Our Convenor Tristan Gray spoke to @ScotNational for their podcast this week – looking at when, and why, Scotland should be moving to replace the Monarchy with something truly representative of the people of Scotland.
Listen to it all here:
Our Convenor Tristan Gray spoke to @ScotNational for their podcast this week – looking at when, and why, Scotland should be moving to replace the Monarchy with something truly representative of the people of Scotland.
Listen to it all here:
It’s often argued that the institution of Monarchy and other life-long appointments in our country’s politics are merely ceremonial. The appointment of David Cameron as a Lord to enable his commissioning as Foreign Secretary tells us all a very different story.
The Foreign Secretary, one of the most important roles in our government, can no longer be appropriately held to account by our elected politicians. Any sense of a democratic process existing at the core of this Government has been extinguished. Instead, Cameron is the poster boy for the cronyism and entitlement that is the corrosive impact of the Monarchy on our politics.
It is an act of pure contempt for the British people and the purported values of a liberal democratic state.
Out of office, unelected, and recently in the headlines due to his lobbying scandals, Cameron has now been gifted a life-long, unaccountable say over our laws. Appointed in desperation and only by rejecting every possible representative actually elected with a democratic mandate.
All so he can be the face of the United Kingdom to the world. We the people deserve better than to be presented to the world as an undemocratic relic of the past represented by medieval titles. We deserve a future beyond this corrupt pyramid of Lords and Monarchy.
You can now catch the full stream of our ‘Scotland’s Republican Future’ panel with Maggie Chapman MSP, Emma Roddick MSP, Cllr. Fatima Joji and a representative from the International Workers of the World Union on YouTube:
|Just a few days to go until our next event this weekend! Join our panel of speakers as they discuss Scotland’s republican future and take part in the Q&A to quiz them on how they see Scotland changing beyond the end of the Monarchy.
Emma Roddick MSP
Maggie Chapman MSP
Councillor Fatima Joli
Sunday, 12 November – 3.30 pm – Augustine United Church, Edinburgh.
Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scotlands-republican-future-tickets-748104640117
By Tristan Gray, Convenor of Our Republic
One year ago today, in a morbid and macabre tradition of the British constitution, a man’s mother died and he became one of the most powerful and influential people in the country as a result. His claim to this power came from nothing but the supposed special nature of his bloodline, blood whose purity is considered so sacrosanct that the potential of its tainting by people unlike himself led to one of his sons being hounded out of the country for who he fell in love with.
No one in Britain was asked if they agreed with this abrupt transfer of power tied to death and family, there was no vote on the transfer of significant political power over their laws and state. No one was consulted on whether this billionaire and his children should continue to be granted millions in public funds every year to live in grand palaces and be gifted the unparalleled power to review every piece of law and demand changes to benefit themselves. No council nor parliament held votes deciding whether or not this claimant should be showered with expensive processions and parades in his honour to burnish his ego.
No, all that triggered that barrelling change was a death in the family. That was not just considered sufficient. It was necessary for him to take what he felt entitled to.
But what of those who stood up and opposed this ludicrous and anachronistic charade? Who demanded people should have a choice over who gets to rule over them and spend their public funds on celebrations for themselves?
They were treated as threats. Not just to this outrageously entitled billionaire, but to the entire edifice of the British state propped up around him. Peaceful protesters were arrested for booing at his proclamation as King or holding placards, smeared as funeral crashers as if it wasn’t the institution itself that has unnecessarily married power with death so directly. Others were seized by police and held in prison for an entire day without charge so that the man could parade around the streets in a golden carriage without ever having to doubt that this was always meant to be his. They were attacked by the press as disloyal, abused across social media, in emails and letters, because how *dare* they question his right to all of this?
One year on, it’s crumbling.
Support for a change has risen to record-high levels across the UK. The Monarchy is backed by not even a third of young people across the UK. In just five years their belief that the Monarchy is good for Britain has collapsed from 60% to 30% and more are embarrassed by them than proud.
