Note: This article is from the Guardian.
A group of MPs is calling for the tower housing Big Ben to be renamed in honour of the Queen, sparking horror from republicans who accuse them of championing a “crass and profoundly inappropriate” change to the Houses of Parliament.
Twenty-three MPs, mostly from the Conservative party, have signed a Commons early day motion requesting that the east tower of the Palace of Westminster be formally titled the Elizabeth Tower to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee. Tabled by the Tory MP Tobias Ellwood and backed by former foreign secretaries Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, it urges MPs to support the move “in recognition of Her Majesty’s 60 years of unbroken public service on behalf of her country”.
It notes that, in 1860, when the west tower of the Palace of Westminster – hitherto known as the King’s Tower – was rebuilt, it was renamed the Victoria Tower in honour of the country’s longest-serving monarch. Only the present Queen and Victoria have been on the throne long enough to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, it adds, paying tribute to the Queen’s “energy, wisdom and grace”.
But the proposal provoked the immediate criticism of the pressure group Republic. Spokesman Graham Smith said the move was “crass and profoundly inappropriate given that the tower in question is a landmark of our democratic parliament”.
He added: “This is not supposed to be an absolute monarchy. She [the Queen] isn’t there to be the dominant figure; she’s supposed to be very much a personal figure in our political system. That parliament is there for everybody and the idea that you’re going to turn a major feature of our parliament into a tribute to an unelected, unaccountable head of state completely stands against absolutely everything that democracy’s about. It’s absolutely obscene.”
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