Republic conference to call for monarchy re-think


12:30 pm - June 1st 2010

by Newswire    


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Republican campaigners from across Britain will gather in London next month for Republic’s annual conference.

The conference, subtitled ‘It’s the monarchy, stupid’, will call for the monarchy to be placed at the heart of the constitutional reform agenda.

Guest speakers at include:
-David Colquhoun (Professor of Pharmacology, UCL), Peter Jenkins (Inskip Jenkins architects) and Paul Richards (former special adviser to two cabinet ministers) on Prince Charles’s political meddling.
-Geoffrey Robertson QC (human rights lawyer and author of ‘The Tyrannicide Brief’) and Edward Vallance (historian and author of ‘A Radical History of Britain’) on Britain’s republican heritage.
-Alex Smith (editor, LabourList), Natalie Bennett (Green Party activist) and Linda Jack (former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate) on taking the republican campaign forward in the course of the new parliament.

The event will close with Republic Question Time, a chance for audience members to put questions to the following republican commentators:
-Jonathan Bartley (Co-Director, Ekklesia)
-Brendan O’Neill (editor, Spiked online)
-Naomi Phillips (Head of Public Affairs, British Humanist Association)
-Gary Younge (Guardian journalist and author).

Conference organiser James Gray says:

Republic’s Annual Conference comes at a crucial time for the republican movement. We are entering a period of unprecedented political reform and Republic will be working hard to ensure the monarchy is included in that debate.

The conference provides an important opportunity for republican activists to come together and plan for the coming months. We are thrilled to have the support of so many excellent speakers from across the political spectrum.

From a press release

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Reader comments


“will call for the monarchy to be placed at the heart of the constitutional reform agenda.”

Absolutely, vitally important.

More power to an elected figurehead would mean less for the idiot politicians wouldn’t it…..

I can’t see the UK becoming a republic in the near future but the monarchy does need reforming. There are to many hangers on and grace and favours.
The Scandinavian Monarchies could be a line to follow.

How would abolishing the monarchy improve the way the country is run? How exactly do we suffer from having a monarchy?

@3

Aside from the simple inequity of having a hereditary figure as head of state, “[b]y abolishing the monarchy we will need a new constitution. This reform will provide a unique opportunity to deal with many of the problems in our current political system” (from the Republic website).

Oh, and within the next 20 years a man who once wished to be Camilla Parker-Bowles’ tampon will be King.

@4.

Oh, and within the next 20 years a man who once wished to be Camilla Parker-Bowles’ tampon will be King.

But that’s not the most facrical aspect.

If Liz does live to the same age as her spoiled mother, then Charles would almost be an octogenarian before he assumes the throne.

What the hell is the point of that?

Becoming King at such an old age is ridiculous. Passing the title to, say, William would create a constitutional crisis.

This trap has been set by the insitution itself. Perhaps we republicans don’t have that long to wait after all.

Are any of you kids old enough to remember the 1970s and early 1980s? (I exempt, of course, Mr S Pill who has an extremely selective memory).
We compared the conduct of monarchs with actually or allegedly elected presidents – Queen Elizabeth with Nixon or Brezhnev, Juan Carlos who personally faced down an attempted army coup by walking up to the guns; in Greece King Constantine opposed the military coup and a majority of the populace voted in his favour in the following referendum but the Colonels faked the result (yes, this has been confirmed by some of their lackeys) because they dared not face the courts, while several elected or “elected” presidents abdicated or co-operated with extremists. It was no surprise that republicanism became a trivial irrelevance.
The Labour Party in Australia is committed to abolish the monarchy because the Governor-General dismissed a former leader who has since been exposed as a KGB agent when he defied the constitution. It is ironic that Irish republicans are allying themselves with Cromwell. Can you compare Thailand with the rest of Indochina since Sihanouk was pushed out by the Vietnamese?
Oh, @4 and @5 – apart from being twats, have you considered the likelihood of Prince Charles surviving to 80, given that male mortality is significantly higher than female?
I didn’t think so.
You would prefer Gordon Brown to Charles – why? (You cannot, if you are sane, be suggesting a preference for GB over HM). Tell me why, if you can, so I can refute it

@John77

You would prefer Gordon Brown to Charles – why?

Strawman. I would prefer a directly elected Head of State to someone gaining that position by an accident of birth. Because, erm, I kinda like democracy and stuff. The Queen could always stand for election 😉
Why do you support hereditary privilege? The Divine Right of Kings way of thinking died out a long, long, time ago. It’s time for the rest of the junk to be put into retirement.

It’s good that a professor of pharmacology is addressing the Republic conference because he may be able to identify the substance the participants have been consuming in order to convince themselves that the monarchy could be abolished.

@ 7 Mr S Pill
Do you really prefer democracy? – it usually elects centre-right governments.
If the Queen stood for election – unlike Brown or Stalin or Krushchev or Brezhnev or Mao or Deng or Kim or Honecker or …- she would win an overwhelming majority.
I observe that constitutional monarchies are better for their subject than republics – that is not the same as supporting hereditary privilege of which the most egregious recent examples have been the print industry and dockworkers.
If you want to argue against hereditary privilege you have to argue for 100% Inheritance Tax with a zero threshold and a 100% tax on lifetime gifts between family members. So any disabled individual is sent to the poorhouse when his/her father dies. Of course there is a poorhouse under your system because no-one has saved up capital with which to generate wealth to give us surplus income with which to provide the welfare state for those unable to earn a living.

10. Yurrzem!

I’m not convinced that abolishing the monarchy would be more than symbolic. Perhaps that would be justification enough, but I cannot help but squirm at the thought of President Blair or President Branson.

Perhaps focussing on the figurehead is a start but past reforms have been very partial and served to distract from the fact that nothing has really changed: We are still a very closed society run by, and for, a small ruling elite many of whom gained their power by being born and nothing more.

11. Bob Wiggin

Supporters of the Monarchy never see the connection between our system of government, (with the Monarchy at its heart), and the problems we suffer because of its shortcomings, A couple, but not all, of the problems we suffer are the erosion of our rights by politicians, the bypassing of the legislature by the executive. The Monarchy is the millstone around the neck of meaningful reform and until we take steps to remove it and elect a Head of State who would be the guardian of a written constitution, (not what we have now which is made up on the hoof for pragmatic reasons), we are destined to suffer the same recurring problems no matter which party is in government. And all because of the caveat that effects all and any reform, which is ‘it must not threaten the position of the Queen’.

