British politicians on monarchy “wouldn’t that be an appropriate time to call it a day”

Prince Andrew may have done significant damage to the British monarchy. His disastrous interview led to his brother Charles asking their mother Elizabeth to dump him from royal duties. British politicians are suggesting that once the Queen’s reign ends maybe all royal duties could be dumped.

Daily Express: End the monarchy? SNP Sturgeon demands talk on Royal Family future after Prince Andrew row

The Royal Family has been caught up in the furore surrounding Prince Andrew’s car crash BBC interview over his relationship with the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein. In the biggest crisis the Queen has faced since the death of Princess Diana, some are now calling for a national debate over the monarchy’s future. Jeremy Corbyn has led the way with calls to rid the UK of its Royal tradition, saying that he would create a Head of State to replace the Queen.

In an interview with GMTV, Mr Corbyn said: “I think it’s time that we just moved on and said, when the Queen completes her reign, wouldn’t that be an appropriate time to call it a day and have an elected Head of State.”

And now it seems that Nicola Sturgeon has lent her support to Mr Corbyn’s republican agenda.

In an interview on ITV News At Ten on Thursday, the SNP leader argued that it was time to have a debate over the role of the monarchy.

When asked whether the Prince Andrew affair made her consider whether the monarchy is fit for purpose, she replied: “I think it raises a number of questions.

It’s most unlikely anything will happen (beyond whittling down the hangers on like Andrew) while Elizabeth remains queen, but if party leaders in the UK are openly questioning the monarchy, or saying it should end in the next decade or so, then it must have just about done it’s dash.

There’s even less need for the monarchy here on the other side of the world. It really isn’t relevant to us in Aotearoa, apart from providing a bit of hob nobbing and rubbing shoulders with royal celebrities for some of our politicians.

Prince Charles has just visited and that was very low key. I think that most of us just didn’t care.

It would be simple for us to become independent of a ruling system that hasn’t ruled for a long time, here or in Britain. We could keep something like the Governor General here, maybe renamed, for some official signing stuff and a token check on the power of politicians, but we wouldn’t need much.

I don’t think we need a president, or anything called a president. That would imply some sort of power that they shouldn’t have.

I doubt our politicians would have the gumption to drop the monarchy. Jacinda Ardern seems to like the hob nobbing. Simon Bridges seems quite conservative so I doubt he would do anything semi-radical on the monarchy.

But it could be forced on us if Britain separates it’s governance from the monarchy. If they do that it would be more ridiculous than it is now to maintain a connection that has no relevance to modern New Zealand.  they Queen hasn’t been here for yonks and won’t be back.  Princes come and shake a few hands every few years but I’m sure we could manage without that sort of poncing.

Queen has approved suspension of UK Parliament

From Missy in London:

It’s all on now! The Government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament shortly after they return from Summer recess with the Queen’s speech to be delivered on 14 October.

All eyes are on the Leader of the Opposition to see if he will call a vote of No Confidence next week, or bottle it again.

BBC:  Parliament to be suspended in September

Boris Johnson said a Queen’s Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his “very exciting agenda”.

But it means the time MPs have to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would be cut.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a “constitutional outrage”.

The Speaker, who does not traditionally comment on political announcements, continued: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [MPs] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Suspending Parliament is not acceptable, it is not on. What the prime minister is doing is a smash and grab on our democracy to force through a no deal,” he said.

He said when MPs return to the Commons next Tuesday, “the first thing we’ll do is attempt legislation to prevent what [the PM] is doing”, followed by a vote of no confidence “at some point”.

The Privy Council have announced that the Queen has approved the suspension of Parliament.

Note, this is a long overdue suspension of Parliament, the current session is the longest Parliamentary session (time Parliament has sat without a speech from the throne) since the civil war, and is not that unusual.

There is some debate on social media regarding the suspension time, some suggest that it will only be an extra 3 or 4 days as Parliament would have been suspended for the Party Conference season in a couple of weeks, however, others suggest that this close to Brexit Parliament would have voted to continue sitting and not suspend Parliament. It seems the PM has gazumped those that may have tried to sit through the Conference season.


“Never seen the Queen have a better time”

I realise this is just the way he talks, but…

Asked “did you or did you not fist pump with the Queen?”

I did not but I had a relationship. We had a really great time.

There are those who say they have never seen the Queen have a better time and more animated time.

We had a period where we were talking solid straight. I didn’t even know who the other people at the table were, never spoke to them.

We just had a great time together.

She’s a spectacular woman, an incredible woman.

On immigration from Mexico.

But we shouldn’t have anybody. they shouldn’t be able to walk through Mexico, and now I’ve told Mexico if you don’t stop this onslaught, this invasion, people get angry when I use the word invasion. People like Nancy Pelosi, honestly they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

I watch her, she was saying we have to protect Mexico, we have to take care of Mexico. Look. I’m dealing with Mexico now. They send in five hundred billion dollars worth of drugs. They kill a hundred thousand people. They ruin a million families every year. If you look at that that’s really an invasion without the guns.