In Scotland, specifically, these numbers are even more dismal. Less than half of Scots continue to back this decaying institution, with those backing a Republic nearly matching their numbers after decades of being considered an irrelevance. The Scottish First Minister is an open republican, and when the King came to Scotland to try to cement his place here with yet another gold-trimmed parade barely anyone turned up to support him. Instead, he had to endure chants challenging his legitimacy through the service he expected to be no more than the unquestioning acceptance of his claim.
We can see change coming, it’s on the horizon, and one year into his reign Charles Windsor can see it too. He could hear it in Edinburgh two months ago, from his extravagant palace to the Church where fellow remnants of an obsolete past gathered to coddle him with soothing words that he really is special, he really is worthy of all of this, that only his blood runs blue enough.
Time is up. It’s not enough to see the change, to make it inevitable we must demand it. Let every year be another year Charles is reminded that he will be the last King in Scotland.
Our Republic to mark “The Scottish Coronation” event on 5 July with a protest rally at the Scottish Parliament
On Wednesday July 5th, Edinburgh will begrudgingly be the site of yet another coronation event for Charles as he arrives to Scotland on a continuation of his coronation celebrations. In response to this, Our Republic is organising a rally at the Scottish Parliament at 1pm. Our Republic is collaborating with Republic UK, who will be holding a protest targeting the route of the procession to St Giles’.
The vast majority of Scotland didn’t care to celebrate the coronation in May with Support for the Monarchy at an all time low in Scotland, and Charles’ perpetual need to celebrate his reign, with all the pomp and pageantry it requires, is a spit in the face to the people struggling with the cost of living. Food costs, energy prices, rent payments, and mortgage rates are all at an unprecedented high and we’re still expected to host Charles and Camila’s inflated egos. This event follows Charles coronation on May the 6th which featured London’s Metropolitan Police going as far to arrest peaceful protestors in an unprecedented act of political suppression.
Recently, Camila was granted ‘Scotland’s top honour’, an appointment to the Order of the Thistle. Camila has no connection to Scotland. Charles’ brother, Edward, was given the Duchy of Edinburgh as a birthday gift. The monarchy throws these titles around to the point where they are utterly meaningless, and undermine the very concept of honours that are often celebrated as life achievements for those who dedicate themselves to the arts, sports, and their communities. On July 5th Charles will award himself yet again on behalf of a nation he only sees as his subjects. These protests are a vital challenge to his entitlement to rule.
Our Republic is the campaign for a Scottish republic that has an elected head of state which we believe is vital for a modern, progressive, and inclusive society.
Commenting on the event, Our Republic stated:
“Charles Windsor is set to visit Edinburgh next month in order to be presented with the Honours of Scotland at St Giles’ Cathedral.
“The people of Scotland were not asked if he should be given these honours, nor whether he deserves them. Instead he shall claim them because he believes he is entitled to them.
“We will not allow this pretence at legitimacy go unopposed. He does not have the consent of the people of Scotland.”
For Pride – By Kieran Gorman – Our Republic Equalities Officer
Many LGTBQIA+ folks and their allies have once again started to both celebrate the diversity of human experience and intensify fight for the rights of queer people within our society now that we have entered Pride Month. As republicans, queer and otherwise alike, we also know the importance of fighting for our rights within society, particularly our right to live within a democratic republic rather than live under an unelected, hereditary head of state.
In recent years, as with many other progressive causes such as anti-racism and feminism, republicans and queer rights advocates have found out the importance, utility and potential, of solidarity and intersectionality. Many of us will fondly remember the sight we saw on Calton Hill on May 6th, when two young queer activists proudly draped in a trans flag stood alongside Trotskyists, Anarchists and others on top of the National Monument, overlooking a sea of socialists, nationalists and Scottish Greens below, all of us united under the banner of republicanism.
