I hope to be part of what we can one day call British Republicanism, a distinct and renowned tradition of popular sovereignty with its own design, ideas, principles, methods and arguments. However, one of the most persistent non-arguments made by either side of this debate is The Money Argument. It is nigh-on impossible to discuss ousting the crown without the monetary benefits or fallbacks of monarchy being mentioned, but they shouldn’t. If the struggle is ever to move beyond college debating clubs and a few more obscure MPs then a moral argument has to be made that trumps money.
It seems simple to me that when a monarchist uses the money argument they are confessing that their head of state position is for sale to the wealthiest landowner on the island. They believe that money is an acceptable way to choose a head of state. This is what should be pointed out to them. That is the question. Is the position of head of state for sale? No? Then we should not have a monarchy. It should not matter whether or not it is cost effective, even though it isn’t. It is very easy for individuals to ignore finances, most people ignore their own financial situation most of the time, let alone the country’s. The moral argument strikes though, principles are a lot harder to ignore. Never mind £2.2 million cost of visits to local councils, forget the £106 million security cost taken on by the metropolitan police, the £30 million to private state buildings, the £68.7 million lost from the Duchy of Lancaster, the £25.8 million lost from the Duchy of Cornwall, and of course the £76.1 million sovereign grant, and much more, all of which total more than the money given by the crown to the government. Forget that, as hard as it may be, for the time being. If we can effectively convey the moral argument then none of that even matters. Why should we do this? Because the reasons for founding our republic will echo through this country’s future, and it would be a huge injustice to have wealth put before principle. It is a precedent we will come to regret.
There is a resistance to this when I speak to other republicans. They see the money argument as our best selling point, and any attempt to subvert it contrary to the cause. They are apoplectic at the thought of this argument being undermined when they shouldn’t be. The good news is there is a better argument than money and that it morals. Morals should be at the front of our cause, the foundations on which to build our republic. This is not an attempt to undermine the money argument but to simply say that if we want to join the halls of sophisticated political philosophies then we must find ourselves on solid moral footing first. Have faith in the public. With this movement I see a great new political nation rising, a new national consciousness where we take responsibility for our government. We have forgotten out roots – soapboxes and flyers, pamphlets and resistance! It is not left wing or right wing, Labour or Tory, establishment or backbench – it is right. With these words I commit treason. A better country is coming.