The Royal Baby: the Liberal Democrat Voice non-rolling coverage

We at the Voice obviously wish the Duchess of Cambridge, and anyone else giving birth today, all the very best. However, you will be relieved to know that we won’t be dispatching any members of our team to West London to hang around outside St Mary’s Hospital and write copious amounts of rather hilarious speculation about what might be going on inside. We recognise that we might be missing a trick, and that, actually, people do want to hear men speculate about what Kate might be feeling, but we reckon we’re on pretty safe ground with our readers.

Two things that might be of interest, though. The first is that the birth highlights one of the things that Nick Clegg has been pushing for in Government. Whether the baby is  a girl or a boy, assuming we still have a hereditary monarchy at the relevant time, they will one day become King or Queen. The Telegraph reports that the process is taking a bit longer than had first been anticipated because of the difficulty in getting agreement of all the relevant Commonwealth states. They do have quite a long time to sort themselves out, though, so I think we can safely assume that they will eventually all agree.

The second, and most important, is that women in this country who give birth almost always have access to clean, safe facilities with qualified staff who can and do save lives. That is not the case in other parts of the world where, in some areas, maternal mortality is actually increasing, despite efforts to meet the millennium goal. Lynne Featherstone visited Nigeria, which has 10% of global maternal mortality, earlier this year. DFID gives aid to Nigeria for many things including ante-natal, birth and family planning care for 600,000 women.

Next week, there will be a big event in Washington DC, co-sponsored by DFID, which brings innovators and funders together. A shortlist of 53 ideas to reduce maternal mortality will be judged – and there will also be a people’s choice award. I have to say that I am not entirely persuaded by the emergency obstetrics phone app. These range from antenatal vaccination against illnesses like Tetanus to smartphone based training modules to deal with post partum haemorrhages to iron fortification of tea.

If you are looking for something to do today, have a look at the shortlist and cast your vote for the people’s choice award here.

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17 Comments

  • Julian Critchley 22nd Jul '13 - 11:56am

    Anyone remember when a large proportion of the LibDems were republicans ? Indeed, it was the only party where one was allowed to express republican views without being slapped down by the tabloid-fearing leadership.

    I wonder whether that’s still the case, or whether the majority of members who have been Cleggocized have left a monarchist rump ?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Jul '13 - 12:08pm

    Well, there’s a Liberal Democrats for a Republic Group which launched earlier this year. I expect they will be having something to say about the birth, too.

    I would be quite happy to get rid of the monarchy as to me it is an out-dated concept. However, I accept that I’m in a significant minority. There are, for me, more important battles to fight with my limited energy.

  • Julian Critchley 22nd Jul '13 - 12:25pm

    Caron

    I think the argument that there’s more important things to focus on is the one which the Monarchy have been using to justify retaining their privilege and negative impact on the country since the restoration !

  • While were at it, it’s about time we had a secular republic.

  • “the birth highlights one of the things that Nick Clegg has been pushing for”

    Isn’t Nick too posh to push?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Jul '13 - 12:48pm

    Nice observation, there, David Allen:-).

  • David Wilkinson 22nd Jul '13 - 1:31pm

    This republic idea sounds ok and then you think who could be President, Blair, Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Gove.
    The last non monarch we had turn out well, a deranged religious military dictator?

  • Julian Critchley 22nd Jul '13 - 2:31pm

    David (W), I’m not sure that holding up a 17th Century figure as a direct warning of what might happen were we to have a republic 350 years later is particularly relevant. After all, there are an awful lot more examples of mentalist, tyrannical monarchs which could be similarly waved around.

    More to the point, I’ve never understood the “President Blair/Cameron/Cowell” type argument. At the end of the day, if the people elected a clown as president, then that would be their choice, and they’d live with the consequences (as the voters of London have to). That’s democracy. If anyone believed this argument, then surely they’d be campaigning for the removal of the House of Commons, and the re-establishment of an aristocratic purely hereditary system.

    Like so many arguments in favour of keeping the Monarchy, it doesn’t stand up to even the slightest exposure to logic or evidence.

  • I don’t think that anyone in this country who wants a republic is suggesting an executive president on the French or US model, but rather someone who would be head of state as for example in Ireland. Thus President Blair/Thatcher/Johnson or whoever is pretty irrelevant because they would have no power. I’d be quite happy with President David Beckham, or even Charles Windsor as long as he could keep his mouth shut.

  • My position as a LIberal Democrat is that I think people should have the Head of State of their choice. As such I don’t think we can exclude a constitutional monarchy from the options as all the evidence we have is that not just a majority, but actually an overwhelming majority, wish to retain the monarchy. In principle that view should be tested in a referendum but I don’t think anyone would thank us or give support to making that a priority.

    It is important that the republican case is put and personally I think the most convincing republican option is the Irish version. – a ceremonial President, though personally I would still opt to keep a constitutional monarchy. A referendum should be held if people want the debate and public opinion is moving Ina different direction. I suppose going.
    Back to the original point about how this issue is viewed in the Liberal Democrats it’s fair to say there is a unity around the issue of democracy: no LIberal Democrat who supports a constitutional monarchy would want it to continue if it’s was contrary to the wishes of the British people and no republican in the Party would wish to. abolish it unless that view was supporte

  • My position as a LIberal Democrat is that I think people should have the Head of State of their choice. As such I don’t think we can exclude a constitutional monarchy from the options as all the evidence we have is that not just a majority, but actually an overwhelming majority, wish to retain the monarchy. In principle that view should be tested in a referendum but I don’t think anyone would thank us or give support to making that a priority.

