Saturday, August 27, 2005

Background on Tonga

Today's Herald has a good background piece on the Tongan strike and the social pressures behind it. One of the drivers is the move from a subsitence to a cash economy, which has made money suddenly important. But the more immediate cause is the vastly unequal pay rises given out recently - 100% for public sector managers, 75% for MPs, but often less than 10% (or even nothing) for ordinary workers. This, in a country where the last public sector wage rise was in 1986 and where inflation regularly runs at over 10%.

They also have an editorial pointing out the obvious: that the Tongan monarchy has to change if it is to survive as an institution. People have respect for the present king, but not for his appointed successor; they thus see a continuing role for the royal family in a constitutional monarchy. That role may diminish or even disappear if change is not forthcoming - and it may do so violently rather than peacefully. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the British monarchy gradually gave up its power to the people (initially the middle class) in order to preserve itself. If the Tongan monarchy is to survive, it must do the same.


...and the Tongan monarchy doesn't need an Oliver Cromwell to do it for them...

Posted by Lewis : 8/27/2005 01:44:00 PM

What 'middle class' did the English aristocracy give up power to in the 17th century?

Posted by maps : 8/28/2005 06:10:00 AM

Maps: to the relatively rich property-owners represented in the "Commons". I know that this was a tiny chunk of the population which wasn't expanded until the Reform Acts of the 19th Century; I was more talking about the powers yielded to Parliament (the appointment of the PM and Ministers, accountability to Parliament rather than the Monarch, the royal "assent" becoming irrefusable - that sort of thing).

Obviously, I'm hoping that things go a damn sight faster in Tonga.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/28/2005 10:24:00 AM