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Swazi King heads for Abbey - as tear gas drifts at home

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Paul Mason | 21:16 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

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Newsnight has learned that the King of Swaziland, Mswati III, is planning to visit London for the Royal Wedding, bringing an entourage of "around fifty" according to sources inside Swaziland.

Members of the Swazi royal family have told relatives they expect to stay at London's Dorchester Hotel, where a double room costs £450 a night.

Swaziland's economy has nosedived under the impact of the global financial crisis, an aid freeze by NGOs worried about corruption, and declining exports. 63% of its population earn less than $1.25 a day, and 80% earn less than $2.

The news comes as Swaziland's political situation remains tense. On Tuesday police in Swaziland broke up a 1,000 strong demonstration using water cannon and teargas, having previously arrested the entire leadership of the country's trade union movement.

Meanwhile two student leaders arrested during the protest on 12 April have been charged with terror-related offences after police claimed to have found explosives at the opposition's headquarters.

Buckingham Palace said they were "not in a position to confirm or deny" that King Mswati is on the guest list for the Royal Wedding. The Dorchester refused to confirm or deny that King Mswati will be their guest next week.

Buckingham Palace have so far declined to issue a VIP guest list for the wedding but I understand that, while no non-Royal heads of state have been invited, "over 40" members of foreign royal families have been invited "as is the protocol" on occasions like this.

Click here for my 2006 exposee of the royal-sponsored "goat cure" for HIV in Swaziland.


  • Comment number 1.

    Didn't you hear Obama's speech today Paul?

    Basically admitted the US is broke, have to raise US debt limits which is basically announcing QE3 - more money printing.

    So what happens now? Does this admission that the US is in depression tank stock markets and commodities or will they soare to even morel udicrous sums?

    What about inflation? If the money printing results in soaring stocks, commodities and commodities such as food and fuel then the savings of every one are going to be wiped out.

    Obama was the big hope wasn't he. So much for change.

    Riots in Swaziland for food might soon become riots in US cities.

  • Comment number 2.


    Max Keiser (if he is not a fantasist) has been spotlighting American unsustainability for some time. I asked before: why no mention here - parallel universe?

    As for the Swazi king - he was educated at an English public school, I gather.

    Nuff sed..

  • Comment number 3.

    America being broke is the biggest con going. The world including America is richer than it's ever been it's just the wealth is being concentrated in the hands of an ever smaller group of people.

    There should be riots to demand the money back that has been stolen from us by the fraudsters in the banking world and to stop the concentration of wealth in increasingly corrupt elite.

    As for the the Swazi king coming for the wedding, who's really surprised about the sort of scum that our political and societal elites will mix with in order to further "the national interest"?

  • Comment number 4.


    I got done on the on the other thread for putting a double 't' on tishy!

    You're not a flighty bird are you?

  • Comment number 5.

    As with many ultra low national daily income figures it often reflects a high percentage of involvement in subsitence farming amongst the population beyond the reach of financial influence.

    Reminds me of a film I saw a long time ago now about a coca cola bottle that was thrown out of an plane window and landed amongst a subsistence farming african tribe.

    The meek shall inherit the earth.

    Non of this is new.

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 supplemental

    Worth 15 mins of anyones time this whom wants to know what is going on in the world.

    and as for this one...

    well its just funny.

  • Comment number 7.

    You've prompted a stroll down memory lane, Paul, to the Commonwealth Institute school trip I was taken on while at primary school in the 1960s. I remember colourful flags and a sense of pride.
    The Institute building is now derelict, as far as I know. The Commonwealth was never really anything except a country letting itself down gently after the dismantling of its empire. The common values in the Singapore Declaration, including the eradication of poverty and economic inequality clearly count for nothing in Swaziland (or indeed anywhere else, as they cannot be enforced). In some ways I feel sorry for William inheriting this pretence. (But at least it gives us a better chance at sport.)

  • Comment number 8.

    There's still many Britains who love the monachy soap opera.
    Maybe there's still some Swazi's who love their own version too.

    For others the monarchies are examples of the excesses enjoyed by the rich whilst the rest of us are exploited.