Many people argue that the Queen limits the power of politicians when the opposite is the case and no one but those of the republican persuasion seem to be able to see it. Or people argue that the Monarchy is a focus for National pride. This is a nonsensical argument and it would be better if national pride was focused on what we, as a nation, have achieved.

So yes, I agree with Republic. The Monarchy needs to be placed at the very heart of the constitutional reform agenda.

“and elect a Head of State who would be the guardian of a written constitution,”

Isn’t that the system the Americans have? And didn’t Bush (and now Obama, claiming the power to assassinate US citizens without due process for example) slightly fail in protecting those rights, guarding that constitution?

Having an elected President and a written constitution ddoesn’t seem to be all the protection you wish it to be.

@9 John77

Do you really prefer democracy?

Yes. Regardless of what flavour Gov it elects the principle remains: democratic governance – for all its shortcomings – is infinately preferable to hereditary privilege/tyranny/etc.

If the Queen stood for election […] she would win an overwhelming majority.

Well, maybe it should be tried then?

I observe that constitutional monarchies are better for their subject than republics

On what evidence?

– that is not the same as supporting hereditary privilege

Oh? So you believe that monarchies are better than republics but someone believe that is not supporting the principle of hereditary privilege? Logic fail.

If you want to argue against hereditary privilege you have to argue for 100% Inheritance Tax with a zero threshold and a 100% tax on lifetime gifts between family members.

Another strawman. It means no such thing as a 100% IHT or the rest of your bizarre tangent. I’m arguing against the ridiculous notion that there is some “right to rule” carried in Royal sperm. It’s really not that difficult to understand.

14. |BOB WIGGIN

@ Tim Worstall – The American republic is not the model I would choose because it is deeply flawed like our Constitutional Monarchy is, and probably because the founding fathers based their republic loosely on what they were familiar with, the British system, replacing the monarch with an executive Head of State.

15. BOB WIGGIN

Talking of flawed systems of government, let’s just take a look shall we? Consider, why Gordon Brown was able to sign the Lisbon treaty without a referendum? He could even have done it without going to parliament, as John Major threatened to do with Maastricht. The reason they get away with these affronts to democracy is because they can, the Crown has the power to sign treaties, and the Crown is in the hands of the PM. It’s the Crown that’s sovereign in parliament when it should be us. It’s plain that the Monarchy is what is holding back reform because of that caveat I mentioned, no reform can threaten the position of the Queen, until we remove that dead-weight from around the neck of constitutional reform we will be just tinkering around the edges.

“The American republic is not the model I would choose”

OK, excellent. Could you indicate which model you would choose then?

Among extant systems? Can’t have Denmark, Sweden or Norway (or Holland, Spain, Canada, Australia, NZ,) for they are all constitutional monarchies.

Venezuela? That’s not working too well. China? France? Italy?

No, really, can you point to anywhere that has the system of governance that you desire?

If not, can you point to any evidence about your preferred system avoiding the problems of those extant?

My personal position is that sure, there are problems with monarchy, just as there are problems with any and every constitutional order. But I’d rather have the Lucky Sperm Club deciding who gets to pin the VC on people than the best scumsucking voteseeker doing it.

And your response is?

I very much hope that we will have republic in my lifetime, remember those lavish royal weddings in the 70s and 80s, what place do they have in a modern democratic society? not much I would say.The monarchy should be at the very heart of any reform debate and maybe if we are not going to get a republic in the near future we should at least have a very much slimmed down version more suited to a 2lst century democracy with all that pomp and ceremony done away with and if the royals want lavish weddings then they should foot the bill out of thier private monies providing of course we can actually establish just what thier private monies are as this does seem to be a grey area.

Unfortunatly at the moment it seems a steep hill to climb when you have the likes of labour politicians such as John Prescot accepting peerages simply because his wife wants to be called Lady Prescot.It all really does need stripping out and cleansing of this nonsense.

“thier private monies providing of course we can actually establish just what thier private monies are”

Their private monies are known as the Crown Estate. Their private expenses are known as the Civil List. The deal is that they give up their private monies in return for the civil list. An arrangement which means that they give up some hundreds of millions a year (the Crown Estate is very profitable indeed) in return for some tens of millions a year.

“all that pomp and ceremony done away”

That’s the very point of having them. Every nation needs pomp and ceremony. I’m not going to chase this down now but the pomp and ceremony of the French and or Italian Presidencies is more expensive than the Royal Family.

We both make a profit and get it cheap by doing it our way.

I thought classical liberals were in favour of personal freedom, rather than people having their entire lives mapped out for them by the state, from cradle to grave.

@16 Tim W

But I’d rather have the Lucky Sperm Club deciding who gets to pin the VC on people than the best scumsucking voteseeker doing it.

Though your contempt for democracy is staggering (I thought the UKIPpers were all against “unelected institutions”..?) at least you are honest about it. Although it’s hardly a “lucky” sperm club is it? I mean, the sperm is very much decided in advance – it has to come from a particular family. Arguments like yours were torn to shreds when we booted out the hereditary Lords (well, most of the ’em). Is the current system of patronage any better? No. Is actual democracy? Yep.

21. BOB WIGGIN

Tim Worstall, – Just because a country has ‘republic’ in its name does not mean it is a republic in the true sense. I would have thought that would have been obvious, The People’s Republic of China for instance, The Republic of North Korea for instance. I do not have a preferred model, save to say this – ‘No nation that claims to value democracy can also value an institution based on elitism, exclusive privilege and hereditary public office’. I’ve taken that from the Republic website because I concur with the sentiments expressed. If I had to choose a republic model I would choose the following, also from the Republic website.
1. The office of Head of State, to be known as President, will be open to any eligible British citizen.
2. The Head of State will be directly elected by the British people. Besides a ceremonial role, the Head of State would have reserve constitutional powers (such as the power to appoint a Prime Minister, to call elections and to sign Acts of Parliament into law). There will be provision for an impeachment procedure. The position of Prime Minister, as Head of Government, will remain.
3. The Head of State will be equal before the law (as any other citizen), and will take an oath to serve the people, uphold the law and protect the constitution.
4. The term of office will be fixed, perhaps at five years, with a possible maximum of two terms to be served by an individual.
5. The Head of State will be the nominal commander-in-chief of the armed forces which will remain under the control of the government. Any deployment of the armed forces by the government of the day would have to be approved by the Parliament.
6. The Head of State shall assume no military rank or title or appear in public as other than a civilian when discharging his or her official duties whether or not he or she has an entitlement to display a military rank.
7. The Head of State will be required not to involve his or her extended family in the performance of their duties.
8. The Head of State will not be a member of, and will be constitutionally independent from, the legislature.
9. The office of the Head of State will have no constitutional link with any religious faith.
10. Officials or persons who are at present required to take oaths of allegiance to the Crown, will publicly swear an oath or make an affirmation to serve the people, uphold the law and protect the Constitution.

