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  #101  
Old 07-03-2007, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by BeatrixFan View Post
LOL. Not that I wouldn't like to see Lady Colin as our First Lady but Elspeth does carry off a hat extremely well.

Alison20, I know that the Queen is Head of State but she isn't the first lady. We need something to call the PM's wife apart from 'very ugly' so I figured 'First Lady' was more polite.
But the Prime Ministers wife is NOT ever "first Lady" in this country. That is currently Her Majesty and when Charles takes over it will be Camilla, and the Ladies of the Land follow downwards from there. She is simply ONLY the wife of the Prime Minister and nothing more nor less.
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  #102  
Old 07-03-2007, 04:50 PM
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But the Prime Ministers wife is NOT ever "first Lady" in this country. That is currently Her Majesty and when Charles takes over it will be Camilla, and the Ladies of the Land follow downwards from there. She is simply ONLY the wife of the Prime Minister and nothing more nor less.
Good point, but I might add, in the US we also technically don't have "first lady" either. Even here in the US, this is strictly an informal term. Officially, it is never used. There is President and Mrs. Bush, always the official reference, never officially "the President and the first Lady".
I think it's just a casual way of affection to call her "first lady". It is no more official than for a female President's spouse to be "first husband".
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  #103  
Old 07-03-2007, 05:13 PM
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I have not gotten to Longford's book yet, but it's on my 'to do' because it is cited quite a lot in Dr. P's book. Taking in my post again and reading yours, I see that you 'hit the nail on the head' with your point about the advice coming from too small and questionable a source, and in pointing that out, said much more eloquently what I, with three times the word count, only scratched the surface of. I think so far Dr. Pimlott did a phenomenal job of this account of Her Majesty's reign, but did expect a 30-year-old woman, this fresh and wide-eyed Queen of only some five years, to feel up to making a choice like this without totally relying on whatever she was told? I realize that I don't have the kind of training she had even then, but speaking as someone who is now 30, I can say that I imagine in the same situation I would have done whatever the 'elders' told me to do on that decision. In fairness, Dr. P does concede that with old man Churchill giving his backing for Macmillan, there was surely no chance of HM going against the endorsement of so formidable a statesman, regardless of how the endorsements were being formed.

Re-reading part of this section of P's book, I see that his argument here is closer to what you said than to what I suggested before. It seems that (if I am understanding both him and you, finally), in the absence of Conservative Party protocol for assigning a Leader, they in theory had only to rely on the royal prerogative for choosing Eden's replacement. However, none of them wishing to have the Queen decide (unilaterally, as you say) on this matter, the Cabinet ministers huddled together, and when they had their preference decided (Macmillan) they procured Churchill (no doubt from a deep sleep) for his very critical endorsement. (What would be fascinating to know is if the Queen would have so willingly gone with Macmillan if Churchill had given his endorsement for Butler! Yet surely, as Pimlott did concede, Churchill was just going along with what had already been "decided", for what did he care in his retirement?)

Apparently (Pimlott cites Eden's memoirs here) the Queen "enabled" Eden to "unequivocally recommend", but not "constitutionally advise" Butler. (Pimlott p.259). So without the Cabinet ministers and Churchill making their endorsement known to the royal household, would the Queen have chosen Butler? It's a very interesting question. Going on your statement, I would say that she would have chosen Butler in such a hypothetical case, but is it possible that she would have sought another "unequivocal recommendation"?
I'm afraid I can't buy at all into the theory of a fresh wide-eyed young queen too young and inexperienced to made a decision. For one thing, she had been in the job for over five years. That's not an inconsiderable amount of time. From the very day she ascended and all along in the early months, the people who advised her and worked with her were astounded at her grasp of her job, and said so. She had been well-educated in the consitution and the role of the monarchy. The fact that she was privately schooled is sometimes held up to mean that she was poorly or superficially educated, especially those who go only by the published "Crawfie" curriculum. However, the courses that she took with Henry Marten of Eton in history and the constitution were eventually of university level, or even graduate level. I'm pretty sure that she was as well-grounded in consitutional issues as anyone else involved in the issue we're discussing. Nor, I think, was she unaccustomed to making decisions. After all, if you think about it, she was the CEO of the Monarchy and an active and involved one.