    Monarchy, football, showbiz, it's all a distraction from the key issue of the rate of profit running our lives.

    More people need to think about what money is, what value is.
    Instead of diving straight into Marx's Capital, let David Harvey walk you in

  • Comment number 9.

    'Newsnight has learned ... according to sources inside Swaziland'

    How does this 'learning' happen in practice again?

    If it's based on sources, one hopes they are impeccable. Or, maybe not, comings and goings-wise.

    '1. At 22:16pm 15th Apr 2011, tawse57 '

    On a related issue, speaking of reporting in the round, on matters economic, this seemed interesting...

    I wonder how it will be covered elsewhere, if at all? On a purely factual, objective basis, of course.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did not spot anything in the Swazi article on the USA economy but what the hell some interesting stuff. Perhaps bloggees could run the show. The bloggor e.g. Paul Robert et al could have a blog where they write "Hi you guys got anything interesting to say today"
    Did you say King Mswati - surely its a woman - Queen Ms. Wati. I am all for embarrassing gate crashers at a royal weddings and an opportunity for UK protesters and Swazi ex-pats to let them know would they think of this absolute monarchy.

  • Comment number 11.

    Isn't the King of Bahrain coming even more incredible?

  • Comment number 12.

    Out of interest, did your source know whether they bought return or one way tickets?

  • Comment number 13.

    If, thirty years ago, Gaddafi had married into the Senussis and been proclaimed King of Libya, he might well have an invitation to the Royal Wedding too. On the other hand, if what is happening in Swaziland were happening in Europe, there would be a diplomatic freeze. I get the impression that because it's happening in far Africa and King Mswati has umpteen wives, it's all regarded as a bit of a joke. Except that it isn't: especially if you're unfortunate enough to be in Swaziland.

    As for Osborne's comments about the Obama budget, the truth is that realpolitik in the US is constrained by the deep schism in US society and Republican fantasy economics. The end result will be disaster for the US people one way or another, and accelerate the end of the US as a great power.

    BTW I would treat the tax status of Germany in the chart with suspicion. I suspect real tax rates are higher, as the German welfare state is based on compulsory insurance deductions to non-government bodies.

    Back to the Royal Wedding - if having such events means we have to tolerate unpleasant foreign despots on our soil, then bring on the republic!

  • Comment number 14.

    If the King of Bahrain is coming too, we need some citizen's arrests!

  • Comment number 15.


    You have to smile (a deeply sad smile) when you realise that we freely kill the very people that foreign tyrants may not kill. And we find it easy JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE FOREIGN AND DISTANT (the antithesis of indigenous, be it noted).

    In passing: when the 9/11 massacre emerges into the light:

    The circus will come to UN-ville, and a whole new lie will have to be constructed.

  • Comment number 16.

    the 'anything to shoot? Only the natives' mentality is still alive, Long live the Empire. Pip Pip.

  • Comment number 17.


    It stinks - like the Empire.

  • Comment number 18.

    Monarchy is a form of social apartheid. Why do we think our monarchy is a 'good' form of apartheid? Monarchy by definition is anti human rights and anti democracy. Monarchy is a role game based on a narrative of discrimination. In what way is that 'good'?

    Role gaming monarchy can only survive through oppression of human rights and freedoms. The current uk treason laws are gagging laws where it is illegal to even debate who could be the nation's head of state. The current 'national' oath is not a national oath but a personal allegiance [like the SS to hilter] to the rights and position of one family. The national anthem is not a national anthem but a monarchist sing song.

    So we need to abolish treason laws to restore freedom of speech, have a new state oath [that is dedicated to the rights and freedoms of ALL the people] and a new national anthem that really is about the nation.

    As for the bbc and others normalising the monarchist narrative of apartheid is that public service? There is no balance in their monarchist flag waving reports? No debate about the gagging treason laws, the fanatical state oath to one family etc?

    why do afghans have a greater level of personal sovereignty than we do? are we inferior people? if so where does that opinion come from? Monarchist role gamers? Who wish to inflict their fetish narrative upon others so they can play at being superior at our expense?

