Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 18 December 2006

When you are all things to all people...

In the December 18th edition of The Scotsman, one finds a story by John Chiahemen on a possible enlargement of the Commonwealth, including prospective candidates "Algeria, Rwanda, Israel and the Palestinian Territories."

Of course, Secretary-General Don McKinnon is hard-pressed to comment directly on such intentions, other than to state that these countries are looking for entry into an organisation that will afford them more influence on the world stage than they may have had otherwise.

Certainly, it is not my intent to be critical of these prospective candidates. Their interest is, after all, based on seeing utility in the Commonwealth. Having said that, I am reminded of the old adage that "When you are all things to all people, you end up being nothing to anyone."

The Commonwealth works, by and large, because of the cohesiveness of its membership. We understand what the Commonwealth represents, and we appreciate our responsibility in maintaining that ethic.

At present, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are at loggerheads with one another, with no possible end in sight. In Gaza, Fatah and Hamas partisans are engaged in running gun battles with one another, and both the Israelis and the Palestinians express anger and indifference at the UN, the West (as a construct), among others for the morass.

Can we legitimately believe that bringing these two parties to Marlborough House and allowing them to attend CHOGM's will improve this acrid climate? Indeed, if the Secretariat's responses on Zimbabwe and Fiji are a reflection of policy, neither of these two governments will get through the front door.

Unfortunately, these nations' interest in the Commonwealth is predicated more on extracting than contributing - money, technical support, legitimacy, and a soap box to vent their angst with one another.

This is not to say that either should be dismissed as persona non grata on this count. Both hold a historical link to the Empire and Commonwealth. Israel functions very much as a modern Western liberal democracy, and there are elements in civil society and the intelligensia among the Palestinians that give cause for hope.

Both Israel and a Palestinian state could find themselves part of the Commonwealth family, but in every family, one makes accommodations for the common good. Each must resolve their own differences before they can hope to join this family.


The Monarchist said...

Excellent post and welcome back! I agree that we don't want to turn the Commonwealth into another, mostly useless UN. As Fiji just learned, you have to meet certain basic standards of democracy and development to be welcome in the family. Palestine is not remotely there yet, nor is it even recognized officially as a state, not to mention the danger of it descending into a full blown civil war between Fatah and Hamas.

You could make a pretty strong case for Israel, however, and it would be interesting to know whether your namesake Beaconsfield, one Benjamin Disraeli, the great British Jewish PM, would support such a move. I tend to think he would.

cawp said...

Israel would be a welcome brother - but I fear the level of anti-Israeli, if not anti-semitic, sentiment in Britain is simply too great. No politician would risk such a move. The hoo-hah over the Lebanese war this past summer shows that explicitly siding with Israel is not a popular move. Yet our peoples are joined by centuries of friendship, a common religious heritage, values, and a number of constitutional similarities. I would like nothing more than for the noble Israelis to join our fellowship; yet I would hope they would swear allegiance to our Queen, since any enlargement of the Commonwealth without the Crown at its centre, will quickly marginalize the Monarchy.

Anonymous said...

At loggerheads, eh? India and Pakistan?


Younghusband said...

So, countries that glory in their ability to raise two fingers to the international community and ignore every resolution passed to try to moderate their behaviour seek to join a club where it's hard enough dealing with unruly members. Just what we need...