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Queen's Platinum Jubilee:

Spectacle Underlining that Decision-Making Power Must Be Wielded
by the Majority, Not by the Crown Representing Vested Interests

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Queen's Platinum Jubilee Spectacle Underlining that Decision-Making Power Must Be Wielded by the Majority, Not by the Crown Representing Vested Interests

Queen's Platinum Jubilee:
Sovereignty Must Lie with the People

For Your Information:
Treason Felony Act 1848

From the Party Press:
Royal Assent, Royal Consent - The Beneficiaries of the Royal Prerogative

Queen's Platinum Jubilee:
Peoples of the Caribbean Give "Working Royals" a Fitting Reception

Workers' Forum:
Post Office Workers Strike over Pay


Queen's Platinum Jubilee:

Spectacle Underlining that Decision-Making Power Must Be Wielded
by the Majority, Not by the Crown Representing Vested Interests


Sovereignty must lie with the people


The Queen is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years since her reign began. What is the significance of having such a personage in a modern age and a modern society?

Two years ago, in April 2020, when the country had been plunged into lockdown, as "Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland" and "Head of State of the entire British Commonwealth of Nations", Elizabeth II gave her special address "to the nation and to her subjects" articulating her "We're all in this together" message, enjoining us all to trust her and trust the powers-that-be to do what is right for us on our behalf. The message of it was clear: that we, the people, should not act ourselves but rather leave decision-making to those in power. It gave some hint of the knowledge and awareness of the real power of the people's voice and that they must not use it. Now we are supposed to celebrate with Her Majesty her long reign over us.

All this points to the political arrangements that have existed in Britain for nearly 400 years now since the restoration of Charles II in 1660, and indeed, it could be argued, since the beheading of Charles I in 1649. This arrangement, the brainchild of Thomas Hobbes and Oliver Cromwell, brought into being a new conception. Taking up the model of the state put forward by Hobbes in his work The Leviathan, Charles II was made King in a new mode. He was not simply a monarch by birth, but was made a symbol, an Artificial Person of State, representing a Covenant or agreement enacted between the ruling elites, the people and the state itself. This Covenant Thesis as created, and which still guides and rules our political arrangements in the British Parliament and state in the current day, requires that we, the people, hand over our right to speak, our voice, to representatives to speak on our behalf. In so doing, the people who make up the polity enter into a Covenant with the state and with the Person of State, where they are trusted to rule and to make all decisions on the people's behalf. That is to say, the right to decide is handed over by this Covenant.


Even at the time of Hobbes and Cromwell, this political arrangement they imposed was deeply self-serving of the rich and the ruling elites. Hobbes's own jaundiced view of human beings was that they were not much better than animals and were governed only by fear and self-interest. So in his view, the role of the state was to impose rule and order. In contrast to this, there were many political movements during the early 1600s, including the Levellers, the Diggers, and Apprentices who were committed to and actively discussing the need for popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law and religious tolerance. Indeed, the Levellers were prominent in the famous Putney Debates organised by Cromwell's Army in 1647, which discussed the make-up of a possible new constitution for Britain, of universal suffrage and the importance of giving voice to all men.

However, in a modern world we need modern arrangements that give voice to the people and enable the people to be the deciders of what happens in society. Now, as a person, Queen Elizabeth is clearly a person of duty who has performed her role well as the living embodiment of the Artificial Person of State. Indeed, commentators are quick to say that the Royal prerogative power is never used by monarchy directly. They suggest that the monarchy is a benign institution with no self-interest of its own and that it continues to serve its role in maintaining its adherence to Covenant thesis.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. It has a filthy rich self-interest which is parasitic to the extreme and clashes with the interests of the society it parasitises. Whilst there is wealth attached to the Crown that is in fact owned by the state as such, the Queen and her family are some of the richest individual people in the world in their own right. Prince Charles, for example, received approximately £20.3 million in 2020/21 from his Royal Duchy in Cornwall alone, and his personal net worth is estimated this year at £80 million or so.


When Prince Charles stood in for the ageing and increasingly infirm Queen to read the Queen's Speech, setting out the government's legislative agenda for the new session of Parliament, the image of him sat on his golden throne where he talked about Levelling Up [Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill] and restoring "the balance of power between the legislature and the courts by introducing a Bill of Rights" [Bill of Rights], he looked and sounded simply incongruous. And it all smacked of privilege and entitlement.