“What could you do to unite the country in a time of great polarisation? What else could you do”

So I think success should unite the country, but I will tell you the more successful we’ve come the more angry people like Nancy Pelosi who don’t have what it takes. They don’t know what’s going on. They get angry.

They should, an example is Mexico. I said we’re going to put tariffs on because we want you to help us with, because they won’t pay us any legislation in congress.

And I have senators, and others, and Pelosi coming out and saying how horrible. What they’re doing is hurting a deal.

A deal to Trump is him saying what he wants and expecting to get it.

They should be saying they’re with the President, we’ll do whatever he wants to do, and Mexico will fold like an umbrella.

Now I have these people, and I’m saying there’s some Republicans too, they should be ashamed of themselves.

But we have Pelosi, we have crying Chuck Schumer who’s a disaster by the way, he’s a total political jerk.

The world’s best ever uniter speaking there.

But we have Schumer, we have all these people, they come out and they talk the tariffs, or this, they’re killing, you know they hurt my negotiation. Because I came into the room with the Mexicans asking for everything, and by the way if they don’t do it I’m putting the tariffs on, we’re going to make a fortune.

One thing with the tariffs, when those tariffs go on companies are going to start moving back once they know they’re going to stay on. Companies are going to move back to the United States. They took thirty two percent of our car industry. All, every single one of those plants will move back into the Unites States.

I thought the tariffs were to try to force Mexico into stopping the flood of people moving across into the US. It now sounds like that was just an excuse to move industry back to the US. Of course less jobs in Mexico and more jobs in the US will really address the problems that contribute to immigration.

If he talked to the Queen like he talked in that interview I’m sure she had the time of her life.

When Trump was in London he talked up the prospects of a trade deal with the UK. I wonder if that will work out like the deals he is doing with China and Mexico.

Ross Barkan, The Guardian:  Why Tariffs Could Be Trump’s Undoing

On Tuesday, Republican senators emerged enraged from a meeting with Trump, unwilling to stomach his threat to level tariffs as high as 25% on Mexican goods in retaliation for migrants crossing the border. Even Senator Ted Cruz, the former Trump punching-bag (“Lyin’ Ted”) who has since become a reliable Trump ally, railed against the proposed tariffs, calling them “new taxes” on Texas farmers, manufacturers and small businesses. Otherwise spineless Republican senators are having this change of heart because of an important political reality: tariffs will make goods more expensive in the states they need to capture in 2020.

Like Texas, Michigan would be hit hard by a trade war. Thanks to the automobile industry’s complex supply chains, it is the state most dependenton imports from Mexico – and, as Republicans know all too well, crucial to Trump’s re-election prospects.

Trump’s ongoing trade war with China has cost him political capital throughout the midwest, where farmers depend on imports and exports. His approval rating in Iowa has dropped a staggering 21 points since he took office. In Wisconsin, he’s lost 19 points, and in Ohio, 18.

Who pays the tariffs? The importing companies in the US, so the US consumers.

And imposing ad hoc tariffs to ‘fix’ immigration and move large industries back to the US are not going to have immediate results. It takes time to relocate large manufacturing plants to another country.


Poll – majority want New Zealander as next head of state

A Curia poll commissioned by New Zealand Republic indicates that 55% prefer a New Zealander as Head of State, elected by either two-thirds of Parliament or popular vote:

“What is your preference for New Zealand’s next Head of State out of the following three options?”

  • The next British Monarch becomes King of New Zealand – 39%

  • New Zealand has a New Zealander as Head of State elected by a two-thirds majority in Parliament – 17%

  • New Zealand has a New Zealander as Head of State who is elected by the popular vote – 38%

It’s not surprising to see strong Māori for a New Zealand head of state, and also that younger people prefer a New Zealander.  It is likely that over time support for a New Zealand head of state will increase, especially the reign of the current Queen of England (and New Zealand) is over.

The poll was conducted between 8 and 24 April from 15,000 random nationwide voting-age New Zealanders, with 1,000 surveyed weighted by age and gender. The margin of error was +/- 3.1%

Next head of Commonwealth a virtual fait accompli

The Commonwealth seems have had little choice but to accept Prince Charles as the next head of the Commonwealth after the Queen expressed her “sincere wish” that he take over from her. She has been the  token leader for a long time.

RNZ:  Prince Charles to be next Commonwealth head

The Prince of Wales will succeed the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, its leaders have announced.

The Queen had said it was her “sincere wish” that Prince Charles would follow her in the role.

Leaders of the Commonwealth have been discussing the issue at a meeting behind closed doors at Windsor Castle.