There are other republican models which I can post here should you wish. I hope that answers your question.

PS – I would rather have a democratically elected head of state than rely on the Windsor D.N.A. lottery. After all, we’re going to be lumbered with the fount of all knowledge, the activist King, in the not too distant future, with all of his meddling given blanket exemption from FOI thanks to Jack Straw, but never mind, he’s a Windsor and therefore has to be fawned over and his every whim accommodated. That’s how it goes isn’t it?

Tim Worstall I am not for one moment suggesting that I am an expert in royal finances but the way you have painted the picture very much makes it look very straight forward and almost black and white when in fact they are not, you really should read up on some of the literature that Republic put out about the Royal finances and funding.You really do seem to be making it look like the royal family are doing us some kind of favour in financial terms and that we should either be gratefull to them or feel sorry for them.Some people would take the view that some of the crown estate is more to do with rape, pilige and plunder in times gone by and that these etates should be handed back to the nation.

I do not think the public money that has been thrown at royal weddings in the past is justified in any way whatsoever including the arguments that they are a boost for tourism etc.Where did these marriages all end up !! all in the divorce courts, I would say that if thse royals expect that joe public should pay for all the pomp and ceremony surrounding their lavish weddings, then they should be made to pay the money back if their marriages end up in divorce.In a day and age when football clubs are expected to pay for some of the policing around their grounds on match day is the above such a barmy suggestion.

I for one do not want to be paying for Harry and Williams weddings and I think I speak for very very many people.

“But I’d rather have the Lucky Sperm Club deciding who gets to pin the VC on people than the best scumsucking voteseeker doing it.”

…sez the fella who stood in the European elections last year…

@22 Paul Gallagher – most of the monarch’s fortune is derived from devoted subjects leaving some, occasionally all, of their estates to Queen Victoria. If Republic is putting it around that the Royal fortunes are due to rape pillage and plunder in days gone by then their credibility is zilch because that is utter nonsense. Any money that previous monarchs got that way is long since gone spent on wars or on Henry VIII’s grandiose schemes. James I and VI sold baronetcies to raise cash, but all that was spent in the Civil war or seized by Cromwell so Charles II accepted money from the King of France for not fighting him.
Currently the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster, which are theoretically the personal possession of the sovereign, are surrendered to the government in exchange for the Civil List which is worth a fairly small fraction of them
@13 Mr S Pill – I answered what you had said not what you meant to say. Your revised version makes better sense, but it IS difficult to understand if you say something very different. I am not stupid but I don’t read minds (and don’t want to do so).
“On what evidence?” On the evidence of my own eyes in Russia and Eastern Europe, on normally reliable sources (the pre-Murdoch Times, the FT, BBC, International Herald Tribune, EU Statistics) for other countries.

Dear john 77 Like I said I am no expert in royal finances, but john as like most monarchists you are living in the past, if i am not mistaken it was the late Eric Heffer labour MP who once stated that the royal family had raped, piliged and plundered their way through history and that he would never bow in the presence of the queen.

The royal finances in the 21st century are lets say not totaly open to scrutiny are they, so I dont know what sort of scrutiny there was in Victorian england so allthough no doubt the crown estate was derived from the generousity of devoted subjects I would suppose it all depends what a devoted subject would have meant being a hundred or so years ago.

I dont think I said that Republic had stated that the monarchy had raped and piliged etc, what I did say is that you should read up on what Republic do say.

On the subject of Republic, they are an excellent organisation growing in popularity all the time and they have an excellent website and facebook site.I for one allways share their posts on facebook and encourage other people to do so likewise.I am absolutely sure that emergence of social networking sites like facebook will be of concern to the royals knowing that people can instantly share information about them and I bet H.M. Windsor wishes we were back in the seventies when the most sophicated piece of technolegy a young person had access to was a stylaphone or dads pocket caculator,

@24 paul gallagher
Dear Paul,
A few words of advice
(i) ad hominem attacks (especially unjustified ones like “you are living in the past”) usually mean that you have lost the argument and are recognised as such by other bloggers so if you don’t think you have lost the argument don’t use them
(ii) Not a good idea to pontificate on subjects where you are not an expert as your errors are likely to be spotted. Nor I am an expert on royal finances (I just pointed out a few facts) but if I can see that your remark was ridiculous so can lots of people
(iii) Check your facts – for instance the royal finances are far more open to scrutiny than yours or mine. There is a Comptroller of the Royal Household – is there a comptroller of *your* household spending? The Royal Household’s budget is published – just pick up a copy of Whitaker’s Almanack if you fail to find it on Google.
(iv) Think – The papparazi have been trailing the Royal family for as long as I can remember so why should facebook make any difference? Most Dads in the 70s didn’t need a pocket calculator because they could do sums being of the generation that learnt their times tables at the age of 5 or 6.
(v) Manners. Good manners do not cost anything. If you were incapable of using capitals that would come through as personal style but as you do use capitals for “I” and Eric Heffer, addressing me as “john” comes over as deliberately and pointlessly rude

“I dont think I said that Republic had stated that the monarchy had raped and piliged etc, what I did say is that you should read up on what Republic do say.” – True, but the way you put the two as successive sentences in the same paragraph led a reasonable reader to infer that was they said. Eric Heffer is not “some” merely “someone” – and someone in whose word I have little confidence. If Republic is “an excellent organisation” and has put out literature “about the Royal finances and funding” it would have made more sense to have quoted what they said rather than a (?-ex)Stalinist who only joined the Labour Party because he was expelled from the Communist Party.

