AS I SEE IT: TERRY MURDEN says the Greens’ call to abolish the monarchy is another self-inflicted wound for the economy
The miserabalists, otherwise known as the Green Party, are at it again. They already want to deny us the freedom to drive wherever we choose, ban the promotion of Scotland’s drinks industry, and halt the production of oil and gas that guarantees energy security. Now they want to drain the nation of a rich heritage that is the envy of the world and a major contributor to economic and cultural wealth.
In a declaration that is supposed to represent the moral high ground, the Greens want an independent Scotland to replace the monarch with an elected head of state. Instead of King Charles III, an apolitical representative of all the nation, they would rather have a Trump-like figure running amok with partisan and potentially dangerous policies. Who knows? We might even get President Lorna Slater, who can’t even run a recycling scheme.
The Greens claim that with the Coronation just days away and in the midst of a cost of living crisis, this is exactly the time to be questioning the future of the monarchy. No, it is not. It is exactly the time to be celebrating the monarchy and seeing the coronation as an opportunity to lift the nation’s spirits after a tough few years.
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie moans about the UK government spending tens of millions of pounds on an “extravagant three day long festival of pomp and pageantry.” I say “bring it on”. It’s not a wasteful expense. It’s an investment in Britain that will play a vital part in the country’s revival.
Let’s all enjoy the thrill of history and tradition. Let’s rejoice in the skills, music and beauty of a great occasion. There is nothing wrong with being best in class, putting on a show of quality and excellence. What’s more, no one does it better than the Brits. And the world knows it, which is why the world will be glued to the event.
While Mr Harvie claims there are small independent countries which have elected states operating on a “more modest, democratic and tasteful basis” you can be sure that most, if not all, of them would gladly swap their grey and invisible heads of state for a monarch with all the pomp, pageantry and glamour that comes with it. Can anyone name the presidents of any of these small independent countries? No, I thought not.
Royalty is, of course, outrageously ostentatious and anachronistic in 21st century Britain. That’s why it is so gloriously valuable. Our castles and steam trains, our kilts and Burns poetry are also from a bygone time, but we enjoy indulging in the past. The monarchy draws millions of tourists and brings in billions in revenue. No tourist attraction or field full of windmills comes anywhere near. Netflix didn’t make The Crown without knowing that it would earn millions of dollars from worldwide audiences.
The joyless, pleasure-unfriendly Green Party, which ought be renamed the Beige Party, rather menacingly takes aim at the royal family’s “vast public wealth and assets, which would be used to benefit us all.”
What do they have in mind? Selling off the palaces to help pay for more cycle paths? Stuffing the Crown Jewels into one of Lorna Slater’s deposit return scheme collection points?
The royal family generates huge sums in tourism revenue via the royal collection and the crown’s estate.
According to the 2019-20 annual report, a record 3,285,000 people visited the official residences, generating approximately £49,859,000.
From a retail perspective, gift shop sales of the royal collection made £19,983,646 in a single year, taking its total income to £71,526,000.
While the average annual cost for UK taxpayers in royal upkeep comes to around £500m a year, Brand Finance estimates the monarchy’s brand contributes £2.5bn to the British economy and provides significant employment, while maintaining skills, some of them in artisan skills of the sort the Greens support.
King Charles is a target for the Greens
Of course, the Greens want to kill the golden goose of monarchy just as they want to plug the oil and gas wells whose continuing production is vital in the transition to cleaner energy.
The timing of their event in Edinburgh coincided with the first King’s Awards for Enterprise, the successor to the hugely successful and valuable Queen’s Awards which recognise achievement among British firms. One wonders how the 10 Scottish companies named as winners are feeling about the Greens’ plans to replace the King’s emblem with a photo of Patrick and Lorna. It just shows once again how Scottish Government ministers just don’t get business and the economy.
Most extraordinary of all is that King Charles is one of the biggest supporters of green campaigns, a lifelong environmentalist and a champion of natural food and industrial processes. The Green Party should be delighted to have a global advocate for their cause.
However, the Greens have long since abandoned their core agenda and now meddle in constitutional affairs that are creating more division. Of course, they are not alone. The Alba party shares their republican leanings, while Humza Yousaf declared during the SNP leadership campaign that he would rather have tennis player Andy Murray as head of state.
Not that his own republican sympathies will stop him accepting his invitation to the Coronation, snubbing a Scottish independence rally that will be held on the same day. Funny how priorities can suddenly change when there is a party in town and an opportunity to be part of a historic occasion.
Terry Murden held senior positions at The Sunday Times, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and The Northern Echo and is now editor of Daily Business