England Should Not Remain A Monarchy
First round is acceptance
Second round is opening statements, no rebuttals
Third and on is free arguing from both sides.
1. form of government with a monarch at the head
1 sovereign head of state, esp. a king, queen, or emperor.
This is NOT a general debate on English politics, we will primarily address the monarchy. Additional politicians/political positions may be used as part of an argument, but try not to deviate too much from the main topic.
Thank you Con, for accepting this debate. I must quickly correct the title and say that I mean the whole of the United Kingdom as a monarchy. Also, no new arguments in the conclusion.
Ever since the 800s, Kings and Queens have been coming and going as rulers of Britain. The tradition, as I consider it, has long been outdated for this century, especially for a place as modern as the UK. There are several reasons why the monarchy should go away:
1.The monarch can only be placed by heredity.
Since no one can choose monarchs, we are potentially risking trouble with a bad King or Queen, that may not be suitable for the government or suit the people. He/She may get billions of pounds because of his bloodline position, and receive money because he was placed to rule by heredity, not personal talent or ability. Fortunately, the political risk is now lower, because the monarch’s power is less now than before, yet the political risk is still relevant for reasons I will provide below. The people of the UK should be able to choose their ultimate leaders like a democracy. These democratic values are not present in the monarchy.
2. The monarchy is expensive
The royal wedding cost approximately 7 million pounds, royal staff costs rose from £17.5m to £18.3m in 2012-13 (1), "Public money used to fund the Royal Family, known as the Sovereign Grant, is expected to rise to £36.1m in the current financial year and £37.9m in 2014-15" (2013 article)(1) and the total profits from the whole of the Queen’s portfolio is an estimated £330 million, including a car collection worth about 7.1 million pounds or more. (2) (3) Just to name a few. Also, the monarch is exempt from several taxes that are normally applied to the people, for example: “The Crown has a legal tax-exempt status because certain acts of parliament do not apply to it. Crown bodies such as The Duchy of Lancaster are not subject to legislation concerning income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax.” (2)
3. The powers that the monarch has (although not many) can have dangerous effects.
The monarch has the ability to appoint a Prime Minister without regard to public voting or a majority, it can dissolve Parliament, and it can decide to appoint or not appoint acts of Parliament and make them law. These powers granted to a non-elected ruler can be hurtful for the country. http://www.theguardian.com...
4. The monarchy is NOT good for tourism
The monarchy is not a good thing for tourism. Tourists go to the UK to visit historic palaces and buildings, landmarks, statues and such, not to spend time with the monarch. Getting rid of the monarch does not require getting rid of tourist attractions, and would be beneficial to tourism. Why? Take Buckingham Palace, for example, it is not open to the public, and it would be one of the most visited landmarks of the country. Buckingham Palace also contains hundreds of incredibly valuable paintings and artworks that would give a very high tourist interest if they were released to the public. (1) Take the Louvre, for example, it used to be the home of the French royals and their artworks, and is now one of the main tourist museums of the world. (2)
For the above reasons, I think that the monarchy is a burden on the people’s backs. The powers conferred to the crown are dangerous to give to an unelected ruler, and it is extremely expensive to keep. There is a Prime Minister, who could (and technically has) replaced the monarch as official head of state.
Thank you, I now await Con’s answer.
C1) Symbolic Value
The British Monarchy serves as an essential symbol for the country's political unity and rich history. Having played an integral role in running the country for almost a millennium, the monarchy provides the British government with a sense of continuity which is very important for public perception of its legitimacy. "As England's oldest secular institution, it is intertwined with the nation's identity and political culture. When functioning properly, the monarchy embodies the best of English society. If abolished or radically changed, the nation would lose an essential element that solidifies its political system" . The monarchy's immense symbolic significance to Great Britain is more than enough reason to justify keeping it around.
C2) Economic Benefit
People are crazy about the members of the British royal family -- they are more or less the most popular celebrities in the world, and like all celebrities, they tend to bring about massive amounts of consumer spending. The British Tourism Agency has calculated that Monarchy-related tourism generates an average of $767 million for the British economy every year. Compare that to even the most liberal estimates of the monarchy's public costs, which come out to $307 million per annum. Basic math reveals that the monarchy is an enormous economic boon to the UK, creating an annual surplus of $460 million.
The UK should remain a monarchy in order to (1) retain an essential piece of its history, culture, and political identity, and (2) reap hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. The resolution is negated.
Thank you for your opening statement Con.
In reverse then,
“ The British Tourism Agency has calculated that Monarchy-related tourism generates an average of $767 million for the British economy every year. Compare that to even the most liberal estimates...which come out to $307 million per annum. Basic math reveals that the monarchy is...creating an annual surplus of $460 million. “ As I mentioned before, the monarch himself and the monarchical system of government are not the reason why people go tour around the UK. If Con will provide further details on where this money came from, I can guarantee that not 1% of all the tourism income was from visiting the Queen or had anything relating to the Queen’s political work. To get more specific, the Queen herself does not interact with common tourists, nor does she stand in a chair where you can go see her for £5. Tourism does not mean having tea with the monarch, it is about visiting places representative of the monarchy. We may keep these, like Mexico has stopped having emperors but still keeps old statues and pyramids. As a matter of fact, most tourism that takes place is on visits to important landmarks, museums, palaces and other non-living attractions. I do not say that we should get rid of these tourist attractions, surely this would be madness, I merely assert that the monarchical system of government may go, but it does not need to take with it important tourist attractions relating to the monarchy. It would even be beneficial, being the case that the monarchy has one of the biggest art collections in the world, which are privately owned and are not displayed. Buckingham palace, which is closed for most of the year and when opened is only so for a few days, would bring huge economic benefits if it was made a public museum.
