It was heartening to read the words of the Labour MP Clive Lewis – they felt like a cool and level-headed salve amid the heat and fervour of public mourning (“Amid the mourning, we republicans should look back and learn – but we must not be silenced”, 16 September). It feels as if in moments of uncertainty our communities reach for the familiar, for a sense of belonging. Perhaps this sense of unity may be found by shifting our taxes and our time towards building a nation of equals, a reinvigorated democracy and an empowered citizenry. In essence, what we need now is a new social contract, where the same sense of respect and, dare I say it, love is afforded to struggling workers, isolated older people and children who rely on food banks to eat. Across the Commonwealth, people are struggling terribly. All the pageantry in the world cannot deflect from the need to incisively question the old ways of thinking.
• Clive Lewis misses the point about the monarchy. It is popular because it speaks to the irrational in us. That irrationality is all around us, and is probably a significant way of coping with the world. We all get a kick out of the spectacle, the silliness and the sheer stupidity of it.
Naas, County Kildare, Ireland
• Despite much of what Clive Lewis said being true, people in the UK enjoy the monarchy. I do myself, recognising it as an institution that has endured for about 1,500 years. It defines who we are as a nation, and for that reason it should remain. For those who don’t support it, don’t impose your ideals on the majority who want to retain it.
Bowdon, Greater Manchester
• The suffocation of any public expression of dissent (or simply a different opinion), generally unchallenged by most of the mainstream media, has been deeply disturbing. I can recall being at school in the 1960s, a staid and conventional girls’ grammar school, where there was a debating society. The topic of the abolition of the monarchy often featured and triggered a lively exchange, followed by voting on the motion. I wonder if young people at school would be permitted to have that debate now.
• Clive Lewis is right to speak out, but his article left me also with “bemusement followed by (more than) a touch of despair”. I suspect that Lewis, like most MPs, views everything through a political lens and, as such, rails against key events of the last 70 years, such as privatisation of industries, including energy. He states how things should be run. Normal people, for whom politics comes around only every five years (or more often, if we were able to choose a prime minister) ask a different question: does it work?
As a general free-marketeer, I would still prefer a well-run nationalised industry to a badly run private one, but, as a child of the 1960s and 70s, my recollection is of strikes in such industries, with huge proportions of pay going towards bills, and bailiffs a silent threat.
If Brexit taught us anything, it was to beware those offering simple solutions for complex problems. The outpouring of feeling – and I do not disagree with Lewis on it – is surely evidence of something apolitical, which is perhaps why he struggles with it.
Dr Chris Howick
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