It should be noted that the Monarch's extended power has been used in spectacular form in the furthest reaches of the British Empire and Commonwealth. On November 11, 1975, the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, using his power as the representative of the monarch in Australia, Queen Elizabeth II, dismissed the legally and popularly elected government of Gough Whitlam and appointed the opposition leader, Malcolm Fraser, to form a "caretaker" government. This was a truly shocking act for the people of Australia and revealed precisely how the Monarch can and will intervene to protect the interests of the British State at home and abroad.

The Queen's message on her jubilee is similar to that of her speech at the beginning of the pandemic: "We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return." After more than two years of a worldwide pandemic and all the difficulties faced by the people, those in power and in government, have further entrenched the divisions in society while the people are forced to fend for themselves. And, as Workers' Weekly wrote in 2020: "[T]he fact is that the Queen has presided over it all to hide from the people where the decision-making power lies. She is the stand-in for the fictitious person of state which represents the rule of the high and mighty against the rule of the alleged 'mob'. The Royal We is not you and I, it is not the people, her alleged subjects, those who are ruled over."

It is high time the majority of citizens wield the decision-making power, not the vested interests represented by the Crown. By speaking in our own name we can find out who we are and what we need and how we think we can get it. The only way forward is one which takes account of the ensemble of human relations, and to what they are revealing which is that the people cannot afford to entrust their fate to the self-serving ruling class.

Article Index



Queen's Platinum Jubilee

Sovereignty Must Lie with the People


Photo: Republic

The Platinum Jubilee is underlining that reforms are needed to break with a system which has been in place since the "historic compromise" of 1688, and perfected since, but is now in crisis, presenting a block to the progress of society and a modern democracy.

The propaganda is that the Platinum Jubilee represents a "moment of unity", the Queen representing not only a head of state, but "head of the nation". This is a conception promoted by, for example, the Sovereign Grant Report 2020-21, significantly with a photograph on the cover of the Queen's Speech of April 5, 2020, when the Queen addressed "the nation" in conditions of the lockdown of the pandemic, to calm everyone and promote that "we're all in it together". In other words, this is the conception of "One Nation", which the Queen is characterised as embodying, the apex of the unwritten constitution.

The Sovereign Grant Report says thus: "The Queen's role as Head of Nation is as significant as Her role as Head of State, and can be divided into four key elements - unity and national identity, continuity and stability, achievement and success, and support of service."

This is an imposition, when society and the people are facing such crises, when what is needed is resolution of these crises. The ruling elites are riven with concerns of continuity, of stability, of how to head off change in these circumstances. It is a crisis of the ruling elites, which they are not willing or capable of resolving, but only the people are, striving for the New as against the Old, striving to acquire and implement a world outlook in step with the times.


Photo: Republic

In this Platinum Jubilee, this is what the media have been mobilised to shore up, wall to wall. Dissenting voices have been shut out, real problems facing the people have been sidelined. And precisely because these old arrangements are on their last legs. The Queen may be touted as embodying these virtues, but this will be their last "moment". As the Sovereign Grant Report puts it: "The continued visibility of The Queen and members of the Royal Family during the Covid-19 pandemic has provided many people with a sense of continuity and reassurance at a time when the public has been asked to make fundamental sacrifices and adaptations to the way we live our daily lives."

This sense is also embodied in the "national anthem", which is an appeal to the Almighty to protect and "save" the Queen, and confound her enemies. There even remains on the statute books the Treason Felony Act of 1848, which provides the death penalty, in lieu of transportation (whether to Australia or Rwanda it does not say, as long as it is "beyond the seas"), to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend": to deprive the Queen of her crown; to levy war against the Queen, or

to "move or stir" any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen. The Queen's is not merely a formal or constitutional role.

The theme of "the nation" was carried forward in the Queen's Platinum Jubilee message, saying that the nation could look to the future with "confidence and enthusiasm". This is not only meant to contradict the experience of working people in the midst of their struggles against austerity and the cost-of-living crisis, who are aware that it is up to them and not the monarchy to speak out and work out what favours them. It is also meant to suggest that in the midst of the problem of succession and peaceful transition, the people should put their faith in the discredited other royals and grant them some goodwill. It is meant to lull the people into thinking the monarch, rather than presiding over a violent and anarchic system which has had its day, is guaranteeing sweetness and light if only we whistle a happy tune and hand over our voice to those that pledge allegiance to and represent the person of state. Its essence is the anti-consciousness of the monarch, this being representing some higher fictitious entity.

