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What About a President Tony Blair?

By Gwen Wall – Equalities Officer of Our Republic

Or Alex Salmond, or Jacob Rees Mogg, or Boris Johnson. Or even our very own President Donald Trump. Whoever the flavour of the month hated politician happens to be, they seem to always be brought up in response to the idea that we might freely elect our head of state.

Never mind that Tony Blair happens to be (mostly) retired from frontline politics or that Alex Salmond has the lowest approval rating of any Scottish politician, an elected president would inevitably be a universally hated and somehow popular former politician.

Let’s start with the obvious: of course, you might object to an elected president’s politics or character. You may even detest them as a person. The same is true of any future monarch. The key difference is that we would get to choose who represents us and that an elected president would have to earn at least some support at the ballot box.

It is very unlikely that Blair or Salmond would ever be elected president of a Scottish Republic for a very simple reason: they do not enjoy much support among the people living here. No reason to stop them from trying, if they were really keen. Indeed, one of them might try it if we had an executive President with sweepings powers to introduce legislation or declare war.

It is very unlikely that Blair or Salmond would ever be elected president of a Scottish Republic for a very simple reason: they do not enjoy much support among the people living here.

But one needs only to look over the pond to Ireland or Iceland to see that elections for ceremonial presidents tend not to be bitterly contested affairs in the same way general elections are. Most people recognise the need for our head of state to bring us together in a way our parliaments cannot, and so would prefer unifying candidates.

The nature of the office would also deter undue bitterness and divisive candidates. A ceremonial president simply would not have many powers that relate to daily life in Scotland, and would likely not attract candidates whose primary concern was directly shaping policy.

Where a President could intervene politically, in ways an unelected monarch never could, is in the tone and style of debate. A directly elected President would have been a welcome presence during the heat of our post-referendum recriminations, better positioned to remind us that no one is a “traitor” for having different views and that everyone is entitled to their say. It would be all the more powerful coming from someone directly accountable to us.

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Featured in The National

Image of article in The National

Today we had a feature in The National from Kirsteen Paterson.

If you’re a subscriber you can access it via the link, if not we have plenty of more articles coming from our members, but at least now you’ll have the chance to put some faces to the names of some of our members!

Article here:—royal-scandals-highlight-problems-monarchies/

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Some More Equal Than Others

By Tristan Gray – Convenor of Our Republic

One of the fundamental values of our society is that everyone is equal under the law. We all have the same basic human rights, we all are subject to the same laws, we all have an equal vote in our elections and therefore an equal say in how our country is governed.

Or, at least, it should be.

The reality is that this value is completely undermined by the existence of a single anachronistic quirk in our society – the Royal Family. A single family among millions are not subject to the same rules as everyone else. They have more say than anyone else and they were given it because their parents also had more say.

During the reign of just one member of this family more than 1,000 laws were vetted by them to ensure they didn’t impact them in any way they didn’t like, using an arcane procedure called Queen’s consent. That’s the consent she must give for laws to apply to people.

A consent no other person in the country has access to.

The complaint often raised when this unaccountable and secretive power is that it’s not a big deal. It’s not often used, it has little impact, any major intervention would be fiercely opposed, and it’s only one family so how big a problem is it really?

But it’s not just one family. It’s an entire social, cultural, and political system. That’s not just one family, it’s corruptive.

But it’s not just one family. It’s an entire social, cultural, and political system that cannot truly say that equality is one of its fundamental values. It can’t truly say it because it isn’t true. It’s one equality for us, and another for them. That’s not just one family, it’s corruptive.

The Royals are far from the only family in Britain who benefit from being born into extraordinary wealth, privilege, and power. At one end of the extreme, you have the 92 hereditary peers who sit with permanent, unearned, power over our laws and daily pay-cheques in the House of Lords, with zero accountability or democratic legitimacy.

At the other, you have the upper reaches of the 1% who are born into families of millionaires, sent to private schools that set you up for automatic places at top-tier universities, welcomed into clubs of will-be politicians, given jobs without even asking by friends of the parents, and later walk straight into power by being parachuted into party safe seats by the same people they palled around with at university.

These are all things everyone involved will claim to have “earned”. But they’re all things that anyone outside this obscenely wealthy and inter-connected club don’t have access to, all through accident of birth.

But why shouldn’t they claim to have earned it? The Royals do. Our constitution sets out exactly that this is just how our politics and society are meant to work. This is the status quo, the normal, the way things ought to be. The status of the Royal Family legitimises the entitlement these people feel towards every unearned place and display of open nepotism they benefit from.

We’re not all in this together. We’re not all equal. That’s what the Monarchy tells us, and it’s what justifies the vast gulf of economic and social inequality our society and culture holds up as just the way things are.

But we should be all in this together. We should be equal. Everyone should get a fair shot no matter who their parents are, everyone should get an equal say in how the country they live in is run.

We can’t do that with a Monarchy. We can by ditching these archaic and corruptive institutions and building a new one based on democratic accountability, checks and balances on power, and a fundamental value underpinning our laws and constitution that everyone is born equal.

Time for a Republic.