The doomsayers and gloom-mongers are out in force over the Coronation, oscillating between disappointment and rage over what they see as a deliberate dumbing down of the arrangements. Now barely three weeks away, the plans for the great event are being rolled out at pace by Buckingham Palace. The latest news is that vast amounts of new music, that is twenty-two pieces, has been commissioned for the service at Westminster Abbey and that more members of the Armed Forces will be on parade than at any other ceremonial event since the last Coronation in 1953, which was itself a record for the number of service personnel involved.

So far this has not assuaged those who are disappointed by the news that Parliamentary not Coronation robes are to be worn by those, relatively few, Parliamentarians who are entitled to wear any sort of robe who have actually been invited. Far fewer nobles and many more less 

encrusted subjects have been invited to attend which, surely, is a sensible evolution to the composition of an ancient ceremony intended to cement a Monarch’s place on the throne. 

It is a reminder too that in the age of global and direct communication, the support of the aristocracy and even elected Members of Parliament is not as important as once it was. The Sovereign has direct connection to the public nowadays and it is on that support the institution is ultimately reliant for its continued existence. Monarchy thinks in decades and centuries and the Coronation arrangements are reflecting this fact. Aristocrats carry little clout and MPs, to adapt a phrase, are here today and gone tomorrow. We, the public, are a constant. The Coronation will be spectacular.

With less than three weeks to go to polling day the local election campaign is in full swing with thousands of candidates fighting today for their vision of tomorrow. Members of Parliament, mindful that a General Election is not far away, are out in force supporting their colleagues. Although few MPs would admit it, many have a conflict of feeling about councillor colleagues. For an MP it is often a help to be able to campaign against a local council run by opposition councillors. It is much harder to have to defend unpopular local decisions made by party colleagues over which you have no direct control but which you will be expected to support. On the other hand, a good local council team can be a huge encouragement and provide invaluable support come General Election time.

Thirteen years into government with four Prime Ministers having been and gone, little of any real meaning in the results will be able to be read into popular views of Rishi Sunak and his government. A General Election may be nearing but it is still too early to tell with any certainty what voters settled views are on the Prime Minister and his administration. The Chancellor maybe confident that ‘Britain is back’ but there remains a huge amount of very hard work to fire up all the cylinders of the British economy. The Prime Minister knows this. It is worth noting however that the polling gap between Conservative and Labour, though still significant, is certainly beginning to narrow. The Prime Minister, like the King, is playing it long.

Rishi Sunak is not the only leader with his eyes on a national poll. President Biden’s visit to the north and south of Ireland last week was good evidence of this. He spent hours in the north and days in the south. Obviously the visit had more to do with gingering up the Irish vote in the United States ahead of his announcement that he will seek a second term in the White House and less to do with shoring up the political settlement in the north. Joe Biden is the canniest of politicians who even in his eighties is more effective a politician than most people half his age. Sunak, who probably understands US politics better than most British politicians knows this. We can be confident that despite some extraordinary press coverage of the visit US/UK relations are in a good place.

Political relations between England and Scotland however are in need of some serious work by Westminster politicians. Keir Starmer is right to put winning a good number of Scottish seats at the next General Election at the top of his priority list. Scotland cannot afford to become in effect a one-party state. Neither can any party who wants to credibly govern the United Kingdom and hold the Union willingly together simply rely on an English majority. The Conservatives ‘red wall’ strategy must not be allowed to become an electoral cul-de-sac for the party. 

Policies to attract votes and win seats across the United Kingdom need to be in the manifestos of all serious national parties. 

The Coronation is a United Kingdom event and it would be a good thing if it ushered in a new era of pan-United Kingdom thinking in our national politics.

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