Though there was a passing mention of the Commonwealth in the Queen's message, the recent rejections of the monarchy by the people of Barbados, Jamaica, Canada and elsewhere have made this a sensitive subject for the sovereign.


Photo: Republic

This all goes to underline that the Covenant Thesis invented by Thomas Hobbes in 1651 after the English Civil War had ensured the demise of Charles I and the abolition of the House of Lords in order to provide the country with a structure that establishes a fictitious person as head of state. The relations between ruled and rulers are based on a hierarchy which keeps the people disempowered through the institutions created to perpetuate the rule of the elites. To this day it is based on a medieval outlook whereby rights are privileges which can be given or taken away on the basis of those the rulers declare are legal or illegal, or worthy at any particular time, defined according to what serves private interests. This is almost self-evident, but the disinformation creates so much noise that, while fighting for their rights, working people are also encouraged to lose their bearings when it comes to the monarch.

It is high time that this "apex at the base" should be overturned, the fictitious person of state toppled, and sovereignty vested in the people, who have been kept out of power and had their voice represented by others on the political stage. This was not overlooked as the ordinary participants in the English Civil War and the army based on a new model discussed the issue of how democracy for the people should be brought into being. This discussion was cut short, not least by the power of Cromwell's army itself, and in that sense the democratic revolution needs to be brought to its logical conclusion. Now is the opportune moment for working people to discuss those issues, and how to institute new arrangements so that sovereignty lies with the people.

The people are the decisive factor despite being cast as "subjects". They can tear down the veil that is placed over the relations of human beings to human beings, and of human beings with nature. They can break with adherence to what are called democratic institutions with the sovereign guaranteeing well-being for all, while in actual fact these institutions are grounded in racist and anachronistic theories of government which perpetrate elite rule, so-called "responsible government", "representative democracy" and all the trappings of some by-gone age, while the royals exist as parasites on the body politic.

Sovereignty must lie with the people, who can make a break by speaking in their own name, activating the human factor/social consciousness and changing the situation in their favour.

Article Index



For Your Information

Treason Felony Act 1848

Parts of the Treason Felony Act 1848 are still on the statute book. It is a law providing heinous punishment for, and defining, treason felony against the Queen and the Crown. It is treason felony to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend" to deprive the Queen of her crown, to levy war against the Queen, or to "move or stir" any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen. Treason felony is a reserved matter on which the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate. The offences in the Act were originally high treason under the Sedition Act 1661 (later the Treason Act 1795), and consequently the penalty was death.

Section 3 of the Act states [1]:

Offences declared felonies by this Act to be punishable by transportation or imprisonment.

If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend to deprive or depose our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, from the style, honour, or royal name of the imperial crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of her Majesty's dominions and countries, or to levy war against her Majesty, within any part of the United Kingdom, in order by force or constraint to compel her to change her measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon or in order to intimidate or overawe both Houses or either House of Parliament, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom or any other of her Majesty's dominions or countries under the obeisance of her Majesty, and such compassings, imaginations, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them, shall express, utter, or declare, by publishing any printing or writing . . . . . . [F1] or by any overt act or deed, every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable . . . . . . [F2] to be transported beyond the seas for the term or his or her natural life . . . . . . [F2]

Textual Amendments:

F1: Words repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1891 (c. 67)

F2: Words repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1892 (c. 19)

Modifications etc. (not altering text):

C1: Reference to transportation for life to be construed as reference to imprisonment for life or any shorter term: Penal Servitude Act 1857 (c. 3), s. 2, (E.W.) Criminal Justice Act 1948 (c. 58), s. 1(2) and (S.) Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 (c. 21), s. 22(1)(2)

Section 6 states:

Nothing herein to affect provisions of 25 Edw. 3. c. 2. Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall lessen the force of or in any manner affect any thing enacted by the [M1]Treason Act 1351.

Marginal Citations:

M1: 1351 c. 2.