From Graham Campbell, SNP councillor and National Executive Committee member, who spoke on the importance the rights of trans people and gave thanks to his Anarchist comrades behind him for being in attendance, to former member of the immigrants’ rights group the Glasgow Girls, SNP Councillor Roza Salih, who spoke about the need for a Scottish socialist republic, echoing the words of a previous speaker, Maggie Chapman of the Scottish Greens, MSP for North East Scotland, all speakers seemed to recognise the importance of fighting in one another’s corners and uniting their efforts in the struggle to create the Scotland that they all – that we all – wish to see.
Why did such a seemingly unrelated variety of activists from so many different causes stand side by side? Simple. Because we recognised that at the heart of all our struggles is a desire for equality, a recognition of the injustice inherent to a system, any system, in which some have an excess of privilege and others do not even have their basic rights respected by the state. In the same way that homophobes, transphobes and other anti-queer bigots look down on queer people and compare them to paedophiles and predators, the Royal Family, House of Lords and other wealthy elites of British and Scottish society look down on their subjects as lesser than themselves either by God’s will or the “meritocracy” of cutthroat competition and inherited wealth.
Fundamentally, this seething hatred or paternalistic pity for those they perceive as lesser than themselves, stems from the same sense of superiority possessed by those at the top of any hierarchy looking down onto those at the bottom – i.e. looking down on people like you. This manifests in forms as varied as: the calls from the rich and privileged to cut social welfare and to dump the burden of taxes onto the poor in the form of VAT on basic living essentials, rather than levying heavier taxes onto those who control most of this country’s wealth and stopping them from using loopholes, such as hiding it in shell companies like that owned by King Charles Windsor and his mother Queen Elizabeth Windsor before him; to the labelling of trans people as ‘its’ and degenerates, and the false claims that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral and that same-sex couples are incapable of properly raising children.
They do this because they do not view queer people – and they do not view you – as real people. The rulers of our society barely even view you as human. They will say and do to you whatever they wish, because it is one set of rules and rights for them, and another – if any at all – for you.
One need only look to the example of the billionaire Joanne Rowling, who bares membership in both the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Order of the Companions of Honour, and who has gone on a years-long tirade against trans people with the assistance of her friend in the House of Lords, Tory Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, to see how classism and queerphobia intersect.
Either type of injustice is a denial of the humanity of some section of society; either the working classes or queer folks. It is, in no uncertain terms, evil.
In the face of this realisation, republicans must see how essential it is to reject queerphobic bigotry in all of its forms. Our anti-monarchist spaces must condemn all discrimination against our queer siblings, or else we have no right to expect their support in our republican cause. As one wise attendant of the Calton Hill rally said: we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns. Queer and otherwise alike, we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns.
Guest blog by Allan Armstrong, Radical Independence Campaign
Republicanism – anti-monarchism or the sovereignty of the people
When it comes to the term ‘Crown’, most people understand this to be the same as the monarchy. When asked why they oppose the British monarchy, its opponents usually concentrate their criticism on the antiquated class structure this upholds, and the high cost of maintaining such a parasitic institution, especially now the rest of us face austerity.
However, the UK is a constitutional monarchy. This means the queen exerts little power in her own right. Yes, the royal family enjoys obscene privileges in terms of property, income and status, and exerts considerable political pressure behind-the-scenes to maintain these; but these are rewards given for its role in supporting and promoting the interests of a wider British ruling class.
Far more important than the monarchy, or the royal family, is the political system it fronts. Despite the existence of a formal parliamentary democracy, centred on Westminster, with its devolved offspring at Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont, we still face some very real political constraints. These lie in the state’s profoundly anti-democratic Crown Powers, which derive from sovereignty lying with the Crown-in-Westminster. Our counter to this is upholding
republicanism as the sovereignty of the people.
This also represents a challenge to those who only see the absence a monarchy as the essence of republicanism. This is why we also oppose the republicanism represented by the imperial presidencies of Trump and Bidens’ US Republic and Macron’s French Republic; Putin’s ‘One and Indivisible’, oligarchical Russian Federated Republic, the one-party bureaucratic police states of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Peoples Republic and Kim Jong-un’s Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea; and the theocratic republicanism of the mullahs of Iran. None of these are based on the democratic principle of the sovereignty of the people.
