OK, an attempt at catching up (on the non yes-or-no discussion), falling short in some responses as it's already been said or it shouldn't need elaborating.
Toby wrote:Here's an interesting article from the Economist whilst we ponder this issue.
The case against the monarchy
The Economist article gave an argument which I wasn't going to comment on as at the time no-one here had called for the 'for' argument. Prof since has but I'll comment later.
The case for the monarchy
... that sets the bar for a change to an institution that commands a great deal of affection (think of the millions who celebrated the royal wedding or the Queen’s golden jubilee) pretty high.
Is there affection for the monarchy? Is there actual support for them? [Not here there isn't] Really? I'd like clear evidence of that - people can think they bring in money to the country from tourism etc but that's not real evidence of affection or popular support.
Those who would like to scrap a popular [sic] monarchy need to be able to show that there is a significant demand for a change (which there is not)
See my comments on general apathy. The monarchy doesn't hit us individually massively in our finances so there's no tremendous outcry for change and that doesn't mean there's support for them.
or [need to be able to show] that the institution does significant harm
It is accused of being expensive, but offset against the few tens of millions of cost the fact that Britain’s royal heritage is a big part of its tourist appeal, not to mention the unquantifiable but surely substantial brand-management efforts that the Queen in effect performs on overseas trips. An alternative, elected head of state would not be cost-free either.
Hasn't the tourism benefit claim been debunked?
Brand management? Come on now. And as I recall Prince Andrew is very active in that field.
And we're talking about an unelected body not the international dealings of elected government for which you expect reasonable cost.
The monarchy is accused of entrenching elitism and the class system, but it is a fantasy to imagine that those things would vanish in a republic; they certainly have not in America
A similar elitism and class system to that of America's exists in Australia - in addition to the monarchy. So what? For the non-royals it's to do with wealth and power (which sometimes, like the Murdochs, continues in families) - that tends to happen. But they aren't entrenched in perpetuity and financed involuntarily. And you're not expected to curtsey to them.
while the monarchies of Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the most meritocratic and egalitarian in the world.
That's up to them. The nature of their monarchy is also very different.
It is accused of damaging democracy because (on paper) the Queen retains vast constitutional powers. But this ignores the fact that there is not the remotest chance that she or her successors would actually use them; if ever she or they did, then Britain could and indeed should consider becoming a republic.
I'll talk about this when I have a go at discussing what German Dave posted.
On the other hand, it is just as plausible to assert that there are benefits to a monarchy, on top of the (hard to quantify) economic ones. At a time when most government institutions everywhere are unpopular and even hated, any part of the state which people still actually like is a rare plus, something not to be discarded lightly.
Government is government, it will always be hated by part of the electorate. Because it's active in governing.
And there are other aspects of the State which are popular and which would remain in a republic.
They're saying things like 'popular monarchy' and 'discarding lightly' don't make them fact. Or take into account people who don't actively support the monarchy.
And what would replace the monarch?
Here we go ...
An elected and therefore political head of state is sure to upset at least one large section of the electorate a lot more than an uncontroversial one who is above politics.
Uncontroversial? .. OK
Getting rid of it simply isn’t worth the fuss.
No, quite right. Let's avoid a fuss. More tea, vicar?
Part 2 - Retort to the Economist's case for modest reform
coming soon ..