    So it is no surprise that monarchists support the idea of monarchy and invite all sorts of the unelected. Time to stop pretending they are harmless. Time to move on. Time to progress and move forward into a better world.

  • Comment number 19.


    Right on the money - the money we aren't going to get our hands on.

    Monarchy is - as you so beautifully expressed - the lynch-pin of Britain’s corrupt hierarchy. The gullible have been sold the idea that, post-allowances-scandal (note how allowances became 'expenses' - very 1984) we are purged in high places.

    I have just been told to get stuffed, again, by my MP. Why shouldn't he?

    Britain is in a very silly 'space' (going forward). I suppose if we get total collapse of Mammon, as seems likely, we might come out the other end of chaos with a better deal. But I have to say, my money is on another bunch of psychopaths emerging to take over.

    Let's hope we all get sucked into a Higgs Boson, at CERN. (Ever wondered why that thing is attached to Switzerland?)

  • Comment number 20.

    @18,19 Gentlemen:

    Some people argue that the idea of "President Thatcher" or "President Blair" is a good reason to keep a monarchy. However, why do we need a single head of state? The whole notion panders to the egotism of politcians.

    Rather than a single "Protector of the Commonwealth" (I do have a bit of a sentimental attachement to old Noll), perhaps we should have a council of three Guardians, aged betwwen 50 and 70, elected annually by STV. They should be able to veto, but not amend, legislation by majority vote and have a chair who rotates monthly to act as spokesman and meet foreign dignitaries etc. When standing for office, perhaps candidates for Guardianship should not be able to campaign as such, but nonetheless be subject to question and answer sessions from the public.

    No more royal weddings with unpleasant guests, no more Lords Lieutenants or any of the other machinery giving the unelected rich power over our daily lives. Cleanse the Augean Stables (and you know what they had to be cleansed of!) ;-D

  • Comment number 21.

    I used to think it was a good thing that numerous sons of dictors, pseudo -monarchys and pseudo democracies attended expensive UK educations, be it Jordan, Libya, Syria to name but a few.

    It would, I reasoned, help to mitigate their excesses by being exposed to a worldly wise education in the 'free' world and by degrees those dictators and pseudo -democracies would become more moderate, more akin to our own system and therefore better !!!!!.

    How naive !!

    Now I know they send their kids here as by far the best example of and training in 'How to maintain your power base and wealth at the expense of the majority'.

    We have it down to a 't' so much so that most of the population does not even realise that they are in fact ruled by an elite club of established families and businesses and therefore do not cause much trouble.

    I make no wonder every son of a despot beats a path to the UK's door to get into Westminster school or Eton followed by Oxford or Cambridge or the LSE to be trained in how to pull that one off.

    We offer by far the best training for their future roles money can buy and you may even get to go to a fancy wedding or two... get this.... paid for willingly by the British Taxpayer..

    Genius !!! they all cry into their caviar, while holding back peals of the type of exquisite laughter that can only be shared by those 'in' on a very secret joke hardly anyone else gets....delicious...

    Heck the taxpayers can even by made to bail out their friends in the banks when they get a bit carried away gambling.

    Genius !!! How do they do it, its amazing!! I must send my kids to be educated in England..I dont care how much it costs....

    They are in awe of us as the ultimate manifestation of a successful oppressive regime.

    The wierd thing is having said all the above is that ...well.. I quite like the Queen and Kate Middleton's singular and well documented pursuit of a prince from kindergarden through to 'that dress' has an admirable quality about it for the mere fact that well ... she did it.

    I dont suppose Prince Harry will have a paternity test any time soon either.. but he does look awfully like James Hewitt the Princess of Wales former riding instructor.

    Most people know these things, but the bottom line is they can not be bothered to do anything about it because they are either not driven enough or not suffereing enough to be motivated to take action.

  • Comment number 22.

    #20 - Sasha Clarkson

    So the arguments that those countries best place to quickly recover their democratic institutions after the last war were the European monarchies, that Spain went from a fascist dictatorship to a functioning democracy after restoration, that Greece fell under the control of a a military junta after the deposition of the monarchy, that those countries best positioned to survive the turmoil currently engulfing the Middle East are the monarchies - all this falls in the face of your assertion than monarchy is an antiquated symbol of wealth, power and privilege does it?