Background

In 2001, the Guardian newspaper mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to the Act in the High Court, alleging that the Act "makes it a criminal offence, punishable by life imprisonment, to advocate abolition of the monarchy in print, even by peaceful means". They sought a declaration that the Human Rights Act 1998 had altered its meaning so that only violent conduct was criminal. The court held that this was a hypothetical question that did not deserve an answer, since the Guardian was not being prosecuted. The case eventually went to the House of Lords on appeal in 2003. In a unanimous judgment, the Lords agreed that the litigation was unnecessary; but the judges nevertheless agreed with Lord Steyn's view that: "[T]he part of section 3 of the 1848 Act which appears to criminalise the advocacy of republicanism is a relic of a bygone age and does not fit into the fabric of our modern legal system. The idea that section 3 could survive scrutiny under the Human Rights Act is unreal." Maybe when the government of today is discussing the repeal of the Human Rights Act, and bringing in a "Bill of Rights" which is completely at odds with a modern conception of rights, and with a Queen's Speech referring to changing the balance between the legislature and the courts, the survival of section 3 is not so "unreal".

In the House of Lords, in the course of discussing this appeal, it was said in relation to its background: "The 1848 Act was passed to meet a perceived threat, particularly in Ireland, in the heated atmosphere of that year." [2] As Wikipedia says of this time: "The primary causes for these revolutions [of 1848] stemmed from dissatisfaction with the monarchies which were at the helm of each country. The citizens were tired of feeling oppressed and controlled, and there was a widespread demand for democracy, versus a monarchy."

In relation to the fight for Irish freedom, it should be noted that in 1972 three Irish republicans Joseph Callinan, Louis Marcantonio and Thomas Quinn were initially arrested and charged with "treason felony" for speaking out against the British military presence in Ireland following Bloody Sunday. Although this charge was later dropped in favour of lesser charges of "seditious utterances" for making "inflammatory comments", the men had already spent 18 months in prison on remand before eventually being hauled before the courts at the Old Bailey in 1973.

Notes
1. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/11-12/12/contents
2. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200203/ldjudgmt/jd030626/rus-2.htm

Article Index



From the Party Press

Royal Assent, Royal Consent - The Beneficiaries of the Royal Prerogative

Workers' Weekly, January 29, 2013 (revised)


More than a 1000 laws vetted by Royal Consent. Photo: Guardian Design

The archaic character of the Westminster parliamentary system has been further exposed by the publication on January 15 [2013] of a previously confidential Whitehall pamphlet entitled "Queen's or Prince's Consent", publically indicating for the first time the extent to which senior royals are asked to give their consent to legislation. The 23-page document, now available on the Cabinet Office website, details situations where this Royal Consent is required and gives various examples where it has been sought.

Royal Consent is a separate prerogative power to Assent, and is particularly obscure. Assent is the final stage of the legislative process by which a bill passed in the houses of parliament becomes law. By convention, Assent is almost never refused (it was last withheld in 1708).

On the other hand, Consent occurs during the progress of a bill, and does actually get refused. Via this power, the Crown actually vetoes legislation passing through parliament. In addition to full refusal, bills may also be amended as part of seeking Consent.

The publication of the document is the result of a two-and-a-half year legal battle that began when doctoral legal student John Kirkhope made a Freedom of Information request for the pamphlet in August 2011, which was refused by the Cabinet Office on grounds of "legal privilege".

When Information Commissioner Christopher Graham overruled this decision, the Cabinet Office appealed in an information tribunal, which they lost. The pamphlet has now been finally released.

Andrew George MP on January 14 [2013] raised questions surrounding the issue of Royal Consent in parliament. The issue has been reported in the press, but it has so far been kept in the background.

The document specifies that Consent of the Queen, or in certain cases of the Prince of Wales, is required when proposed legislation affects the royal prerogative; hereditary revenues; the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall (from which the royal family derives vast incomes [the Queen from the former and Prince Charles from the latter]); or the personal properties or interests of the Crown.

What this actually translates into in reality is a wide range of bills for which Consent is sought. In recent years, for example, Consent was sought for bills which included the Higher Education Act 2004, the Work and Families Bill 2005-6, the Energy Bill 2007-8, the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill 2012-12 and many others.

The Guardian lists some 28 bills subject to Consent from the last ten years alone, a list not claimed to be exhaustive. It is not known how many of these were amended as a result. Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith has stated a full account of bills affected will not be published, on grounds of cost.