First of all John 77, no offencewas intended by ommiting capital letters in error.

As I have all ready stated I am no expert in royal finances but there again neither should I have to be, we all should be able to rely on information given to us by parliament as regards the finances of the monarchy however because not everything regarding the financing of the monarchy is fully disclosed (and by monarchy I mean all the minor royals, hangers on etc etc, property dealing estate management and all the their other interests and activities)
then I think we are hard pushed to form a clear picture about royal financing apart from the fact that they are costing us an awfull lot of money, indeed today there was a post on the Republic facebook page today about an early day motion in parliament to oppose any increase in the civil list, the post stated that it is estimated that it costs between 100 – 200 million to finance the monarchy per year.So it would appear that not even members of parliament can pin the true figure down, it isindeeda very grey area indeed which in this day and age it should not be.In the North West it is rumoured that proposed new Hospitals may be postponed or even cancelled and proposals for free prescriptions for the long term sick may now be cancelled and yet we have the obscenity of people trying to get an increase in the civil list so that MrsWinsor can carry out her duities with dignity.I think (and so do many people) dignity would be better served if both she and the rest of her hangers on did what many of us have to do, “make do” as they say.

All the royal financing question as important as it is,is second to the real problem with them and that is the very real fact that they are unelected and not democratic.

As regards technolgy nowadays the fact that I can look at a posting on my facebook page from a person in the New Zealand or Australian Republican movements and share it straight away with hundreds of other people is indeed a valuable tool in the process to have these people eventually removed.The news papers have agendas of their own, they either like the royals or they dont, so in that respect the royal PR machine knows what to expect and how to deal with it, but due to the appearance of face book and the way in which individuals and organisations such as the excellent group Republic have utilised it I would still say the monarchy has a lot to fear and contend with.Lets faceit they are just one big PR machine and for that reason alone if any they should not be awarded huge sums of public money to sustain their extravagances and PR.

Dear Paul,
Thank you – if no offence was intended then none need be taken (just be careful when dealing with people more prickly than I).
I have now looked at the Republic website and its comments on Royal finances which are incompetently and ridiculously wrong. Plucking £100m out of the air as cost of security is merely ridiculous, including the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster is incompetent. The revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster are the *personal* property of the male heirs of Edward IV so saying that they would default to a republican government would only be true if you were rather more brutal than Lenin and eliminated not only the House of Windsor but also the heirs of King Ernest of Hanover and multitudinous other junior branches of the dynasty.
If you bother to look at Wikipedia instead of Republic whose errors cannot be corrected by third parties, you will find the following entry “Only the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh receive funding from the Civil List. The Duke receives £359,000 per year. The state duties and staff of other members of the Royal Family are funded from a Parliamentary Annuity, the amount of which is repaid by the Queen from the monies put into the Privy Purse from income from the Duchy of Lancaster. The money repaid by the Queen can be claimed against her personal tax bill however. Money from the Privy Purse also goes towards royal charities, including the Chapel Royal. Private personal expenditure is met from private sources of income. The Treasury has the power to appoint a Civil List Auditor under the Civil List Audit Act 1816 and under section 9 of that Act the Treasury is required to prepare a full and complete code of instructions for the guidance of the conduct of such auditor, these instructions were most recently issued on 25 September 2005”
Since 1816, royal accounts have been audited and the Treasury is required by law to instruct the auditor. So, unlike the situation in the Republic of France when it has a Socialist President, illegitimate daughters are not a cost to the state.
Republic also complains that Prince Charles complains about the architectural designs of Richard Rogers – why shouldn’t he? They are pig-ugly and draw vociferous opposition from local residents. It claims with no evidence whatsoever that “all his life” he has been told he was brilliant. Er, no. He went to Gordonstoun, interrupted by a couple of years at Geelong Grammar in Australia, and then Trinity College Cambridge. Public schools are tough – public schoolboys regard Gordonstoun as tough (also St Bees, but that is by-the-way), Australians are not noticeably respectful, Trinity claims to have won more Nobel prizes than France and Charles is not stupid enough to have fallen for that sort of tripe. As Charles had spent two years studying a very different syllabus in Australia his A level results indicate he is quite bright – even though he is not as bright as my wife, he may well be brighter than David Miliband who only got into Oxford with three ‘B’s thanks an ILEA deal to help kids at Comprehensive schools (despite his being the son of a (Marxist) professor – so Marxists object to privilege, except for their own children).
So the claims that the monarchy costs more than a President are based on plucking numbers out of the air to generate a majority of the total cost, getting the next highest cost completely wrong, double-counting and I don’t know what else because if I was to go through the whole lot I might feel the need for a drink and it was only mid-afternoon when I started trying to make sense of the claims of a massive PR operation.

29. BOB WIGGIN

Prince Charles may be right about many things, some may disagree with him, others may not. The point is that he wields undue influence because of who he is and the position he is in.

The Crown Estate is not the personal property of the Queen or her family. It is the hereditary possession of the Monarch incumbent. If the incumbent Monarch was replaced by an elected Head of State, there would be no Monarch incumbent to take hereditary possession. All this aside, should there ever be an attempt by the Windsor family to withhold income from the Crown Estate I would not fancy their chances.

John77

If you can provide Republic with an accurate cost for royal security please do. I’d be interested to know how you get past the Met’s obstinacy and its protection under our feeble FOI rules. Given that details of how our money is spent are kept secret we can only go by the figures reported in the press on the basis of their sources and estimates. It’s not ‘plucking figures from thin air’ it’s making an educated guess.

The key word here is “guess”. In a democracy we should not be left guessing how much money is being spent on protecting the extended family of the head of state. It should be freely available information. Whether the true figure is £100m, £50m or £30m doesn’t make any difference, the monarchy would still be far more expensive than its elected comparable counterparts in Europe, and the monarchy would still be undemocratic and morally indefensible.

As for the Duchies, they are the personal property of the monarch, not of Elizabeth Windsor. If the Queen abdicated should would not retain, or have the choice of retaining, the Duchy of Lancaster. It would be handed to Charles, and the Duchy of Cornwall would be handed to William. If all of them abdicated it would be held by right of the Crown. In a republic the Crown would converted into a non-royal form and all its property would become property of the people. As the property never personally belonged to the Windsors it would be no personal loss to them.