2. “the monarchy provides the British government with a sense of continuity which is very important for public perception of its legitimacy. " “nation's identity and political culture” “The monarchy's immense symbolic significance to Great Britain is more than enough reason to justify keeping it around.” Not denied, the monarchy IS a very symbolic thing, but not for this reason should we stop an important change from happening. Removing the monarchy will be a change that may affect people emotionally for some time, but ultimately the benefits will improve the well being of the country. If people’s lives improve, the political system improves, the economic system improves and the tourist system improves, perhaps emotions and feelings are mostly just a small detail or obstacle. Is it not true that rather than appealing to emotion and national pride, we should appeal to reason and common sense? And if this is given, is it not the case with the UK and the monarchy?
“The UK should remain a monarchy in order to (1) retain an essential piece of its history, culture, and political identity, and (2) reap hundreds of millions of dollars in profit” The monarchy needs to go, this does not mean that we will get rid of the UK’s history or culture, because the representations of the monarchy such as statues and palaces will remain. There must be made a clear line between culture and political system of rule. I already mentioned political identity, and point 2 has been rebutted.
Thank you, I impatiently await Con’s rebuttals.
I'll address each of the three major points of contention separately.
(1) Power Abuse
Pro claims that if the monarchy is allowed to persist, the UK may eventually come to be governed by a "bad" King or Queen who will abuse his/her power. However, as he himself admits, the monarch barely has any power. The monarch can NOT dissolve parliament -- that ability was taken away by Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011. The monarch also cannot simply appoint any Prime Minister they like -- their choice must be supported by the majority of the House of Commons.
"In practice, prerogative powers are exercised only on the Prime Minister's advice -- the Prime Minister, and not the Sovereign, has control... The monarch may express his or her views, but, as a constitutional ruler, must ultimately accept the decisions of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (providing they command the support of the House)... the Sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy ... three rights -- the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn'" . The British monarch simply doesn't have enough power to engage in "abuse" of it, and therefore, a "bad" monarch poses no threat.
I would like to clarify that this is the source I meant to cite under my last round's second argument . Firstly, let's note that even if there are no economic benefits at all, the monarchy costs each individual Briton less than $5 per year, which is completely negligible -- especially considering the immense symbolic significance that the monarchy has. For the cause of maintaining Britain's most long-lived secular institution, $5 is easily worth it. Economics is basically a non-issue.
But anyways, Pro is mistaken in his claims that "monarchy-related tourism" would survive sans the monarchy. It is true that some tourism would continue, since the monarchy's historical sites would still exist, but much of the revenue comes directly from the royal family's fan-base: William & Kate's wedding generated $165 million (from accommodation travel, nightlife, etc), and the birth of Baby Cambridge was directly responsible for a $383 million boost in consumer spending . Given that, it is clear that a substantial portion of "monarchy-related tourism" is contingent upon the continued existence of the monarchy.
Olga Khazan writes: "I'm skeptical that England's attractions could still draw the same numbers of tourists without the physical monarchs in place. Sure, people would still visit African savannas if they didn't have elephants, but probably not as many, or as often. Similarly, the royal family acts as a sort of charismatic megafauna for the entire royalty-tourism ecosystem" .
Pro pretty much concedes this point, instead arguing that the monarchy's pragmatic harms outweigh its symbolic value. However, as I've shown, there ARE no harms -- abuse is literally impossible, and the monarchy's presence actually generates a *surplus* of hundreds of millions of dollars. Even if we agree with Pro's tourism logic, a cost of $5 per citizen is not *nearly* enough to outweigh. There is no world in which abolishing the monarchy results in more good than bad.
The resolution is negated.
Resolution not negated!
“The British monarch simply doesn't have enough power to engage in "abuse" of it, and therefore, a "bad" monarch poses no threat.” The monarch still has a veto power to stop laws from being created, which could lead to conflict if a bad King or Queen decides that she will not allow good acts to be officially made law. Although it is rare and (obviously) not a very safe or responsible act, this power could still be used if the right person decided to use it. “In one instance the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999” “The guidance also warns civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation and reveals that even amendments may need to be run past the royals for further consent.” (1) Also, the monarch has still a huge amount of money and resources from public funds that it may use for whatever purpose she/he might want. The monarchy spends a huge amount of money on things that aren’t necessary, and this could get worse with a bad ruler. My argument stands: the monarch has a very small amount of power, but he has enough to complicate our lives, so why keep an unelected, undemocratic ruler who can to potentially give us a hard time and is not that politically valuable?
