One step at a time to a republic

One of my top reasons for wanting independence is because I want a republic. From day one after Scotland votes Yes to independence in a referendum or in a popular vote, I’ll be campaigning for the abolition of the monarchy and for an elected Scottish head of state. It’s only when we have broken free from the publicly funded obscene wealth of the Windsors and their covert influence on our politics and public life that Scotland will truly be an independent nation.

The chances of the Westminster Parliament ever offering the UK a choice on whether or not to abolish the monarchy and have an elected head of state are precisely zero. Even if by some miracle they were persuaded or coerced into allowing a referendum on the future of the monarchy, Westminster would simply introduce some stitch up ensuring that even with an elected head of state there would be no fundamental changes to the structures of the state itself. The same elites would continue unchallenged, the same British establishment would waive the rules. A Westminster referendum on the future of the monarchy would operate along similar lines to the referendum of 2011, when Westminster offered the UK a choice between keeping the unfair and undemocratic first past the post electoral system, or the only alternative that was even worse.

Only in an independent Scotland is there a serious and realistic option of a Parliament which allows a truly free and fair referendum on the monarchy and the choice of a head of state. Personally I favour a system like that of the Irish Republic, where the head of state – the Uachtarán na hÉireann – is elected by a popular vote but the post is largely ceremonial in nature. The Ceann-Suidhe na h-Alba / Preses o Scotland / President of Scotland should be elected in a similar way, and likewise have a largely ceremonial role.

The dangers of a hereditary monarch have been highlighted recently by two incidents. Firstly there was the intervention of the Queen in the Scottish independence referendum. The Palace not only enthusiastically cooperated with Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that the Queen make some sort of public statement in order to assist the Better Together campaign, it also ensured that BBC and other reporters were on hand so that the Queen’s remark received the maximum possible publicity. It was the coordinated and deliberate intervention of a supposedly politically neutral institution in a democratic debate, with the blatant aim of influencing the outcome to one of the monarch’s pleasing.

This issue was widely known at the time, although it was dismissed as conspiracy theorising from a bitter independence campaign. It was confirmed recently when David Cameron described the episode in his memoirs. The reaction has been, not outrage that the monarch exceeded her constitutional role by intervening in a democratic vote, but outrage that she was found out. Apparently the real constitutional outrage as far as the British establishment is concerned is that David Cameron should never have spoken publicly about his private conversations with the Queen. The real crime is not that the offence took place, it’s breaking the vow of omertà. The real offence in the eyes of the British establishment is that the public should discover the political influence the Queen really has, not that she has any in the first place.

Potentially far more serious however is the role of the monarch in the recent decision of the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament. We shall discover on Tuesday whether this decision was illegal. Rumours are that the ruling is likely not to be favourable to the government. If it finds against the Government, this ruling will be framed in terms of the Prime Minister having lied to the Queen.  However everyone and their granny knew the real reason why Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson prorogued Parliament, so it beggars belief to imagine that a monarch who has been dealing with Prime Ministers for almost 70 years and who has her own team of political advisors didn’t know precisely what he was up to either.

An elected head of state would have had the authority from their own democratic mandate to tell Johnson where to get off and would have defended democracy by refusing to allow a Prime Minister without a majority to escape parliamentary scrutiny by closing down Parliament.  Yet instead of preventing the Prime Minister from closing down Parliament in order to escape democratic scrutiny, Buckingham Palace colluded with him in doing so. The priority of the office of the head of state was not to protect what passes for a British constitution, it was to minimise any potential damage to the monarchy. In other words, the office of the head of state of the UK does not exist in order to defend the constitution of the UK, it’s a self-serving institution which exists solely to protect and defend itself – and bugger the consequences to democracy and to the rest of us.

These are all compelling reasons why the British monarchy is incompatible with proper democracy. A proper democracy demands that its head of state has as their main concern the defence of democracy and the upholding of the constitution. That is clearly not the role of the Queen. The role of the Windsors is to continue to enjoy their private influence and privilege at that same time as benefiting from their publicly funded highly expensive lifestyles.