A number of bills have actually been refused Consent. In recent times, these are the reform of the House of Lords Bill 1990, the Palace of Westminster (Removal of Crown Immunity) Bill 1998 and the Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill 1999.

The last of these was a private member's bill introduced by Tam Dalyell MP, which was intended to transfer the monarch's power to authorise military action against Iraq to parliament. As a Bill affecting the royal prerogative, Consent was required. Acting on the advice of the government, the Queen refused to grant Consent for the introduction of the bill. The bill was then dropped and was never debated in parliament.

While it is said this power of veto is only used on the advice of the government, by convention, it nonetheless is another prerogative power wielded by the executive via the arrangement of the monarch-in-parliament. The occasions where Consent has been refused highlight how the monarchy is a tool of the executive for self-serving ends. It demonstrates that the royal prerogative is concentrated in the hands of a few at the heart of the government.

Article Index



Queen's Platinum Jubilee

Peoples of the Caribbean Give "Working Royals" a Fitting Reception

Margaret Villamizar, TML Monthly, May 21, 2022

The visits in March and April of the so-called working members of the British royal family to Commonwealth "realms" were shocking for their display of racist condescension, extravagant living and wasteful expenditures to host them and provide for their security. Organised to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 70 years on the English throne, these "Platinum Jubilee" tours to the 14 former British colonies that retain the British monarch as their official head of state have taken different members of the "House of Windsor" to six Caribbean countries, Australia and Papua New Guinea. The latest such tour brought "heir to the throne" Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles to Canada from May 17 to 19.


The Statue of Queen Victoria being toppled in Winnipeg, Canada, in July 2001

The peoples of the Caribbean were not impressed by attempts to portray the monarchy as young, vibrant and relevant. The visit of Prince William and Kate Middleton to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in March was intended to be a charm offensive by two allegedly popular "young royals" to win hearts and minds. William and Kate are also known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the duchy they claim as theirs in England - another leftover from medieval days. Their visit came at a time the peoples of the Caribbean are persisting in raising their demand for Britain to pay reparations for the enslavement and trafficking of African peoples, and the genocide of Indigenous peoples. It also came at a time when republican sentiment is higher than ever in these former colonies which continue to be saddled with the monarchy and its archaic institutions. The republican movement was given a big boost last year when Barbados cast off the monarchy and exited Britain's "realm".

In fact William and Kate's tour was a cringeworthy display of colonial paternalism and disrespect. Even royal sycophants in Britain, worried about the implications, criticised what one of them called the royal "tour de farce" and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for being "tone deaf" and out of touch with reality.

When they were in Jamaica, photos flashed around the world of William and Kate shaking hands with Black children straining to reach out to them through a chain-link fence. The chair of Antigua and Barbuda's Reparations Support Commission rightly described their tour as a "horrible, horrible exposition of archaic colonial behaviour". Images of them being driven around to inspect troops standing in the back of a vintage Land Rover, both of them wearing white and William in full military dress - a throwback to how his grandparents did things in the 1960s - drove the point home in spades.

The Cambridges were forced to cancel one of their first outings - a visit to a cocoa farm in Belize - after villagers staged a protest to denounce colonialism and a charity of which William is the patron, for disrespecting the local people's rights.

In Jamaica, where they headed next, they were also greeted by protests. Outside the British High Commission in Kingston, one of the signs seen said "Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales not in Jamaica!" An organiser of the protest elaborated the demand for an apology and reparations saying the luxurious lifestyle that allows British royals to go traipsing all over the world for free is the result of the blood, sweat and tears of her great, great grandmother and grandfather. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the couple straight out that Jamaica intended to "move on" to become an independent country, meaning it planned to follow the path taken by Barbados.

In Bahamas, the final stop of their "celebratory" tour, that country's National Reparations Committee issued a letter calling for the monarchy to issue a full and formal apology for its crimes against humanity and to pay reparations for its role in slavery. The letter also took issue with the fact that the people of the Bahamas were left holding the bag for much of the cost of "this extravagant trip". "Why are we footing the bill for the benefit of a regime whose rise to 'greatness' was fuelled by the extinction, enslavement, colonisation, and degradation of the people of this land? Why are we being made to pay again?" the committee wrote.