The head role is non-hereditary so is not automatically passed on when the Queen dies, with some suggestions it might rotate among the 53 leaders.

In a statement, the leaders said they “recognise the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and its people”.

Has the Queen really been a big champion of the Commonwealth?

Jacinda Ardern seems to have been swept up in royaltymania.

Both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her predecessor Helen Clark, who are republicans, also backed Prince Charles saying keeping a British Royal in the figurehead role is a stable arrangement that has served the Commonwealth well.

Ms Ardern met Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwell, at their royal home earlier this week.

“I get a real sense from the interactions that I’ve had that his understanding of some of the challenges that we face in the Commonwealth is excellent, but particularly around environmental issues, which I think will only serve us well.”

Charles hasn’t stood as a champion of the environment to the people of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth represents about 2.4 billion people, but critics say the organisation is so disparate that it struggles to know what it is for, BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said.

He also said the news of the prince’s appointment would be “of great satisfaction” to the Queen.

Perhaps  it makes her feel less guilty about keeping Charles waiting for the throne for so long – it’s a consolation bauble.

What does the head of the Commonwealth do?

The role, currently held by the Queen, is largely a symbolic one and carries no maximum fixed term.

It is used to unify the 53 member states and to ensure the core aims of the Commonwealth are fulfilled. These include linking the countries through trade and international co-operation.

The head of the Commonwealth usually makes regular visits to the member states to foster these connections personally.

That can’t be correct, the Queen hasn’t been here since 2003, and I think she does very little travel.

A decision on all successive heads has to be made by the Commonwealth leaders.

It was unlikely any would have spoken up against the wishes of the Queen.

Just as well it doesn’t give the prince any say over what we do here on the other side of the world.

The Standard: Prince Charles: mankind facing environmental ‘catastrophe’

Prince Charles today issued a stark warning that mankind faces “catastrophe” unless we learn to live in harmony with our environment. The prince says he fears we are “perilously close” to an environmental calamity that will ultimately result in the end of humanity unless we act now.

At least he can now lead the Commonwealth from the brink of catastrophe – but I’m not sure he has a lot of experience living in harmony with the environment. Maybe all his servants do that for him.

Big overseas trip for Ardern – and for the Government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has set off on an international trip for a couple of weeks. It began with a visit to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast yesterday. She then goes to Europe to meet with the leaders of Germany and France, and then on to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London.

She is also scheduled to visit the Queen – that’s right up Ardern’s celebrity PR style alley.

Trade will be high on Ardern’s political agenda.

It will be interesting to see how things play out here in her absence, given the difficult last month for the Government.

Craig McCulloch (RNZ): CHOGM great chance for PM to be gone

The trip comes at a pivotal time in international relations – roughly one year ahead of the United Kingdom’s final departure from the European Union. Much of the focus then will be on trade.

New Zealand is ready to jump into bed with the EU as soon as the member states hit the green-light on negotiations.

Officials here hope that could come in the next few months and former Trade Minister Todd McClay understands a date is set for late May.

As for the UK, it’s already signalled New Zealand will be one of the first cabs off the rank for a trade agreement.

But official negotiations can’t Bregin till Britain formally Brexits (sorry) in March next year.

At that point, the UK will go into a 21-month transition phase during which it can finally start negotiating deals.

CHOGM has always been regarded as one of the less-important global events – a bi-annual gab-fest between former British colonies.

…it’s the first since the Brexit vote and the first in London in more than three decades.

Leaders from all but two of the 53 Commonwealth countries are to attend. In previous years, as many as half didn’t turn up.

CHOGM is unlikely to hit many headlines.

The photo opportunities too will be priceless for the Prime Minister. Her media team will be hanging out for that shot of her alongside the similarly-youthful Emmanuel Macron. And don’t forget the Queen. Never forget the Queen.

The media are unlikely to let anyone forget the Queen, who is old enough to be Ardern’s grandmother. Irrelevant pap is likely to get the most attention.

Both Ms Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters will use the opportunity to do the rounds and meet some new faces.

With both Ardern and Peters overseas (a problem when you have the deputy PM as Foreign Minister) who will be fronting up for the Government here?

Labours deputy leader Kelvin Davis? he has been virtually anonymous since performing poorly after his sudden promotion during the election campaign last year.

He may have done some homework since and be able to answer the occasional question. It will be interesting to see how he shapes up. he may get to be acting PM a bit over the next few months with Ardern out of action for a few weeks and Peters in charge but still with international duties.

Out with the monarchy, in with the pōhutukawa

On Christmas Eve Heather du Plessis-Alan pointed out the growing differences between the traditional (northern hemisphere) Christmas and our summer celebration in the south, and likens this to the separation from the archaic other side of the world monarchy.

