring a boat to give a concert on, in the middle of the night on The Thames on 6th June. Here is the original footage. Well worth watching all of it, if you want to know who was on the boat. The first minutes are the hardest to watch.
It seems incredible that 35 years later, we still have a cultural slavishness to the monarchy. A Royal simply has to sneeze to take up valuable newstime. One day last week, a Royal Prince said in interview that he missed his late Mother. This statement could hardly be described as newsworthy, yet it filled the tabloids and received considerable coverage in the quality press too.
The prevailing view amongst republicans is that we should wait until the current Queen dies before pressing our case. Why? It’s the arrangements we object to, not the postholder. That’s why today I’m travelling to London to exercise my right to self-expression. I’ll be on the banks of the Thames, with my megaphone, booing the Queen as she sails past. After all, she could have accepted the democratic argument at any point in her reign. Instead she has continued in post, receiving many millions of pounds in state benefits despite being one of the richest people in the world. Her decision to do so makes her personally responsible for promoting the worst excessives of our class divided society. She has played her role perfectly, I’ll admit. More than ever, we live in a society dominated not by what achievements you have scored for yourself, what disadvantages you have overcome or how well you have helped others but one which is measured by how well you were born. Meritocracy does not exist. Patronage and nepotism is everything. Government by inheritance is wrong in principle and ruinous in practice. (That link goes to a post I wrote, which contains a list of all the powers of Royal Prerogative.)
There seems to be very little doubt that when the present Queen of England dies, the republican desires will be unleashed. We’ve been a steadily growing minority. The Royal family haven’t exactly helped themselves. It is inconceivable that Charles will stand aside for one of his sons, even though that is the only realistic option for saving the monarchy. He has spent his lifetime preparing to be King. He wants it just too badly. He has also spent much of his life meddling in public affairs, in strict breach of the convention which allowed the monarchy to continue to exist. Even the thieving Tory bastards have lost patience with him.
We are expecting a very heavy police presence in London today. The republicans are expecting their demonstration to be broken up. Although permission has apparently been given for a demonstration on the South Bank by Tower Bridge, I can’t help thinking that any excuse will used to break it up. The world wide media image will be spoilt by us lot, making ourselves heard. Whether anyone will attempt to disrupt the actual Royal flotilla, I do not know. On one hand, I hope someone does, to make the point. On the hand, The Thames is a very dangerous river, despite its benign appearance. I wouldn’t want any more lives to be lost fighting for our democratic freedoms.
Meanwhile, as ageing rockers go, this lot manage alright:
He’s right y’know. There is no future for the monarchy.