As anyone who knows me could testify from my rants whenever the latest Royal ‘story’ breaks through the news, I’m a bit of a republican, in traditional terms. Being a republican in the UK, however, is like being sober at a party; nobody listens to you, and you’re forever being considered a pedantic bore. The monarchy enjoys ever-high levels of popularity here and, while it’ll probably sag when/if Prince Charles becomes King (“I support the monarchy but don’t want Charles to become King” sort of misses the point), Prince William, second in line, is pretty popular.
The dismal chances for republicanism in the UK is one reason why I particularly like looking at this map:
(Blue denotes a generally symbolic monarch; red a monarch with substantial powers).
The UK really is in the majority by keeping its head of state a member of the Royal Family. If you took us, Canada, Australia and New Zealand off the map, this would be even more so the case. There is also hope on the international frontier: Australia held a republican referendum in 1999 which narrowly lost – 45.13% voted to remove the monarchy – and Spain’s royal family is becoming ever more unpopular.
This blog is more intended to show off my maps than make a case for abolishing the monarchy, so I’ll finish off with my favourite map. This one roughly shows countries in the world by the date they got rid of their monarchies. Republicanism is winning, let there be no doubt!
The charity Oxfam, which deals with efforts to tackle poverty throughout the world, has released a report which should come as no surprise: that the 100 richest people in the world have enough money to cure world poverty four times over. Earning an annual amount of $240 billion, these billionaires have the ability to alleviate the suffering of millions, yet don’t use it. As the world’s poorest starve in these times of economic depression, the richest 1% have in fact seen their income increase by 60% over the last twenty years. In light of these facts, criticisms against France’s Socialist Government increasing taxes on the rich or our own government’s targeting of the poor through cracking down on ‘benefit scroungers’ when far more is lost through tax evasion, are completely unfounded actions.
Imagine a prosperous, peaceful and equal (how else would they avoid destroying their own race?) alien civilisation were to conduct a survey on our planet. They would examine Europe, America, Australia, Japan, etc. and see very prosperous nations with very healthy, well-nourished people in them, living on the height of our civilisation’s technological advances. And yet they would also notice people sleeping rough on streets in the rain. They would then look at Africa and Asia, seeing mass hunger and illness and death, yet some incredibly well-off people interspersed throughout. On deeper analysis they would see that our world has enough materials and food to feed everyone, but one half of the world gets most of it.
If they didn’t then destroy our planet to stop us spreading throughout the Universe, they would be very naive.
Finally, gonna end this busy day with a list of predictions for next year. I didn’t plan to publish these – I was writing them for my own interest – but decided to give it a shot, in case miraculously they’re all correct, so I can prove I predicted them! Rather rushed:
Our next Holy Monarch of Divine Highness to Rule Over Us All Forever blah blah will be born. Everyone will go nuts and the republican minority will grumble.
The coalition will continue on its path, though plans to create individual identities for the parties will become clearer in preparation for its end.
The war in Mali will see some form of conclusion: Northern Mali will return to government control.
The Assad regime will fall. Failing that, the rebels will increasingly control Syria. I expect them to receive more support from the West and the government to lose Russia’s backing.
Obama’s next year as President will not be dramatic.
A war will not start over Iran.
Angela Merkel will be re-elected in Germany.
Libya will finish its transition into democracy on paper with success.
Egypt will head down its route of democracy with a very Islamic tint. Morsi will bring stability to the country – at long last.
Berlusconi will not be elected in Italy.
The Afghanistan campaign will appear more and more hopeless. Peace talks with the Taliban will develop.
I expect more crises from North Korea.
Iran’s economy will continue to plummet under sanctions. Possibility of something dramatic happening.
This is a completely wild one: Robert Mugabe will no longer be in power in Zimbabwe by the year’s end.
There will be at least one coup. And likewise, at least one country considered a dictatorship will become more democratic.
Burma will continue down liberalisation and democratisation.
Hugo Chavez: difficult to predict. I’m gonna throw this out there and say his health improves and he’s able to continue as President.
Al Shebab will be almost completely pushed out of Somalia.
More than two Arab countries will see increased protests and violence. Potentials: Syria, Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Sudan, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, Lebanon.
Julia Gillard will no longer be Prime Minister of Australia.
Putin will consolidate his dictatorship in Russia.
The Mars Curiosity Rover will make more discoveries which fail to interest the public.