12 Days Remaining

Thursday 14th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

IT beggars belief that Rob Evans's request under freedom of information legislation to see correspondence between ministers and the heir to the throne should have been delayed for a decade.

Tory ministers have spent tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of pounds in a vain effort to prevent us from knowing the letters' contents. 

Their justification has been that publication could potentially have undermined Charles Windsor's "position of political neutrality."

The prince's supposed political neutrality has not been weakened by publication. How can non-existent impartiality be undermined?

He, in common with other members of the royal family, has never been slow to discharge his off-the-cuff opinions to all and sundry in the earshot of journalists. 

His views, as with his father, reveal an essentially conservative view of the world that embraces hostility to political and economic democracy, trade unionism and republicanism.

What a surprise. Who would have thought that the scion of a hereditary monarchy, accustomed to being waited on hand, foot and finger from birth, would appear outdated in 21st century Britain?

The best that can be said of him is that he is not quite as bad as his Hitler-worshipping great uncle who abdicated the throne in 1936.

Royal sycophants often justify Windsor's tendency to sound off on subjects from religion to architecture, from organic farming to homeopathic quackery, by extolling his right to voice opinions "like anyone else."

But he is not simply anyone. His role in public life guarantees him an unparalleled audience on TV and radio and in the papers, where royalist arse-lickers affect to take his ramblings seriously.

Clarence House voiced the alarm yesterday that publication of his exchanges of letters with Labour government ministers "can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings."

This suggests that he is simply passing on views given to him, which falls down on two grounds.

One is that the views he passes on always seem to chime with his own hobbyhorses and the other is that citizens already have the right to contact ministers either by writing directly or by raising concerns with their elected MP.

Windsor takes advantage of his position of privilege to attempt to influence ministers who are answerable to the electorate through Parliament.

Who is he to tell ministers that the armed forces should have greater resources or to advise them on teachers' professional development or regeneration of public buildings?

He and his acolytes excuse his interventions, explaining that he has knowledge of or "long-standing interest" in particular questions.

In reality, he has opinions, as has every other person in Britain, and there is no reason why ministers should feel the need to pamper the prince's vanity in a way they would feel no need to do for anyone else. 

His and the Tories' desire to veil his efforts to influence government policy from the public indicates a tangible contempt for the democratic process.

Some commentators contrast his outspokenness with his mother's preference for restricting her comments to the platitudes drafted for her by courtiers and government scribes and intoned at the state opening of Parliament and other mind-numbing events.

This sidesteps the reality that the real contradiction is between democracy and monarchy. 

Hereditary rule, whether constitutional, interventionist or absolute, is an anachronism in the 21st century.

It's time that progress to full democracy in Britain was speeded up.