HMQ’s AV Victory

5 May 2011

The success of Prince William’s wedding was one thing but if you want another indication that, whatever people think they think of Prince Charles right now, the monarchy is in no imminent danger consider the fate of the referendum on introducing the alternative vote for Westminster elections.

I suggest that republicans are among today’s losers. Assuming the polls are right, that is. If the British public rejects a relatively minor change to the electoral system there is almost no chance, at any conceivable point in any conceivable future, they will vote for a republic. Custom and the Burkean arguments for custom are powerful things (and probably the best arguments in favour of FPTP). I know that republicans often think that time is on their side and that the stupid people will eventually "wake up". They won’t. If electoral reform is a goner that’s even more reason to suppose that a republic will, happily, remain an eternally lost cause.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice blog.

  • rndtechnologies786

    Your think is positive.

  • Tom Round

    This referendum seems likely to follow the Australian republic debate playbook in its post- as well as pre-polling day phase as well.

    PHASE 1: Before polling day. “If you really support [proportional representation/ a directly-elected president], vote no to this proposal for [AV/ a president appointed by Parliament]. It’s too timid, too modest, and if passed, will dissipate all momentum for real, radical constitutional reform in future. If you have any doubts at all about this particular proposal on offer, in any detail, play it safe and VOTE NO!!!”

    PHASE 2: After polling day. “Well, the people have spoken. They LURVE the status quo and have resoundingly endorsed the existing [monarchy/ FPTP voting system]. Let us hear no more talk of future changes, never ever ever again, world without end, amen.”

    It would be interesting to see how the AV referendum would have gone had the ballot paper contained a short, multi-choice quiz about how AV works, with only those ballots being counted that got (say) three questions right out of four… But never mind. The great constitutional question of the age – “Do you or do you not think that Nick Clegg is a [right-wing policy sell-out/ left-wing policy extortionist]?” – has been resoundingly answered.

  • davywavy

    I think if anyone looked at the economic argument, the monarchy would be there forever.

    The Crown Estates return about 200 million pounds a year to the UK Treasury. This Royal owned land with the income given to the nation in return for the much lower Civil List.

    If the monarchy were abolished, I guess the Royals would keep that income (its their land) and British taxes would have to go up.

  • Andrew Fletcher

    Norman c – love that stuffed monarch idea. She could record years and years worth of meaningless Christmas speeches before she pops her clogs and they could be replayed each year.
    She is also the least odd looking of the old lot so keeping her stuffed (or perhaps hologram) would be better than having the real life Charles

  • normanc

    I’m neither a republican nor a monarchist, Presidents and Kings do nothing for me.

    However, the monarchy as it stands (when Charles isn’t spouting nonsense about not eating meat or using transport but thankfully he’s made such a laughing stock of himself he’s no longer taken seriously) is pretty inocuous. No real power, House of Lords is a pale shadow of it’s former self and about to further neutered.

    May as well just have the Queen stuffed on her throne and use a voice double to give the Christmas speech when she goes, for all the difference it would make to most of us.

  • Hugh

    The monarchy has yet to pass the test of King Charles III. He is very likely to cause more harm to that institution than any number of republican arguments.

  • J.P. Murphy

    We have a “pleasant, peaceful way of life”? Really?

    Last time I checked, students were rioting in the streets of London, the UKuncut morons were trashing shops and our armed forces were engaged in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to name three locations. Add to this a growing sense of resentment.

    All that being said, I do agree with Massie’s central premise that we’re unlikely to see the kind of momentous constitutional change moving to a republic would involve.

    When Charles eventually gets to the throne and starts to disestablish the CofE, that’ll make things very interesting…

  • Andrew Fletcher

    Britain is comfortable declining slowly but surely into the sunset. Gazing comfortably into the past. Royals, FPTP, Lords and Ladies, heritage theme park.
    These things are not necessarily bad (and in fact probably do contribute to our relatively peaceful, pleasant way of life) BUT we should be under no illusion that as a country we are moving forward.
    We should be exploiting the Royals as a key part of attracting tourist dollars/yen to brand Britain.
    Pressure has to be put on Charles to pass it on to William so that they remain attractive to visitors
    As the economy flatlines, we need to ensure a good return on our investment (via the civil list)

  • Occasional Ostrich

    “our inability to stop the EU juggernaut.”

    Nope. We just haven’t started trying (yet).

    Hopefully (piously, I admit) CMD and his merry band are waiting for the EU to hoist itself by its own petard until the demands of the popular press become deafening; then he’ll be able to say that his new Bill of Rights is “by the will of the people”.

  • Steve


    I hope you’re right. The same mindset also effects the right in our inability to stop the EU juggernaut. A much more Herculean task admittedly, but there will come a time when we can’t just keep on ignoring the creeping power of the EU indefinitely.

  • Tom Round

    Indeed so. Imagine if even modest changes to the Act of Succession were put to a referendum, and the “No” campaign followed the AV playbook from the UK (or, for that matter, the Australian republic referendum from 1999):

    “Yes2NuAct Would Let Robert Mugabe Become King! Do YOU want a Catholic on the throne?!” – Daily Mail

    “EXCLUSIVE: The Conflict of Interest Behind Yes2NuAct. Director Hamish Trott Admits That He And Other Non-Anglicans ‘Stand to Benefit’ From a Yes Vote. “Well, I suppose it gives me a 1/59,000,000 vote of becoming Prince Regnant one day if Princess Charlotte ever decided to marry me”, Trott conceded yesterday…” – Malise Ruthven

    “What Would CHURCHILL Say? This Country Fought Off the Luftwaffe Under Males-First Primogeniture!” – 19 eminent Oxbridge historians

    “I mean, despite my first in Politics at Cambridge and my claims to be able to balance the UK’s budget, I really don’t understand this new proposal. It seems to me that, if passed, it would mean giving Princess Charlotte TWO chances at inheriting the throne – (1) if she’s the first-born, and (2) if she has no younger brothers. That seems really unfair to me, and violates the fundamental principle of equality that has undergirded the Act of Succession for three centuries” – David Cameron

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