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LAAG SPEAKER EVENT: Republic's CEO, Graham Smith, puts case to end Monarchy.

  • Jan 14, 2014 · 7:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest"
--Denis Diderot

Do you agree? (though not with the violence we hope!)

Given the parallels for irrational deference, privileges in law, and sycophancy (for a start), it is not surprising that a huge percentage of atheists are republicans . So though at first glance the relationship between monarchy and the state sponsoring of superstition (religion!) isn't obvious to many, there is no doubt that our current constitution is what holds Britain back as the only country (besides Iran!) where unelected religious officials are part of the government. Why is Britain is the only developed non secular country? Perhaps we can ask our speaker this month...

We're pleased to welcome Graham Smith, CEO of 'REPUBLIC', as our speaker this month to put the case for abolishing the monarchy.
Republic are not an atheist organisation, yet apart from the atheism angle for us, there is also the issue of just why we continue with allowing an unelected hereditary feudal overlord system.

"With Prince Charles up to his neck in political lobbying, the royal family must be subject to freedom of information rules" Graham Smith, Chief Executive Officer, REPUBLIC

Here's a video from Republic, with Peter Tatchell talking about the monarchy issue.

And those that were at our July meetup about superstitions in the NHS, will recall Dr. Ed Presswood telling us that homeopathy being available on the NHS is largely as a result of meddling by Woo Woo Charlie.


As you can see, Republic is an activist organisation. Another affinity with LAAG. Lots of articles about the issues in the link here from The Guardian

From Republic:

A democratic Britain with an elected head of state

Republicans campaign for the abolition of the monarchy, an elected head of state and a new democratic constitution that really puts power in the hands of voters.

  • We want to reform Britain's politics so it is genuinely democratic.
  • We want a new constitution - a new set of rules for our political system - that puts power in your hands.
  • We want voters to be able to elect their head of state - instead of having a 'job-for-life' monarch.
  • We want to give voters more power over parliament and parliament more control over government.
  • We want a head of state that has a meaningful role and who can be held to account on their record in office.
  • We want Britain to be a republic.

More about the event below....



£5  non members/ non RSVP'd
£3  LAAG/CLHG members, £2 NUS (RSVP'd)

Please note:

  • People who are no shows more than twice in a year (from now on) will not be eligible for discount, so please update RSVP's ;-)
  • RSVP facility will close automatically, at 17:00 on the day of the event. ★★ If you have a genuine issue after that time, or are a 'maybe' for some reason, just comment in the boxes below & that'll be just fine.
  • This is guide only & we won't be draconican, but it is a courtesy that shouldn't need to be asked for, especially when it possibly denies others from attending fully booked events.


19:00- 19:20 General arrival upstairs (please get drinks and order any food DOWNSTAIRS first)

19:30 Discussion /Talk starts PROMPTLY, till latest 21:30 (but flexible)

Social time, drinks & nibbles, till 22:30



Why get rid of the monarchy?

Republic says:

Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle. And because we can't hold the Queen and her family to account at the ballot box, there's nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money.

Meanwhile, the monarchy gives vast unchecked power to the government, shutting out the people from major decisions that affect the national interest.

Expensive, unaccountable and a drag on our democratic process, the monarchy is a broken institution. A head of state that's chosen by us could really represent our hopes and aspirations - and stop politicians exceeding their powers.

And of course, from an atheism point of view:

  • What's holding us back from separating Church and State?
  • Why do we still have bishops in the House of Lords?
  • Could monarchy have something (major!) to do with it?

"The Divine Right of Kings" "Defender of the Faith" "Head of the C of E"

A big whiff of kneeling down servitude....

Is fear of change being just one of the factors holding both secularism and republicanism  back?

Is secularism dependent upon republicanism, or at least, a reform to monarchy? Here's the current position:

Two Archbishops and 24 senior diocesan Bishops of the Church of England have seats in the House of Lords (the Lords Spiritual) and they can and do participate in debates and vote in divisions, which involve decisions affecting the entire United Kingdom. Parliament is opened with prayers, in the House of Lords usually led by one of the Lords Spiritual and in the Commons by the Speaker's chaplain.[111] The full term for the expression of the Crown's sovereignty via legislation is the Crown-in-Parliament-under-God. At the coronation, The King or Queen is anointed with consecrated oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a service at Westminster Abbey and must swear to maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel, maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law and to maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England. Thus though the Church of Ireland is no longer established and the Church of England has been disestablished in Wales to the Church in Wales, the Crown is still bound to protect Protestantism in general in the whole of the United Kingdom by the Coronation Oath and the Bill of Rights, and to protect the Church of Scotland by the Act of Union.[112] All Members of Parliament must declare their allegiance to the Queen in order to take their seat, although it is for the individual MP to decide whether to do so by swearing a religious oath or making a solemn affirmation.