The UK state’s use of the Crown powers
So, how have the Crown powers influenced politics and society throughout the UK, but also specifically in Scotland? The Crown powers shield a whole host of unsavoury institutions and practices from any public accountability or even scrutiny. They are needed to guarantee continued British ruling class control. This class is made up from the leaders of finance, commerce, industry, the armed forces, judiciary, senior civil servants and key politicians.
In 2004, the New Labour government deigned to publicise some of these powers. However, they still kept others secret – so we don’t even know the full extent of what we are up against! New Labour regularly resorted to these powers, most notoriously in the war in Iraq. Tory and Labour governments have used these powers to mobilise troops to break firefighters’ strikes in 1997 and 2002. These powers also cloak the activities of the City of London in secrecy.
We can also look at other measures sanctioned under the Crown Powers. In 2012, Guardian journalist, Ian Cobain, published Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture. This shows how the UK state has been able to cover up its continuous use of inhuman treatment, and falsely claim it is not engaged in such practices. Under the Crown Powers, even democratically elected governments can be toppled. Back in 1975, Gough Whitlam fronted a mildly reforming Labour government, which wanted to keep US nuclear warships out of Australian ports. He felt the long arm of the Crown Powers when the British Governor-General removed him from his elected office. The incumbent British Labour government did nothing to help, highlighting Labour’s almost total acceptance of the UK’s anti-democratic state.
In 1999, under New Labour, the Crown Powers were used to deny the right of the Diego Garcia islanders to return to their Indian Ocean home, when they won their case in the British High Court.
Unfortunately for them, Diego Garcia is now the site of a major US military base.
However, these powers go even further. They even allow for the suspension of Parliament in ‘extreme situations’, with resort instead to direct rule by the Privy Council. This very select band of former and existing senior government ministers is chosen for its reliability in upholding ruling class interests. Its members all enjoy close contact with the world of business, whilst some have had direct dealings with military officers, MI5 and MI6.
But only three inner members of the Cabinet are needed to form a quorum for the Privy Council to make a decision. We saw this in Boris Johnson’s attempt to prorogue Westminster in 2019. In this case another profoundly anti-democratic UK institution, the Supreme Court over-rode the Privy Council. And you might have thought that Johnson’s attempted parliamentary coup would have led to his instant dismissal. But instead, he was only asked to apologise to the queen and allowed to get on with his plan B ‘Get Brexit Done’ general election.
Compare this with the Supreme Court’s handing of the Scottish government’s Section 30 appeal to go ahead with ‘IndyRef2’, as the majority of Scottish voters elected them to do in the 2021 Holyrood election. Or the overriding of Gender Reform Recognition approved by a large majority of MSPs at Holyrood including four Tories.
The Crown Powers and national democratic challenges
A significant element of the UK constitution is its Unionism. The 1707 Act of Union for Scotland and the 1801 Act of Union for Ireland were both designed to buttress the British Empire. Union and Empire go hand in hand. And whenever national democratic challenges are made to the UK set-up, the British ruling class quickly resorts to the Crown Powers.
In 1969, the UK state refused to make any serious attempt to dismantle its sectarian ‘apartheid’ statelet in Northern Ireland, when challenged by the Civil Rights Movement. After forcing this movement off the streets by gunning down 13 unarmed demonstrators in Derry in 1972, the full force of her majesty’s regiments was brought to bear on Irish republicans and nationalists. This included the SAS, the UDR (with its royal patronage) the RUC, and the Loyalist death squads, all backed up by juryless Diplock Courts, manned by Unionist judges, and ready to enforce detention as
required in ‘her majesty’s’ special prisons.
Those sections of the state, which provide the ruling class with legal sanction to pursue its own ends, are prefixed ‘her majesty’s’ or ‘royal’. Whilst self-styled Loyalists include those who are prepared to undertake certain illegal tasks when called upon by the security services.