“the monarchy costs each individual Briton less than $5 per year, which is completely negligible -- especially considering the immense symbolic significance that the monarchy has. For the cause of maintaining Britain's most long-lived secular institution, $5 is easily worth it.” Even though the individual cost per person may be small, the huge amount of money that is used on royal expenditure is incredible. The point still stands that instead of using the millions of pounds that the monarch has used on cars or houses or jewellery, all of that money could instead be used for the public. To fund hospitals, pay workers, repairs, etc. Republic’s estimate of the cost of monarchy 2013-14 was almost £300m, enough to pay several thousand workers.. or one monarch. (2)
Below is a list of incredible costs that could be used for the better:
“The Queen's "head of state expenditure" - official expenditure relating to her duties as head of state - is met from public funds. The total spend in 2000-01 was £35m, a figure which excludes the cost of security from the police and army, and of soldiers on ceremonial duty” “The most controversial part of the expenditure is the Civil List, the money provided on a 10-year cycle for the running of the Queen's household. The spend has been fixed at £7.9m per year until 2011...£15.3m spent on funding the occupied royal palaces (listed above)... (3)
Travel costs incurred by the Prince of Wales, who has recently begun to take over official duties previously undertaken by his mother, included a £434,000 visit to India with the Duchess of Cornwall, and a charter flight to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela which cost £246,160. (4)
“William & Kate's wedding generated $165 million (from accommodation travel, nightlife, etc), and the birth of Baby Cambridge was directly responsible for a $383 million boost in consumer spending.”
Just to be clear, “Baby Cambridge is SET to boost consumer spending even more, according to Britain's Center for Retail Research, to the tune of $383 million”. These are rare occurrences, that bring a sudden boost to the economy, but it is still too rare compared to the yearly £300m that the monarchy spends, and would soon be overwhelmed by the royal expenditure. The expenditure alone would almost double that of the profits from these events in just three years. Constant tourism (i.e landmarks, museums) has most of the tourist income in the long run. “Overseas visitors spent £21.01 billion in the UK in 2013” (5), 2013’s profit had a huge number compared to the revenue of the wedding AND the birth of the baby had combined. It completely dwarfs the revenue collected from the predicted income of a baby birth and a wedding, which came suddenly and will not repeat for a few years, while 2013's (or the yearly) profit is more or less constant. This goes back to my original point that the monarchy itself is not vital to tourism, or even the most important part.
I did not exactly concede point 3. Although it is true that some people find the monarchy symbolic, I said that this argument is not strong enough. Rationalism is better than appeals to emotion in order to prove something. Symbolism (in the way we use it here) in itself is not enough reason, because that would be using an appeal to emotion to say the monarchy should not go.
(1) Power Abuse
Again, the monarch's veto power cannot be exercised without the Prime Minister's consent (and, by extension, the consent of the House of Commons & British populace as a whole). The bill which Pro cites was only vetoed by the Queen "upon the advice of her government", indicating that it was not an unchecked decision . It is also plainly false that the monarch can freely waste tax-payers' money -- the use a public funds for monarchical maintenance is handled by an independent entity known as the "Keeper of the Privy Purse" . Remember that the constitution only grants the monarch three rights: "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn". The British Monarch simply doesn't have any power to abuse.
I'm not sure why Pro is claiming that intangible, emotional factors shouldn't be included in cost/benefit analysis... utilitarian calculations are all about pleasure & suffering, which are fundamentally emotional in nature. Collective sentiments of cultural identity, political unity, historical continuity, etc. are all recognized as being positive, and Pro concedes that the monarchy plays a major role in maintaining those sentiments. Moreover, 80% of the British population approves of the monarchy, so there is a probably a good amount of emotional attachment involved .
Therefore, abolishing the monarchy would obviously generate substantial negative utility. It doesn't matter if it's not quantifiable -- it's just common sense that a mere $5 cost per person isn't enough to outweigh. The monarchy is a benign, ancient, and socially-significant institution, and upholding it is well-worth such a negligible price. Pro's opportunity cost objection isn't compelling because there is always going to be a "more important" cause -- Pro's reasoning just devolves into an infinite regress of "oh wait but we could spend the money there instead". As long as there is a legitimate governmental interest to pursue (in this case, it's preserving symbolic value), the government is justified in devoting public funds to it.
But anyways, the monarchy generates a net *surplus* in the economy. Pro's only response to this is comparing my numbers to the amount of revenue from *all* tourism in Great Britain, but that's a complete red herring... the whole point of our clash here was to compare the cost of maintaining the monarchy vs. the revenue from *monarchy-related tourism* (not general tourism). Pro's initial rebuttal was that most monarchy-related tourism would survive even without the monarchy's continued existence, but he did not really extend that into his final round. Unfortunately, he seems to have inadvertently dropped much of what I said while he was busy getting caught up in refuting minutia. I advise Pro not to do that in future debates.
In conclusion, the monarchy has immense symbolic value and generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the British economy every year. And it all comes at no cost, given that none of Pro's alleged harms from keeping the monarchy around are real. There is literally no reason to abolish the monarchy. VOTE CON!
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