NZH: Heather du Plessis-Allan: Kiwis need to step up, be proud, and dump pines for pōhutukawa

I blame it on the pōhutukawa. There’s nothing more Kiwi than a pōhutukawa. They mark our summers for us.

If the red blooms arrive early, we know summer has come early.

Summer arrived early in Dunedin, pōhutukawas are already alight with red flowers.

We love our pōhutukawa. They’re on Christmas cards and tea towels and kitsch paintings of the beach.

Yet we cheat on them every Christmas. Instead of including the most Kiwi of all trees in our festivities, we betray them with a pine.

The pine is not even traditional Christmas – pinus radiata (Montery pine) originates from California and Mexico so I’m not sure how it became our common Christmas tree.

For some time for us pine is longer used, inside the house it causes allergic mayhem.

We could be hanging ornaments shaped liked tiny jandals and barbecue tongs on our pōhutukawa, but instead we decorate pine trees with reindeer and fake snow. Ever seen a reindeer? Me neither.

And so, the pōhutukawa gets me feeling patriotic every Christmas.

I start off wondering how long it’ll take us to be brave enough to swap the pine for it, and end up wondering how long it’ll take us to make much braver decisions about New Zealand’s future.

We can’t go on being part of the British realm forever. It’s increasingly ridiculous that New Zealand’s ultimate decision-maker lives on the other side of the world and has visited our country fewer than a dozen times.

The Queen was last in New Zealand fifteen years ago, in 2002. I think she intends never to come here again.

At some stage, we’ll have to make the call to become a Republic. We all know it’s coming. It’s just a question of when.

I think it is generally assumed that nothing will change while the current Queen survives, but once she is gone the chances of at least giving New Zealanders a choice of who they want to be their head of state will become more likely.

NZ History: Pohutukawa trees

The first known published reference to the pohutukawa as a Christmas tree came in 1857 when ‘flowers of the scarlet Pohutukawa, or “Christmas tree”’ formed part of table decorations at a feast put on by Ngāpuhi leader Eruera Patuone.

Other 19th-century references described the pohutukawa tree as the ‘Settlers Christmas tree’ and ‘Antipodean holly’.

In 1941 army chaplain Ted Forsman composed a pohutukawa carol in which he made reference to ‘your red tufts, our snow’. Forsman was serving in the Libyan Desert at the time.



Black mark for breaching medal protocols

New Minister of Defence Ron Mark is seeking advice after it has been claimed he is breaching military medal wearing protocols.

NZH:  Medals off Mark for new defence minister – says he will ‘seek advice’ after questions raised

New defence minister Ron Mark has been wearing military medals in a way which puts his foreign service above that which he performed for New Zealand.

The way Mark has his medals arrayed across his chest is in breach of NZ Defence Force protocols and not permitted for soldiers over whom he holds sway.

And it has led to questions about whether he is even entitled to wear the four medals awarded while in the service of the Sultan of Oman in the Middle East.

Mark would not answer those questions yesterday, but provided a statement in which he said: “I have the greatest respect for military service, and the way in which it is recognised. I am proud of the people I served alongside in both the New Zealand and Omani Defence Forces.

“I have sought advice from the Honours Unit on the wearing of the medals I was awarded, and will take that advice when it’s received.”

It is an embarrassment for Mark, having worn his medals in front of senior officers who knew he was breaching the standards expected of all New Zealand military personnel.

Mark wore his medals when being sworn in as defence minister, and again at the opening of Parliament – and also on Sunday at a service for Armistice Day in Wellington.

At that event, he was present with the Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating and among troops at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

The wearing of medals from a foreign country are strictly governed, with sets of rules for NZDF personnel and all New Zealand citizens.

Anyone wanting to wear medals from a country which does not have the Queen as head of state needs the permission of the Governor-General.

If Mark did have permission – which medals’ experts believe is unlikely – he has been caught out by the way he wore them.

The rules around wearing medals dictate that those earned in the service of New Zealand must be worn first.

Mark wears his medals from service in Oman first, giving them a pre-eminent position over his New Zealand medals.

NZ Medals Ltd owner Aubrey Bairstow – an expert in constructing medal boards – said: “His Oman medals must be after his New Zealand medals.”

Bairstow constantly deals with military veterans and said many were upset by the way the medals had been displayed.

This seems to be something Mark should have known about, or should have properly clarified before or or as soon as becoming Minister of Defence. Actually he should have got it right before then.


Not very popular

Queen Elizabeth’s record reign has received some media coverage here, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly popular. Current ‘most popular’ news on New Zealand sites:

NZ Herald:





3 News:


Radio NZ:

RNZPopularGoogle’s current NZ news:


Royalty doesn’t rate at all.

I’ve had a quick look at UK news sitesThe BBC has a semi prominent item, the Guardian a minor mention. Go to The Telegraph if you want major coverage.