    Why is it that when ever the subject of monarchy raises its head, everyone immediately refers to the British experience? Does it not occur to you that Norway, Denmark, Sweden,the Netherlands, Spain and Luxembourg - even Belgium which has no government - even Belgium which has no government - are functioning democracies? Why is it that Canada and New Zealand, long independent from the grasp of empire still continue to have the Queen as head of state and even Australia seems to have put republicanism on hold?

    Would it be too much to ask that you set aside your personal bias for a few minutes and consider the possibility that it works?

  • Comment number 23.

    Whilst what is happening in Swaziland is worrying and of concern, perhaps we all should be looking closer to home.

    A friend texted me the below link this evening and told me to read the comments - it is from a parent who believes that her child, and others, are being discriminated in school because they do not speak Welsh.

    I was shocked when I read what has been written. In any other country with any other race or language such blatant discrimination would be raising concern from politicians, journalists and the chattering classes.

    I can't see the Welsh media reporting it and I could not think of anywhere else to post this to make it more public.

    I am Welsh and proud to be Welsh but there are some very unsavoury things going on in Wales at the moment. Most of it goes un-reported yet you hear people in the street talking about such things all the time.

    It worries me that Wales is heading down the same road as Northern Ireland went in the 70s.

  • Comment number 24.

    @22 Oooh - I've struck a raw nerve haven't I? Good! It's a pity that your tirade shows so little knowledge of the history and reality of some of the countries you are discussing.

    1) Greece. The reason that Constantine was ousted, and that there's been no serious movement to restore the Glücksbergs, is that the monarchy's partisanship and interference in politics were always part of the Greek problem and never part of the solution. Look it up if you're serious.

    2) Middle East Monarchies? The Hashemites of Jordan are a basically decent bunch, (despite being descended from Mohammad); they are, as usual, hanging on by the skin of their teeth. (They should of course be Kings of Hejaz (Mecca) - look up Hussain ibn Ali.) Their cousins in Iraq were less fortunate and came to a sticky end in 1958, possibly because the creation of Iraq by the British was one of our less successful enterprises. The Saudis are bandit upstarts who got power on the back of Wahabbism - and keep control by bribery, force and suppression - is that the example you wish us to emulate?

    Where should we look next for an example of tolerance and stability - Bahrain perhaps? Perhaps not. What about the Pahlavis of Iran? Not really - despite massive support from the UK and US, their excesses led to the Ayatollahs; I doubt they'll be back even if the Ayatollahs get their comeuppance.

    What about the Bourbons in Spain? Well, to be fair, Juan Carlos has been a good man. He achieved this by a couple of decades of toadying up to Franco, who thought his father was too left wing. But the incompetence of the family was a disaster for Spain for at least two centuries. Consider the Carlist wars for a start.

    What about Sweden? An interesting Royal family that one - the House of Bernadotte, descended from a commoner and renegade general of Napoleon. However, you won't find the Swedish King making the King's speech, or even giving the Royal Assent. There is no such thing as the royal assent in Sweden, as the monarch is no longer even the nominal chief executive.

    The Netherlands monarchy is very slimmed down compared to ours, but that didn't stop the late Prince Bernhard from causing embarrassment on a number of occasions.

    Coming closer to home, let's consider our monarchy's closest relatives, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas of Belgium? Again, given their role in the Belgian colonies, let's not.

    So what about the British ex-dominions then? Well, they all have one advantage, there isn't an entrenched hereditary aristocracy, fighting to retain what it has; and of course the monarchy is absent - a distant romantic symbol at best. That helps a bit, but I wouldn't bet on the status-quo remaining for another generation.

    The Queen has done her best to do a decent job, but we have been lucky. We could have had Edward VIII, or another Farmer George. Charles is fundamentally decent I suppose, but an old man in a hurry: not very bright and with delusions of adequacy. I wouldn't trust him with MY freedom and liberties.

    Some of the present probelems in the Middle East are the result of Presidents trying to establish their positions as hereditary in all but name, de-facto monarchies in fact.

