Friday, 26 August 2016

A Political King.

Birds Of A Feather: If Edward VIII had been a less enamoured sex-slave to Wallis Simpson and a more convinced fascist, it is entirely possible that he could have completely upended the British constitution. Royal words, and deeds, still matter - as the political impact of the Maori King's, Tuheitia Paki's, intervention earlier this week attests.
 
IT’S AN INTRIGUING COUNTERFACTUAL to contemplate. What if Edward VIII had been a less enamoured sex-slave to Wallis Simpson and a more convinced fascist? It is entirely possible that a highly politicised King, ably assisted by Winston Churchill (who, in real life, fought right up until Edward’s abdication speech to keep him on the throne) David Lloyd-George (Britain’s Prime Minister during World War I) and Sir Oswald Mosley (leader of the British Union of Fascists) could have completely upended the British constitution.
 
Early in 1936 Edward had given hope to millions of unemployed workers, and heart palpitations to the Conservative Government of Stanley Baldwin, by declaring that “something must be done” about the appalling poverty he had just witnessed on a royal visit to South Wales.
 
British monarchs were not supposed to say such things. But, let us suppose that Edward had continued to speak out against poverty and mass unemployment. Let us further suppose that his younger brother, George, the Duke of Kent, had used his contacts with Nazi-sympathising German aristocrats to forge an alliance with like-minded members of the British upper-classes? With the additional assistance of the brilliant outcast politicians mentioned above – all of them desperate to restore their dwindling political fortunes – a more intelligent and dynamic Edward VIII would have had every chance of successfully carrying-off a royal coup d’├ętat.
 
Even today there are elements within the British establishment who dread the ascension of the Prince of Wales. Unlike his remarkable mother, who has maintained the constitutional proprieties impeccably for the whole of her 64-year reign, it is feared that King Charles III may not be content to remain above the political fray. Imagine a King who tweeted? A King who to read his own Speech from the Throne? In the throes of another economic crisis, and unwilling to be ‘rescued’ by a political class they both despise and distrust, what might Charles III’s subjects not do?
 
What has prompted these musings on the residual power of the monarchy? Obviously, it was the extraordinary, and apparently impromptu, political observations of Tuheitia Paki, the Maori King. The latter’s disparaging remarks about the Labour Party, coupled with his de facto endorsement of the Maori and Mana parties, have garnered the Kingitanga movement considerable media coverage. It is a matter of some significance that, to date, media coverage has offered little in the way of criticism of the King’s actions. Maori and Pakeha journalists, alike, have not thought it necessary to condemn Tuheitia for stepping into the fraught arena of electoral politics.
 
The NZ First Leader, Winston Peters, has had no such qualms. “It is disappointing the Maori King has been used in such a sad way,” said Mr Peters. “There is no way his predecessor, the Maori Queen, would ever have done that.”
 
Perhaps not. But was his predecessor’s reticence born of what she perceived to be her purely ceremonial status? Or, was her silence on electoral matters merely a concession to the prevailing political realities of her reign. For the past 153 years, the Kingitanga has maintained a respectful distance from the Settler State. This is hardly surprising: military invasion and land confiscation tends to dampen even the most courageous people’s political ardour.
 
The Kingitanga’s long-standing recognition of the Settler State’s power to do it harm, indicated by its dignified silence, has been misinterpreted by Pakeha politicians as indigenous acceptance of the rules of constitutional monarchy. Like his British counterpart’s, the Maori monarch’s status is regarded as purely symbolic and ceremonial. That he or she might aspire to being an independent political actor, wielding real political power, is not something Pakeha New Zealand has seriously contemplated since 1863.
 
Much has changed since that violent period of our history. The Settler State is no longer the predatory beast that assailed the earthworks at Rangiriri. The need for Kingitanga reticence is not so great now as it was during the reign of Dame Te Atairangikaahu, King Tuheitia’s predecessor. In his keynote speech to mark the tenth anniversary of his ascension, the Maori King spoke of Maori exercising dual sovereignty over Aotearoa-New Zealand by 2025. This is less constitutional monarchy than it is constitutional revolution.
 
Royal words matter. If you doubt it, then just imagine the effect on Jeremy Corbyn’s fortunes if Queen Elizabeth II declared herself a life-long Labour supporter.
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 26 August 2016.

