28 comments on “A Republic would be so much cheaper than a Monarchy

  1. Probably they’re mostly used as perks for non-staff, visitors, and so on. I used to get shuttled around in government limos as a very junior academic in Italy (because the institute I worked for had some “auto blu”, probably because the director was – as all such in Italy are – politically very well connected).

    And of course royals never ever ever use the money they take off the workers for perks for their friends.

  2. British government spends £2.7 million a year on limos for government ministers alone.

    Interestingly, they regard the Mercedes E as the lap of luxury, in Germany that’s the bog standard taxi cab. If I book a limo here it’s generally a BMW 5, Audi A 4 or Mercedes S class.

    BTW, not sure why having a monarchy would affect the justice department’s running costs.

  3. That’s nowt. Look at the budget for M le President.

    You can make a decent case against monarchy, but cost isn’t remotely a part of it.

  4. BiG,

    Exactly.

    I always find comparisons like this a bit bogus like comparing the cost of the White House with Buckingham Palace when one is involved in policy and the other isn’t.

    Personally, I’d just like a president like Ireland – pretty much the same job as the Queen job but elected. Stick them in a smaller house and flog off Buckingham Palace and make a few billion on the land sale value.

  5. The Stigler,

    Looking at Obama, Bush, Blair, Cameron and Clegg, no thank you, give me Her Majesty any day!

  6. The Stigler – “Personally, I’d just like a president like Ireland – pretty much the same job as the Queen job but elected. Stick them in a smaller house and flog off Buckingham Palace and make a few billion on the land sale value.”

    You make a mistake if you think the Royals aren’t involved in policy. It is still a requirement to show every proposed law to Her Maj and she does comment on a lot of them. Thank God. Think how bad things would be if she didn’t.

    The problem with the Irish model is what do you do when the President wants something and the Prime Minister wants something else. The Royal’s powers are not exactly clear – but they don’t have a mandate so it doesn’t matter much. An elected President would have a mandate. Or could claim a mandate. So what if she refused to sign laws into effect or pass the budget without getting a battered Black lesbian shelter in every town in the nation?

  7. The current situation works remarkably well, thanks largely to the personality and ability of the Queen.

    I think it will be an uphill struggle when Charlie boy takes over as he seems to lack both these attributes; but the single best argument against a presidency consists, as it has for a long time, of two words: President Blair.

    Hopefully we’ll have the good sense to maintain that position.

  8. @ The Stigler

    Surely a ceremonial head of state is something concocted by those without a monarchy to fill a perceived void. It makes no sense at all to abolish the monarchy and then replace it with a Lidl version. Either stick with the real thing (if it’s pointless, who cares if it’s democratic? does that trump the value of history?) or dump the whole notion. Why do we need to pay someone to trot around the world saying hello to people and ‘represent britain’ when The Beckham’s ™ will do it for free?

  9. dearieme: That’s nowt. Look at the budget for M le President

    Fair dos, but the mob présidentielle is at least an attempt to rein in a little on transport costs.

  10. Jim – “Is that a northern specialty food?”

    If it was, would I be tempted to give it a try? I might you know

    The Thought Gang – “(if it’s pointless, who cares if it’s democratic? does that trump the value of history?)”

    Well that argument didn’t work with the House of Lords – the only part of Parliament that worked well. So I doubt it will work well with the Crown.

  11. “So what if she refused to sign laws into effect or pass the budget without getting a battered Black lesbian shelter in every town in the nation?”

    That logic cuts both ways – you are as likely to have a Prime Minister determined to pass illiberal laws being tamed by a classically liberal minded President as you are to have a liberal Prime Minister thwarted by a statist President.

  12. “the single best argument against a presidency consists, as it has for a long time, of two words: President Blair.”

    We did have President Blair, in fact if not in law. As the monarch did not limit Blair’s policies in any way then what’s the point of it? Perhaps it would be better to exile the Royal family to somewhere like the Falklands or Gibraltar and have them appoint a Governor-General or Viceroy for this country. They tend to be a bit more interventionist than our monarch.

  13. What you conveniently choose to forget is that the Crown signs over to the Exchequer all it’s income from Crown investments and Properties in exchange for the Civil List payment. The income to the Treasury far exceeds the List payment. The Royal Family does not cost the State anything.
    We can rest assured that putting anyone in place of the Monarch would cost a vast amount.
    Furthermore, as you choose to ignore, our Constitutional Monarch is entirely non-Executive except where undertaking its function at the direction of The Executive. Equally, we can rest assured, that an appointed President wouldn’t remain as accommodating as the monarch has for several centuries!

  14. @ SMFS

    I’m almost persuaded that the hereditary model for the HoL was a perfectly acceptable possibly-least-worst way of doing it.

    However, as the HoL is a functioning part of the legislative process, it is not ‘pointless’ in the way that the monarchy is, and so the ‘who cares if it’s democratic or not’ argument cannot apply.

  15. TTG: I’m almost persuaded that the hereditary model for the HoL was a perfectly acceptable […] way of doing it.

    Allow yourself to be completely persuaded.

    The hereditary principle was common to both the monarchy and the upper chamber. Remove it from the one and the other becomes exposed and vulnerable.

    A lot of good people were swept away in the interest of democratising the Lords. There were enough political placemen there already; now there are more.

  16. What you conveniently choose to forget is that the Crown signs over to the Exchequer all it’s income from Crown investments and Properties in exchange for the Civil List payment.