    It is important that the republican case is put and I think the most convincing republican option is the Irish version – a ceremonial President, though personally I would still opt to keep a constitutional monarchy. It isn’t lost on me that constitutional monarchies are present in some of the most liberal countries in the world..

    A referendum should be held if people want the debate and public opinion is moving in a different direction. I suppose going back to the original point about how this issue is viewed in the Liberal Democrats it’s fair to say there is a unity around the issue of democracy: no LIberal Democrat who supports a constitutional monarchy would want it to continue if it was contrary to the wishes of the British people and no republican in the Party would wish to abolish it unless that view was supported in a referendum.

  • Simon Banks 23rd Jul '13 - 9:49am

    David:

    You won’t find many historians to agree with your assessment of Cromwell. He certainly wasn’t deranged (though of course there are those for whom being religious is definite proof of mental illness) and although it’s fair to describe him at the end as a military dictator, he made genuine efforts to find a constitutional settlement within which he could be powerful, but less powerful than Charles I without Parliament. The failure of these attempts were to some degree his fault, but not for lack of trying: for example, a conservative historian has suggested he just didn’t do enough managing of his parliaments, so that they reached positions that horrified him, when a little use of carrots and soft soap (sounds disgusting) would have avoided a crisis. Try reading his letters and speeches, as I did at university.

    As for other presidents, look at the experience of Ireland, Germany, India, Finland, Italy – all countries with powerful prime ministers and parliaments coupled with presidents who can step in to resolve crises or help get people talking. Sometimes these presidents are ageing political hacks, but once elected, often show surprising independence. Sometimes leading figures outside party politics are elected. None of them become power-hungry, unless you go right back to Kekkonen in Finland, and he didn’t undermine democracy.

    Going back to the original post, I thought for a moment we were hearing that the birth of the baby was being delayed by slow reactions among Commonwealth governments. Now I understand: it’s the abolition of the rule that the male sibling takes precedence rather than the older. I suppose what we’re now introducing is ageism instead of sexism. However, why not let these governments disagree? It’s always hard to find something for a brother or sister of a monarch to do, now they no longer lead armies in the field. Why not have an Elizabeth III of England, a Charles IV of Australia and a Tracy I of Scotland at the same time?

  • nvelope2003 23rd Jul '13 - 1:15pm

    I expect that a majority of the voters think the Liberal Democrats are an out dated irrelevance who fulfilled their role in politics about 100 years ago but that does not mean they should be abolished. The monarchy seems to give people a lot of happiness but I suppose the sort of people who are republicans would not really want that.

    The only people I have actually met who think we should abolish the monarchy were foreigners who had truly awful systems in their own countries. I did not know what to say without being rude but I did wonder why they had come to live here if they hated our system so much.

    In those countries with a ceremonial president not many people even in their own countries know who they are but I accept that some fulfil a useful role. Most of the Irish people I have met think the Irish President is a waste of very large sums of money and that the post of head of state should be held by the Irish Prime Minister.

    The political elite, who have often shown themselves to be out of touch with ordianry people, already control virtually everything – do we really want one of them to be head of state as well. It might not be a bad idea to have someone at the top who is not a professional politician. It would be impossible to achieve this if the post was subject to an election.

    I do not understand why all these media people have been hanging around outside a hospital for weeks waiting for the birth of the prince but you will have to ask their bosses. I am sure not many asked for that. Like many I was pleased to hear the Duchess had her baby safely but I have not been thinking about it before – I was only recently aware that it was due

  • David Allen 24th Jul '13 - 2:45pm

    “I do not understand why all these media people have been hanging around outside a hospital for weeks waiting for the birth of the prince but you will have to ask their bosses. I am sure not many asked for that. Like many I was pleased to hear the Duchess had her baby safely but I have not been thinking about it before – I was only recently aware that it was due”

    Thanks for that, Lord Bonkers.

  • David Allen:

    With the level of debate which you seem to espouse I am not surprised that the Liberal Democrats are so unpopular but my comment about them being irrelevant was intended to be tongue in cheek (irony – heard of that have you ?)

    Someone mentioned that the current German President, Herr Glauck, was an able person and that no doubt explains why the German political elite tried everything possible to stop him becoming President until their chosen puppet had to resign because of “financial irregularities” and Herr Glauck was given the job because there was no realistic alternative.
    All constitutional forms have their disadvantages but there does not seem much point in changing ours when it has the support of the large majority, to appease constitutional purists.

  • nvelope2003 25th Jul '13 - 2:14pm

    Sorry I missed the e from my name – should be nvelope2003 – trying to do too many other things at once.
    As someone who has been a Liberal/Liberal Democrat for most of my life I do find the rather intolerant and rude attitude of some of the contributors, together with their lack of humour, rather depressing.

    I am aware that the Liberals spring from the Whigs who were the Parliamentarians in the conflicts of the 17th century but not all of them were republicans, indeed most of them wanted a constitutional monarchy and some of them tried to persuade Oliver Cromwell to take the Crown. At his funeral which was said to have been the most magnificent ever held in England until that time, a Crown was placed on his effigy and the cortege was followed by the ambassadors of almost all the European powers. Not a dog barked.

  • nvelope,

    Sorry, my sense of humour has been permanently warped beyond recognition by reading Lord Bonkers’ diary

    http://www.liberator.org.uk/article.asp?id=268804244

    and I just thought it was rather wonderful that you hadn’t heard there was a baby on the way. Let’s hope the little blighter makes a worthy heir to Victoria!

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