Skip to main content

The Alternative Queen's Speech

I'm speaking to you today from Sandringham - or is it Balmoral? No matter, it's one of the big houses or palaces I own and every Christmas Day I intrude on what enjoyment you might be having to foist a boring speech on you which is supposed to strike a thoughtful, humane note among the celebrations. I'm sitting in a sort of study and behind me is a window which opens onto the lush estate where my house stands.

I own these places because I’m a very rich woman – I’m worth about £250 million(1). Although I was born into this wealth and have never known what it is like to be poor, I shall be talking to you as if I’m the sort of ordinary, everyday grandmother you're likely to have a chat with in the bus queue or the doctor's waiting room or at the supermarket check-out. Except that I am the mother of the nation (for my recent ancestors it was of the Empire) unless Sharon Osborne manages to take that bit over as well. So for this broadcast I compose my face into this maternal expression -calm, caring, perceptive, wise.

A lot of people seem to believe that it's my speech, all thought up by me. Well I do have a say in it but it's really what the people I work for tell me to say. I’m what is called a constitutional monarch - I do what the government tell me -and if I kick over the traces I’ll end up like my Uncle Edward.

Whatever is in my speech the media people will report it as if its really profound, earth-shattering, historical. They'll dredge through the frigid platitudes in the hope of finding some small nugget of humour, or controversy or intelligence. Then they'll blow it up into a big headline -"Queen Says War's A Killer", that sort of thing. I don't blame them; media people are like everyone else - except those like me -they have to earn a living.

In case my speech comes over as too boring and trivial I try to touch on some real problems which you might be experiencing. Like being homeless or struggling with life in a slum or in a high rise or battling to keep up with the mortgage on a regimented semi somewhere. This is a bit of a cheek, coming from someone who owns these big houses but I can't let on about the real housing problem - like shopping at the supermarket or having to queue for the doctor its part of the wider poverty of all who work for their living.

This being Christmas I have to say something about children, to fit in with all that schmaltz about little faces aglow around the tree and so on. I drop hints that childhood is not all like that - about violent, broken families, drugs, crime, dead-end years in comprehensive schools. It wasn't like that for my children and grandchildren; they had the best of everything, their schools carefully chosen and their whole lives based on the confidence that they would never want for anything. Perhaps that's why I get so upset at all those news items about Britney Spears and so on . . .

I often refer to problems abroad which, I say sadly, are casting such a blight across the joys of this great Christian festival. Like war, famine, epidemics - always easy to talk about because they are going on somewhere all the time, wiping out millions every year. I pretend they're like social quirks which would go away if the Christmas spirit -peace on earth, goodwill to all and so on -were allowed to last all year. Some people might be awkward and ask about these problems being knit into the fabric of a social system which awards these great privileges to me and forces degradation onto you. But they're obviously suffering from a lack of that christmas spirit.

And that brings me to Christmas itself. All those singing cash registers. All that rubbish being sold. All that nonsense spouted from pulpits and in programmes like this one. I try to forget that Christmas is only a short break in the routine, year-in year-out, exploitation, poverty, conflict and insecurity which you endure and the wealth and capital accumulation which keeps me so cosy. That's what destroys people's hopes, distorts their lives, represses them, kills them. And I'm one of its most prominent figureheads.

But I mustn't go on like this. My job is to encourage the most massive diversion of your attention from reality into a circus world of noise and colour. Remember my wedding? My coronation? The jubilee? The weddings of my children? You loved them all, they made you forget where you really stand in the social order, what your lives are really like. And that is what I'm supposed to do, in this Christmas Day broadcast for example.

Well it's been nice getting this off my chest -a change from the usual twaddle. I’m off to watch Badder Santa Oh, there's something else . . . Merry Christmas. Suckers.

(Socialist Standard, December 1988)

(1) Latest estimate £271million .

Comments

Darren said…
Always one of my favourite editorials.

Popular posts from this blog

What do we mean by no leaders

"Where are the leaders and what are their demands?" will be the question puzzled professional politicians and media pundits will be asking when the Revolution comes. They will find it inconceivable that a socialist movement could survive without an elite at the top. This view will be shared by some at the bottom. Lenin and his Bolshevik cohorts argued that we couldn't expect the masses to become effective revolutionaries spontaneously, all on their own. To achieve liberation they needed the guidance of a "vanguard party" comprised of an expert political leadership with a clear programme. The Trotskyist/Leninist Left may remix the song over and over again all they want but the tune remains the same: leaders and the cadres of the vanguard can find the answer; the mass movements of the people cannot liberate themselves. The case for leadership is simple. Most working-class people are too busy to have opinions or engage in political action. There’s a need for some…

Lenin and the Myth of 1917

A myth pervades that 1917 was a 'socialist' revolution rather it was the continuation of the capitalist one. What justification is there, then, for terming the upheaval in Russia a Socialist Revolution? None whatever beyond the fact that the leaders in the November movement claim to be Marxian Socialists. M. Litvinoff practically admits this when he says:In seizing the reigns of power the Bolsheviks were obviously playing a game with high stake. Petrograd had shown itself entirely on their side. To what extent would the masses of the proletariat and the peasant army in the rest of the country support them?”This is a clear confession that the Bolsheviks themselves did not know the views of the mass when they took control. At a subsequent congress of the soviets the Bolsheviks had 390 out of a total of 676. It is worthy of note that none of the capitalist papers gave any description of the method of electing either the Soviets or the delegates to the Congress. And still more cu…

She-Town

In 1900 Dundee was associated with one product: jute. Jute was the cheapest of fibres, but it was tough. As such it was the ideal packing material. Jute bagging and jute sacks were used to carry cotton from the American South, grain from the Great Plains and Argentina, coffee from the East Indies and Brazil, wool from Australia, sugar from the Caribbean and nitrates from Chile. Dundee was ‘Juteopolis’ – synonymous with its main industry. This association of place and product was not unusual. We still link Clydebank with ships, Sheffield with steel, Stoke-on-Trent with pottery. Throughout the late nineteenth century, over half of Dundee's workforce worked in the textile sector, which, from the 1860s on, was dominated by jute. Migrant workers arrived in Dundee in thousands. By the end of the 19th century, the city had quadrupled in size. Many of the immigrants were from Ireland, poor and Catholic. Many Catholic Irish immigrants faced discrimination and bigotry in Presbyterian Scot…