Not quite sure what the rest is all about, but it is clearly unacceptable – to pick out your reference to Charles and architecture – for an unelected and unaccountable heir to the office of head of state to be able to influence public policy and planning decisions. Furthermore he has privileged and secret access to all government ministers, whom he can influence and persuade without any concern that he (or the ministers) will be held to account for his influence.

@ 30 Graham Smith
Who do you think you are to tell me what is acceptable?

@29 Bob Wiggin
Please can you *read* what I said which did not actually mention the Crown Estate because that is debatable and I prefer to stick to facts.
All the money from the Crown Estate is paid to the Treasury so the only argument can be whether some should be paid to the Monarch. None is because the Royal family’s costs are covered by the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Currently I am being consulted about the planning application to build a supermarket around 200 yards away as are other residents – there is a debate between those who say “we don’t wan’t affordable housing built near our (ex-council) houses” and those who say “we don’t need a ninth supermarket in our small town and it would create traffic problems”. The previous controversial local planning application was heard during working hours so my wife and I could not attend and our (then) teenage son presented our case – quite well, according to our neighbours.
Your view is that everyone can have a say on planning applications – except Charles!

Dear John77

Clearly you are a very loyal monarchist however you are a slowly dying breed because we live in a age were people are better informed,not by politicians (as they cant allways be trusted) or the newspapers (because they have their own agendas) or indeed the police (because they are secretive) but by people shareing information with each other on FB, and also by being informed by groups such as Republic who are non political.We also live in a country were even though it is the 21st century we have astonishing levels of poverty and inequality.If you happen to be young single (mainly male) and homeless and trying to make a claim for jobseekers allowance you can quite litterly be told by the benefits agency to go begging and scrounging off relatives and freinds to feed yourself while your claim is being processed (which can take many weeks) so it should come as no surprise that we should find offence when we are asked to keep these unelected people in lavish luxury and we should have all the figures put on the table and very very heavily scrutinised to the hilt to see just exactly what our money is being spent on.

“and also by being informed by groups such as Republic who are non political.”

Wait, you’re really trying to say that a group which wants to change the entire political basis of the country is “non political”?

John77

Are you saying only Charles can have opinions? Why can’t I tell you what I believe is unacceptable? Seems an odd response, or is it that you have no defence of the monarchy and so prefer to avoid the question?

Everyone agrees that Charles should have the right to speak out, however he can’t have that right and also expect to inherit public office and be granted privileged rights in lobbying government (which he does in secret and with the protection of the newly-amended FOIA).

@Tim – I think the reference means Republic is non-partisan, which it is. It attracts support from across the political spectrum.

Dear Paul,
Thank you for your comment but actually it is clear that I care about facts (and I *do* intend to die very slowly): in my youth I was a mathematician so I got through the 70s without a pocket calculator (and, as far as I know, my Dad never had one). Mathematicians in general care about being right or wrong.
I agree that in the 21st century we have worse levels of poverty and inequality than 20 years ago – and I annoy my wife by moaning about the increase in inequality under New Labour – but these are still far less than in the “Democratic Republic of XYZ” for any value of XYZ.
I trust that this site has a censorship policy that prevents me from saying what I think about the JSA staff who leave people starving for weeks. This did not happen to me when I was made redundant in my forties because I encountered a reasonable guy (and I could have read up on the rules if I had not). I believe that it is wrong that those who look impressive and/or can present their case should be be treated better than the lads who do not know or cannot express their claims to their entitlements. However that is not relevant to a debate on the monarchy – it is an argument against bureaucracy, both in the private and public sectors.
Please look it up – there is more data available on the income and expenditure of the Royal family than I am required to supply to HMRC (I don’t know about you but ..) including the names of the private secretaries (OK, I type my own letters but if I didn’t no-one would ask *me* who did).
Why do you assume that the stuff shared on Facebook is reliable?
PS I don’t like Branson and his business practices but I don’t care two hoots how much money Posh and Becks or Paul McCartney earn.

@ 35
No! I am saying that you are grossly arrogant.
When I was a kid there was a standard phrase “Step outside and say that” which tended to limit that sort of arrogance (even if one was a lot smaller)
Further comment to follow separately

@ 35 Graham Smith
Your comment is self-contradictory
It is also factually incorrect in that a number of fashionable architects object to him being allowed to express his opinions at all and the multi-millionaire Candy brothers have launched a court case on the grounds that Charles should not be allowed to write to someone in the middle east that he knows personally to express an opinion on a horrible design that the local residents overwhelmingly opposed. I don’t agree with his views on homeopathic medicine but if I do not think I have the right to silence him and if I can silence him why can’t I silence you and everyone else who disagrees with me.
Yes, I read 1984 when I was a child – did you?

@35
PS “non-partisan” – are you joking or stupid?

@ 30
You are factually wrong. Read my previous post or Wikipedia or the legal data to which Wikipedia refers.
If the Royal family abdicated and moved out to one of their other possessions (Jersey, Guernsey, Man, Bermuda, whatever) they would keep the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster and live in idle luxury while the taxpayer had to pay for the upkeep of a number of crumbling class 1 historical buildings.
As one of my mother’s friends used to say (not *only* to me) “engage brain before opening mouth”

41. BOB WIGGIN

@John77 “Your view is that everyone can have a say on planning applications – except Charles!”

Yes and No. Charles is entitled to have a view the same as all of us. What I object to is that although he is for ever expressing his views he will never enter into debate with anyone and the impression given is that he will not brook any criticism or questioning of his views. The problem is that Charles, seemingly glued to his lofty pedestal, appears to pontificate ad nauseam to those who hang on his every word for no other reason than they are uttered by Charles.

42. BOB WIGGIN

@John77

PS “non-partisan” – are you joking or stupid?

Neither.

43. BOB WIGGIN

“They would keep the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster and live in idle luxury while the taxpayer had to pay for the upkeep of a number of crumbling class 1 historical buildings.”

If this were true, and if a British republic coming into being was imminent, then the politicians of the day would do what they do now, before the implementation of a written constitution they would change the old unwritten one, pragmatically, as they do now so that the Royal family would be prevented from pillaging the revenues from the Duchy.