That's not to say that she could or would arbitrarily pick and choose a prime minister without advice. The main consideration in selecting the next PM was that he could retain the loyalty of the Cabinet (or at least the majority) and the loyalty of his party in Parliament in order to maintain a majority. Given that, the final choice was not always the man perceived by the public as the "obvious" or "most qualified" one. Maybe not the best politician, maybe not the best statesman...but if the confidence of the rank and file MPs wasn't felt to be there, then a more acceptable (compromise) choice might be made.

Part of the problem people have had with the 1957 and 1963 selections is that the process was not public. No one knew who all had been asked for advice or what that advice had been. At any rate, when the consensus was reached and given to the Queen she would have been presented with only one choice, although the reasoning behind the choice would be made known to her so that she could have confidence in the choice. She wouldn't really be making a "decision" by that time, simply aquiescing in the choice made by those who had to live by it. I still don't see her, though, as a mere cypher blindly complying with something not understood.

I see you are citing the 1996 edition of Pimlott's book. He published an updated version in 2001. It has added chapters to bring the story up-to-date to 2001, but doesn't change the chapters already in the 1996 version.
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  #104  
Old 07-03-2007, 05:30 PM
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News today is that we're finally getting a written constitution. I never thought I'd say it but well done Prime Minister Brown. The Queen's devolved powers will now not be held by the Prime Minister but by Parliament.
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  #105  
Old 07-03-2007, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by selrahc4 View Post
I'm afraid I can't buy at all into the theory of a fresh wide-eyed young queen too young and inexperienced to made a decision. For one thing, she had been in the job for over five years. That's not an inconsiderable amount of time. From the very day she ascended and all along in the early months, the people who advised her and worked with her were astounded at her grasp of her job, and said so. She had been well-educated in the consitution and the role of the monarchy. The fact that she was privately schooled is sometimes held up to mean that she was poorly or superficially educated, especially those who go only by the published "Crawfie" curriculum. However, the courses that she took with Henry Marten of Eton in history and the constitution were eventually of university level, or even graduate level. I'm pretty sure that she was as well-grounded in consitutional issues as anyone else involved in the issue we're discussing. Nor, I think, was she unaccustomed to making decisions. After all, if you think about it, she was the CEO of the Monarchy and an active and involved one.

That's not to say that she could or would arbitrarily pick and choose a prime minister without advice. The main consideration in selecting the next PM was that he could retain the loyalty of the Cabinet (or at least the majority) and the loyalty of his party in Parliament in order to maintain a majority. Given that, the final choice was not always the man perceived by the public as the "obvious" or "most qualified" one. Maybe not the best politician, maybe not the best statesman...but if the confidence of the rank and file MPs wasn't felt to be there, then a more acceptable (compromise) choice might be made.

Part of the problem people have had with the 1957 and 1963 selections is that the process was not public. No one knew who all had been asked for advice or what that advice had been. At any rate, when the consensus was reached and given to the Queen she would have been presented with only one choice, although the reasoning behind the choice would be made known to her so that she could have confidence in the choice. She wouldn't really be making a "decision" by that time, simply aquiescing in the choice made by those who had to live by it. I still don't see her, though, as a mere cypher blindly complying with something not understood.

I see you are citing the 1996 edition of Pimlott's book. He published an updated version in 2001. It has added chapters to bring the story up-to-date to 2001, but doesn't change the chapters already in the 1996 version.
You make excellent points but how can her tutelage with Marten about constitutional law qualify her as being up to speed (in the 1950s) with all those weather-beaten experienced politicians? I think it's certainly possible that she was more actively engaged in the processes than Pimlott perhaps implies, however he does make a strong case for her allowing herself to be the "pawn of a Conservative faction" (Pimlott, 1996, p.261) simply by what he calls her disinterested passivity. I imagine the confidence that she has now has comes largely from some 55 years on the job, not so much from her youthful book studies, no matter how rigorous. Pimlott seems to imply that a pattern begun in the 1950s, with Eden, repeating itself with Macmillan, and continuing throughout her reign. Highly as I regard Dr. P, I will grant you that I don't see her being quite so one-dimensional and that I imagine she deserves more credit for independant mental faculties. But that said, let the reading carry on! I am quite riveted by this 'little tale' he has quite kindly put down to paper, and I think he deserves much credit for his range of research. He is a model biographer.

