Letters Extra: Debunking myths about British history

27th June 2003 at 01:00

Neil Bryson's romantic panegyric to the British Monarchy contained many misconceptions about Citizenship and Britain's History.

nbsp;"We" did not reject a republic in 1660. Charles II's Restoration happened within a specific historical context. He was restored at the request of a political elite; most people merely wanted an end to the troubles caused by Charles I, and if the Restoration would bring such an end, then people supported it.

The Monarchy does not act as a balance in our constitution. The powers of the Crown have been transferred to the Prime Minister over the last 300 years. Our safeguards against an over-mighty Prime Minister do not lie with the Monarch, but with Parliament and (in time I hope) a written constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Bryson makes the classic monarchist mistake of confusing "Republicans" with "Politicians" who crave power. Politicians (including Monarchs) have always craved power. Most true Republicans have a noble history of seeking to restrain that power.

He also asserts that "a republic focuses on a clinical code". In 1647, Thomas Rainborow called for a republic with the words, "I thinke that the poorest hee that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest hee". Sexist by today's standards, but hardly "clinical".

We should teach our pupils to think for themselves and not merely accept tired, romantic claptrap. That is what Citizenship is about. Why is Mr. Bryson so scared of it.

Colin Mann

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