T H E V O I C E O F T HE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT
2010 • Issue 1 • FREE
on the election agenda
With Britain about to go to the polls, Republic’s Talks election special. Professor Stephen Haseler spoke
general election campaigning has been in full swing. on the relationship between the Prime Minister and the
The centrepiece of Republic’s campaign during the monarchy, drawing on examples from the last six decades
election is the Democracy Pledge, seven statements of British political history.
in favour of full accountability throughout our system of Another election themed event, Republic’s Spring Con-
government. The final statement supports the right of the ference in York on April 24, will examine the monarchy’s
British people to choose their head of state. influence on the way we do
Republic members across the country have been politics. And Republic’s
asking their parliamentary candidates to sign the flagship Annual Confer-
Democracy Pledge – and challenging them if they ence in London – subti-
decline. The Democracy Pledge can be viewed online at tled ‘It’s the monarchy,
www.democracypledge.org.uk, along with full instructions stupid’ – will be held
for contacting candidates. soon after the election Page 2
A handy list of questions to put to party canvassers on on June 5 when, what- Republican round up
the doorstep has also been drawn up by the campaign ever the result, Britain will Page 3
team. Covering the key policy issues related to the monar- be adjusting to a new political Hung out to dry
chy, Republic’s “doorstep challenge” (see back page) is a landscape. Page 4
quick test to reveal how seriously parliamentary candidates Take our election campaign An activist king?
take reform. actions at www.republic.org.uk Page 8
Republic’s election campaign kicked off with a Republic The Republic
REPUBLICAN ROUND UP Republic launched a new The Republic team attended Republic condemned as
logo, a revamped website the Battle for Politics event “shameful” a recent decision
and updated branding in last month, speaking to keep secret government
March. The new logo was to delegates about the advice on the legality of
chosen from hundreds of campaign and recruiting new Prince Charles’s marriage to
designs submitted in an supporters. Camilla. Graham Smith told
international competition. the Daily Express: “If our
Republic has renewed constitution does limit the
Republic’s distinguished its call for an inquiry into rights of Charles to marry
supporters – including royal finances following then that’s an argument for
political commentator Lance an investigation by the reform, it’s not an argument
Price, freedom of information Independent which revealed for state secrecy designed to
campaigner Heather Brooke shocking waste and cover up an illegal marriage.”
and human rights lawyer inefficiency at the Palace.
Louise Christian – met at Ministers are to go to Prince Charles may be forced
London’s Groucho Club in court to try to stop further to tell a court of his role in
March to discuss Republic’s revelations about royal scuppering plans for the
plans for the coming months. spending. controversial re-development
of Chelsea Barracks. Property
A handful of economists have Republic has criticised developers in the middle of
suggested that the Queen government plans for a compensation battle with
could play an active role in state-funded celebrations the Qatari royal family after
defending Britain against of the monarchy, including they dropped the planned
future recession. Republic an extra bank holiday, set development have indicated
described the proposals as for 2012. Republic told BBC that they may call on Charles
“laughable”. news that 2012 should see a to give evidence.
“meaningful debate” on the
future of the monarchy and
proposals for “serious reform”.
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Hung out to dry
By Republic’s Campaign Manager Graham Smith
A hung parliament could thrust the Queen’s role in choosing a new prime
minister centre stage. A finely balanced parliament and a significant
discrepancy between votes cast and seats won could mean the Queen is
left with a real choice of which MP to call to the palace.