Thank you for the information re: the updated edition.
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  #106  
Old 07-04-2007, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by CasiraghiTrio View Post
You make excellent points but how can her tutelage with Marten about constitutional law qualify her as being up to speed (in the 1950s) with all those weather-beaten experienced politicians? I think it's certainly possible that she was more actively engaged in the processes than Pimlott perhaps implies, however he does make a strong case for her allowing herself to be the "pawn of a Conservative faction" (Pimlott, 1996, p.261) simply by what he calls her disinterested passivity. I imagine the confidence that she has now has comes largely from some 55 years on the job, not so much from her youthful book studies, no matter how rigorous. Pimlott seems to imply that a pattern begun in the 1950s, with Eden, repeating itself with Macmillan, and continuing throughout her reign. Highly as I regard Dr. P, I will grant you that I don't see her being quite so one-dimensional and that I imagine she deserves more credit for independant mental faculties. But that said, let the reading carry on! I am quite riveted by this 'little tale' he has quite kindly put down to paper, and I think he deserves much credit for his range of research. He is a model biographer.

Thank you for the information re: the updated edition.
As far as being up to speed with weather-beaten politicians I think that presumes that somehow she was an antagonist actively involved in challenging the recommenations being presented. Of course she would be passive. She of all people would be aware of the reality that the monarch cannot be political and especially cannot take the lead on a political issue; she really had no choice but to be a "pawn" and it wasn't her fault nor her choice (I think one reason the Conservatives changed to an elected leader was the knowledge that they had put the Queen in an untenable posistion). I suspect that if there was any input from her at all it would be on the lines of (supposedly a favorite comment of hers when she has doubts about anything ) "Are you sure?".

I kind of have the feeling that the confidence she has after 55 years is expressed in the same way it was expressed after 5 years. Perhaps it carries more weight with the recipient but I suspect it comes from the same well as it did then.

I think one thing to keep in mind is that there is only one person who views the situations we're discussing from the viewpoint of the Monarch. All the others are from the politcal/politicians point of view. I think of one as the long view and one as the immediate view. In my opinion the Queen, while accepting any current reality, has been careful not to unthinkingly discard conventions that might sometime be usefully brought to bear.

I agree that Pimlott's biography is exceptional. I haven't come across a better one of the Queen and I have over 240 books about her and her family. I wish he were still with us to write one about the Duke of Edinburgh.
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  #107  
Old 07-04-2007, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by selrahc4 View Post
I agree that Pimlott's biography is exceptional. I haven't come across a better one of the Queen and I have over 240 books about her and her family. I wish he were still with us to write one about the Duke of Edinburgh.
240 books! That's amazing. What I truly admire about Pimlott's bio. is the awesome scope of his coverage. I appreciate also how beautifully he distinguished between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for media speculation. He quite cleanly exposes the absurdity of media presumptions, and all the while, maintains his academic style. It helps of course that is writing has an excellent flow to it. I find it an absolute page turner.

Having said that, I now agree with you that the Queen was never in the position to make any decision contra to what was presented to her. It is unfortunate that this event occured, as you also pointed out, because it made her look just as questionable as the faction that caused it, and she never had the accountability which the perpetrators had. However, I might argue that a more experienced Monarch -- perhaps at her age now -- would have asked more questions, done more examining and maybe even have exercised (after all her constitutional) right to consult with the people presenting her with the 'choice'?? Is it possible that her youth enabled her to be less discerning, less methodical than she might be now in the same kind of situation? You're right, of course, that her position renders her powerless to have political power, but it is her right to be consulted on these matters and to give warning where she sees fit, isn't it?
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  #108  
Old 07-04-2007, 03:09 PM
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What prime ministers (and their spouses) have remained on friendly terms with HM?
Besides the Churchills, I can think of only the Edens, always social friends of the royal family, weren't they?
I think HM never liked Thatcher very well, right? I always wondered about the supposed antipathy between HM and Thatcher. Lady Thatcher seems such a stoic monarchist, although I think she always rather thought Prince Charles was a loony radical (his views, certainly not 'radical' to reasonable or moderate people, might seem so against her views!)
Does HM like Major?
I am fairly well convinced (if by nothing else, by the posts in this thread) of HM not liking the Blairs at all, and it remains to be seen how she will take to the new Downing St. residents.
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  #109  
Old 07-04-2007, 03:58 PM
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I do wonder when we'll get a decent "First Lady". Cherie was ghastly and Sarah Brown looks her husband in drag.
Cherie was ghastly but she always gave us a good laugh when opening No 10's front door in a nightgown, contradicting her husband's opinions, annoying her own party instead of the opposition, and let's not forget her bad hair days despite charging Labour thousands of pounds for her hairdresser during an election campaign

