People Before Profit Statement On The Coronation

charles_the_turdNothing to Celebrate in Inequality and Imperial Plunder

In common with millions on both sides of the Irish Sea, People Before Profit regard the extravagant coronation as a slap in the face to struggling workers and a grotesque whitewashing of an outdated social order built on inequality and colonial plunder. Amidst the worst economic crisis in living memory, with millions dependent on food banks and many more struggling to keep the lights on, the British establishment have closed ranks to foist an obscene exercise in feudal nostalgia upon the public at the cost of over £250 million.

After a decade and a half of biting austerity, ordinary people struggle to hold on against record inflation while CEOs award themselves record bonuses and corporate profits soar. Across this society hardship is being felt by workers on both sides of the sectarian divide, and by many recent immigrants as well. When it comes to saving our collapsing NHS or ensuring that children don’t go to school hungry, Tory oligarchs claim that there is no ‘magic money tree’. But they have no problem pillaging public funds to crown a king who already presides over an estate valued at nearly £700 million, and who is subsidised by a £110m annual handout through the ‘Sovereign Grant’. As one young Londoner has put it, “It just feels like a kick in the teeth” when so many are forced to choose “whether we buy vegetables or eggs”.

With a scandal-ridden monarchy already in deep crisis, the elevation of Charles—with millions buried in offshore accounts, a penchant for accepting suitcases of cash from corrupt dictatorships and a willingness to pimp for British arms dealers—may well mark a point of no return. Establishment spin about creating a ‘monarchy for the 21st century’ is difficult to square with the farcical ceremony in store, with its glorification of medieval inequality. Tory-run BBC will do its best to contrive a solemn tone, but who can keep a straight face amidst pomp built around the ‘stone of destiny’ or the ‘sword of spiritual justice’?

The whole affair would be laughable except that it has a serious side.  At its centre is a jingoistic celebration of armed imperialism, the system of organised plunder through which a once-dominant British empire oversaw the transatlantic slave trade and stripped the wealth of much of the globe. And this is not just distant history: Camilla’s crown is to be refurbished with the £60m ‘Star of Africa’ diamonds, plundered in 1907 from South Africa—a country that remains the most unequal on earth, where 10% of the population owns more than 80% of the wealth and 1 in 5 have no access to clean water. 6000 British troops will take part—three times the number of invited guests—and the ceremony will include a military flyover involving more than 60 fighter jets. In a world marked by obscene inequality and global re-militarisation, this crass salute to imperial violence is an insult to humanity.

In Ireland, the southern elite are not only happy to go along but eager to denounce any murmur of dissent. And though it is consistent with their recent trajectory, it comes as a shock to many of their supporters that Sinn Féin will attend. This comes in a context where, after all, the Tories have repeatedly indulged the most sectarian elements in northern society, and where the British state demands immunity for its forces involved in atrocities. Just as they did with the war criminal Blair before him, Sinn Féin seem happy to allow themselves to be used for laundering the reputation of a scandal-ridden British monarch—in this instance the head of the Parachute regiment that carried out massacres in Belfast and Derry.

Though they rationalise this as a demonstration of ‘respect’ for ‘British culture’ and their duty as representatives of ‘all the people’ of the North, playing up to the loyalist Right amounts to a profound accommodation to sectarianism—one that can only reinforce divisions rooted in our colonial past. As the enthusiastic reception for RMT leader Mick Lynch on Belfast’s May Day march confirms, workers here have never needed stunts or manoeuvres to reconcile us with Britain’s working-class democracy. Nearly 70% of the British public either ‘don’t care very much’ or ‘not at all’ about the coronation: they are our natural allies, while the royalists, the Tories and the tabloid Right with whom loyalism identifies are the enemies of progress.

People Before Profit are clear. The time for palaces for the ‘entitled’ and poverty for the rest is long past. Indeed, the time for pretending that colonialism was anything other than a bloody, racist, imperialist venture should be gone. A different kind of society is long overdue, and this society has suffered more than many from the lethal divisions colonialism left in its wake.

The United Irishmen —founded by Presbyterian radicals more than two centuries ago—posed the still-urgent question: “Are we forever to walk like beasts of prey over the fields which [our] ancestors stained with blood?” The only route to a break with the legacy of sectarian division lies in building up the working-class solidarity we have seen on every picket line across this society in recent months. It is the glimpse of possibility carried in the struggles of a united working class—and not the ‘optics’ of cosying up to monarchs to win favour with elites—that points a way forward. People Before Profit will lend all its resources to building a socialist alternative: join us in the fight.

‘The great appear great only because we are on our knees. Let us rise!’