How many 91-year-olds know what is being done with their money? But the people to whom that responsibility has been entrusted are answerable for it. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is The Right Honourable Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP. He is an old UDM stalwart, and that lot has a history of trouble keeping the books in order. More to the point, he is now the Chairman of the Conservative Party. In fact, let that sink in: the man with overall responsibility for the Queen’s private and personal wealth is the Chairman of a political party.
Now that she is rarely seen, the focus of public affection and reassurance in the midst of everything has passed from “Oh, well, at least there’s always the Queen,” to “Oh, well, at least there’s always Jeremy Corbyn,” who is a mere stripling of 68. I had always assumed that the threat to the monarchy would come from what was once the New Right. There is no possible compatibility between Thatcherism and hereditary office. But just as it is really the resurgent Old Right that, with the Left, would benefit from the lowering of the voting age, enfranchising Second, arguably Third, or very arguably Fourth Wave Fogeyism; and just as it is those same two that would do best out of a new second chamber elected on a multimember, county basis; so it is they that would be the most conspicuous winners from a move to an elected Co-Presidency the assent of which would be required for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. From the chant even at rugby (rugby!) matches, to a recent celebrity edition of Gogglebox, a kind of parallel republican-monarchy has arisen spontaneously in this country in the last two years. The question of the succession will eventually present itself. But it will not present many, if any, difficulties.Inadvertently, by providing a focus for public affection in the Queen’s extreme old age but other than any of her children, Corbyn may have saved the monarchy. This latest trouble, however, is very serious: the Sovereign Grant from the State has increased at a rate higher than that of inflation during every year of its existence, which has been the period of austerity for everyone else, while the Duchy of Lancaster, the Queen’s private and personal wealth, has been investing in offshore tax havens. Every tax haven under British jurisdiction could be closed down tomorrow.
Any that objected would be, as it already is, free to become independent. Although that would be regrettable, as, like these Islands, all of the existing British Overseas Territories could and should be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative under a sufficiently far-sighted British Government. Including the Chagos Islands, resettled by their rightful inhabitants. Are there people who joined the Labour Party because of Jeremy Corbyn in Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man? Are there even branches of Momentum there? Might it be difficult to set up such things? The voting age in all three is 16, and since Labour does not organise in the Crown Dependencies, it ought not to be a problem to observe custom and practice by standing candidates as Independents. The City of London would be a far harder nut to crack. But Labour has had some success there in the recent past, despite the jaw-dropping electoral system. And candidates for Mayor of London have to be nominated by at least 10 local government electors in each of the 32 Boroughs and in the City. George Galloway managed that last year. Those 10 people are there. As, indeed, is he.
By DAVID LINDSAY
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