13 comments:

peter petterson said...

You continue to write about the settler state, it hasn't been since 1909. The so-called Maori king, the former storeman, certainly lacks the class of his mother. As they say, more arse than class.

Polly said...

Another thoughtful article, I have pondered the article for sometime and careful consideration leaves me with this;

I believe that King Tuheitia's words fell on death ears amongst about 95% of New Zealanders (this is a guesstimate).
Most days I witness the central city Auckland's diversity of peoples and that's were I sense that political leadership will come from at local and central government in the future, stop-starting in 1-2 years time and being full blown by 2025.
Maori and European cultures are under attack in our country, caused by reckless immigration policies and sell-out politicians throughout Parliament.
The Treaty is given recognition by our European/British culture but these new Dollar colonists will not bother to pay even lip service to Maori Kings and Queens and their forlorn speeches.
King Tuheitia and his adviser Tuku($54 underpants)Morgan are building false dreams and preying on those adherents to keep power-base and have the ability to buy more expensive underwear.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The Maori king – unlike the British monarch has not got a constitutional position which forbids interference in politics. So I imagine he can say what he damn well likes :).
But if we are going to be imagining a British king – let's imagine one that supports and promotes and even sells quack medicines such as coffee enemas for cancer, who is in favour of eugenics, who – in spite of professing to be a green – produces 150 times the average person's amount of carbon in a year travelling by private jet, whose staff badgered at least one university to discipline a scientist who disagreed with Charles's wacky ideas, who spends £6 million a year on servants, but in spite of having a huge personal income, bludges off the state. And now imagine him interfering in politics.

Gerrit said...

Polly is right, Not only do recent immigrants not give a toss about the treaty, neither do the remaining white immigrants either. The treaty is a basket case best consigned to the annals of history.

The reason it is a basket case is that in a one person one vote democracy, it is not possible for 15% of the people (Maori) having an equal representation to the other 85% (Tauiwi).

For that is what dual sovereignty entails. 50% of sovereignty allocated to 15% of the people and the other 50% to the remaining 85%.

There is a second/third and forth colonisation happening that will make the treaty meaningless.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"the former storeman"
You say that is if it's a bad thing. :)

Dennis Frank said...

Finding people in Aotearoa who take the concept of Maori royalty seriously is a fool's errand. In 67 years I'm still awaiting my first such encounter. More germane would be the number of Maoris who personally declare their loyalty to their Monarch: I await the first poll on that with keen anticipation (combined with pragmatic recognition of the unlikelihood of anyone actually doing one).

As a former storeman myself, I'm in solidarity with the guy: speaking his political mind shows a refreshing capacity for being more than a sterile figure-head.

The dual sovereignty frame only obtains if one integrates both versions of the Treaty. Such an integral view is so difficult that I have yet to discern anyone attempting it as intellectual endeavour. I bought Claudia Orange's book when it hit the shops in the late '80s and immediately agreed that the Maori version provided British recognition of the local sovereignty of the chiefs who signed the Treaty.

However those who did not sign did not achieve such recognition. Hobson's subsequent proclamations extended British sovereignty over Aotearoa. Anyone trying to invoke a principle of local sovereignty (as I've done elsewhere online) is on historical ground that isn't solid enough: history proves that no general principle was applied.

I've also criticised the Greens for trying to use the Treaty as a basis of biculturalism in a multicultural society. They ought to try a sophisticated frame for the new millennium and ditch that banality. Why should Maori be allowed to preserve their patriarchy just because they're tangata whenua? We ought to eliminate the pakeha patriarchy too, of course, but that's a global project still lying in the too-hard basket (with the controllers selecting token women as political leaders to mask their operation). Another female pontiff would be a helpful move - Pope Joan II?

greywarbler said...

I didn't know about Winston Churchill
a highly politicised King, ably assisted by Winston Churchill (who, in real life, fought right up until Edward’s abdication speech to keep him on the throne) David Lloyd-George (Britain’s Prime Minister during World War I) and Sir Oswald Mosley (leader of the British Union of Fascists) could have completely upended the British constitution.

That's food for thought, has a bitter taste.

As far as the Maori King and his approval of the Maori Party and Mana,
he may be thinking that would provide balance to Ratana who have a big political profile leaning to Labour. So whichever Party and political persuasion Maori are firmly in.

