SOMETIMES it is possible to tire of the partisan nature of politics, the tit-for-tat-ness of it all. Can’t we all just work together, you think.
Then you hear that 50 Tory MPs are campaigning for a national lottery to support a new royal yacht. And you remember why as a dusty old rule you dislike most members of that tribe.
Nothing wrong with the Royal Yacht Britannia that we already have. Decommissioned by Tony Blair’s government in 1997, Britannia is now a popular tourist attraction in Edinburgh, moored at Leith.
Wouldn’t mind a visit to see the old girl myself. But that’s where the royal yacht belongs: prettified and tied to a jetty, a curious exhibit from the past. We don’t need another bit of expensive royal flotsam.
That’s not what the Daily Telegraph thinks, however. I hope it won’t knock you from your feet to discover that the Telegraph thinks a new royal yacht is just the ticket. The newspaper is getting behind those 50 Tory MPs and campaigning for a new £120million royal floaty thing to “showcase post-Brexit Britain and bring trade to our shores”.
The MPs have written to three of Theresa May’s most senior Cabinet ministers, according to the newspaper, urging them to “right the wrong” of the Labour government’s decision to decommission Britannia.
The MPs believe that funds from a new national lottery game could pay for the royal yacht. This would allow ‘ordinary Britons’ – whoever they might happen to be – “the pride of having a stake” in helping to fund the new yacht. What’s more, the Tory MPs believe a new yacht would “showcase the best of British business and project our humanitarian role across the globe”.
Oh, and it would be a perfect excuse to flash those blue passports. Incidentally, a comment piece in the Mail yesterday by Peter Oborne was headlined: “Sneering. Unpatriotic. Gloomy. Remainers who mock the return of the blue British passport are showing their true colours.”
Oh, come off it. Blue passports are a silly symbol, a bit of pointless nostalgia streaked with stale pride. It doesn’t matter what colour your passport is, so long as it gets you in and out of the country.
But that is to digress into a different grumble.
Those ‘ordinary people’ the Telegraph thinks should pay for a new royal boat might have other concerns. Some might be struggling to get by on jobs that pay a pittance; some might have had an operation cancelled over Christmas so that the NHS can balance the books; some might send their children to struggling schools. And so on down the tatty queue of modern life.
But here’s a more telling parallel. While 50 Tory MPs can think of nothing to get excited about other than a new royal yacht, four out of five families made homeless by the Grenfell fire are still waiting to be found a new home, fully six months after the tragedy.
Perhaps our humanitarian role across the globe doesn’t reach as far as a burned-out tower a few miles from Westminster. Isn’t that the sort of shameful topic that should animate MPs rather than a new yacht to be funded by the credulous masses?
Should that seem dismissive of lottery punters, I am one myself: two quid every Saturday for years (it hasn’t change my life), plus a workplace syndicate (hasn’t changed my life either). Yes, I am a credulous fool, too. But I won’t be buying any tickets to fund a new yacht for the royals.
As for the idea that such a vessel would plough the seas for Britain post-Brexit, oh, that’s just riding the waves of foolish hope; while waving a blue passport at an indifferent world.