    In Britain, the monarchy is at the centre of an undemocratic system of patronage and control. Does it "work"? I'm sorry to ask the question, but - in the last 30 years, which country has been better governed, the UK or Germany? Would having the Hohenzollerns back make things better for them? Ask the rest of the world!

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 - tawse57

    Following your link, the last paragraph of the lead article reads as follows:

    "The worrying thing about this story is that so many people believed it – because in the current political climate, it sounded all too plausible. The good news is: it’s not true – for now, anyway!"

    A bit of scaremongering, perhaps? Preemptive strike?

  • Comment number 26.

    @23 Tawse - look at the date of the report. There are certainly many reasons to criticise the unholy alliance between the Taffia and the Gogocracy, but I think you've been had.

    The fact that you believe it says something though.

    Perhaps here in God's own county, (Pembrokeshire that is), we can set up our own language tests?

    Twll tun pob gogiau - Way ay bay! (This could have a similar derivation to the "Why Aye Boy" of North East England, probably because of the common Viking influence.)

  • Comment number 27.

    @24, 25 Oops - threnodio_II, you got one over me there - I didn't bother to read to the bottom of the link.

  • Comment number 28.

    I can't take seriously any Royal family who called themselves the Glücksbergs. It sounds like a Hollywood comedy starring Ben Stiller.

    No, the article on that Gogwatch site owas an April Fool but it is the comments below the article, posted in recent days and today, that friends were directing me towards reading.

    I am hearing more and more friends talk openly about how worried they are that their children are being pushed or forced into learning Welsh.

    The comments at the bottom of that article are from someone who writes about her own child's experiences. The poster mentions that whilst the article was an April Fool it could have been real and gives a vivid account of what is going on in Wales.

    Read the comments below the article.

  • Comment number 29.

    #24 - Sasha Clarkson

    "Good! It's a pity that your tirade shows so little knowledge of the history and reality of some of the countries you are discussing".

    Oh, pity. I had thought of you as one of the more serious contributors rather than another of the insulting brigade. To start with, it was not a tirade (unless you have deliberately misinterpreted a cut and paste error). My point, which you spectacularly fail to address, is the way in which constitutional monarchies in Europe have tended to lend stability to the political structure rather than undermine it.

    It was never my intention to defend any particular royal house or family, but of course you knew that. You make a reasonable case for some of my examples but none whatever in relation Greece, where the monarchy was succeeded by a military junta or Spain where Juan Carlos had a clear choice and moved decisively towards democracy.

    Given that there was no Germany of which to be emperor until 1871, your Hohenzollern jibe is a bit far fetched as well. They were kings of Prussia for most of the period they were in power but let us not let anything as inconvenient as fact get in the way of your evidence against me of having "so little knowledge".

    Unlike you, I do not accuse you of lack of knowledge. I do, however, suggest that you are putting it at the service of an entrenched position which excludes the possibility that modern constitutional monarchy operating in a democratic environment is a perfectly functional system of government.

    "In the last 30 years, which country has been better governed?" Should that not be in the last 21 years or should we bring the DDR into the debate? "Ask the rest of the world". Why? Since they signally failed to conquer it twice last century, how would the rest of the world know?

    No, I am sorry, it won't do Mr. Clarkson. You have your position and you are entitled to it but I do not do tirades. Pity the same cannot be said of you.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sasha Clarkson

    Well OK guys, I have had my little spat with Sasha but, on the language issue, the most recent figures I can find suggest that 21.7% of the population actually speak Welsh. If what tawse is suggesting is that there is an inbuilt prejudice against children from non-Welsh speaking families, does this not amount to a privileged elite attempting to to impose their will on a significant majority?

    I am not Welsh so you may accuse me of reverse prejudice but it seems to me that (with the possibility of a small cluster in South America), nowhere in the world is the Welsh language of any serious value to the wider academic or commercial community. I do not say that it is of no cultural value - far from it - but what would we make of Catalans or Basques with a command of their local language but none of Spanish?

    However much Welsh national pride may be dented by this, the national language of education needs to be English if for no better reason than that it stand the student in far better circumstances when cast out into the real world. Speaking Welsh may well be desirable but discriminating against children who cannot is clearly unacceptable.