Of course no apology was offered.

More of the same characterised the visit in April to three other Caribbean countries by Elizabeth II's son Edward and his wife Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex. It got off to an ominous start when the day before a scheduled short first stop in Grenada, the visit was cancelled. No explanation was given publicly.

What is known however is that Grenada's National Reparations Committee had written a letter requesting an audience with the royals during their visit. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with them why Britain should be held accountable for its crimes against humanity committed against the Indigenous and African peoples of the Caribbean and for its "wanton exploitation of the Caribbean islands during colonialism". The Committee said it did not receive a reply to its request.

In a statement on April 21, the Reparations Committee pointed to a fresh revelation that the Bank of England owned two plantations in Grenada in the 1770s where 600 Africans were enslaved. It said that should spur every Grenadian to join the fight for reparations and reparatory justice.

Official National Reparations committees and commissions in Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda were also active in organising to make sure the same message was delivered to the royals on their visits to those countries.

With Grenada struck from the list, Edward and Sophie's tour began in Saint Lucia. In a statement demanding a full apology from the Crown, Saint Lucia's National Reparations Commission wrote: "Britain, the royal family and the European nations that built empires from off the backs of enslaved Africans are avoiding making full and formal apologies because they still don't want to plead guilty despite the United Nations declaring Slavery a Crime Against Humanity in 2001 and because they are simply not committed to atonement and repair."

During the royals' visit, the host of a popular radio show slammed their "Jubilee Tour". He asked what purpose it served, how it would benefit the people of Saint Lucia, and who was paying for it?

During a meeting at Government House, Saint Lucia's Prime Minister Philip Pierre presented the Wessexes with a beautiful canvas of a sea turtle painted by a local artist. In exchange they gave him a signed, framed photo of themselves and a "Jubilee box" commemorating the 70-year reign of the country's foreign head of state. The British newspaper The Independent ran a story the next day about the reactions of online commentators who used words like "narcissistic", "insulting" and "tone deaf" to describe what the royals' called a token of their appreciation. One person was quoted as saying, "These people are delusional. Why would you give that nonsense to someone outside of your family? What's he meant to do with that? Hope the frame is worth something at least. He can ditch the photo and sell it."

During Edward and Sophie's one-day visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on April 23, the motorcade carrying them to Government House was received by protesters shouting slogans, who lined the road beside a large banner that said, Reparation Now. Protesters held signs with messages such as: Up with Compensation for Slavery; End to Colonialism; British Genocide of Indigenous People - Never Again.

One woman said she was demonstrating to show her disgust and disappointment that for over 400 years there were those who "had to suffer the slave master's whip", and that this wrong done to a sector of the human race by another must be compensated. Another said, "They hunted us down, they kidnapped us, they stole us, they worked us. They owe us and they must now pay us."

The country's prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, meanwhile, had flown to Venezuela for medical attention a few days before the royals' scheduled visit. He remained out of the country while they were there. Shortly after the royals departed, television news from Venezuela showed the prime minister enjoying a friendly exchange with President Nicolás Maduro following a meeting with him and other members of his government.

Antigua and Barbuda was the last stop on the itinerary. The tone for the royals' visit had been set days in advance with a widely publicised open letter from the country's Reparations Support Commission addressed to the junior representatives of the House of Windsor. It did not mince words:

"It has become common for members of the royal family and representatives of the Government of Britain to come to this region and lament that slavery was an 'appalling atrocity', that it was 'abhorrent', that 'it should not have happened'. We have heard such from your former Prime Minister David Cameron and most recently from your brother, the Prince of Wales, and your nephew, Prince William. But such sentiments did not convey new knowledge to us. African people and their descendants - as most of us are - have known such since the middle of the sixteenth century. We have been on the receiving end of the barbarity. We hear the phony sanctimony of those who came before you that these crimes are a 'stain on your history'. For us, they are the source of genocide and of continuing deep international injury, injustice and racism. We hope you will respect us by not repeating the mantra. We are not simpletons.

"We know that the British Crown - both as royal family and as institution - is historically documented as an active participant in the largest crimes against humanity of all time," they wrote.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the Wessexes that it was Antigua and Barbuda's wish to eventually remove the Queen as head of state and become a republic, much like Jamaica's prime minister told William and Kate. In the meantime, he asked them to use their "diplomatic influence" to help his nation obtain reparative justice, saying it is bereft of modern institutions such as universities and medical facilities.