I fear that Sarah Brown will bore us to death.
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  #110  
Old 07-04-2007, 04:14 PM
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Good point, but I might add, in the US we also technically don't have "first lady" either. Even here in the US, this is strictly an informal term. Officially, it is never used. There is President and Mrs. Bush, always the official reference, never officially "the President and the first Lady".
I think it's just a casual way of affection to call her "first lady". It is no more official than for a female President's spouse to be "first husband".

Agreed - however there is precious little discernible "affection" for Mrs Blair!!!!
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  #111  
Old 07-04-2007, 06:51 PM
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All the Queen's Ministers


Prime ministers of the UK from 1952 through the present
Winston Churchill
Anthony Eden
Harold Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Harold Wilson
Edward Heath
Harold Wilson again
James Callaghan
Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Tony Blair
Gordon Brown

Have I missed any?
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  #112  
Old 07-04-2007, 07:32 PM
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The problem with Cherie became evident really from the beginning. Her parentage went against her slightly and she was known for her anti-monarchist stance which would have been fine had the mood been firmly anti-monarchy with motion to referendum but it wasn't. She thought her day had come in the aftermath of Di's death but it didn't. It was clear from the way she behaved that she fully expected to be a First Lady and she didn't fare well when the Royals came above her. She famously doesn't get on with Princess Anne and her curtsey to the Queen was forced and at times, totally absent. She displayed a stark disregard for the Queen during Jubilee year and although she seemed gung-ho socialist, she actually did herself no favours by behaving like the Red Queen. The extensive wardrobe, the property buying, the hair stylist at a vast cost to the tax payer and her various gaffes in protocol just made her seem quite lost. Remember the Vatican? Ok so she had moments before meeting the Pope but she still wore white when it would have taken a split second to pop into the black outfit she took in case the Queen died (politicians abroad always keep a black outfit handy in case of Tey Bridge). Instead, she went to see the Pontiff like a Queen, in white. She greeted the Duchess of Cornwall with a kiss and not a curtsey. In short, she appeared as a champagne socialist which is really at the heart of Blairism.

Having said that, I have a certain degree of respect for Mrs Blair. It can't be easy being scrutinised because your husband happens to be the Prime Minister - but others managed didn't they? She's had a rough press because she isn't photogenic but let's look closely into this one.

Firstly, there was Cheriegate. She bought up flats in Bristol and lied about the involvement of a known con-man. So she had to publicly admit that she'd lied. Not good for a "First Lady". In Melbourne she was invited to choose a few items from a mall - she took 68. She was then paid a fortune for after-dinner speaking with a flat fee of 30,000. She's fought against several government directives, the most recent of course being the Smoking Ban. Add to that her arrogance, she just couldn't win the affection of the public and for her, that was vital. Her parting words as Prime Ministerial Consort or whatever we're calling it were, "We won't miss you". Well, likewise madam. Cherie wanted to be a First Lady and she couldn't be, not only because the position doesn't exist but because she just wasn't qualified to do the job. Laura Bush put her to shame and so GillW is right, there was no affection for Cherie at all.