Much of Republic’s efforts have been focused But a number of very serious questions remain.
on preparing for the increasingly likely event The Liberal Democrats could say that they will form
of a hung parliament, when the Queen could a coalition government with Labour, but not with
wield real power over the formation of a new Gordon Brown as its leader. The Queen could then
government. either approach another Labour Party figure more
With guidance from constitutional experts amenable to the Lib Dems (say David Miliband or
such as Professor Adam Tomkins, and Professor deputy leader Harriet Harman) or go straight to
Stephen Haseler, the campaign team have been Cameron. According to the 1974 memos, either
preparing their response should no party win an option is perfectly permissible.
overall majority. What if Brown is unable to form a coalition but
Royal courtiers have colluded with Britain’s refuses to advise the Queen? The Queen is nor-
most senior civil servants to try and protect the mally expected to act only on the Prime Minister’s
Queen from political controversy should there be advice, but if Brown simply walks away without
a hung parliament. But there remain a number of advising the Queen to approach Cameron she will
scenarios in which the Queen could have the final be forced to act independently.
say in who leads the country. Another series of ‘what ifs’ concerns the pros-
Cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell has issued pect of a second general election. If neither party
detailed guidance based on memos used by No is able to command the confidence of the house,
10 and the palace as they dealt with the hung does the Queen go back to Brown or dissolve
parliament of February 1974. The proposals would parliament and trigger another election? What
give Gordon Brown three weeks to try and form if Brown demands a second general election im-
a government, rather than the usual six days, in mediately? The Queen is not obliged to dissolve
an attempt to stave off the need for the Queen’s parliament until she personally believes another
intervention. election is “unavoidable”.
In the event of a hung parliament, the incum- And finally, what if either Brown or Cameron,
bent Prime Minister remains in power until he or leading a weak minority government, tries to
she resigns and may try to stay in government even suspend parliament to avoid a vote of confidence?
if his or her party did not win the largest number of Would the Queen grant that request or would she
seats. This happened in 1974, but after four days demand another general election?
Edward Heath gave up trying to form a coalition The Queen’s actions in any of the scenarios out-
and advised the Queen to appoint Harold Wilson lined above will have far-reaching consequences
Prime Minister. and are sure to embroil the monarchy in unprec-
A party can stay in power without an absolute edented political controversy. The political future
majority either by forming a coalition with smaller of the United Kingdom will be in the hands of one
parties or pursuing a legislative programme on a woman - unelected and unaccountable, answer-
vote-by-vote basis. If the incumbent Prime Minis- able to no one. Britain’s creaking constitution will
ter cannot form a government in this way, then he be on show for all to see and it will be an excellent
or she is expected to resign and advise the Queen opportunity to put forward the republican case.
to approach the Leader of the Opposition.
For more news from Republic go to www.republic.org.uk 3
An activist king?
By Republic’s Development Manager James Gray
With the recent furore over Prince Charles’ role in the controversial
Chelsea Barracks scheme and his alleged influence over Government
health policy with his infamous ‘Black spider memos’ we ask whether our
next king will be content taking the same hands-off role as his mother.
Earlier this month it emerged that Scotland Yard the adverse publicity surrounding the FIH has seri-
fraud officers were investigating the disappear- ously undermined this monarchist line of defence.
ance of £300,000 from Prince Charles’s flagship Charles’s lobby groups are now under scrutiny like
health charity the Foundation for Integrated never before, largely thanks to campaigning by
Health (FIH). Republic.
The news came just days after Republic submit- Last year, in response to a previous complaint
ted a formal complaint about the FIH to the Char- by Republic, the Charity Commission launched
ity Commission, asking the watchdog to launch a a formal investigation into another of Charles’s
formal investigation into the charity’s governance. organisations, the Foundation for the Built Envi-
Republic’s complaint outlined evidence that the ronment.
charity had been pursuing a “vendetta” against Documents obtained by the Guardian revealed
one of its most prominent critics. that the Foundation pressed senior cabinet min-
At stake here is not simply the reputation of isters to bring government policy into line with
a registered charity, but the very foundation of Charles’s beliefs on matters including hospital
our constitution: the impartiality of the monarchy. building and the design of ecotowns. The char-
The FIH has long acted as a conduit for Charles’s ity also played a key role in the Chelsea Barracks
controversial views on controversy.
alternative medicine Republic claimed that the foundation was being
– and with consider- used as Charles’s “personal lobby group” and the
able success. Charity Commission agreed that he was having a
It has received seriously detrimental effect on the charity’s public
£1m of public perception.
money to es- Another of Charles’s charities, the Prince’s
tablish a register Teaching Institute, also became embroiled in
of complimentary controversy recently when the shadow schools
Hear Paul Richards, scientist therapists and many secretary Michael Gove announced that the group
David Colquhoun and critics say the organisa- would be involved in drawing up a new curriculum
architect Peter Jenkins discuss tion has been instrumental if the Conservatives were to win the general elec-
Charles’s lobbying at the in persuading the govern- tion.
