We believe that all power should be democratically accountable. The people of Scotland deserve to vote for our head of state. No one should hold power through nothing more than the merit of their birth. All power should be accountable to democracy. Authority can only be just when it is accountable. Leadership can only be legitimate when it is democratic. Power must always be shared and must never be absolute.
In the words of Tony Benn, there are five essential questions every person in power should be able to answer:
“What power have you got?”
“Where did you get it from?”
“In whose interests do you use it?”
“To whom are you accountable?”
“How do we get rid of you?”
If we cannot adequately answer these questions then we can’t be sure that power is both safe from abuse and accountable to democracy. These questions cannot be answered by a Monarchy which rules by birthright alone but can by a Republic where the Head of State is elected by the people and accountable to them like any other representative.
An elected Head of State provides both an accountable check on the power of parties that control our Parliament and a representative of the nation chosen by the people of that nation.
Q. What about the money the Royal Family brings in through tourism?
Castles and other historical sites will remain popular tourist attractions as they are in Republics such as France and Italy.
Q. Why would we want a controversial politician like America?
Our Republic favours a ceremonial head of state, which is less likely to become a controversial figure. But if a politician had enough support, there is no reason they should not be our head of state. The important thing is that we have the right to choose.
Q. What will happen to the King’s assets?
Our Republic argues that assets like the Crown Estate Scotland should belong to all of us held in a Scottish Estate and managed by our democratically elected representatives.
Q. Why are you only campaigning in Scotland?
We believe in a Scottish Republic, with a head of state elected in Scotland.
Q. Do you support independence?
We take no stance on Scottish independence. Our Republic has people in favour of independence and opposed to it involved in our campaign.
We support becoming a Republic with an elected head of state regardless of whether Scotland is part of the UK or an independent country.
Q. Would we lose the monarchy’s check on power?
Much of the Monarchy’s power is exercised by the Prime Minister – instead, these powers would either be exercised by Parliament or the elected head of state.
It is better to have checks and balances enshrined in a written constitution rather than the current situation of the Prime Minister exercising the Royal Prerogative without any outside check or intervention.
Q. Wouldn’t an elected HoS just be another corrupt self-serving politician?
It would be up to the electorate to decide who they elect to be their head of state. If the head of state turns out to be corrupt or self-serving they can be democratically removed, unlike a Monarch.
There is no reason that the position of head of state would need to be held by a politician at all. In other countries such as Iceland, presidential elections are regularly contested by independents and public figures outwith established politics.
Q. Wouldn’t an elected head of state risk giving too much power to one person?
There should be a consultative and open process for determining the constitutional position of a head of state, but we favour a ceremonial head of state as in Ireland and Germany.
Q. Would an elected head of state cost more money?
Not necessarily. A report by campaign group Republic showed that the entire Royal Family costs over £345 million per year. By contrast, an elected head of state would require funding just one person and their immediate staff.
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins has cost less than €30 million over seven years.
Q. But I like the King/ William
That’s okay! Becoming a Republic wouldn’t mean the Royal family couldn’t have a public life, and people who still supported them would be more than welcome to show that support in whatever way they thought appropriate. They would also be welcome to contest elections for an elected head of state.
Q. If it’s not broken, why fix it?
We believe it is fundamentally undemocratic for Scotland’s people not to have a say in who their head of state is. Becoming a republic would improve democracy and encourage greater participation in our politics.
The existence of inherited and unaccountable power is toxic to our society. It teaches people that we’re not actually equal and all in this together, that you can be less powerful than others just through bad luck. That’s not a social message we should support.
The Monarchy’s real power over our laws, but the inability to use them or face them being stripped away, results in there being no real check on the power of a Prime Minister who also controls the House of Commons. Unchecked power corrupts, and an elected Head of State could provide this necessary check in the future.
In addition, Scotland’s international image would no longer be tarnished by royal scandals and the perception that we are governed by an outdated system.
Q. If a head of state is ceremonial, why does it matter who it is?
Who represents our country is a big deal, even if it doesn’t change things on a day to day basis. In other countries, elected heads of state often play an important ambassadorial role around the world. Becoming a republic would give us the chance to choose what people around the world see when they look at Scotland.