Episode 60 – 19th November 2010

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Defending McHealth Policy (2:01) by Dr Simon Howard
Negotiating with Pirates (9:52) by Drew Rae and David Couch
Monarchists are people too (16:50) by Malden Capell
Stop Bashing Christians (26:20) by Jourdemayne
Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell Interview (36:31) by James O’Malley and Liz Lutgendorff

Come to the recording of our Christmas Show!

12 thoughts on “Episode 60 – 19th November 2010

  1. Another thought provoking podcast, thanks!

    I was very interested in the discussion on monarchy. Despite the fact I agree with a lot, well most of the points made I am not myself a monarchist, I think for two main reason:

    1. it positively supports the notion that inherited authority through coincidence of birth is both noble (pardon the pun) and worthy of respect, and

    2. that those unfortunate people born into such a situation have to live up to, and conform to the expectations and whims of the populace without any consideration for their rights as individuals

    Exagerating (only slighty) to make a point – my first concern implemented by less benign dynasties gives us something like North Korea; the second simply to, well, slavery.

    We are fortunate to live in a liberal country, where individual rights and liberties are paramount, and the casual acceptance of institutions like the monarchy surely does great harm to any vision of equality and meritocracy for a society. Equally unpleasant are the baying masses salivating over the private lives of the royal family. This is a terrible attack on their basic human rights of privacy and dignity, and is especially unsettling when this inevitably happens to their children.

    I think that last point sums it up pretty well; that while we encourage our own children to aspire to achieve all they they can, to not allow their social or cultural background to dictate their future, we condem the children of royalty to the lives of their parents, and accept all the personal sacrifice it demands, on our behalf … that’s progressfor you.

  2. @Mike

    The option of abdication lessens the strength of your second point somewhat.

    Hereditary monarchy is clearly a ridiculous system. If we didn’t have it I don’t think that any right-thinking person would seriously propose it as a viable part of our constitution. However it’s what we have and as ridiculous as it is, I don’t believe that monarchy itself is to blame for the various serious problems we have with our political system.

    I am still waiting to hear of an alternative, let alone a way of transitioning to that alternative, that would be worth the trouble.

  3. Abdication certainly does provide some means of escape, though I wonder how old you’d have to be to do that, and hence how much of your childhood/life you’d have lost. Also I can’t think a single more attention grabbing action for a member of the royal family to perform than abdication. I think, sadly, that there is no escape for anyone born into the upper echelons of the monarchy.

    I don’t mean to come across all Mrs Rev. Lovejoy, but I think the negative impact on those “forced” to be part of such an institution, particularly their children, is often ignored by those for & againt the monarchy or excused away due to their perceived privileged upbringing.

  4. Mike’s first point, alone, is a reason to ditch the monarchy. Having an aristocracy as an integral part of our state is a symbol that we are subjects in reality and citizens in name only.

  5. Thanks for the comments guys :)

    Pete: well actually, we’re legally citizens; subject status was abolished in 1981.

    On the whole matter of the monarchy being forced into the institution, I don’t think it’s enough to overcome the rest of my case. Firstly, it’s the curse of everyone born on this planet beyond the most independently wealthy that they’ll have to suck up and do something they’re forced to do. As it stands, the royals have a strong sense of duty and see their ‘sacrifice’ as a necessary one and even if given a choice wouldn’t give it up, as they’d feel like they’re letting the country down. I know this sounds a bit sentimental and I’m envisioning a number of raised eyebrows and eyeballs at the back of the head, but what information can be gleaned from royal biographies and political memoirs of past politicians and ambassadors seems to suggest this.

    Come to think, hell, that’s exactly the kind of person we need there – anyone who actively seeks the job should be kept well away! The Queen’s own father, George VI, begged on his hands and knees to his outgoing brother, Edward VIII, not to give him the throne. He absolutely hated the prospect. But become King he did, and he managed through.

    Finally, it may suggest that inheritance is worthy of respect, but then I don’t think it actually stands up to reality. Among Europe’s monarchies are some of the most egalitarian in the world, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Liz mentioned to me just yesterday that Japan (another monarchy, in fact an Empire) is the country with the smallest rich/poor gap. Meanwhile republican America is an atrocious example of the most ruthless effects of free market capitalism and extremes of rich and poor.

    We’ve already seen huge changes in British society and it has become overall considerably less deferential. Most people when they think of monarchy don’t make the conclusion that because the monarchy is set above them, then nobility, aristocracy or other royals automatically deserve respect. If anything Britain’s tabloid journalism is one of the most iconoclastic in the world, and our rock bottom respect for politicians is legendary.

  6. There is an element of cherry-picking in your examples. If you are trying to say that constitutional monarchies are more equal than republics, why exclude the UK, Spain and Thailand – all of which have pretty appalling inequality in income?

    That isn’t the point anyway; income inequality is an imperfect measure of the kind of status inequality that a monarchy is a symbol of. I don’t know how that could be objectively measured, but surely no-one disagrees that an unelected, hereditary head of state is such a symbol.

  7. As I said in my podcast, I never said monarchy causes it – I merely said it bears no relation to it. So if it exists in both relatively equal and relatively unequal societies, chances are its impact is nil or negligible.

  8. Malden Capell’s report on the monarchy was interesting and raised some points I hadn’t really considered before. I just found the closing statement rather odd.
    “Most of us are decent, mellow, chaps and chapettes (?), who play X Box, watch porn, join rallies, fight for equal rights…” When I first listened to this, I thought I may have misheard, so I replayed the section.

    Firstly, are we to believe that people are going around discounting the opinions of monarchists because they are believed not to watch porn? What a strange claim.

    Secondly, I find it unsettling that in this report, consuming pornography is viewed as a signifier for a someone with a liberal mindset, and a positive one at that. There’s a huge debate about the pros and cons of the porn industry, and I suspect that I would come down on a different side to most Pod Delusion listeners. People disagree, it happens.

    I just think that by slipping in a pro-porn mention at the end of a report on something else entirely is to blindly promote it as just something that all the cool kids do, when it’s far more complex than that. Just because the right wing don’t like something, doesn’t mean that liberal lefties should adopt it without questioning it further.

    It’s a bit of a lazy viewpoint, and not particularly sceptical either.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the report and thought the Armando Iannucci interview was very funny.

  9. Kate: Hmm. I must admit that didn’t occur to me; my intention was to emphasise that monarchists are not up highly strung conservatives more than anything, and it was thought up on the hop. I certainly don’t consider it a left/right issue. More that ‘hey, we’re people too, not sterotypes!’

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