But surely, we can take some comfort from the fact that the British ruling class did not resort to such violent measures when the issue of Scottish self-determination was raised in the late 1970s? However, before the mid 1990s, when the majority of the British ruling class concluded that ‘Devolution-all-round’ (for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) was the best strategy to defend its interests in these islands and the wider world, many were bitterly opposed even to very mild constitutional reform.
Therefore, in the lead-up to the 1979 Devolution Referendum, the ‘non-political’ Queen was wheeled out to make a Christmas broadcast attacking Scottish nationalism. Senior civil servants were told to ‘bury’ any documents, which could help the Scottish nationalists. Military training exercises were conducted, targeting putative armed Scottish guerrilla forces. The security forces became involved on the nationalist fringe, encouraging anti-English diatribes and actions, to discredit any notion of real Scottish self-determination. But it was not necessary to resort to more of the Crown Powers, because the Labour government was divided, and the SNP’s challenge was so mild and constitutionalist, the ruling class did not have to go any further.
So, how did the British ruling class use those Crown Powers in the 2012-14 referendum campaign? They achieved their first objective, under the Edinburgh Agreement signed between the Westminster and Holyrood government. Alex Salmond, himself a Privy Councillor, agreed to the referendum being conducted under Westminster rules.
This meant that the official’ Yes’ campaign had to be conducted under much greater official restrictions than the ‘No campaign’, which was able to draw upon those Crown Powers hidden from public scrutiny.
It will take thirty years before we officially know what methods were resorted to, beyond the obviously partisan use of senior civil servants and the BBC. However, the Guardian exposed moves by the Ministry of Defence to have Faslane Trident base declared sovereign UK territory in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.
If there had been a ‘Yes’ vote on September 18th, the SNP government did not recognise this as transferring sovereignty to the people of Scotland. They accept the principle that their sovereignty comes from those powers devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. Hence, they had already decided that their negotiating team with Westminster would include MSPs from the Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem parties, and possibly even some of their Scottish MPs. The low level of Scottish self-determination, already accepted under the SNP government’s ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals, would have been further whittled away under Westminster sovereignty.
In contrast, the Radical Independence Campaign, at its May 17th, 2014 National Forum, drew up a very different set of proposals in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote. These involved making a direct appeal to all those autonomous ‘Yes’ campaigning groups to join a popular campaign to draw up a new Scottish constitution to be put before a Scottish constituent assembly.
A ‘Yes’ vote on September 18th, would have been seen as an exercise in the republican principle of sovereignty of the Scottish people. The sovereignty of the people was no longer an abstract constitutional issue. There were many vibrant campaigning organisations the length and breadth of Scotland and beyond, constituting a civic national, internationalism from below, rainbow alliance. These included the Radical Independence Campaign, Women for Independence, Pensioners for Independence, Africans for an Independent Scotland, English People for Independence, Scots Asians for Independence, and many local ‘Yes’ groups which acted independently of ‘Yes Scotland’. There was a vibrant alternative media, e.g. bella caledonia and the National (and the wonderful, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom). And there was an equally vibrant cultural alternative promoted by the National Collective (Imagine a Better Scotland),
with its Yestivals held across Scotland.
Together these challenged the UK government, Better Together and the official SNP front ‘Yes Scotland’, The republican rally on Calton Hill on May 6th provides us with an opportunity to revive that and rekindle Scotland’s unfinished democratic revolution.
This weekend Charles Windsor will be crowned. This is not the same as becoming King, something that happened automatically last year. This is instead a £250 million special day entirely for Charles himself to show off his gold-trimmed pomp extravagance to a public struggling with a cost of living crisis… at their expense.
Entitlement runs deep with the Royals, with Charles’ brother Edward being gifted the Duke of Edinburgh title as a birthday present without thinking to ask the people of Edinburgh what they might think of the title or who should hold it. His other brother Andrew clings on to the title of Earl of Inverness, another birthday present, despite the disgust expressed by locals at being associated with him.
Scotland deserves better, and there is a better future available to us. One where our Head of State is elected with a democratic mandate and accountable to the people. One where they are subject to the same laws as all of us, not exempt from taxes and the human rights of tenants living in their sprawling empire of property. One where they pledge allegiance to the people they represent instead of demanding those people pledge allegiance to them.