Would’ nt it be nice if the BBC gave some some coverage or a news item about the important Republic conference next month.Does BBC stand for “Blatantly Bias Corporation” I wonder

@ 42
My copy of the Oxford English Dictionary defines “partisan” as “a strong supporter of a party, cause or person”. Republic is a strong supporter of the abolition of the monarchy – in fact that is its raison d’etre.
What does *your* dictionary say?
@ 41
If it was true that if Charles will not brook any criticism or questioning of his views, then I too should criticise him. However what appears to *me* to be the case is that certain architects are unwilling to enter into a debate with Charles and demand that he should not be allowed to express his opinions. The past-President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (neither a supporter of the Prince nor one of the arrogant extremists) has written a book defending his profession and his illuastration of Charles’ criticisms mostly start with him saying “Why …” – hardly the approach of someone who brooks no questions!
@ 43
Theft is theft whether you are stealing the £5 in 20p coins that an 84-year-old granny has saved up for her electricity meter or £20m pa that she uses to support her family while they do a series of unpaid jobs.

Dear Paul,
“Does BBC stand for “Blatantly Bias Corporation” I wonder”
Beware – you could find yourself agreeing with half the Conservative Party

47. BOB WIGGIN

@45 – When did you ever see Charles on Question Time, or anywhere else for that matter, answering questions in person and openly debating his views . That would be never I think.

Look in the Oxford Dictionary for the adjective ‘semantic’ because that is what you appear to be playing. Republic is a broad church with membership open to people from across the political spectrum. It is a single issue campaign. The political complexion of any future British Republic would be up to the British people, not Republic.

48. BOB WIGGIN

@45 – I just reread that final paragraph , “while they do a series of unpaid jobs”. If that were true then they get paid handsomely in kind.

I have never seen Charles on “Question Time”. I was not aware that he had ever appeared on it. That might be because I have never owned a TV and do not spend a vast deal of time watching it, but I do recall watching Charles openly debating his views very (perhaps excessively) politely – can’t remember the details, just thought his efforts to be polite made it harder to follow the thrust of his argument.
Semantic means relating to meaning in language or logic. Maybe you might think about that! Next time trying getting it right first time – or even second – that would be nice and save wasting my time.
Graham Smith said Republic “attracts support from across the political spectrum.” which it may do from infra-red (Eric Heffer who was kicked out of the Communist Party for rebellious extremism) to sandal-wearing Green via bearded-weirdie orange – but how many supporters do you have who are paid-up members of what is easily the largest political party in the country? Do you actually need to take off your socks in order to count them? Or just one glove? So you have changed your definition when challenged and you are now trying to pretend he meant that all along – unlike you, I do not pretend to read minds and have to answer what he/you said not what you would like in hindsight to pretend that he/you said.

50. BOB WIGGIN

@49 – Thank you for your succint reply. I think I may have detected a hint of venomous ridicule with a dash of malevolence therein, but never mind, we republicans are used to that. You may believe, as anti-republican pro-constitutional monarchy supporters usually do, that Republic attracts its membership from the ultra left-wing lunatic fringe or variants thereof but you are sadly mistaken. You are quite right that I can count Republic members from the largest political party in the country, who I am personally aware of, on the fingers of one hand, and so my point, rather than yours, is proved, Republic attracts members from across the political spectrum, (and it is a single issue campaign). I do own a TV, I’ve owned one for perhaps 45 years and I watch it for maybe two hours per day. During all those accumulated hours TV viewing I have never seen Charles openly debating with anyone or being interviewed by the likes of Jeremy Paxman. I will concede that he did once allow himself to be interviewed by Jonathon Dimbleby, (described by Wikepedia as, ‘Widely regarded as reflecting the perspective of Prince Charles’), but I didn’t watch it as Jonathon Dimbleby was his trusted confidante at the time and so the interview was never going to be incisive. My 45 odd years of TV viewing two hours per day trumps your none ownership of one and the occasional viewing.

I once asked the BBC why they never seemed to report some of the drunken antics that masters william and Harry get up to at nighclubs, running up a rumoured £5000 bar tab a time on some occassions. Auntie beebs reply was that they dont report matters relating to their social life. Erm but hold on a minute am I not one of the taxpayers having to foot the bill for their security on the their drunken nights out on the town, an in addition to that am I not T.V. License payer and as such am I not entitled to think well if aunty beeb see fit to report about the social lives of other individuals why dont they about the royals? I think the above is an example of how our money can be used to basicaly fund the so called private activities of the royal family.

@ 50
No venom or malevolence, just increased irritation to the point where I think “why do I have to put with this?” Your colleague makes a mis-statement or mistake – I point out it’s wrong, you insist it’s right, I end up quoting the dictionary because you seem unwilling to accept my correction and you sneer. You merely *assume* that your opponent will feel malevolent at that stage.
I do not see what point of yours is proved – if you have only three or four members from the Conservative party which covers over half the political spectrum from the paternalistic right-wing to a long way to the left of Blair and Brown, that does NOT prove that “It attracts support from across the political spectrum” it is quite plausible that all 3 or 4 come from the left wing of the party which would mean that Republic has no support from over half the political spectrum (unless, of course, you are going to redefine “across” to suit your argument). I know (not just believe) that not all republicans come from the ultra-left-wing lunatic fringe because there are some Blairites who object to a 50% marginal tax rate for the rich while imposing an 81% effective marginal tax rate on the working poor (that is unless you view Republicans who like their business pals to get peerages to be part of the lunatic fringe).
You ask me if I have seen Charles on “Question Time” and, when I reply that I have not because I rarely watch TV and you refused to watch him talking to the BBC’s top interviewer (isn’t he the guy who chairs “Question Time” so how did *you* watch him on Question Time?), claim that your argument is supported – that is not clutching at straws, it is clutching at images of straws. If I haven’t seen something because I wasn’t watching that proves NOTHING either for or against. If I was blind and I didn’t see something what would that prove?

Oooh are we splitting hairs? Goodie:

“Partisan” originally dates from the 1550s, meaning “one who takes part with another, zealous supporter”; from Middle French partisan (15c.); from upper Italian partezan (Tuscan partigiano) “member of a faction, partner”; from parte “part, party”; ultimately from L. partem (part, piece, side, share) related to portio (share, portion).

So you’re both wrong 😀

FWIW though, “non-partisan” doesn’t automatically mean “good” – plenty of highly-partisan campaigns have brought benefits to humanity (end of slavery, universal suffrage etc etc).

