Gosh, the things that running a blog can do to a person. Here I am about to write on a subject that I could never have envisaged taking time over back when I, well, didn't used to run a blog. However, if something gets to be of interest to you, that's what it gets to be, and my interest has been caught by this column of Laurie Penny's.
It is, of course, predictable (left-winger not delighted by Kate's pregnancy), but what first hooked me was Penny's determination not to be delighted, her 'go[ing] out on a limb' to say she felt no surge of joy about it, and this rather overblown insistence hooked me into reading on to find out her reasons and into thinking about my own reactions to the Royal news. 'Delighted' would be putting it too strongly, because this is the kind of news I normally take on the run, so to speak, but if someone really pressed me to know what I felt about it I'd say I was moderately pleased for William and Kate. Why? Just because they're a young couple who themselves appear to be happy, and pleased is what one generally is for others in this situation. It's not because they're Royal or because they're anything else; it's merely that something widely regarded as being good - including by me - has happened to them.
So, going out on a limb not to be delighted, what's that all about? It seems to have three components: one is that this is a story knocking other more important things, like 'our woeful economy', off the front pages; two is that the story turns the undemocratic institution that is the monarchy into another soap opera; and three is that, by contrast with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, some people can't afford to have children and, more generally...
Next year, about 750,000 babies will be born in the United Kingdom. At least two hundred and fifty thousand of them will be born into poverty.
On the first point, all I will say is that it never fails to amaze me how people who dislike a big hoohah being made about something or other themselves contribute to it by saying 'Shame, wrong, big hoohah etc.' They could, instead, let everyone who's interested get on with it, and try to minimize the fuss they lament by themselves ignoring it.
On the second point, speaking as a republican, I'm with Laurie Penny in thinking that the monarchy shouldn't just be thought of as a soap opera. But, on the other hand, not everything is the same thing. Even Royals are people, and they can be legitimately happy about a prospective birth. Others, as republican as may be, may quite properly feel pleased for them. I come back to this.
Third, if it were really, as Penny suggests, a question of rich and poor, then going out on a limb not to be delighted about William and Kate's news should extend to the pregnancies of all rich people (or maybe only very rich people). Is she really wanting to suggest that no one who isn't (very) rich should ever feel happy for people who are, when the latter have good news? I hope not, because it's a mean-spirited outlook. You can be a republican and/or an egalitarian and still wish others well who are already well off. There's a politics of trying to make the world a better and fairer place, but it doesn't benefit from mean-spiritedness in matters of day-to-day life.
Finally, not to make too much of this, because it's only a mild variant of something that can be a great deal worse, but it's a dehumanizing impulse to begrudge people the good news about a pregnancy just on the grounds of, loosely speaking, their class. You might want to make an exception here for cruel slave-owners, criminals against humanity and such - but Kate and William? Best of luck to them.