All that said, it would be a mistake to fight the next independence referendum on an overtly republican platform. Fundamentally, independence is about one question and one question only, and it’s no more about deciding whether we are a republic or a monarchy than it is about accepting the Scottish Government’s proposals for the rate of Corporation Tax. Independence is about deciding who gets the final say on what choices Scotland makes, not about prejudging what those choices must be. Choosing independence means asserting and establishing the right of the people of Scotland to have the last word on what sort of country this is, and what path this country takes.

There should only be one question before the Scottish people when we next decide on independence, and that question is about establishing the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to decide what sort of country this should be. Just as the nature of our relationship with Europe is a question that only the people of an independent Scotland can decide after we have established our independence, so likewise the question of how we choose a Scottish head of state can only be decided after we have established our independence.

In my view Scotland should and must abolish the monarchy. But that’s a discussion for the people of Scotland to have once we have established and asserted our sovereign right as a nation to determine our own path. One step at a time to a republic.

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43 thoughts on “One step at a time to a republic

  1. I hope Angus Robertson reads this item along with Andrew Tickell’s feature in Sunday’s National- both much more radical than Angus’s praise ( really ! ) for the Saxe-Coberg and Gotha family ie. that extended and obscenely rich lot who never need to face an election.

  2. My belief is “One step at a time to an independent Scotland”
    I don’t believe in frightening the monarchy horses…………..before independence.

    • It’s not that at all. It’s simply a recognition that we need to progress in the correct order. We cannot determine how we choose the head of state of an independent Scotland before we actually have an independent Scotland.

      • That is exactly what I meant, except…except, why mention it until we are in a position to chose for ourselves?
        It will only frighten the royalists who want independence (not, I suppose, that there are many of that rare breed).

      • The Queen has to do what the Westminster Parliament tells her. Westminster is sovereign, the English claim of right. This was confirmed in1689 along with the Scottish claim of right, which is that the Scottish people are sovereign. these were incorporated the Treaty of the Union of Parliaments.

        • Except that the gospel according to LBJ and co seems to be that the queen has to do what the PM “advises”, but the PM is free to ignore parliament. Something not quite kosher?
          Governing in despite of parliament reminds me of the antics that got King Charles I shortened by a foot or so, if you see what I mean.

  3. agree with all you say Paul. Bin her madge and a’ the hingers oan.But, as you say, independence first and foremost, after that, well it’sfo us to decide. It says in the Declaration of Arbroath, that if the monarch is not doing the job of protecting the people of Scotland, we can issue them with their P45.
    Oh aye, and nae honours system either.

    I think this present Queen of Scots has well and truly earned her jotters.

  4. I agree with the last couple of paragraphs. Independence first, then let the people decide.
    So why bring it up?
    There will be enough Unionists trying to confuse and misdirect people with side issues, we don’t need anyone on the Independence side adding to the confusion. just like the EU in/out debate we should put up a concerted front of “let the Scottish people decide after a fair and in-depth debate” on all these issues.
    There may be one person in Scotland who wants to be President of the Republic of Great Britain, but he/she is easily outnumbered by people who quite like the Queen and would go along with a return to the One Monarch of two Nations situation in the 1600s.

    • I’m bringing it up because several other people have brought it up recently (eg The blog which was mentioned above and Andrew Tickell in the National on Sunday) and it’s clearly a topic of some interest.

  5. Much as I detest the institutionalised inequality in this ‘country’ , underpinned by the Monarchy with its baubles , bangles and beads handed out to those deemed worthy of reward , I would emphatically agree with a clear , focused determination of Independence first . Everything else is secondary , whether it be abolishing the Monarchy , re-joining the EU , land reform or building a statue to Boris Johnson for being the architect of a successful YES vote !

  6. Pingback: One step at a time to a republic | speymouth

  7. Agreed. We need to get the country first. Anderson. (cross Party).

    We need to get the country first and decide ousrsleves democratically.

  8. Let us get Independance running smoothly then look at other issues once the people are feeling secure in their new independent state. Then it will be time to address other agendas.