54. BOB WIGGIN

@52 – Graham Smith said Republic “attracts support from across the political spectrum.” which it may do from infra-red (Eric Heffer who was kicked out of the Communist Party for rebellious extremism) to sandal-wearing Green via bearded-weirdie orange – but how many supporters do you have who are paid-up members of what is easily the largest political party in the country? Do you actually need to take off your socks in order to count them? Or just one glove?

That is sneering .

Republic has different sections for members from the various political parties and so it is open to membership from across the political spectrum. It may be the case that there are maybe only a handful of members from the ‘largest political party in the country’ but they are there, members of Republic.

Who are these republicans who like their business pals to get peerages? If they exist then, of course, they are not republicans. If you are talking about Blair and Sir, now Lord Sugar, then Blair is no more a republican than my budgerigar. My view is that it is our system of government that allows these affronts to democracy happen, jobs for the boys,second chamber for Prime Ministerial Cronies, the likes of Mandelson and his ilk wielding undemocratic influence, and it is the system of government that needs changing. That’s one of the reasons I am a republican.

It is David Dimbleby who is the main presenter of Question Time. The Charles interview I wrote about was with David’s brother Jonathon who is not the main
presenter on Question Time. It was an interview about Charles’s extra marital skullduggery which was of absolutely no interest to me and was obviously, at the time, designed to counter the Diana interview with Martin Bashir which was critical of Charles. So your final sneer about clutching of imaginary straws was wrong.

@ 54
“That is sneering”
I apologise – it was not intended to be: I got carried away with what seemed at the time a clever quip. I find your claim to have support from across the political spectrum ridiculous as the traditionalist right is a significant part of that spectrum and I wished to say so but I did not intend to be offensive.
“Who are these republicans who like their business pals to get peerages? If they exist then, of course, they are not republicans.”
I used to work for one of them so I know he exists. I said “Blairite”, not Blair (and I don’t think I know anyone who regards Lord Sugar as a pal).
I concede that my knowledge of the Dimblebys is inferior BUT reality is not affected by my TV viewing habits: so it *is* clutching at imaginary straws to say that my failure to watch “Question Time” supports your argument.

@ 53 Mr S. Pill
“So you’re both wrong :D”
No, *you* are because what *I* did was simply to quote what the OED says not express an opinion of my own.
If you think OED is wrong then you should write to the Oxford University Press

@56

Blah. I don’t think the OED is wrong but I think if you’re going to split hairs about language then at least be consistent… I was being slightly disingenuous anyway, it matters not if Republic is non-partisan or partisan however we want to define it.

@ 57 Mr S. Pill
If you would care to read the 56 previous entries you should (and I do mean should not would) find that I have been consistent (albeit unable to distinguish between Dimblebys that I don’t watch). It was Tim who mentioned the Crown Estates that attach to the Sovereign not the individual instead of the Duchy of Lancaster which *never* belonged to the Crown as an institution – the inheritance is via Blanche, daughter of the first Duke of Lancaster and wife of John of Gaunt (who married well – his second marriage entitled him to claim the kingdoms of Leon and Castile). On the other hand the advocates of a republic have repeatedly shifted ground from “non-political” to “non-partisan” to “?” – I am not quite sure what; the risible suggestion that China should be classified as if a constitutional monarch: “Just because a country has ‘republic’ in its name does not mean it is a republic in the true sense”; and your denouncement of “hereditary privilege” has shifted to “hereditary monarchy”
“it matters not if Republic is non-partisan or partisan however we want to define it.” – except to your PR campaign

@58

except to your PR campaign

I’m not a member of Republic, though I have sympathy with their aims. I just don’t see why splitting hairs arguing about linguistics and quoting dictionaries is necessary to the real issue here: the inequity of one family – the Windors (or the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as I like to call them) – being the only people, by law, allowed to be Head of State. I’ve no problem at all with the Queen or Charlie the Tampon standing for election.

60. BOB WIGGIN

@55 – Apology accepted, and I too apologise if my feeble attempt at injecting a bit of levity into proceedings was misinterpreted as snide or sneering, it wasn’t meant to be.

My point about those countries such as the old U.S.S.R., North Korea, The People’s republic of China, etc. is that although they have ‘republic’ in their names, they do not adhere to the tenets of civil republican government which do not cater for despotism. Similarly, your acquaintance who calls himself a republican would be better described as a hypocrite.

I too cannot imagine Lord Sugar having many, if any, pals.

61. William R. Everdell

In my book, The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans (1983, 2000) I noted that Massachusetts republican rebel John Adams thought England was a republic back in 1776, and for the same reason that North Korea is not a republic: republics by definition are never ruled by one person and his or her appointees. Here in the U.S. we’ve replaced Liberty with dead presidents on all our circulating coins and are losing a lot of our 18th-century republican consciousness. Perhaps we can learn from you how to get it back. Or perhaps people in general find republics too hard, and monarchies too easy, to understand. If so, you will be abandoning a brilliant political tactic: a monarch whose only power is the ability to cathect the simple feelings of the simple-minded average citizen in non-dictatorial directions.

62. William R. Everdell

“republics by definition are never ruled by one person and his or her appointees.” I should reference that old Tory Samuel Johnson LLD. John Adams found this definition of “republic” in Johnson’s Dictionary (1755)
“REPUBLIC ‘A government of more than one.’”

@ 61 and 62
We’ve had one republic in the UK which failed to meet your definition (as do a majority, by population, of overseas republics, unlike most monarchies)
When scientists find reality clashes with theory they change their theory – when republicans find reality clashes with theory, what do they do? It seems that some of them invent an idealised state which they use as a basis for comparison with the flawed reality of monarchies. So Zimbabwe, Congo and Rwanda can be deemed preferable to Botswana and Swaziland, Burma to Thailand, Serbia to Denmark

64. BOB WIGGIN

The Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell was a dictator, and so therefore his regime was a dictatorship, not a republic.

Americans may admire our Monarchy, some may even want us to keep it, but they would very probably take to the streets and rebel if their right to elect their executive president was removed in favour of a hereditary succession thereafter.

I suppose that you are now going to explain why every country that calls itself a Republic from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe is not a Republic. Would it be easier and quicker if you told me which country actually does qualify under your definition?

