What comes out to me from the “Black Spider letter” correspondence of Prince Charles published today is how utterly obsequious Tony Blair and New Labour ministers were to him. No sign whatsoever of radicalism from the former “People’s Party” as they fell over to ingratiate themselves with the heir to the throne. I rather enjoyed Charles quite sharp tone to Blair.
I am fundamentally opposed to the existence of the monarchy. It will hopefully be replaced by a better system, but no human system is perfect. Given that we have a monarchy at present, you will perhaps be surprised to learn that I do not see anything wrong in Charles’ letters, which put forward views which are much what we would have expected him to hold. Of course there is interaction between the monarchy and government, and of course we should get rid of this hereditary element. But Charles’ lobbying is hugely less damaging and pernicious than the corporate lobbying I witnessed throughout my Whitehall career. At least Charles is not lobbying them for corporate advantage and giving large political donations at the same time.
While in my view he did nothing wrong in writing the letters, he and government are both very wrong in arguing they should be private. It is when it is secret that such attempts to wield influence between two branches of government – and monarchy is a branch of government – can be most simply perverted to ill ends. That such publication will not occur again because government has legislated to keep it secret, is an example of the privileged arrogance that prevents this from being a genuine democracy.
Altogether not that big a story and it gives Rusbridger and the Guardian the chance to pose as radical. I find the fact that what is published is so anodyne and unobjectionable rather suspicious – what has not been published? Rusbridger is of course the editor who complied enthusiastically with a GCHQ instruction to smash the Snowden hard drives. The existence of other copies does not justify this any more than it justifies book-burning.
By coincidence, a very worthwhile article by Michael Gillard that had been excised from the net has recently been republished, setting out how Rusbridger in 2002 conspired with Andy Hayman of the Met to bury an investigation into police corruption, including the burglary of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. By a further coincidence I was having a pint with Laurie Flynn in Sandy Bell’s four days ago.
Hayman went on to be the promoter of the stream of lies about the murder of Jean Charles De Menezes and the publicist of numerous fake terrorist plots, before having to resign in a scandal involving nubile police officers at public expense in tropical islands.
Rusbridger and his extraordinary wig go on and on as a pretend opposition outlet, their reputation much dented by recent hysterical unionist output which exceeds the Daily Express. But Rusbridger’s continued usefulness to the establishment is not in doubt. The pose of publishing the most harmless of Prince Charles’ letters does little to help a threadbare disguise.