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Citizen Not Subject Anti Monarchy Anti Royal Protest T-Shirt

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With the current parliamentary system, where the Prime Minister's power is quite vast, it could be useful to have a head of state, as the guardian of the constitution. There is a clear function. You need to see it as a development in the British constitution from the hierarchical imperial model of the 17th century into something more modern with a balance of powers. We don't need a football manager or a retired politician. We need someone who can play that modern role as representative of the state and guardian of its constitution, but it's impossible to imagine that person until you have the function.

The position is inherited, which means that someone who is mad, bad or a complete waste of taxpayers' money can become queen or king. I think that brings the whole purpose of having a head of state into disrepute. People want a modernised model for the state, and, in general, don't like the huge sums of money that are spent on the royal family - especially the satellite members and distant relatives. The whole edifice supports a system of class privilege and leads to race and gender discrimination. The monarchy needs to be rationalised - there's a role for a sense of history and tradition but it needs to be proportionate. The best way of choosing a head of state is by election. It doesn't have to be a politician but someone who commands respect across politics. This could create a far healthier society. You need to get right to the root of what is wrong and the further you dig, the closer you come to the monarchy as being at the foundation of those things. I do believe in a republic. I am totally anti monarchy and wouldn't want any one of them elected. The whole idea of the monarchy just enforces the structure of class and obedience which I am very opposed to. Let's spend the money on a dialysis wing in a hospital rather than the royals. We are being led along a path which is totally negative, particularly for younger people in our society. I think they give out the wrong signal to society. We should encourage compassion, not deference. And who's challenged any of this? Their relatives scooped up what they could and kept hold of it. I think the whole idea of people who need so much money is psychologically flawed. They must be terribly insecure. The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and Clarifications column, Thursday June 6 2002 I do agree with abolishing the monarchy because you can't create a society where people are judged on their merits, when status and power depend on who your father was. It's as simple as that. I would be happy to remove all the mysticism and deference linked to monarchy, such as official birthdays and ladies-in-waiting. As for head of state, I'd vote for Lord Woolf the Lord Chief Justice because I'm a lawyer.

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I'm famously anti royalist but I don't think the Queen ought to be beheaded any more; just put out to pasture would be a good idea in this day and age. They make no difference to us apart from the fact that we pay them tons of money to do very little apart from get the tourism vote. When I was in The Housemartins, we wanted to abolish them but they seem to do that themselves. I don't think they bring in enough revenue to warrant keeping them. It's money which could be spent on the National Health Service rather than lavish carriages or parades. And there definitely isn't the support or enthusiasm for the Golden Jubilee which was there was for the Silver Jubilee - there's been amazing apathy. As for head of state, I'd want Ken Livingstone. He's the only politician who can get anything done, he's charming and cares about people. He would make a great ambassador. He's the one to trust.

I support the idea of an elected head of state. You're more likely to get someone who reflects the country and it would be good to get someone who's a counter balance to the Prime Minister. The idea of having a monarchy is pretty outdated. At least you can remove a head of state if you don't like them but you can't remove the monarchy no matter what they do. One idea we've looked at is a citizens' panel of around seven people who would be chosen in a random way like a jury. The main purpose of using this approach is to encourage people in a fast moving world to trust in their own capacity to do things, rather than authority figures to do it on their behalf. It sends a deeply democratic message that we can govern ourselves. We're not going down the route of having one individual- it's about collective leadership. The original democrats in the 17th century argued that Parliament should be subject to annual elections, so there is strong lineage to the idea of frequent turnover. The individuals are less important but the process is of interest. I think the idea of kings and queens in a modern society is simply absurd. And I'm particularly hostile to Prince Charles as I feel he abuses his position. He pronounces on all sorts things yet you can't interview him or get him into a debate. The monarchy costs the state a fortune and I can't see the evidence that it holds the country together. If we need a head of state, and I think we do, then you want people who are highly intelligent, capable of analysing problems and coming to sensible decisions. And it would be nice to have someone who hadn't been brought up in a political environment. I'm quite keen on John Humphrys because he can ask intelligent questions. If there is going to be head of state they should be elected but I'm not into a hierarchical system. People should be valued as human beings whoever they are and should be able to discipline themselves in co-operation with other people. Nelson Mandela is an incredible figurehead who got to where he was because he fought for justice and not for power. He believes in the value of humanity and not his own inflated ego. The world is governed by men who have been elected democratically and abuse power, so really the only way is to educate people to respect each other and human life. One of the notions of a democracy is that you elect those in power and you can remove them if they abuse it. Fundamentally, it's about accountability. We still have the remnants of the imperial ideal, which is an anathema to those who have been subjected to the notions of empire, subjugation and oppression. I wouldn't want an appointed head of state, they need to be elected. I grew up in the East End of London where people traditionally say the monarchy are liked and well respected. But I remember clearly during the Silver Jubilee my teacher encouraged us to wear badges which said Stuff The Jubilee. He felt the money could have been spent on better things. We live in an anachronistic position with a monarchy. It's part of an era which is now redundant and that chapter needs to close.Of course it's time the United Kingdom had an elected rather than an hereditary head of state. How else can we hope to become a modern meritocracy? Not only is it invidious for our constitution to be haunted by a vestige of the feudal system, it is an unnecessarily expensive and inefficient system of government. The feeblest justification for retaining the monarchy is the claim that tourism would suffer. Have tourists stopped going to Paris since the Bourbons were evicted from the Louvre? After the election, the Windsors could slip quietly into a dignified retirement. Unless, of course, the electorate really wants an hereditary ruler after all and a member of the Windsor family won a popular vote to be head of state. I think we should be a republic and the royal family and all inherited titles should be abolished. The head of state should either be elected by parliament or directly by the people. Still, it's not going to happen. I consider the royal family a complete anachronism , a Ruritanian kind of fantasy that helps to anchor Britain in the past, and also plays on our weakness for nostalgia. It's pomp rather than circumstance. I think the real head of state would be ceremonial and therefore any very distinguished Briton could fulfill the role. It wouldn't necessarily have to be a distinguished politician, it could be a distinguished scientist or writer. I think we've got to grow up. The idea of selecting any public official on the basis of hereditary seems anachronistic. We ought to select through election. A head of state should recognise that their position is not prime minister number two and that their role is different from the political head. Mary Robinson and Nelson Mandela performed that function in a particularly good manner. Both captured the idea that they were performing a role that was different from head of government, but also had a capacity to inspire people, and that's important. The use of mystique that seems an essential foundation for the monarchy is based on a myth which we shouldn't have to rely on in an adult democracy. I thought the monarchy was as good as any and very stable, but now I think it's no longer tenable. There is a systemic issue which cannot be ignored. Having a monarchy has worked well in the UK and we're enormously blessed by the Queen who has been amazingly consistent and able to distinguish between the subtlety of power without power. But I don't think that in this day and age it is any longer acceptable to have somebody in a role - however titular - by dint of birth. It's a difficult concept and much more important than we realise. It filters down the system and affects the way people feel about privilege. There are a whole series of things that follow down from that which are class confirming. It's in the psyche, even if it's terribly subtle. Under the Guardian's proposals, successive elections for a head of state would probably produce: first, a royal (out of residual loyalty); secondly, a senior politician (out of a desire for change); thirdly, someone like Clement Freud or Joanna Lumley (out of boredom and a desire for novelty). More to the point, why do we need a head of state? Can't we get by without some expensive display figure of nominal or vestigial authority? Why presume that more elections automatically produce more democracy (or greater interest in public processes)? If Costa Rica can lead the world in getting rid of its armed forces, how about Britain demonstrating how to prune a constitutional superstructure?

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