But partisan paramount leaders such as kings, as you say Chris, have to watch that they do not become embedded and part of the furniture, being taken for granted by those they affiliate with, and pre-empting radical moves to shake inertia in progress in the political scene for Maori in particular.

greywarbler said...

@Peter Petterson
As they say, more arse than class.
That's the comment of a snob, who lacks class, but seems to desire to socially climb. Could have been drawn from Katherine Mansfield's The Doll's House.

two excluded girls - "the little Kelveys". They are said to have a prisoner as their father and the mother works as a cleaner. None of the other children talks to them. They were even formally instructed by their parents not to get in contact with them....[The other children] tease the two girls with remarks like "Is it true you`re going to be a servant when you grow up, Lil Kelvey?" or "O-oh, how awful!".

Charles E said...

I fully agree with GS. Hell, I nearly choked saying that!

Who gives a damn what this man says but good on him for being a former storeman, and being born in the right bed. Right for a few anachronistic pretenders. And Charles, may be a proper constitutional monarch one day but probably not for long and will be followed by a much sounder man. Our monarchy has survived madness before.

The idea that in our thriving and arguably the oldest democracy (the first to allow women including Maori women full voting rights as equal British citizens) we could have some shared sovereignty with a disparate bunch of dreamers who also happen to have a few ancestors with special blood is disgraceful as well as delusional. The Age of Blood Rulers is over so in our rock solid democracy Parliament is sovereign. Long live the sovereign!

Those who argue that a treaty between the local feuding blood warlords with the most guns and the imperial superpower constitutional monarchy of the day binds a universally franchised democracy today should be ignored at first, but if they persist, locked up for sedition.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Mr trotter, you appear to be attempting to imply Winston Churchill was a closet Nazi.

I have read much of Churchill's writing of those times and I think you are mistaken. He certainly was not happy for the King to abdicate but he never was a sympathiser with or supporter of Nazi Germany or Fascist italy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I wish I could say the same Charles:

"Those who argue that a treaty between the local feuding blood warlords with the most guns and the imperial superpower constitutional monarchy of the day binds a universally franchised democracy today should be ignored at first, but if they persist, locked up for sedition."

A treaty is a treaty. You can't just "get rid of it" as someone once said to me. If you want to get rid of the treaty, you must revert to the status quo ante. Which means you must go back to Europe or wherever. I on the other hand have been promised a job if this ever happens. :)

greywarbler said...

Charles E
So much of what you say is risible. You are old enough to see what can go wrong in countries with old political systems but not be aware of NZs disappearing democracy of the old tradition, and the rise of the technological falsification of it. Our democracy is being photoshopped and misquoted all the time, even not quoted at all.

And Finkensein Edward was sympathetic to Nazi Germany, which was in Hitler's pocket. The political elite would have pushed him into the arms of Wallis so they had an excuse to talk to him quietly, firmly and apparently sadly, and get him to go, and then be able to stop holding their breaths.

Churchill was strong on empah and I guess the tradition of the established and respected Monarchy but he couldn't have achieved as much as he did. if Edward had stayed. There was a lot of aristocracy around Churchill and they could be a bit stuffy when it came to their traditional
power and being countermanded as 'Stuffy' Dowding noted after realising that he had stood on their Lordships' toes too often.

With a king swaying in the wind like a pivoting rooster on a roof Britain could not have held to its position. They gave us a few more great years before fascism got its hooks in again as it has now.

Charles E said...

And so much of what you say gw (what's your real name?) is incomprehensible.. To you and GS I say that treaty was very important, is still important, is still useful but does not bind us, if we decide it can and should be replaced. That is a wonderful thing called an unfettered parliament which we the people, elect every three years. I think it the highest form of government ever invented.
GS if you think very old treaties, where neither party exists anymore should bind us absolutely forever then a parallel is the US Constitution which means wild eyed rednecks can legally own Uzi machine guns and the KKK can hold meetings in black hoods and preach their bile.
In a civilised and well constituted state like ours, we have the wonderful blessing of the inheritance we got from Britain which the poor US threw away by their childish revolution: A ruling system that moves with human progress. So we (inc Maori) no longer cower before Kings and Chiefs who rule through their blood combined with the weapons they hold. So that treaty does not and cannot bind us today, unless we decide it should.