  9. I think it’s a mistake for people to be discussing these issues just as we are hotting up the question of Scottish independence.
    First things first.
    Let’s carry all independence voters with us and get over the line before we start to discuss how we will run our country.
    The most important , vital thing is to be running our country ourselves.
    Splitting opinions before we have independence is not helping, I’ve done the same myself in the past though.

    Today we have the Labour conference promising lots of new houses a shorter working week of four days instead if five with no reduction in pay plus the abolition of private schools etc etc it’s those things we should be talking about because most of those promises are outwith Labours control.
    You cannot force employers to pay the same wages for a day less work.
    We have heard it all before from Labour about building houses we know it’s lies they continued to sell council houses after thatcher was ousted.
    Labour can’t stop people sending their children to private schools , what they could do is stop the tax relief the rich parents and the schools get but they won’t because most of labours staff get it and use it.

    Scottish independence
    Work together
    Listen to different views agree or disagree
    Don’t fall out or insult
    Stick together
    After independence we can discuss royal family, trident, tax reliefs , housing ,etc etc
    We will have a nicer, friendlier ,more prosperous more accountable country

  10. Any potential SNP voters out there who won’t vote for independence because they don’t want Scotland to be in the EU – there must still be a few – should know that WGD is right that EU membership and the Head of State question are things which we can decide freely and independently only in a free and independent Scotland. In independent Scotland, they will be free to campaign for a Scottish exit, or before that, for us not to rejoin / be the successor State to the UK, or to retain the monarchy, or whatever they feel like. What they will not be able to do is subvert our democracy.

    I say to them also that monarchism and the anti-European rhetoric and meeja messaging come from exactly the same source – British/English exceptionalism, nationalism and class privilege – the gives us SNP BAD and all that Cringe-inducing stuff so many of us imbibe with our mothers’ milk, and that they should therefore apply the same scepticism towards it.

  11. As many others I was bamboozled why you raised this, but now that you have clarified the drivers I cannot disagree. Black Rod, Division lobbies or any of the multiple affectations of a prior empire which impinge upon government of these isles have no place in modern society, let alone a new state of Scotland. If there is sufficient desire for a model royal, might I suggest to look to the Dutch?
    England are welcome to their model should they choose to continue, but it has no bearing elsewhere unless the objective is to agitate the faeces when the PM is not immersed in it…

  12. I doubt there are that many people who are uber-royalists, who are also Indy supporters. What little regard I had for the royal family (a smidgen as a tourism draw, mainly) was completely lost after the ‘conspiracy theory’ that turned out to be true.

    Since then I’ve been completely uncaring. If people want to ooh and aah at folk they don’t know, that’s their concern. If the royal family is interfering with my country’s political decisions, that’s everyone’s concern (and the SHOULD be concerned).

    Maybe wait a couple of years and see how Indy with a sovereign affects us. I’d rather focus on the huge tracts of land being made for rich peoples’ pastimes, if they can be used for better things.

  13. In a Scottish republic, I’d prefer a single head of state and government, in the manner of France and a few other nations out there further distant. A directly elected figurehead is superfluous in my view. Similarly, I think we’re better off with a unicameral Holyrood (the way we have it now) than going two chamber with some sort of senate after Indy. Let us voters choose who we want, instead of setting up the whole system for eternal power squabbles.

    But actually, I prefer the idea of Scotland remaining a Kingdom. Why? Historical continuity, and distinctiveness in a world full of republics. I reckon royals are actually best used as the apex of the hospitality industry. And I’ve no fondness for heredity. No, we the people should choose them, based on talent. In fact: how about a regular talent contest to elect a fresh new face to Scotland’s throne? Sounds like a joke, I know! But I honestly think this would be a great idea, giving the world a regular talent show the like of Eurovision, say every ten years, where we put hopefuls through the paces and help advertise our nation’s irreverence along the way! We would be entirely unique. And we’d be spared the dismal prospect of a boring old head of state, whether born into the family job or given the nod by the establishment. We want glam! This is showbiz!

