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

The Queen

Related Stories

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

Breast cancer drug stand-off warning

Why will a £90,000-a-year breast cancer drug seen as "too expensive" for the NHS still be available to patients?

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    He would have more credibility if he got hs facts right. The Royal family was not the House of Battenberg in the first world world but Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

    Perhaps he has a foreign ancestor, does that damage his legitimacy in some way? He need to be careful, he could get hung on his own argument here.

  • 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.

  • 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 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 5.

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


Comments 5 of 21


This entry is now closed for comments


  • A painting of the White House on fire by Tom FreemanFinders keepers

    The odd objects looted by the British from Washington in 1814

  • Chris and Regina Catrambone with their daughter Maria LuisaSOS

    The millionaires who rescue people at sea

  • Plane7 days quiz

    What unusual offence got a Frenchman thrown off a plane?

  • Children testing a bridge at a model-making summer school in Crawley, West SussexSeeding science Watch

    The retired professor who turned village children into engineers

  • Krouwa Erick, the doctor in Sipilou town at the border of Ivory Coast and Guinea - 27 August 2014Bad trip

    The Ebola journey no-one in Ivory Coast wants to take

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.