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VIDEO: Keep The Queen - Advisor to British PM urges Jamaica

Where is the benefit in ditching The Queen? asks Bailey

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 19, 2013    

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JAMAICA should step cautiously in its attempt to remove the Queen of England as head of state, as it could have adverse consequences, a special advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Shaun Bailey, a budding, black politician who is of Jamaican heritage, told Jamaica Observer executives and journalists yesterday at the newspaper's weekly Monday Exchange, that it would not be in Jamaica's best interest for The Queen to be removed as this north Caribbean island's head of state.

"I would say Jamaica should be careful about doing that (disbanding the Queen)," Bailey, 41, stated.

"It gives Jamaica access to a broader world market, a broader world community, and Jamaica is a small place that could be powerful, but not on its own. It needs to be in that. The reason that Britain keeps it going from its side is that Britain can see the benefit in being in that community, and I would argue that Jamaica would feel the benefits of it as well," he said.

Bailey, who grew up in West London, said that he understood that there were strong sentiments on both sides of the fence about the monarchy, but insisted that it would do no harm to leave things as they were.

"I could understand where people might be thinking about that, but even in Britain now we are having lots of talk about should Scotland be separate, should we leave the EU (European Union), should the Catalans leave Spain, and I think people should be looking at where you are leading to, who you are going to be hanging around with?

"When you look at a country like Britain, and by extension Jamaica, about all of our history, separately and intertwined, I think sometimes you have to ask the question: Why would you want to unwind any of that? Where is the benefit? Definitely you go on and you modernise and maybe even modify, but I think there are big bits of it that should be kept because [of] the history, the link. What's very interesting when you speak to black people, black children particularly in Britain, is pointing out to them how much we are a part of British history. For me that's a real sense of pride," stated Bailey, a highly respected member of Cameron's coalition, who is visiting Jamaica on personal business.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, during her swearing-in ceremony last year, said that Jamaica would press along with plans to remove The Queen as head of state.

But for Bailey, who advises Cameron on youth and crime, the historical significance of retaining that element of colonialism is also important.

"I remember being at this thing (event) and this young white guy was talking about how his grandparents had fought in the Second World War and his parents were part of liberating the country and a little black boy stood up and said, 'but so was my granddad'.

"In the room it was a powerful unifying statement, and those children left that room and understood what was called a world war. So one of the kids then said to another kid: 'Britain didn't win the war, the world won the war.'

"He was saying that we couldn't win that war without the Indians, the Jamaicans ... everybody who fought, and I think that's a sense of pride for us and we shouldn't abandon it so quickly, because the world is about to change, I believe, and it's going to go into big economic blocs and Jamaica should try to be as connected to as many economic blocs as possible; and currently, the history of Jamaica would suggest that Europe via Britain is the strongest link there is," Bailey said.

"You are physically closer to America, but I wonder how easy that would be to build," he added.

Asked if he thought some of the sheen had left the monarchy, Bailey -- who ran unsuccessfully on a Conservative party ticket in the new parliamentary seat of Hammersmith, West London in the 2007 General Election -- said that the emergence of young members of the monarchy, like Prince William and Prince Harry, had re-injected new life into the Royal family.

"I think that the Royal family is on an upward swing, considering the two young ones now. Their relevance seems to be coming back in a way," he said.

"It's a thing about tough times ... a thing about relevance, and I think the younger ones and the tough times they are more relevant to that. And I think it will change, and it's nice to have a head of state who is beyond the politics.

"I don't know a lot about Jamaican politics, but our politics is murky... it's adversarial and it's nice not to have the head of state involved in any of that. If we have a drama, The Queen can represent everyone without any sort of political colours, which is very useful," Bailey stated.

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