Libraries Lament…

library

It is a good thing that Jeremy Corbyn has recently leant his support to the libraries, museums and galleries protest due to take place in November. His entire fan base is comprised of online trolls and professional protesters, so he could bring some useful clout to an important issue.

Unfortunately for JC, he may well be onto a lost cause…

Almost 350 libraries have closed in the last decade, with those that are still open becoming increasingly reliant on volunteers and attempting to lure visitors by offering coffee mornings and play sessions for squawking children—hardly appropriate.

As a committed autodidact and someone who believes in education for education’s sake, I understand the importance of having free and inclusive resources for all. Unfortunately, the ever eroding standards of culture and education in this country mean that a successful protest—if there is such a thing— may simply lead to a country full of well-funded, but empty libraries.

Education standards have been continually lowered so that students from ‘underprivileged’ backgrounds can attend any course they choose, regardless of whether  or not they have a strong intellectual foundation. Quotas have meant that someone’s background can be a passport to employment or further education, irrespective of their ability. Yes, gone are the days when reading to improve one’s knowledge was a necessary step towards success.

Regarding culture: as previously mentioned, we live in an age of instant gratification. Joe Public does not want to invest time learning to appreciate the finer things in life, when he can sit at home watching Jeremy Kyle or Big Brother. Perhaps if all libraries rebranded as Mills and Boon rental outlets, they may have some success, but I would hope that any self-respecting librarians would rather just close up shop.

So before pumping money into libraries and cultural venues, perhaps the government would start chastising the booze guzzling benefits scroungers for what they are, restore entry standards of universities to encourage intellectual endeavour, and convince the beeb to provide a counter culture to the mindless drivel currently on our screens.

Perhaps then our society will evolve into one that requires more libraries to meet the thirst for knowledge….

If only.

God Save The Queen!

Jeremy Corbyn’s recent decision to remain silent during the national anthem offended a lot of decent, patriotic folk.

As the decrepit firebrand refused to join in at the Battle of Britain ceremony, his followers quickly took to social media to spew anti-monarchy rhetoric in a show of solidarity with their new messiah.

The three most parroted gripes appeared to be:

  • The monarchy are too costly for the taxpayer
  • They were not democratically elected
  • They no longer have political value

Of course, arguing with this kind of zealotry is a forlorn cause, but I wanted to at least present an alternative view.

Is the monarchy value for money?

Anti-monarchy pressure group, Republic, claim that sustaining the royal family costs the British taxpayer around £334 million per year.

Of course, figures vary massively depending on who you ask, but for now we can take this liberal estimate as accurate.

VisitBritain – a public body promoting UK tourism – estimates the tourism revenue brought in by the royal family at £500 million – quite a mark-up on the figure put out by Republic – and that’s without the £249 million generated from the crown properties portfolio.

Just to err on the side of caution and give Republic a fighting chance, if we halve the figure estimated by VisitBritain, there is still a surplus of over £40 million!

So is the monarchy good value? I know what I think.

(Incidentally, the official figures have it that the monarchy cost each of us around 53 pence per year)

We didn’t vote for the monarchy…

True, the queen may not have been democratically elected, but the anti-monarchy brigade might find they come up short if the issue were to be put to the vote – a survey carried out by the Sunday Telegraph showed that 66% believed that Britain was better off as a monarchy, compared to only 17% who would prefer a republic. Furthermore, only 14% of those surveyed believed that Britain should become a republic if the queen was to abdicate.

Does the monarchy have any political clout?

Queen Elizabeth’s detractors also like to dismiss her role as an advisor to government ministers as something purely ceremonial.

It is worth remembering that she is now our longest reigning monarch and, as such, has been holding regular meetings with our leading politicians since 1953. She has monitored the political landscape of the nation for decades and held confabs with PMs including Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Ted Heath. She is in a unique and qualified position to give insight beyond the myopic scope of any four year government.

There are few politicians that can boast that level of knowledge and experience.

Conclusion

Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Family

So the royal family is more valuable than Facebook or Twitter activists would have us believe, the majority of the country support them and Queen Elizabeth knows her stuff.

No doubt the hard left republicans will keep up their incessant whining until we are all living in grey towers, eating organic hummus and worshipping Russell Brand, but whether they like it or not, the monarchy have a lot of support and – figures and politics aside – they are a living link to our history and have provided a cultural identity for hundreds of years.