Friday, 23 May 2014

Voting Diplomacy


It strikes me that Vlad Putin is offended when it suits him politically to be offended. He doesn't really strike me as the kind of bloke who gives a fig for what people think about him, unless it's an opinion that can be used to boost his popularity at home. Russia's hesitancy in responding to the report demonstrates that admirably - anyone genuinely offended would have responded immediately.

It's neither here nor there as to whether the comparison by HRH is historically accurate, as we all know what he meant by it. What I find disturbing is that the Daily Mail saw fit to print what its reporter overheard within a private conversation. I never really saw the DM as anti-monarchist before now, not that I care one hoot about the monarchy myself - although Good Queen Bess has done a sterling job.

Charles needs to keep his private opinions private - and by that I mean he needs to be very careful about where, when and to whom he voices his opinion (it's part of his job description to be bland and opinionless in public); however, the DM needs to be a bit more heedful of the consequences of what it reports and whether it's in the UK's interests, rather than just in the interests of the DM.

The whole affair is reminiscent of Gordon Brown's 'bigoted woman' gaffe. The point of diplomacy is to dissemble and hide one's true feelings, and Charles is a diplomat by dint of birth. Perhaps he's just a chip off the old block - on his paternal side, naturally.

It's interesting to note that foreign policy was the prerogative of the monarchy until the House of Hanover came to the throne, at which point the House of Commons started to assume greater responsibility for the role, with continual diminution of the sovereign's prerogative in this respect from that point on as royal houses across Europe fell. 

Charles' namesake, Charles II, vigorously defended the Royal Prerogative over foreign policy and made it a condition of accepting the throne when invited to do so by Parliament. He was, after all, closely related to all the royal houses in Europe (some of which - like France - were still absolute monarchies) and thus in a unique position, within England at least, to have a feel for shifts in the balance of power, the maintaining of which was the prime focus of foreign policy.

Neither Hay nor I received our usual postal ballots for yesterday's European election, but we managed to get a vote nonetheless by visiting the polling station at the village hall. The staff there told us that of a total of 500 in the ward, only 135 had so far voted, although many of them could be postal voters.


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