    • While agreeing with Paul in the round,that we should achieve independence first.
      I think that the day after Independence we should concentrate on writing our new permanent Constitution. To have it replace the interim one as quickly as possible.
      We might find that the issue of the head of state resolved itself in the doing of it.
      We would expect the Scottish head of State to take an oath to the Scottish Constitution?
      We would expect the Scottish Head of State to perform certain duties?
      Hopefully our Constitution will complete the Declaration of Arbroath by framing the steps to be taken if and when the Monarch is judged to not be serving Scotland ( an Article Mc50 ) and is to be replaced.
      We could also have that the current monarchs successor is not automatic but by invitation and approval of the people and not necessarily a Windsor at all. But the person best places to represent our Crown!!I
      We also would be deciding what funding a Monarchy requires and we could demand total transparency over it.
      The Windsors might find the terms and conditions not to their liking and decline the role!!!
      The point I’m making while sounding like the royalist I’m most certainly not, is that…. Even if the Scots choose to remain a Kingdom and not a Republic,it can still be a Kingdom designed by us.
      We only get to do that…. To make that kind of history…
      With independence!

      I do think that the current stooshie over Auld Lizzie is very deliberate.
      Cameron’s book must have been proof read and as an Ex PM if the security services haddnt taken a look at it too! We should get a refund from them for not doing their job.
      That book and it’s contents were approved of and the establishment knew exactly what was in it!
      The Queen has managed to let everyone know she definitely doesn’t want Scotland to vote Yes in Indy Ref Two … No one needs to wonder anymore,she has a position and we all know what it is.
      Far enough away from the actual vote to keep her from being asked again to interfere but leaves no ambiguity about her views….
      And it’s also tempting the Yes movement to go a bit “republican” into the bargain ….
      Quite clever really…. But we’ll settle the matter on our own terms and in our own time, keeping in mind Scots law is and always has been above the Crown we don’t need to dump the Crown to create an independent nation. We’ve always been able to have a monarch that pleases us we need to concentrate on getting a Parliament that serves us.

      • Spot on Liz. That’s exactly how I see it too. They must think that we all came up the Clyde on a banana boat.

        ”I do think that the current stooshie over Auld Lizzie is very deliberate….

        The Queen has managed to let everyone know she definitely doesn’t want Scotland to vote Yes in Indy Ref Two … No one needs to wonder anymore, she has a position and we all know what it is.”

  14. I wasn’t that bothered one way or another about whether an independent Scotland should be a monarchy or not. I might even have come down in favour of retaining it were there a post-independence plebiscite.
    It’s clear now though that the present monarch doesn’t want the job of being Head of State of an independent Scotland. Fair enough, far be it from me to require her to see it through until death and thereafter to pass on this unwelcome burden of mandatory service to her weans.
    Hitherto I’ve been silent on the matter of the monarchy as indeed the monarchy has been silent on vulgar politics. That’s changed, but it wasn’t me that instigated this lapse from respectful silence, nor was it the Jeggits or Tickells of the land, it was her gracious majesty herself.

  15. The idea held dear by Monarchists that the British Monarchy guarantees our democracy,making it far superior to other democratic countries,has been completely undermined by recent revelations.
    Either the Queen simply rubber stamps whatever the government of the day wants,in which case what is the point of her position,or she has actively colluded with the government of the day to stymie England’s democratically elected parliament.
    There will be consequences for this.

  16. Until recently I was agnostic on the monarchy, but with recent events my opinion has changed.

    I think we should become a republic, but flow Irelands lead on the role of the president. Where the president is mostly ceremonial, but does retain powers on the constitution.

  17. We do not need any head of state. FM perfectly capable of doing the ceremonial stuff(meeting other leaders etc). Don’t elect anyone!! Get rid of the monarchy: full stop!

  18. During the 80s and 90s the Royal Family’s PR were happy to use the growing celebrity culture of the media when Diana Spencer joined the royal breeding stables. With the eager compliance of the media, feeding the hungry empty-headed Royal watchers lots of details on the young and photogenic Princess Diana, she was elevated to media stardom and the Royal Family, who had always been a bit fuddy-duddy were able to bask, for a time, in her reflected glamour.

