Monarchy, meglamaniacs and an end to political privilege
For a while politics and royalty were on a similar downwards trajectory in terms of public affection. In the UK (and other Commonwealth countries) we’ve seen a widening gulf between ordinary citizens and the apparatus of power. Right through the 1980s, 90s and the first decade of the 21st century it seemed that we were set on a path to lose or at least substantially change the role of the monarchy. During this time (and before) trust in our politicians and political systems was constantly falling too.
So, it’s interesting that in 2012 one seems to have reversed their fortunes quite dramatically. Support for the monarchy is at record high levels in the UK and elsewhere, even the French had hours of live coverage of the jubilee party! All of this on the back of some dark years where it was clearly out of touch, lurching from one disaster to another. But with a new generation of younger royals, some good PR and the odd fortuitous wedding and jubilee, all has changed.
Politicians have yet to find this moment of reconnection. They are a long, long way from it. They are, of course, more obviously impacting on our everyday lives. They are, of course, under more scrutiny. And they have, in fact, as a group failed to live up to the standards of honesty that the wider public wants to see.
Something is going to have to change if we are to renew our faith in politicians. A lot of people (myself included) argue that they need to be more like us, but the royals clearly aren’t… a little less stuffy but no sane person would ever suggest they are normal. More to the point is that they just seem to have been getting on with doing their job. Properly. Pretty well, in fact. I say that as no supporter of inherited power. But then again, who are we kidding. Do we really believe that our political elites aren’t controlled by hereditary lines of privilege?
In Tunisia, fresh from over-throwing an incumbent and corrupt dictator there was fear that the worst democratic disease of all would creep in at the elections: complacency. So one civil society group put up giant posters of former President, Ben Ali. The result was outrage and the short video is worth watching to remind us where complacency gets us.
For me it helped to make the connection between an upsurge in support for the monarchy and a continued downward spiral of political disengagement. We have accepted that this system is the way it is and there’s little we can do about it. This both suits the incumbents and is utterly wrong. How would you act if, months into your newly gained freedom, your old oppressor was brought back? Watch the video and then have a think about what we can do to change politics in Britain.