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By Mark McNaught
 
In 1629 Colonial America, the land of what presently constitutes the Carolinas was granted by Charles I to Attorney General and fellow Londoner Sir Robert Heath to establish tobacco plantations. 
 
While Heath lost his possessions during the English Civil War under the reign of Oliver Cromwell, eight noble 'Lords Proprietor' were granted the Carolinas by Charles II upon the Stuart restoration in 1663.

It this day and age, it seems farcical that a King, claiming to hold power by divine right, grants foreign land claimed in his name on which he had never set foot to fellow aristocrats, which they then 'own' and exploit for financial gain.  Imagine the King of Saudi Arabia granting Saudi oil sheiks drilling rights in Kent, by Allah's command.  However improbable, that was the basis for the legitimacy for English imperialism.

While it was the British Parliament which passed the various mercantile acts which led to the American Declaration of Independence of 1776, rebellion was legitimized in terms of King George III breaking a social compact between the government and the governed. 

Thomas Jefferson argued that the government was bound to respect the inalienable rights of the people, and failure to do so justified the overthrow of the tyrannical government and replacement with one bound to respect these rights.  While still not absolute today, "all men are created equal" distinguished the Americans from the aristocrat dominated British brethren.

While there was some discussion during the 1787 constitutional convention of establishing an 'Elective Monarch' as head of state, the framers ultimately opted for a President.  The framers also rejected aristocratic titles and privilege in Article I, Section 9 of the Unites States Constitution of 1787:

"No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State."

An independent United States eliminated the monarchy and aristocracy through a written constitution, because it was incompatible with their vision of equality.  While there are still Americans who admire the UK Monarchy, there is no populist clamour to bring back feudalism.

Scotland suffered much more than America under the aristocratic/monarchic system, and is still living under its legacy.  Following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the Highland Clearances were unleashed by aristocratic landowners creating enclosure farms on their estates, driving thousands from their land, decimating the Scottish clan system.  Crofters paid rent to farm on the estates, a system which still exists to this day. 

While not as powerful as in previous centuries, the enduring influence of the unelected Monarch and House of Lords over UK and Scottish policy is archaic, undemocratic, and illegitimate.  In previous centuries, the legitimacy of UK monarchy was forcefully held to be based on divine right, those who contested could be burned at the stake.  UK law continues to criminalize even imagining a Head of State other than the Monarchy, though thankfully this law has not been recently enforced.

After independence, Scots are not bound by any UK precedent incompatible with their new democratic status.  Scotland's Future asserts that sovereignty rests with the Scottish people, yet has also proposed keeping the 'sovereign' Queen as Head of State after independence. 

If sovereignty will truly lie with the Scottish people after independence, the UK monarchy cannot be sovereign over Scots.  Therefore, while the Monarchy will remain Head of State until full independence in 2016, retaining the Monarchy long-term without the people's consent will be unconstitutional.
 
Like the American constitution, a Scottish constitution ratified after independence can establish an elected head of state, and abolish noble titles.  This would help assure that Scotland will begin its new-found democracy with the people truly sovereign, rather than weakly clinging to feudal notions of aristocratic privilege and divine right.

As independence draws closer, Scots should not be preoccupied with the feelings of the Royal Family or 'Lords' losing their unearned sovereignty over them.  They'll just have to adapt to modernity and a Scottish' political enlightenment.  They won't starve.

Comments  

 
# Jo Bloggs 2013-12-16 20:07
Mark, why would the Americans need feudalism? They already have a fully fledged plutocracy.
 
 
# WRH2 2013-12-16 20:43
I hope post independence, and while writing our constitution, we will also agree to jettison the nobility and the royal family as the head of state. I would like to see us too, like the USA and Ireland decide to have an elected president. However, I would prefer the Irish version where the president is more of a figurehead rather than the American type president. This change would distinguish us from the rest of the former UK and ensure that the break with the past is complete. It would also be forward looking and signal our intention to create a more equal society. I know the Scandinavian countries are monarchies but that's not one area where I want Scotland to copy them.
 
 
# KOF 2013-12-16 23:06
If people wish to live in a republic, then they can go live in the USA or Eire, or France, or wherever, I don't care.

With the death of the present queen we will elect our own independent monarch. A monarch who will be loyal to Scotland and the Scots alone. The first of equals.

While there is breath in my lungs and strength in my hands I will fight for my chief, my King and my country.

