We the people still enjoy a good Royal wedding – or at least the broadcast and print media reckon so, because from the announcement yesterday that Prince William of Wales is to marry the future Princess Catherine of Berkshire next year, it’s been wall to wall coverage throughout.
The Government have led the way in lapping up the news: Young Dave was outside 10 Downing Street sharpish to pitch a few soundbites, telling how the Cabinet had been banging the table in approval. The thought might also have occurred, as recounted this morning by Big Al, that this could give cover to a whole raft of bad news.
But hang on a minute: Royal weddings cost serious money. In this case, it could be into the tens of millions, when the ceremony, security and clearing away is totted up. Moreover, there will inevitably be a day off for everyone, so that’s a further cost in lost productivity. Maybe someone should be pressing the case for a value for money approach.
Fortunately, there is always one group hot on any hint of unnecessary public expenditure, and that is the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). So what do they say about next year’s nuptials? Well, what they say is not exactly unequivocal. TPA campaign director Emma Boon has accepted that taxpayers would “carry some of the costs”.
La Boon also said “ordinary taxpayers should not be left with a bill fit for a king”, a selection of words that could have come from Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole, such is the amount of wriggle room it provides. And right now (1010 hours on Wednesday) the TPA website, while including the BBC report to which Boon contributed in its “Media Coverage” section, carries no statement on the forthcoming event.
Had there been a local or national Government organisation about to splash out an eight figure sum on a one off event next year, the TPA would have already gone into overdrive about it. Yet when that event involves Royalty, their best shot is to say that “it’s OK so long as it doesn’t cost too much”. Sort of. Yeah but no but.
Ditching any consistency to make sure you keep in with all those hacks and editors that obligingly reprint your knocking copy? Perish the thought, eh?
[UPDATE: this post has also featured on Liberal Conspiracy. My thanks as ever to Sunny Hundal]