  • Comment number 31.

    @28 The Glücksbergs are descended from the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein, a cadet branch of the Danish Royal family, the Oldenburgs - really a North German family. They went to Greece after its liberation from the Ottomans, because in the 19th century it was thought that all new countries needed a King from a minor German princely house. The Battenbergs (eng Mountbattens) tried to get ensconced in Bulgaria but lost out to the another branch of the British/Belgian Royal Family, the Saxe-Cobug-Gothas, (Prince Albert's family.)

    The current head of the Bulgarian Saxe-Coburgs is Симеон Борисов Сакскобургготски (Simeon Borisov Saxcoburggottski - you couldn't make this up!). He was elected to the the Bulgarian parliament in 2005, his party coming second. He becme prime minister, and took an oath to protect the country's republican Constitution. However, in the 2009 election Simeon's party got a mere 3.8% of the vote and no seats.

    Despite the elelctoral setback for his dreams of greatness, all might not be lost. In 2010, after the death of a distant cousin, Simeon became the 6th Prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry, former Magnates of Hungary, and a claimant to the holding of the castles of Csábrág and Szitnya, both in modern day Slovakia, lost to communist regime of Czechoslovakia in 1945. If that doesn't materialise, perhaps Libya might be looking for a new King soon?

    Back to Wales; my biggest mistake was voting for the Assembly when it was set up. The effect on education has been poor. Here in Pembs, modern foreign language uptake is at al all time low. However, back in the General election, the Plaid Candidate came 4th, having come second in one of the assembly elections. May will be interesting!

  • Comment number 32.

    I could be wrong, but I think that 21% figure includes all the children who are forced to 'speak' it up until the age of about 15.

    If you remove the majority of them who no longer 'speak' it after that age then the actual figure of adults who speak Welsh is much lower.

    But all the power, especially the Media in Wales, is in the hands of this small group of people. Fears like that parent highlighted about his or her child's education simply go unreported in the Welsh Media but they are things you hear almost daily on the streets in Wales.

    I know a cameraperson who used to work for ITV Wales and BBC Wales who moved to Bristol because he did not want his children forced to learn Welsh. You hear of people moving out because of this reason increasingly.

    Sometimes you think there is a plan to eliminate all Welsh people who do not speak Welsh from all the important jobs.

    Back to Call of Duty and the person who keeps sniping me in the back every time I try to capture a flag. I wonder if it is Paul Mason replaying WW2?

  • Comment number 33.

    #31 - Sasha Clarkson

    Fascinating stuff (para 3). I have lived in Hungary for some years and the conventional thinking here is that, the Arpádian line having died out long ago, the only legitimate claimant to the throne would have to be from the Hapsburg line, the current legitimate person being Otto von Hapsburg. This would obviously not be acceptable, even in a country which is obsessed with past glory including a fascination with royalty generally. If the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry has a legitimate claim, I am sure many here would be interested though - of course - only if they got Slovakia, Transylvania, most of Slovenia, a good chunk of Croatia and a health slice of Serbia back as part of the deal. Trianon was, after all travesty was it not?

    On the other hand ...

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 Forcing Welsh will destroy it anyway, just as has happened to Irish Gaelic. Welsh is being forced upon people because not enough people DO find speaking it desirable.

    In any case, Celticism is just a myth. There is genetic evidence that the indigenous population of Wales is, as Tacitus thought, Iberian in origin, related to the Basques. Welsh is just the language of a later ruling class. This happens all over the world. Modern Egyptians are not really Arabs, they just speak Arabic because the native Coptic was slowly driven out by the international realpolitik of the various Islamic empires.

    The Wikipedia article gets the chronology wrong, as the arrival of the Iberian people in Wales predates the arrival of the Celts in Europe by a couple of millenia.

  • Comment number 35.

    A republic is not enough.

    Direct democracy is needed.

  • Comment number 36.


    A council of guardians sounds like a good idea to me and three being a good number.