66. William R. Everdell

John77 wrote: “We’ve had one republic in the UK which failed to meet your definition (as do a majority, by population, of overseas republics, unlike most monarchies)”

Would that be the Commonwealth? It always had an independent legislature, thus was always a republic. Want to include the Protectorate? Don’t. Cromwell dismissed the Protectorate’s last legislature (Barebones’ Parliament) and ruled through appointees (“the Major Generals”), converting a republic (in English: “Commonwealth”) into a dictatorship. Caesar openly assumed the title of “dictator,” which had existed since the founding of Rome’s Republic, but assumed it for life. Octavian Augustus Caesar did not claim dictatorship but made an effort to cover a de facto monarchy by preserving republican terms and forms. That’s not science; it’s history—or political science, which isn’t natural.

@ 64
Americans do not elect a President: they elect, state by state, an electoral college that elects the president. Also while they do not go as far as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or the Republic of Greece – more like the Republic of the Philippines, they do go in for political dynasties (Adams, Roosevelt, Taft, Stevenson, Kennedy, Daley, Brown …) and I was not aware that there was rioting in the streets when George W Bush was chosen to oppose Al Gore who succeeded his father (after a gap) as Senator for Tennessee – two hereditary politicians.
Also you seem to be unaware that the leaders of the American Revolution wanted to have Bonnie Price Charlie as King and only opted for a Republic when they learned that he was old, tired and drunk.
@ 66
“Republics by definition ….”
Each of you has his own definition of Republic so whatever I say is deemed to be wrong by one or other of you – it’s like talking to a panel of feminists (cue for storm at assumption of non-existent insult). The OED definition would include Periclean Athens and Haiti under Papa Doc Duvalier.
I may be an old fogey but my history books listed one Republic which lasted from the execution of Charles I to the Restoration of Charles II. One of you think that it doesn’t count, the other thinks part of it counts and part does not. So whether I say it counts or that it doesn’t count I must be wrong.
So far I have not seen a single piece of rational discussion about the benefits of a hereditary monarchy (e.g. vested interest in the long-term heath of the realm vs temptation of presidents to loot the state for the benefit of their families) compared to the advantages of a republic (the brightest and most competent can be chosen as Head of State/Head of Government – except that Harold MacMillan was the only PM in my lifetime who was as bright as Prince Philip or Prince Albert so marrying brains is more common than electing them). Supporters of Republic think it is enough to say any hereditary right is wrong (until I point out some of the implications) while opponents just quote a few of the horror stories that call themselves Republics. At this point I am signing off unless someone makes a really worthwhile comment so if I don’t reply it does not mean that you are right, it means that your comment does not deserve a reply.

68. Bob Wiggin

@67 – Americans do not elect a President: they elect, state by state, an electoral college that elects the president.
That’s the same thing as electing a head of state I think, and in line with the U.S. Constitutional requirements.

You can call North Korea a Republic if you so wish, and all the other countries with similarly dubious systems of government that make the claim to be republics, but neither you, or they, are correct. North Korea is plainly a dictatorship.

Why do our political elite continually let us down? Because they can. Why is the PM able to sideline Parliament? Because he can. Why can’t we have proper checks and balances on the power of the executive? Because to do so would ultimately threaten the Queen’s position, and we mustn’t do that must we?
Why don’t we rename our country the Elective Dictatorship of Great Britain because that is clearly what it is?

69. William R. Everdell

John 77 wrote:
“Also you seem to be unaware that the leaders of the American Revolution wanted to have Bonnie Price Charlie as King and only opted for a Republic when they learned that he was old, tired and drunk.”

Forty years I’ve been teaching US, European and World History, but this is the first I’ve ever heard of a Jacobite vision among the American revolutionaries. Influence from the Scottish Enlightenment, yes, but not from Stuart irredentism. Have you a reference that I can follow up?

70. Bob Wiggin

John77 said about the ‘republics by definition’ -‘The OED definition would include Periclean Athens and Haiti under Papa Doc Duvalier.

The OED says ; republic – A state in which power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has a president rather than a monarch.

North Korea? The People’s Republic of China? They fail on at least two counts.

It is wrong to allow public office to be inherited, George Bush didn’t inherit the Presidency of the U.S.A. from his father. He was elected, albeit rather messily, to say the least, but he went through an electoral process. He was not made president by birthright. And thank God for that or the world would still be having to suffer him.

71. William R. Everdell

Would have liked to have a reply, but must conclude that John77 feels I’m not worthy.

OK, but you’ll find the definition of republic as rule by more than one holds up as well now as it did when John Adams took it from Johnson’s Dictionary, and continues to exclude absolute monarchy, tyranny, and dictatorships other than ephemeral and temporary ones. I would be sorry to have to agree with Bob Wiggin that England is an “Elective Dictatorship” because a PM is “able to sideline Parliament” without “checks and balances on the power of the executive […] because to do so would ultimately threaten the Queen’s position.” But if that’s the way things really are, without changing my definition, I’d say that England is not quite an Elective Dictatorship because the senior elected official (the PM) is checked by another independent officer or magistrate—that is, the monarch. John Adams called Britain a republic in ca. 1770 because similar checks existed. Adams’s ancestors had been commonwealthsmen; his state is even today officially called The Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and Adams understood the British republican, or Whig, tradition quite well.

72. Bob Wiggin

@71 – “I’d say that England is not quite an Elective Dictatorship because the senior elected official (the PM) is checked by another independent officer or magistrate—that is, the monarch.”

She hasn’t been making a very good job of it then, at least not with Tony Blair.

73. William R. Everdell

Y’all might enjoy “A Modest Proposal: A King and Queen for America” by Nicholas Kristof in today’s New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/opinion/10kristof.html?ref=todayspaper
I think Kristof is only too right about how democracy stresses elected executive magistrates and how conveniently a monarch can ease those stresses. US presidents have been pushed beyond our republican checks and balances at least since FDR, and with a poorly functioning Congress, its legislative powers increasingly reduced by the judiciary, elective dictatorship is not beyond possibility.
Thanks for the conversation.


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  1. M. Wolfram Platts

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  6. Linda Jack

    OK change'v plan – while kids away mum will play – as I am allegedly speakin http://j.mp/aJEldu Sat, let's make it next wk – 12th. DM if OK





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