As I've pointed out here, history isn’t just to be found in careful academic journals and the learned books which prop up professorial chairs. Judicious, verifiable history perhaps. But ‘history’ is also the series of beliefs about the past which can command material force in society here and now. This history is subject to none of the methodological caution of professional researchers. While it is perhaps more simple, it is also more raw, more brutal, more interesting. These ideas can influence public policy, delimiting the vocabulary and conceptual references we make when resolving disputed issues. It is history with social imperatives and social consequences.
“The Scottish National Party's primary loyalty is with the people of
, in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people.” (Scottish Parliament Official Report Scotland 9 May 2007, 1) Col
Not limited to Holyrood Ceremony, Salmond symmetrically turned folk historian on the graduate endowment, managing to interpret a rather bureaucratic, cost-apportioning issue into one of “
I am no fan of monarchy or honorific styles. I hate it in courts. It breeds judicial niggliness, smallness of spirit, inappropriate deference and craven manners. The tired old failed politicals who hang around outside the House of Lords, waiting to be bonked by whatever ennobling device they employ, are unsightly, their puppy-dog eyes for “magic names” transcribing its own judgemental narrative about these men and women’s basic values.
Broadly, I would echo the splendid and shamefully neglected Thomas Paine’s remark concerning the abolition of aristocracy in the Rights of Man. “The French Constitution” he wrote, “says, There shall be no titles; and, of consequence, all that class of equivocal generation which in some countries is called “aristocracy” and in others “nobility,” is done away, and the peer is exalted into the Man.” He continues,
“Titles are but nick-names, and every nickname is a title. The thing is perfectly harmless in itself, but it marks a sort of foppery in the human character, which degrades it. It reduces man into the diminutive of man in things which are great, and the counterfeit of women in things which are little. It talks about its fine blue ribbon like a girl, and shows its new garter like a child. A certain writer, of some antiquity, says: “When I was a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
So, what of
"the SNP is committed to holding a referendum in the term of office of the first independent Parliament of Scotland on whether to retain the monarchy.”
You might well contrast this - or at least wonder if and how how it might be compatible - with the claim espoused in the Draft Referendum (Scotland) Bill Consultation paper:
1.19. Her Majesty The Queen would remain as Head of State. The current parliamentary and political Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would become a monarchical and social Union - united kingdoms rather than a United Kingdom - maintaining a relationship forged in 1603 by the Union of the Crowns.
Since we’re in a historical frame of mind, however, we should remember that even if
In point of fact, this might be splendid fun. Personally, the idea of an elected monarch always struck me as wonderfully vulgar. After all, why be dreary and copy the Americans, choosing some sort of politicised President, or be equally boring by borrowing the Irish model of worthy but plodding? Have a King or Queen of Scots, arranged along toothless, constitutional-monarch lines, but chosen from among the folk by popular election. It isn’t that absurd. When the Americans were drafting their constitution, the idea of a President as elected-king was regarded by some as gauche, slightly embarrassing. How appropriate for
Draft Constitution for a Free Scotland text restored, to boot...
On a final note, a few of you mentioned the SNP's Draft Constitution for Scotland in a recent post on Jefferson and his relevance when determining an independent Scotland's constitutional options. For myself, I'm not convinced of the virtues of a constitution which is difficult to reform - nor of the general benefits of encouraging American-inspired judicial-review tactics. In any case, I've revisited the tedious task of reformatting Neil MacCormick's proposed Constitution, back into an accessible form. For those of you who are interested, the Constitution for a Free Scotland can be perused here, in only seven articles!