As for Sarah Brown, well, who is she? We only know that like Cherie she isn't photogenic. Let's look through history. Lady Major was really hardly ever seen in the same way Cherie was - why? Well, we know why. John was with Edwina Currie in private and Norma chose to keep out of things both political and personal but she was always there for state events and was reasonable. She certainly showed respect to the Royal Family. Denis Thatcher was the same. When he spoke about his wife, he called her "The Boss" and he saw his role as being the man behind - which is probably why he got on so well with the Duke of Edinburgh. He supported Baroness Thatcher but he never sought an office for himself in the same way that Cherie did. In America, things are clearer. There is a President and then there is a First Lady and that is an office with a defined role. For Prime Minister's wives it's harder because what do they do? What should they do?

The trouble with the last British administration was a real sense of confused roles. People like Pauline Prescott and Cherie Blair were all for the red flag at party conference but they wanted to be treated like Princesses. Barbara Castle was often called the Red Queen but she didn't behave in a conflicting way and she respected what we had. Cherie sadly didn't. She couldn't cope with what we have and what she wanted and I feel sorry for her in a way but part of me wants to say she knew what she was signing up for in 1997.
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  #113  
Old 07-05-2007, 10:02 AM
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Thanks for your post on Cherie Blair. I enjoyed reading it. I never paid attention to what she was up to. From your post, it seems like she gave a bad name to socialism. I have many ideals favorable to the ideology myself, but in the same position, I would never show disrespect to the monarchy. I would have always tried my best, even knowing that I would be bad at curtseying, I would have given it my best effort. Many might assume that the socialists and the monarchists can't be compatible, but on this I feel strongly. I think even for the socialists' point of view, the royal family deserves respect, because they do work extremely hard and long hours, and they have a power to influence causes that people like Cherie Blair don't have in any way, shape or form. My only words for anti-monarchist socialists is, Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is too much good there.
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  #114  
Old 07-05-2007, 10:34 AM
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Well, dear members, thank you for the posts. They have certainly been enlightening and revealing details of which I here, in the deepest darkest dumbest Amercian south was unaware. The Brown/Cameron dustup will certainly be interesting.

As for sexual scandals, you may be sure that there are always scandals sexual and otherwise, all those egos, all that money and all that power. It just goes to the head with usually disastrous results for all concerned. Cheers.
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  #115  
Old 07-06-2007, 12:42 PM
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Some might assume that the socialists and the monarchists can't be compatible, but on this I feel strongly.
Me too. Baroness Castle, Margaret Beckett, Baroness Boothroyd - they're all (were in Castle's case) Labour but they never failed to drop a curtsey or show respect to the Royal Family.
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  #116  
Old 07-06-2007, 03:56 PM
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Does anyone have a Link To Browns First PMQ??
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  #117  
Old 07-06-2007, 04:47 PM
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I haven't seen a transcript sadly but I'll check Hansard for you.
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  #118  
Old 07-06-2007, 05:18 PM
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Whereas like many I have no particular brief or regard for Cherie Blair, I think that the press' constantly sneering at her got a little out of hand, and was sometimes positively nasty and unwarranted.

Perhaps I feel naturally defensive towards all successful, professional women (she's a QC and a Recorder - part time judge). She was the wife of the Prime Minister, a practising barrister, and mother of four and from what little I've read, she was a good, involved mother. Certainly, she did not fit the mould of the usual PM or President's wife and suffered for it.

If, on the other hand, she was rude and discourteous to anyone, much less The Queen, then that is unforgiveable. That would have nothing to do with socialism. There are plenty of democratic socialists in Australia, not one of whom would consider not showing great respect to Her Majesty as she is our Head of State.
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  #119  
Old 07-06-2007, 05:37 PM
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BBC NEWS | Programmes | Daily Politics | Prime Minister's Questions Podcast

There's a podcast of it. :)

You are right Polly, the press did get their claws into Cherie based on her looks but to be fair, she added to it by her actions which really were very strange at times. Cherie's belief was "I'm a socialist so I don't curtsey" when actually, that isn't the case as other ladies in actual Cabinet positions showed.
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  #120  
Old 07-06-2007, 06:18 PM
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BBC NEWS | In Pictures | Day in pictures

Gordon Brown has abolished a rule that limits flag flying to 18 days. The Union Flag will now fly on all public buildings, all day, everyday.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Public 'get Queen's Speech input'

Harriet Harman has put forward plans to allow the public to contribute to the Queen's Speech. The times they are a-changing folks.
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