May 1

Surrender!

Apart from the long term downward trend in the polls, I detect a change among republicans who until now did not accept the decision of the people in 1999.

In the meantime those left in the leadership of a declining and increasingly irrelevant republican movement have lost the ability to make calm considered decisions.

From the near hysterical denial of the Irish republican Army Gerry Adams' involvement here in the referendum campaign, the vicious personal attacks on members of the Royal Family, the bravado about launching a republican campaign to coincide with the Royal Wedding  to the launch of a racist attack on me as a "perma-tanned Indonesian born blow-in" are all consistent with an organisation in disarray. 

But in the wider world of republicanism the calm prognostication of republican eminence Paul Kelly (see below) is indicative of a new realism.

…an early indication?..

 

Sometime ago I was invited by a Sydney television station to take part in a debate on Australia becoming a republic.

At the last minute television station telephoned me to say it had been called off. The republican movement couldn't find a speaker in Sydney.

While I was amused, it did seem extraordinary that in a city of over 4 million people it was not possible to bring out a prominent republican early in the morning.

I wondered whether they liked to sleep in- or was it that not one of them lived in Sydney.

Or was there a deeper malaise in their ranks

…. surrenders….


 

On the day following the Royal Wedding I was invited by Channel 7 to debate is. My opponent on this occasion was to be Mr Joe Hildebrand, an amusing bearded commentator on the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Stop

As we were waiting for the camera to be turned on, the studio assistant raised my chair. I said it was so that I would  appear to be as tall as Mr Hildebrand and thus avoid any suggestion of bias.

 Mr Hildebrand then demanded that he be given a set of cufflinks similar to mine. None were forthcoming as I do not think the studio props went that far.

 I then suggested to the presenters that they could have a competition among the viewers to guess which of us was the monarchist.

During the course of the debate, Mr Hildebrand suddenly and surprisingly surrendered. Then he called for the succession go to Princess Eugenie and/or Princess Beatrice. The debate moved on to the use of the hymn Jerusalem in the Abbey service and ended in some uproar.

Then on the Sunday it was amusing to see Ms. Cathy Lette ( aka Mrs Geoffrey Robertson QC), the marxist republican Mr. Guy Rundle and others rolling over and surrendering too.

…realism…

Among republicans The Australian’s Paul Kelly has to be taken very seriously.

[Continued below] 


He has one of the most prominent and consistent serious media supporters of an Australian republic. He was a very serious but reasonably firm opponent of the constitutional monarchists. None of us underrated him.

But  “Australian Agenda” on Sky TV ( 1/5) he announced that Labor would not proceed with a republic and that the constitutional monarchy would be with us for a long time.

He no longer blames the constitutional monarchists but says it is all the republicans’ fault.

They were divided and some campaigned against the official model.

He says they had their chance and they lost it. ACM's young Executive Director Thomas Flynn put his finger on it sometime ago when he said that if the constitutional monarchists had lost the 1999 referendum no one would have seriously allowed them to come back for a second chance. But, he said, this was precisely what the Republicans had been allowed to do.

It seems now that the long second chance that the Republicans had is drawing to a close. The Republicans have wasted their time on a series of pointless media stunts without doing the hard fundamental work of designing a new constitutional system.

To Mr. Kelly they are now paying the price of their folly. To the constitutional monarchists, it all points to the impossibility of improving the constitutional system by grafting a politicians’ republic on to it.

[ More information about the painting by James McConnell may be found at www.bookpalce.com]

 


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