On Saturday on Calton Hill from 3pm we will be rallying to present that vision. Joined by representatives from across Scottish republicanism, from our politics, communities, and arts, from all across the country, we will show that Scotland will not just quietly accept this new claimant to lifelong unaccountable power.
We know the people of Scotland are turning our backs on the Monarchy, and Our Republic intends to ensure they are heard even whilst Royalists insist on an image of universal adoration and submission to a man who believes he is entitled to it.
This phenomenal line-up shows that republicanism is no longer a fringe concern in our politics. On Saturday we hope you will join us and see the beginnings of a new era, where as Charles takes to the throne he will one day be known as Charles the Last.
You can find our event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/446302494259613
Our Republic is a membership led organisation campaigning for an elected Head of State for Scotland – Our Republic – We are the campaign for a Scottish Republic
By Tristan Gray – Convenor
This week Kate Forbes, Ash Regan, and Humza Yousaf were asked where they stand on the Monarchy during an SNP leadership hustings.
These were their overall responses:
Forbes – “I’m pretty relaxed about it. It’s not important to people.”
Regan – “I’m a republican. Backing the Monarchy was the right position for the time, but now let’s go back to conference and have a debate.”
Yousaf – “I’m a republican. We’d keep the Monarchy for a period of time before transitioning after independence.”
Two of the candidates clearly believe in a future for Scotland with an elected head of state. One does not believe it is an issue worth taking a stance on.
We believe the time is now for starting to have the discussion about this topic because we know Charles is significantly less popular than the Queen was. We don’t think his coronation full of wealth and pomp is going to help during a cost of living crisis.
We’re really grateful to the SNP member who brought it up because it is important to know the perspective of the new first minister coming in because it’s not really a debate that’s happened at the top of the party so far.
There is a clear impact on people’s lives from Charles actively putting himself into the middle of the political arena as we saw last week when he intervened on the Brexit negotiations on behalf of Rishi Sunak.
In the past we’ve seen the monarchy’s impact has been to some extent to reinforce the status quo, we saw that with the independence referendum, but never has it been quite so blatant as a monarch actively intervening in negotiations on foreign affairs on behalf of the prime minister.
Not only do we have that, where the monarchy intervenes in the best interests of the Conservative Party, but for their own interests too when they meddle with our laws to ensure they don’t have to abide by the same laws as everyone else.
We also have the less direct impact of the monarchy, which is the underlying impact they have on what a society thinks is the right way society should work. The underlying belief that nepotism is okay, that the system of nods and handshakes between wealthy men is actually all right and proper.
Why should people be able to criticise Boris Johnson for giving his father a knighthood when we know that’s exactly how the monarchy works as an institution and the monarchy is raised up as the pinnacle of our society?
We have contacted all three candidates and asked if they would support the points that are made in our petition – to make the communication between the Scottish Parliament and the monarchy transparent, to remove exemptions to our laws that have been made for the benefit of the monarchy and its estates, and to ensure no further exemptions will be made in future.
We think that’s all common sense stuff that even monarchists should support if they believe that the founding principle of how our country should work, that everyone is equal under law, should also apply to the monarchy.
A new poll has revealed that 72% of Scots believe Prince Andrew should be stripped of his Scottish title as the Earl of Inverness.
There aren’t many things that you can get everyone to agree on, but Prince Andrew has managed to nail down one.
After being gifted Inverness as a wedding present from his mum he has united the people of Inverness against him as he stained the reputation of the city by association.
After all he has done it is probably too much to expect him to do the right thing and abandon his titles.
But we should be able to expect his family to have some respect for the people they claim to lead by stripping him of them, and prevent the stain marring their communities any longer. Inverness deserves to be free of him.
Cities are made by their people, and those people have a right to decide who represents them. Never again should the privilege of that station be traded between a fading aristocracy as gifts.
Read our op-ed at the National –