    What you conveniently choose to forget is the Sovereign Grant Act 2011.

  17. “The Stigler: the problem is that the royals own Buck House, and the rest.” Where on earth did you get that idea?

  18. What would happen if The Queen dismissed the Prime Minister? Now that would be a constitutional crisis.

    I wonder that the dismissed PM would have had to have over-stepped the mark by a very long way to be dismissed.

    Would the ex-PM look around to find all sorts of ex-army and ex-police types who would no longer drive his limo, nor let him into Number 10? And the senior civil servants simply be absent from their offices (not that he’d get access into Whitehall buildings), and his phones not work? What would his party do? Would she call and election or appoint the deputy PM as PM ?

    It could happen so seamlessly … or not.

  19. @ dearieme
    The royal family does own Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, Sandringham etc. Some of these are entailed but George VI had to buy Sandringham from the Duke of Windsor.
    So the answer to your question is “from historical facts”.
    Wikipedia says that George III bought Buckingham Palace in 1761

  20. Bloke in surrey – “That logic cuts both ways – you are as likely to have a Prime Minister determined to pass illiberal laws being tamed by a classically liberal minded President as you are to have a liberal Prime Minister thwarted by a statist President.”

    From a Constitutional law point of view, I am not sure it matters. We have a system that can deal with this precisely because the Queen has no mandate. An elected President would. If the Army was called out, whose orders would they take? Actually the Queen has done and does do this. She has advised strongly against illiberal PMs. Some, like Blair, are rumoured to have listened to her. Some, like Thatcher, are said not to have.

    The Thought Gang – “I’m almost persuaded that the hereditary model for the HoL was a perfectly acceptable possibly-least-worst way of doing it.”

    It gave us the only functioning political debate system in Europe. A shame we lost it.

    “However, as the HoL is a functioning part of the legislative process, it is not ‘pointless’ in the way that the monarchy is, and so the ‘who cares if it’s democratic or not’ argument cannot apply.”

    The Queen is actually intimately involved in the functioning part of the legislative process. Her duties include the right to warn and advise. Which means she has to be told of up coming legislation. Which she then advises on. PMs ignore her at their peril as she has been around for a while and she does know what she is doing. Something like a third of laws are supposed to be changed following her advice. So it is not a minor role either.

  21. “From a Constitutional law point of view, I am not sure it matters. We have a system that can deal with this precisely because the Queen has no mandate. An elected President would. If the Army was called out, whose orders would they take? Actually the Queen has done and does do this. She has advised strongly against illiberal PMs. Some, like Blair, are rumoured to have listened to her. Some, like Thatcher, are said not to have.”

    The UK system deals with because the monarchy, by convention, is neutered. As you say, a PM is under no obligation to heed the advice of the Queen; sometimes they do, other times they don’t. An elected President would be able to fulfill the advisory role of the monarch that we currently have, but it would also have a mandate to tame the PM if s/he got carried away. That seems like an appropriate check and balance measure to me.

    As for who the army would obey – if the President’ powers were the same as our Queen’s formal powers then they would obey the President, not the PM. It isn’t an unclear issue.

    such a President wouldn’t need to be elected though – in Australia and Canada the Governor-Generals have interfered in the political systems of those countries in recent(ish) history, and they are appointed, not elected. A Governor-General for the UK, therefore, might also be more interventionist than our Queen is because a GG would have a greater mandate to act than the Queen does, but they would exercise their powers with great prudence because they aren’t elected.

  22. Bloke in surrey – “The UK system deals with because the monarchy, by convention, is neutered.”

    But a President is not. As I have been saying, a President can claim a mandate.

    “An elected President would be able to fulfill the advisory role of the monarch that we currently have, but it would also have a mandate to tame the PM if s/he got carried away. That seems like an appropriate check and balance measure to me.”

    An elected President could not advise, because they have no basis on which to advise. They are just another failed politician. They would not have the six decades of political experience the Queen does plus the life time of training – and the more than life time commitment given she will want her son and grandson to inherit The Firm.

    But what check and balance? This is a constitutional crisis in the making. Tame the PM? How so? What could the President do? What power held by the Queen could the President use? Two conflicting mandates can only be resolved by violence in the street.

    “As for who the army would obey – if the President’ powers were the same as our Queen’s formal powers then they would obey the President, not the PM. It isn’t an unclear issue.”

    So we would in effect be abolishing what passes for democracy here? Or just a move to the French or American system of a weak Parliament and a strong central executive?

    Such powers would have to be spelled out. And that means a Constitutional Convention controlled by the Guardianistas who would give everyone the right to free muesli.

    “such a President wouldn’t need to be elected though – in Australia and Canada the Governor-Generals have interfered in the political systems of those countries in recent(ish) history, and they are appointed, not elected.”

    Controversial because they were not elected. If they were, this could be an annual event.

  23. We have just one example of the UK monarch or her representative intervening in my lifetime – when the Governor-General blocked an attempt at unconstitutional action by Gough Whitlam who was subsequently exposed as a KGB agent.
    In Spain, Juan Carlos defeated a right-wing coup
    This is an argument in favour of constitutional monarchy that looks to the long-term future instead of plundering the state like Mobutu et al

  24. What you really need is a small supply of Oswalds / grassy knolls who will make the leaders worry enough so they dont get bored and start too much meddling.

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