Why MP Ronnie Campbell won't be sharing in Jubilee joy

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The Labour MP Ronnie Campbell is known as a plain speaker. You'd expect nothing less from a former Northumberland miner.

But for some he went too far this week when he called the Queen a "fifth generation German" with no right to rule over him.

In this month's Total Politics magazine he said: "Why should we be ruled over by families descended from robber barons, bandits and illegitimate heirs?

"Or, in the case of the current lot, fifth-generation Germans who changed their name from Battenberg to Windsor during the First World War.

Start Quote

Why should we be ruled over by families descended from robber barons, bandits and illegitimate heirs?”

End Quote Ronnie Campbell MP Labour, Blyth

"By what right do they lord it over us? Why should me and mine, who bend knees to no one, be regarded as 'subjects' rather than 'citizens'?"

He compounded that this week by also attacking the plan to rename the tower containing Big Ben as Elizabeth Tower to mark the Diamond Jubilee as "codswallop".

Plenty of outrage

Of course in the past the Blyth MP might have been dragged off to another tower for making such remarks.

And there was plenty of outrage when his remarks were reported in the Daily Mail.

Many online readers were quick to condemn him.

But a number also turned on the MP's critics, pointing out that it was Mr Campbell's democratic right to express his opinion on the monarchy.

And actually Ronnie Campbell's views are more nuanced than the Daily Mail article suggested.

He is a republican and defends his description of the Queen as a "fifth generation German" as factually correct.

But he is not about to storm Buckingham Palace and force the Queen out onto the street.

Ronnie Campbell Labour MP Ronnie Campbell believes the monarchy will be gone within a century

He believes the current monarch is doing a good job. And he would view the idea of a President Thatcher or Blair with much greater horror.

He said: "I am not anti-Queen. She works hard and so does the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles. They do a good job, and they do bring money into the country, but I am just not a royalist.

"I think the Queen has got support but the status of royalty is slipping. Maybe in the next century it will be gone altogether."

MPs silenced

One of the odd quirks of our parliamentary system means that one place Ronnie Campbell would find it hard to criticise the Queen is in the House of Commons.

Under parliamentary convention the Speaker is quick to silence MPs who attack the Royal Family.

In fact it would be against the rules to hold a debate on replacing the monarchy with a republic.

Those regulations date back to the 13th Century. Because MPs were effectively speaking on Crown land, it was viewed as discourteous and even treasonous to criticise the landlord.

Many MPs support that convention today, though, because they argue criticism is unfair when the monarch cannot constitutionally reply.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh In the Queen's Speech the monarch reads out the government's plans but she has no right to speak in the Commons

For republicans like Ronnie Campbell, then, the only alternative is to raise their concerns outside Westminster.

Of course some would argue that this year of all years, we should be celebrating the Queen and not criticising her.

But Mr Campbell for one won't be getting out the bunting for the Diamond Jubilee. He plans to be away.

And he thinks many of his constituents share his lack of enthusiasm.

He said: "We are going through a hell of a struggle in this part of the world and I think for a lot of people the Jubilee is simply not on their minds."

Of course, the good news for the MP and other critics of the monarchy is that whatever the rights and wrongs of our constitution, all you get for opposing the UK head of state is some colourful headlines in the newspapers.

Mind you I think Ronnie Campbell can probably be safe in assuming he won't be getting a knighthood any time soon.

Richard Moss Article written by Richard Moss Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Isn't this the MP who made such a big deal about opening an account with the people's bank after Northern Rock was nationalised ? He's more interested in cheap headlines as most people seem to regard his opinions as worth very little. He should place more effort into helping jobs come into rather than out of Northumberland instead of trivia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Why am I not suprised at Labour hating any western, British, historical institution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    "the principle of an inherited monarchy (a somewhat anachronistic arrangement in 2012?)"
    Quite laughable: Republic is as old as monarchy is (Almost since Bronze Age for some independent cities of the Fertile Crescent, some cities of Ancient Greece, Rome...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    By 1066 the UK population was genetically a conglomerate of European invaders, Celts, (Hallstatt, La Tene), Romans, Angles, Saxon, Jutes, Vikings, Dutch/Belgium, and Normans. Through the expansion of the British Empire its multinational character has been enhanced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    #16. Phoenix12A

    What's to hate?

    Perhaps freedom of information hard fought for and now slated to be neutered by the Tories?

    What rights were ever fought for by the Tories?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    More socialist clap-trap from an out of touch dinasour. His democratic right...absolutely, and that right has been hard fought for and must be maintained but so is the right to leave the UK if you don't like what we are or what we stand for. Proud Tory voter..absolutely and not afraid to say so either. That will get get haters hating as Jessie J says in her song.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Not all it's cracked up to be.

    Did you know that the first Big Ben bell was cast in Stockton on Tees?

    It was then off to London, mounted and it cracked when struck!

    The bell was then recast locally and I believe it cracked again. Although not as badly.

    By using a smaller clanger that bell survives to this day. Cracked.

    I wonder what the etiology is of the term "Not all it's cracked up to be"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    @scooter: your chronology is wrong. the jacobite rebellions were attempts to restore the Stuarts after the Hanoverian dynasty was imposed by Parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    If there is to be a discussion, should we not debate the principle of an inherited monarchy (a somewhat anachronistic arrangement in 2012?) rather than the details of the ancestry of incumbent?

    Surely, too, after 60 years of service the queen has earned the right to life-tenure. Can't see the debate being opened on her death, but that would be a reasonable time to do so. And the House of Lords?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I agree with Ronnie, I have never considered myself to be a subject of anyone, least of all a tourist attraction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Does this idiot of an MP even deserve the air time? It must be a bad day for any news or gossip!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    There is nothing wrong with being a principled republican, although it's not a view I share. But it's a bit rich for any MP to moan that our monarchs come from German stock. It was PARLIAMENT who changed the line of succession from the House of Stuart to the House of Hanover in the early 18th century! In any event, they still trace their line back to ancient English and Scots monarchs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    talking of failed ideology
    typical conservatives
    and a public school education does give a chap lots of self confidence

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    @Michael Kilpatrick
    You may wish to check a little thing called the Jacobite Rebellion. This was when William III "invaded" & took the Crown from The Stuarts. When his line died out George I was invited to take the throne.
    ps I do agree that in the current economic climate people do not have a great cause to celebrate, especially not someone who has been waited on hand and foot their entire life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Fifth generation German? What twaddle! They are descended directly from James I (VI of Scotland), and of course Prince Philip descends from the Danish family as much from the Greeks, despite the derogatory label "Phil the Greek". A truly European royal family for a truly European union of several kingdoms. Like myself, I suppose - born in England, but with a surname plainly not English.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It is nine generations of Germans on both sides since George 1. His ancestors too were German until we get back to James 1. George VI had the good sense to marry a Brit. The Queen ruined it all by marrying a German whose name is Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksberg (he has not a drop of Greek blood btw). His mother's name of Battenberg allowed the usual alias of Mountbatten.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Typical Labour. Ther failed ideology comes before their country, every time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I agree pretty much with Ronnie. Monarchs come down to us from families in the past who were physically strong and ruthless. Most people I know are worrying about their current and future employment or maybe the govt plans for health, pensions and welfare. Why would I be interested in the royals party/jubilee?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Would that Campbell and Skinner would keep their mouths shut. The House of Commons can do without buffoons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Campbell is treading on thin ice here. I'm sure he would be quick to cry foul if another MP used Ed Miliband's ancestry - 'second generation Pole' - in this way.

    As for a Republic - 'President Blair' anyone? That's what we would get, either in superannuated form if we had the Irish model, or in power max form if the US model.


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