Republic Annual Conference:
ment to make certain forms The Institute campaigns for an education sys-
‘It’s the monarchy, stupid’ on
of alternative medicine tem in line with Charles’s beliefs, advocating rote
Saturday June 5 in London.
available on the NHS. learning of poetry and – perhaps unsurprisingly
For more information and
The royals have –the names of kings and queens.
to book your tickets go to
www.republicannualconference.org.uk long cited their The announcement prompted further calls for
or complete the form on page 8. “charity work” Charles to make clear his links to the Conserva-
in justifica- tive party. In April last year the Prince’s Trust was
tion for their censured by the Charity Commission for making
expense an illegal donation of £10,000 to a Tory group and
and con- earlier this month Charles made his first election
stitutional gaffe when he heaped praise on the Conservative
position. But candidate for Penrith, Rory Stewart. Perhaps most
damaging of all, the FIH’s accounts reveal that it rules, but until now there has been the slim hope
received £50,000 from the foundation of disgraced that Charles’s lobbying of Whitehall would come
Conservative politician Shirley Porter. to light if disclosure was in the public interest.
These are just three of the organisations Charles However, a recent amendment to the Constitu-
personally established – there are currently 18 of tional Reform and Governance Bill, rushed through
them, known collectively as ‘the Prince’s Charities’. in the notorious ‘wash up’ process during the final
According to Paul Richards, a former special ad- days of parliament, removed this public interest
viser to two cabinet ministers, “it is an astonishing test – effectively putting a total ban on public
empire of organisations, each reflecting Prince access to royal documents. The Times accurately
Charles’s personal political views”. described the amendment as “a gagging law to
Even the Prince’s Trust, whose work is widely protect Prince Charles”.
regarded as valuable, has given Charles the op- So the fight is on. Charles shows no sign of
portunity to wade into the ‘broken Britain’ debate scaling back his lobbying as he gets closer to the
through a series of op-eds in the Mirror. throne – he has even signalled his intention to be
Charles does not always use his charities to a “presidential king”. And with the royal FOI ban
promote his ideas. Sometimes it is more effective now in place, he has been given a green light to
to approach a minister directly. “In the maelstrom continue.
of official correspondence and departmental pa- But Republic, aided by an ever-growing repub-
pers, they stick out like a diamond in a midden” lican movement and the more sceptical elements
says Richards, who received his fair share of ‘black of the media, is now subjecting Charles to an
spider memos’ while working for Patricia Hewitt unprecedented level of scrutiny. If the politicians
and Hazel Blears. are not prepared to hold him to account, then
“You can guarantee that they are put under the republican activists will.
nose of the minister within hours of arrival, unlike Prince Charles should, of course, be free to
nine tenths of the letters sent to ministers. They express his views and speak out on issues that con-
are placed high in the piles of paperwork in the red cern him. It is the British constitution, not Republic,
box, and fast-tracked through the system.” which says he must stay silent. The answer then is
It is this correspondence which the government a new constitution which allows Charles Windsor
has moved to make secret. The monarchy has to enter the cut and thrust of political debate as a
always been exempt from Freedom of Information free citizen – or even as an elected politician.