    The entry criteria being:

    1) Never been an active member of any of the top three parties incumbent during his / her term.
    2) a minimum age (not sure 50 to 70 is right though, maybe a tad younger and older).

    We can keep the royal family for the ceremonial duties if we so wish, I dont have a problem with that actually and I am sure there could be a value economics case for it.

    A question though...who would you put on the council of guardians?

    Not easy to think of anyone, I am struggling..all I could come up with off the bat was these two.

    Joanna Lumley -probably because I read an article about her recently and she seems wise and morally courageous which is not something I often think when I read about people nowadays.

    The Arch Bishop of York - his humbleness, intelligence, humor and active human empathy is something I have admired for some time, his current post is irrelevent in that regard.

    A bishop and an actress...y'know it may just work :)

  • Comment number 37.

    @33, @35 Ha ha - you get a better class of blogger here! :-)

    @34 Direct democracy would need a few preconditions to work: the first would be to blow up the Sky satellite! And it would have to be a Swiss-type system, not one that needed attendance at meetings with long boring speeches. I had enough of those in my student days!

  • Comment number 38.


    Only drop-outs, cretins and extreme reactionaries stay outside the INSTITUTIONALISING envelope of schooling. Tell me I'm wrong - show working.

    That is why universal suffrage is a mistake, and why we are all immature. The most immature (most intensely schooled?) over-compensate by achieving high office.

    You want me to name them?

    Internally small (immature) individuals seek the larger stage and the weaker opponent. "Let's bomb bogus democracy into Johnnie Foreigner!"

    On basis of the above, The New Jerusalem will be jerry-built - no better than the old one. Starting from here is not an option.

  • Comment number 39.

    I've just read a guest list courtesy of the Daily Mail, one of the guests has a quadruple barreled name.
    The sooner the revolution comes the better as far as I'm concerned so that we can put these poor creatures out of their misery.
    "Orff with their heads" I say.

  • Comment number 40.

    As Paul predicted, the True Finns are doing rather well in the election today.

    It will not stop there, more elections and more attendent individual nation demands for euro policy changes are around the corner.

    I wonder how the Brussells machine will react to having its power / policy / unity eroded by democracy in such fragile times.

    Do they have a 'plan b' if the people they serve increasingly decide they dont want to play along with fantasy austerity in order to prop up the existing unsustainable system.

    Do they have any 'emergency powers' I wonder under the EU constitution.

    Are they still capable of accepting their electorate's wisdom over their own or will they choose to use the un-elected ECB as a stick to beat them with, if you dont play ball your ATMs go down.

    A good old fashioned european war with the usual protagonists 21st century style.

  • Comment number 41.

    BTW here are the links on the "Goat Serum AIDS" story, which weren't available above:

    It really does make one VERY angry.

  • Comment number 42.

    I had a very pleasant conversation a couple of weeks ago with a bloke who had a four barrelled surname. It transpired that some of my forebears were tenants to some of his so we had an animated discussion about the historical landscape.

    A few years ago I had a similar sort of conversation with a royal aide who I later learned had half the alphabet behind his name. We debated the role of King Charles I in the English Civil War. Of course, we did not agree but we both enjoyed an informed conversation and parted on good terms.

    The way to handle the upper crust is not to grovel, they go to the toilet same as us, or should that be the lavatory? Martin Luther King enjoined us to judge each other by the content of our characters and that is good enough for me.

    The people I really have trouble with are the sharp-elbowed lower middle class who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. There you are going through life quite happily and you suddenly find yourself having to deal with some nonentity with pretensions, forever fearful as to their position in some pecking order contained within their tiny brain. They don’t have jobs, they have careers and they have to be rich! These are the class enemies, the ghastly people who have ruined our country. It is they who need to be seen off.

    As for the rest of it let us recall those fine words spoken in 1647 by Tom Rainborowe, Siegemaster to the Parliamentary Army `that the poorest he that is in England has a life to live, as the greatest he...that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under a government.’

    duvinrouge has it right: the only solution is direct democracy.

    To my mind the toffs would be well able to cut it in an equal society as it would remind them of school or even the army. It’s the others who will be the problem.

    Meantime can we have some rain please, my vegetable beds are parched.

