The Queen would have to wait over eight years for a council house

Over half of first-time Green voters support retaining the monarchy. It’s unlikely they would be thrilled to see the Queen placed on the social housing register.

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In an interview on the BBC's Sunday Politics with Andrew Neil, it’s fair to say that the leader of the Greens came out a little flustered. Some described it as a “car-crash”. Natalie Bennett’s popular manifesto pledge of a citizens’ income was dissected to the point where Bennett was forced to say: “All of this will be fully spelt out in our fully costed manifesto released in March”.  Translation: “I haven’t the faintest clue how we’re going to pay for this”.  

But there’s another policy to take issue with: the abolition of the monarchy. Under a Green government, Elizabeth Windsor  and the rest of the royals – would be served an eviction notice from Buckingham Palace and offered a council house in return. In an interview with the Times, Bennett said:

I can’t see that the Queen is ever going to be really poor, but I’m sure we can find a council house for her – we’re going to build lots more.

But with an eight year average – or over 2,900 days – and 4,500 applications on the current waiting list in the City of Westminster, it won’t be until the Greens’ second term in parliament when the Queen is placed in social housing. A Westminster Council source also tells me that extra “points” are given to those on the waiting list who are currently living in over-crowded accommodation, or to single parents.

One would expect that someone living in a 775-room mega mansion might have to wait a little longer than usual. So even if the Greens were to build houses on a colossal post-war scale, the wait to see the Queen turn the keys in the front door of her new council house could be dragged out like a murder trial on Coronation Street.

The Greens’ novel idea of turfing the Windsors out of Buckingham Palace might draw some support from those who have long envisioned an end to the antiquated system and the divine right to 40 acres of land in the leafy St James’ Park. But as an Opinium poll found recently, the abolition of the monarchy is at odds with the majority of first-time Green voters: two in three young people aged between 17 and 22 believe the UK should remain a monarchy, while 20 per cent think Britain should become a republic. But interestingly, for the Greens, over half – 57 per cent – of first-time Green voters say they support retaining the monarchy. It’s unlikely they’d be thrilled to see the Queen placed on the social housing register.

The argument to get rid of the monarchy because of inherited privilege has failed to whip up significant republican enthusiasm across the country. The Greens, instead, should hold off for the more realistic and nail-biting scenario: the self-implosion of the monarchy under the reign of Charles III and Queen Camilla. With a man yielding the obnoxious belief that he has the innate right to make “heartfelt interventions” in politics and “reshape the monarch’s role” (according to his allies), it won’t be long before our treasured institution crumbles. Elizabeth II, praised by constitutional experts for her taciturn discretion, has successfully evaded journalists and dragged the monarchy into 2015. All this will be overturned with the handover of the crown jewells. 

Charles has already stirred up controversy with his outspoken interventions on issues such as education and the genetic modification of crops. And the Guardian has been at the centre of a nine year legal battle with Whitehall over 27 letters between Charles and government ministers. According to the newspaper, the government has already conceded that if the "black spider memos" are ever made public then there's a chance Charles's future role as king could be "seriously damaged".

His reign might not endure. Hereditary peers  who sit the House of Lords by birthright  are in long-term decline. Labour has already proposed to cleanse them from the Lords with an "Elected Senate". Another one, in the form of Charles III, may not be tolerated.

This would cost the Greens nothing more than their patience – and one or two fewer council houses.

Ashley Cowburn writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2014. He tweets @ashcowburn



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