Help us create a democratic Britain by making a donation at www.republic.org.uk/donate 5
Republic joins European
Republic is working closely with other European pean monarchies present similar constitutional
republican movements to establish a new alli- problems as the British monarchy. This should not
ance. The Swedish republican movement is to be too surprising as the monarchies are largely
host a convention in Stockholm in June, bring- made up of the same extended family – prompting
ing together republican campaigns from Swe- one suggestion for an alliance slogan: ‘one family,
den, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, the Nether- one movement’.
lands and Britain. Republic is by far the oldest of the contem-
Recently Graham Smith was guest speaker at porary European republican movements. The
the launch event of the Danish republican move- Swedish movement is about ten years old and
ment, held in the parliament in Copenhagen. the Danes set up their group last year. Others are
Graham spoke about the experiences of Republic just getting started, and we hope the alliance will
and how the British campaign has developed and provide a source of support, advice and inspiration
grown over the years. He spoke optimistically to our Continental allies.
of the chances for success in the future and told The June convention will hopefully see the
the Danish group that Republic welcomed the birth of a formal alliance, and Republic has pro-
opportunity for cooperation offered by a formal posed a second convention in London toward the
European alliance. end of the year, which we hope will be open to all
Contrary to popular belief many of the Euro- members and supporters of Republic.
Nothing civil about a
royal pay rise
The £7.9m annual civil list payment to the ment. In the midst of the worst recession since
Queen, which represents a small fraction of the the Second World War, a royal pay rise is likely to
annual cost of the monarchy, is currently being provoke immense public anger.
reviewed by parliament. So far Labour and the Liberal Democrats have
Talks between royal aides and the government refused to be drawn on their plans for the civil list
began last year, with the Palace lobbying hard for but a spokeswoman for the shadow chancellor,
an increase, despite holding £21m in reserves. George Osborne, told Republic that the Conserva-
Parliament is required to review the payments and tives will not automatically exempt the royals from
make a decision on any increase by July. the public spending squeeze.
A Guardian investigation last October revealed Republic will be campaigning hard to stop any
that parliament is explicitly banned under the 1972 increase to the civil list payment. We will be call-
Civil List Act from reducing the civil list payment. ing on parliament to impose a freeze on all royal
Ministers would need to repeal this provision of spending and bring all royal spending under the
the Act before any cuts are made. management of a single government department.
The decision on whether to give in to Palace Find out how to support the campaign at www.
demands and increase royal funding could be the republic.org.uk/royalfinances.
first major controversy faced by the new govern-
6 Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/republicstaff
Republic Talks is Republic’s series of seminars issue, such as when republican journalist Emily Hill
and debates examining a range of issues related discussed the royal PR machine with royal reporter
to republicanism and the monarchy. A speaker Richard Palmer – or when Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill
is invited each month to give a presentation on debated the achievements of the constitutional
a key republican theme, which is followed by reform movement with POWER2010’s Pam Giddy.
a lively discussion in a relaxed and informal at- Republic Talks events are organised by volun-
mosphere. teer Jennifer Gingell, who puts together a varied
The talks usually take place on the first programme covering all aspects of the republican
Wednesday of each month in the upstairs room of debate. “The talks are an opportunity for republi-
the Plough pub, just around the corner from the cans to take a step back from the cut and thrust of
British Museum. the campaign and look at the issues in detail” she
Previous speakers have included Ekklesia’s explains. “They’re also a great way to meet other
Jonathan Bartley on the Christian case for a re- Republic supporters.”
public, Anthony Holden on his journey from royal Please note that there will be no Republic Talks
biographer to republican and historian Edward events in May or June as the Republic team are
Vallance on Britain’s republican heritage. Most preparing for the Republic Annual Conference: ‘It’s
recently, Professor Stephen Haseler discussed the the monarchy, stupid’ on Saturday June 5. Repub-
Queen’s political role. lic Talks will be back in July – please keep checking
Other Republic Talks events have brought to- www.republic.org.uk/whatson for details.
gether two speakers with very different views on an
Saturday June 5
Order your tickets online or
call 08708 508 825
Read what we’ve got to say at www.republic.org.uk/blog 7