  • Comment number 43.


    Direct democracy, I had to check my understanding of that term was correct and having done so I agree but with the caveat (of an engineer) about the challenges of setting it up such that it is free from manipulation and workable on a practical level.

    - It would need to be internet based.

    - everyone eligible to vote would need a unique identifier ...may be an issue with retina scan (or similar)records being centrally stored for example, such things are not popular.

    - There may still need to be some elected guardians of the direct democracy system (not a political role - no politicians allowed )as there would need to be some formulations of options to vote on and deciding on the type and wording of numerous mini referenda. Someone would also have to make key decisions immediately on occasion when there is no time for a referendum, equally we would not want a referendum on a daily basis, who will determine what is routine and what gets referred to the 'weekly' referendum there are limits to it I think. Those individuals guardians of the system would have to be elected and rotated regularly to keep em clean.

    Difficult but doable.

  • Comment number 44.

    The biggest issue is supporting, by inviting him, a man with 14 'wives'.

    The biggest problem the world over is lack of women's rights. The connection between women's rights and birth rate is not questioned.

    Accepting that we will be 9b on the planet by 2050 is surely a climate change issue - but is not a given - cos it could be affected by changing the women's rights situation.

    Surely its easier to change that than to change from an oil economy. (All needed, but the big issue Im focussing on here is not tackled, considered 'too hard')

    Women's rights are the core problem in Afghanistan, all those old men marrying wife after wife, who produce child after child cos they have no choice and then die cos they dont get their share of food.

    The most positive thing a country like the UK could - for climate issues, and for a more stable world - is, first, model equal rights for women - we're a long way from that, we've never had women in more than about 16% of parliamentary seats.

    And, second, to make overseas aid, the one thing we can legitimately do in relation to other countries the way we want, conditional on women's rights. (Legitimate as opposed to going in and bombing countries. What we do with our money is our legitimate choice) This is not heavy, we would be helping the people who need it most, and ultimatey helping the country - if they improved women's rights, which is synonymous with development.

    Inviting big boy with his 14 wives is definitelystep in the WRONG direction

  • Comment number 45.

    #30 threnodio_II

    You make some good points. When a lecturer in a Welsh university comments that he is asked by students to write essays in Welsh because they feel uncomfortable using English, as in the below article, something very wrong is being done to lots of young Welsh people.

    It is imprisoning them within Wales socially and economically. What is the future for the Welsh economy as it goes further down this road.

    #44 stayingcool

    History has shown us that Human Rights, equality and liberty are best served,as you so correctly state, by empowering Women.

    The problem is that, even in our own country, it has often taken sacrifice by Women to achieve this combined with a change in mindset by a sizeable number of the male population.

    When I read such things about how Women the World over are often victimised and oppressed by religion, regimes or just over-sexed kings with a belief in some god-given right, I am reminded of that brilliant speech in 'The West Wing' where the President's PR lady voices her disgust at the way that Women are treated in a certain oil-rich Middle Eastern country.

    I suppose the reason we keep in with this 'king' is because we might require a landing strip in Southern Africa are some unknown point in the future.

  • Comment number 46.

    #42,43 Direct democracy
    Support this in principle. As you say the devil is in the detail.
    Who decides on the questions?
    Who carries out the decisions?
    Would we tolerate Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell or Davina McCall as Prime Minister or Ant & Dec as Ministers of Prisons.
    Would direct democracy pander to the baser instincts of the majority, influenced by a dumbed down and lobbied media?
    Is there room for a sense of humour and satire in direct democracy? As the people wish it, what is there to criticise? Would there be checks and balances?

  • Comment number 47.

    Ok, had a few dops, (yes I am English and that's an Africans term) nevertheless, I wonder? when was Mr Mason last in Swaziland, indeed when was he last in Southern Africa? Given the fact that I live in the Kingdom of Swaziland it strikes me that irresponsible journalism is stoking the flames of civil unrest when the truth is, this kingdom is a jewel in the African continent. People who have never been exposed to the inhumanity of man should think twice before commenting...and yes I have been exposed to Mans frailty (or is that the UN, US or the UK's frailty)


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