  • Feel free to add your own questions or comments in the comments boxes below (these comments boxes are for pre and post event discussion TO DO WITH THIS PARTICULAR MEETUP - please use the forum to start discussions about anything else)
  • Though these midweek events are usually structured talks/debates/discussions, they are nevertheless fairly informal; so the bar is usually open upstairs in the break and feel free to order food and have it during the event (simple but pretty good we've been told).
  • We start the discussion promptly at 19:30. As a courtesy to others, please try to turn up by 19:20 ... if at all possible :-)   If a late arrival can't be helped, no worries, just come in quietly :-)
  • The usual end time for discussion is 21:30pm, but this is flexible if people want to continue with the discussion, and usually we have some social time afterwards until 10:30pm (or until the pub closes!)

The meetup fee either goes towards costs of running the group, including  equipment, room, prizes, nibbles etc, or towards specific campaigns and causes when we can cover other costs. The latter are specified on the appropriate events page.

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  • Georgi L.

    In case anyone wants to find out more and/or support : Republic are having their Winter Party tomorrow (28 jan):

    January 27, 2014

  • Alun L.

    As usual excellent, although as a member of Republic I am a little prejudice.

    January 15, 2014

  • David S

    Yes, a very convincing although one-sided presentation. I liked the tactic of aiming for the disconnect between crown (and state) and church as a milestone on the road to a republic. I believe that's where we could give effective support.

    1 · January 15, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Yes, obviously bound to be one-sided given it was Republic speaking, though I think Graham came across as someone who had considered the position carefully and wasn't just spouting irrational hate etc. It was like LAAG's approach - critisising the ideas/concept rather than attacking the people. (Actually I think the 'royal' family are victims themselves of this too in a way). Anyway, I was hoping we'd have some representation in the audience from pro monarchists, and I did invite one member, but he couldn't (or didn't want to) make it I guess.

      January 15, 2014

  • Georgi L.

    BIG Thanks to Graham Smith for a great talk, and being so accommodating with taking the many questions. I forgot to do the exit poll to see how many of our 9.5 neutral-on-monarchy members had changed their minds at the end of the evening, however from the chat afterwards and the comments below it seems all of you had at least had things to think about, and several have changed towards the republican position. Joanne particularly asked me to tell Graham that she had.

    Many thanks to M.I David, Roger and Joanne for the extra help and contributions.

    January 15, 2014

  • Daniel

    An excellent talk. It has certainly given me one or two things to consider. Whilst I remain in the undecided camp (possible out of apathy) this was the most coherent and convincing case I have heard on the subject. Excellent work by the LAAG organizers as usual. Hopefully see you next month for what looks like another important subject matter.

    2 · January 15, 2014

  • Mihai M.

    A great event with a good topic. Graham was a very good speaker and answered quite a few curve ball questions.

    1 · January 15, 2014

  • stells d.

    Thought provoking talk. Agreed with so much of what Graham said.

    1 · January 15, 2014

  • Roger

    1 · January 13, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      I have a lot of time for Michael Rosen, on just about any subject.

      January 13, 2014

    • Roger

      Never met him but I used to work with his (now ex-) wife.

      January 13, 2014

  • Georgi L.

    Thanks to Fiona Weir for highlighting some relevant radio 4 programmes :

    (R4, 'Acts of Union and
    Disunion: Monarchy'. How Britain has been shaped by monarchies, looking
    at disjunctions and changes over hundreds of years, as well as royal traditions.)

    January 13, 2014

  • John

    2009 petition to Gordon Brown:

    We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to relieve the monarch of one of the duties: EITHER as Head of the Church of England, OR as Head of State. In the modern era of human rights, it is quite untenable [except in a theocracy] for a constitution to require an individual to fulfil BOTH secular AND religious roles.

    Current concern that the 1701 Act of Settlement [1] discriminates against Roman Catholics affects just one family directly. However, the oath and affirmation of allegiance [2] to "bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law" must surely grate severely with all non-Anglican immigrants: and is therefore inconsistent with anti-terrorist goals.