Expressed with the utmost civility and politeness characteristic of the Caribbean peoples, famed for their hospitality towards all guests, even those as uncouth as the British royals, those were the main messages delivered to representatives of the House of Windsor, who had intended their tours to be a "celebration" of the monarchy by its "subjects".

One "biographer" attempted to deflect from what the two Caribbean tours actually revealed about the centuries-old colonial institution of the British monarchy, its past and ongoing crimes, and the demand of those descended from the Indigenous and African peoples subjected to genocide and enslavement, that Britain now pay for those crimes. He cast blame on the royals' handlers for not "protecting" them from the humiliations that "cursed" their visits to the Caribbean. He called out British diplomats for being not only incompetent but "dangerously ignorant and insensitive to the countries where they are employed". He also blamed palace officials for failing to check that the diplomats had done their job properly.

Congratulations to the governments and peoples of the Caribbean for the firm anti-colonial stands they took, placing front and centre their demands for a full, official apology and reparations from the British monarchy for its 400 years of "genocide and of continuing deep international injury, injustice and racism". Congratulations too for putting the representatives of the British Crown on notice that they intend to exit the "realm" to become sovereign, independent republics. And they did it right as the royals arrived to celebrate and reinforce the empire's colonial imprint on their lands and institutions.

It is an inspiration to others striving to cast off stifling colonial relations defined by the separation of those who rule from those who are ruled, in favour of entering into new relations fit for a modern world based on equality and upholding the rights of all. In such a world, there is no place for relics of a bygone era intent on holding on to their obscene ill-gotten riches and privileges.

(TML Monthly is the newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).)

Article Index



Workers' Forum

Post Office Workers Strike over Pay


Photo: Messenger Newspapers

Post Office workers in their thousands struck work on Saturday, June 4, in co-ordinated action over pay and conditions. Communication Workers Union (CWU) members had voted overwhelmingly and decisively in support of strike action, with 97.3% in favour on a turnout of 70.2%.

A reported 114 Crown Post Offices - those directly owned by the private company - closed for 24 hours, while sub-post offices had no deliveries or collections of cash.

Workers and their union are angered by an arbitrary pay freeze in 2021-22 and a meagre 2% rise for the following year in a time of rising inflation. Workers demand control over their conditions.

Determined to weaken the strike, the company said: "Posters are displayed which show where the nearest alternative branches are located..."

Severely-impacted branches are larger ones, often located on high streets, which are directly owned by the Post Office itself.

Around 3,500 members of staff are involved in the dispute. A strike already took place at the start of May, and further walkouts are planned for Monday, June 6.

The CWU said that Post Office managers insist on a pay freeze for 2021-22 "despite the company generating a profit for the last two years during the pandemic from the efforts of their key worker employees".

"Insultingly, Post Office has offered just a 2% pay increase - plus a £250 one-off payment (pro-rata for part-timers) for 2022-23," said a CWU spokesperson.

Post Office workers were a key sector of recognised essential workers during the pandemic, who made many sacrifices and were thanked for their contributions.

The union said this offer was not enough to keep up with rapid increases in the cost of living, which is currently rising at 7% a year. Post Office Postal Assistants - a significant sector of the workforce - currently earn less than £24,000 per year. If management strictly followed government policy, these workers would have received a wage increase of at least £250, yet they have not.

Union assistant secretary Andy Furey said: "Post Office management are insisting they are simply following government policy on public sector pay policy. But they have repeatedly contradicted themselves, and have also said that it's their decision to impose a pay freeze. We know the Post Office has turned over huge profits in these past few years - management can afford to provide our members with a reasonable pay increase if they wanted."

Workers at the Post Office are waging significant action as a key economic sector in communications and operating in the distribution chain for commodities. They have traditionally acted in the forefront of the workers' movement. The strike raises further the independent positions and interests of workers who desire control over their conditions and livelihoods, which are key matters affecting their lives, and which are essentially tied to the direction of the economy and decision-making. It comes at a time when greater challenges are being made by the working class, such as the rail workers, who are stepping into the breech to place the full weight of their organisation behind their demands for their rights and the rights of all.

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