Author Archives: Mark Posen

Opinion: On black spiders, royalty and liberalism

The release last week of Prince Charles’ letters to Ministers – the so-called “black spider letters” – offers a once in a lifetime window (and one unlikely to be repeated, thanks to the 2011 amendments to the Freedom if Information Act exempting royal correspondence from FoI disclosure – inexplicably supported by our party in coalition) into the workings of the British ‘system’, and the influence of the royals in the process of our ‘democratic government’.

I hope that, as liberals, all Liberal Democrats would agree that political power derives from the exercise of the people’s democratic rights at the ballot box, and that no-one should be able to exercise political power, nor exert undue influence on the political process, simply by virtue of birth or connections. This is why we have argued for democratic reform of the House of Lords, for example.

Yet, in the black spider letters we see both the absolute expectation of Charles that his views are relevant, important and to be listened to, as well as the sycophantic grovelling of ‘commoner’ Ministers towards the royal point of view (that “I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant” sign-off of Charles Clarke must surely stick in the craw of every socialist).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments
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