    1 · January 13, 2014

  • Daniel

    Happy new year to you all. Looking forward to a talk a little outside the parameters of Atheism. I must admit that I have never really identified myself as a republican or anti royal. On the other hand I do not think I am a big supporter of the royal family either. As ignorant as it may seem I just don't think I have ever given it much thought .I come with open ears and an open mind. Should be interesting.

    2 · January 2, 2014

    • Adrian

      It's not really so far outside atheism as it may appear. The monarch is Defender of the Faith and so to get rid of the monarchy would be a very desirable and pragmatic step for atheists. Added to which I don't think there is any place for medieval neo-feudal privilege in a modern society. We will never have a secular society while the monarch is the defender of the faith and thus we have state sponsored superstition. Price Charles was talking about becoming Defender of the Faiths, which is really no better. So I regard the monarchy as the biggest obstacle to a secular state (a majority of European states are secular including Italy).

      2 · January 8, 2014

  • Fiona W.

    When I was a child our family house was built on land belonging to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Were they also tenants of the Crown or was/is the Church privileged in this as in other things? I've absolutely no idea whether permission to build the house was a one-off arrangement (in other words did my parents buy the land fom them) or whether any regular payments were made thereafter. Did Henry VIII take over the Church's land or only ruin their buildings?

    December 28, 2013

  • Adrian

    This'll be interesting as I want to abolish the monarchy but I favour a state with no head at all. I don't want a president. It's ridiculous to think a nation can select one person to represent them and know any more about them than we did about Jimmy Savile. So I'd favour a headless state. Yes we can. Then you send the relevant person for a particular visit or mission as a representative. So for sport it might be Seb Coe, etc. A specialist always knows more than a monarch or president. I also the think these roles should not be political. The same applies to the Mayor of London post. I'm curious to see what Eddie Izzard will offer up for that. A de-celebritisation of all roles of state would be good news in my book.

    December 17, 2013

    • Georgi L.

      I'm not sure it is possible to de-celebritise now with social media pretty much being the decider of almost everything. That can be good and bad obviously - on one hand we now have people power for the first time in history, on the other it still remains that you have to play the popularity game to win...and that usually means dumbing down, and saying little soundbites that can easily be reproduced. Anything with subtlety or nuance seems to be edited down anyway - our increasing A.D.D as a species, perhaps due to info overload ...and/or because it can't fit in 140 characters. But I've gone off at a tangent re the subject matter of the event - yes, I agree that with all the ingenuity and brilliance the human race is capable of, I'm sure we can come up with other options other than either unelected hereditary feudal overloads OR handing celebrity/power over to a single representative 'president'.

      December 28, 2013

    • Adrian

      Having no head of state completely averts celebrity! It also removes any interest for those people that vote on celebrity rather than issues, so they' stop voting which would be excellent.

      December 28, 2013

  • Jason

    Good questions Fiona. My guess is that the CofE and CofW just have a tenure on their land just like everyone else. Prior to their formation I would imagine that the land held by the church might have been said to be owned by the Pope and independent of the Crown. They may still have some measure of independent ownership but with Henry VIII making himself head of both churches, they are probably still owned by the Crown with a different hat on.

    1 · December 28, 2013

  • Jason

    House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for February 11, 2009: Land Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) who the absolute owner of land is in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland, (d) Wales, (e) Cornwall and (f) the Isles of Scilly; [255057] Bridget Prentice: The Crown is the ultimate owner of all land in England and Wales (including the Isles of Scilly): all other owners hold an estate in land. Although there is some land that the Crown has never granted away, most land is held of the Crown as freehold or leasehold. If there is no other owner, land will belong to the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall. Responsibility for land law and succession law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is devolved. Questions about land law in these jurisdictions should be addressed to the Scottish Executive and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland respectively.

    1 · December 28, 2013

    • Jason

      i.e. if you live in England, Wales or the Isles of Scilly, you do not own your land since, in law, you are a tenant of the Crown. Our legal and political systems are riddled with this kind of nonsense. I will be interested to hear from Graham if a legislative path from a Monarchy to a Republic has been thought through and if so what it would look like.

      1 · December 28, 2013

  • Georgi L.

    The Daily Fail try and spin it but even they can't get around the fact that the hardest 'working' 'royal' gets 176 days off! :

    December 28, 2013

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