    The Palace PR fell into a trap of its own making when the scandal around the break-up of the Charles-and-Diana marriage became a feeding frenzy for the unlovely predators of the Murdoch press. The outrage from the righr-wing royalists was so great that it led to op-eds in the right-wing media, which for the first time, talked of the end of the House of Windsor. It was actually openly suggested that when the Queen died, it should mark the end of the monarchy.

    It was all a bit premature since she is still with us and a generation later, we have it all again, with the mindless promotion of the younger Royals who are not at all constrained in their flaunting of huge wealth and its glamour trappings. You might think that in times of austerity, ordinary folk in their financial struggles might be nauseated by such overt wallowing in the limelight and their luxurious lifestyles. But, the royals seem to be secure in the knowledge that nothing they do will upset their subjects. You know, I think they’re right.

    At least in the 90s there was a brief moment when they had seemingly so affronted their most loyal followers that they would consider ending the monarchy. Now the Queen can be involved in a constitutional crisis and the establishment and the people haven’t blinked. It looks as if sexual hank-panky trumps political conspiracy in its ability to cause outrage. No wonder the royals are so complacent. Different times.
    O tempora O mores indeed.

    After independence, I am afraid we are going to be stuck with them.

  19. I most definitely want to live in a Republic but as others, and Paul himself have pointed out, that’s not a (our) priority right now. Independence, followed by a written constitution and control over broadcasting from day one is a must to bring our citizens up to speed in relation to the many ”facts” that have been suppressed. That and keeping them up to date with regard to ”follow-up” Westminster dirty tricks. And then I reckon that we should adopt the Swiss referendum system. No problem for them involving the populace through holding national referendums, for example 10 in 2018 alone.

    • I think that ‘control’ of any branch of the press is ill advised. A better, and fairer, solution would be some sort of variation of Canada’s Radio Act where lies and non-factual reporting is a criminal offence.

  20. I’m with Liz g on the stushie being rather deliberately contrived, simply because I think setting the people against the monarchy would suit the establishment. I have little doubt that Scotland would have a clear claim on any assets accrued by the Crown since 1603, which may include those assets used currently as offshore asset havens.
    So Scotland should remain a Kingdom for as long as it takes to sort out who owns what.
    That’s not to say that the current Toom Tabard or her offspring are fit to wear Scotland’s Crown, far from it. I’m sure if we set our minds to it we could put together a fairly long list of her failings as the defender of the People of Scotland’s Soveriegnty.
    What was her knowledge and involvement in hiding the McCrone report, what was her knowledge and involvement in the transfer of 6,000 square miles of Scottish seas. Just who the hell gave her permission to sign the Withdrawal Bill against our expressed will.
    So Maj should be removed as incompetent and replaced not by another monarch but by an elected Gaurdian, Scotland remains the oldest surviving Kingdom in Europe and gives Maj jaw a rattle that will travel round the world faster than a tory lie.

    • Good point Golfnut we’ve some assets to divvy up right enough…..
      And let’s not forget our share of the treasures Held in Trust for the Nation in the vaults of the palaces. I hear there’s an impressive art collection too!

  21. As Lesley Riddoch keeps pointing out, we still live in a Feudal State. Time to get up off our genuflecting knees and be the Modern Nation that we are.

  22. Well I for one am glad you have aired this subject of the monarchy and the need to think about what kind of Scotland we want.
    I want to see kings and queens consigned to history books and fairy stories. The absurdity of addressing another human being as Your Majesty or Your Royal Highness is glaringly obvious. And then there are all the other titles associated with the Nobility sustaining inequality and prvilege!

  23. I’ve been a Republican for as long as I can remember, and I’m now 71. The idea that we can be represented by an unelected and hereditary family is, quite frankly, ridiculous. If the civil list was zero and they took nothing from us it would still be unacceptable. But they don’t. They make the Tory parasites look like amateurs. Their motto is ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense’ which is French for ‘Take everything, Give Nothing Back’
    We can, of course, thanks to the Declaration of my home town, get rid of these freeloaders. Vive la Republique’

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