There will be no republic in this country while I live. I hope there never will be.
 
 
# Jo Bloggs 2013-12-17 09:07
What, you'd take up arms to resist it, or is that just a threat of suicide? Either way, it seems a bit extreme.
 
 
# IXL 2013-12-17 14:01
Quoting KOF:
With the death of the present queen we will elect our own independent monarch. .


Sounds ok...what happens when he/she dies ?
Do we elect another or do we expect (like now) natural selection to provide a suitable natural heir by virtue of birth ?

If you propose elections for monarch, what is the difference to having a Republic ?
 
 
# Angry_Weegie 2013-12-17 00:27
I have no particular concern about the retention of the monarchy, though I can see the logic in Mark's argument.

What I would not like is an independent Scotland to adopt anything like the US system of electing a head of state, with the huge amount spent on the election and the reliance on business to supply the funds, with what that means in terms of how much they get back for their donations.

We don't want to get rid of Westminster corruption to then invent our own.
 
 
# UpSpake 2013-12-17 07:57
A Titular Monarch is no threat to Scots and whatever Constitution they choose to adopt. Having spent 3 years working on drafting a constitution along with others that work now rests with the Scottish Constitutional Commission, a charity charged with modelling a constitution for an independent Scotland.
Vast amounts of work has already been done on matters consitutional, no need to re-invent the wheel as the White Paper suggests. Perhaps if they picked up the phone and called John Drummond, the SNP might get a heads up ?.
 
 
# hiorta 2013-12-17 08:20
A self employed President/ Monarch/Any title you like/ figurehead would be my first choice.
The elected post should be recognition for examinable 'services to Scotland' and nothing else, with a time limit on it and an agreed budget.
 
 
# bringiton 2013-12-17 08:42
I think that whoever we decide to be head of state is a battle(debate) for another day and can only be decided by people in an independent Scotland.
The process of creating a written constitution should allow us to clarify our common position on this subject but my own view is that the current arrangements will probably be unacceptable to most Scots.
 
 
# xyz 2013-12-17 09:04
The Monarchy is an anachronism. I look forward to the debate, but we cannot have an educated debate while being bombarded day in and day out with propaganda.
 
 
# Breeks 2013-12-17 10:10
Inalienable rights of the American people? - Except for the native Americans perhaps.

That's not to be anti-US, but it's a measure of how much we can change in our attitudes.

Is there room for a monarch in a modern social democracy? I don't know, but I hope so.

The monarchy is inseparable from the history of Scotland. From Alexander III falling over the cliff, nearly every significant period of Scottish history is defined by the way it is ruled. It is only challenged in any significant way by the impact of the church.
I don't expect any of us would want to erase Mary Queen of Scots from our history, the French Queen who came back to Holyrood and spoke to her people in auld Scots.

I can live with keeping a Monarch. Who knows what the future holds when we might appreciate having one?

It's all in the detail of what defines our monarch and the status we afford the position, but we should keep those decisions 'our' privilege.
 
 
# Leswil 2013-12-17 14:02
I,agree with the Monarchy in an Independent Scotland, but only for the lifespan of the Queen. Beyond that,it would not fit with a modern Nation where the people themselves are sovereign.
 
 
# Fungus 2013-12-17 14:41
Why should we want a monarchy? Surely we want a head of state chosen in a democratic mandate of the people of the country, not someone whose only claim to the job is that they once were a successful spermatozoon?

I agree that the monarchy is inseparable from the history of Scotland...so is the Union, the clearances, the selling of our people into slavery in the Americas, the use of our young men as cannon fodder... just as much a part of our history. Doesn't mean we have to have such things hanging round our neck ad infinitum though.
 
 
# HistoryPHD 2013-12-17 23:09
Let me just start with three perhaps minor things. 1) Cromwell did not 'reign' England during the English Civil War 2) The restoration was in 1660, not 1663 3) How on earth you get from the Union of the Crowns to the highland clearances in one sweeping sentence of historically nonsensical causality is beyond any reckoning of mine. At least we agree Scotland should be a republic. I spend all my time studying the Scottish monarchy, but the future is republican, and I need very little persuading of that.

The point I want to make is that most Scots are dreadfully mis-informed about the nature of the Scottish monarchy, about its changes since around the 12th century as Anglo-Norman models of kingshsip began to be introduced, first by David I, and then by the later Canmore kings, through the long period of the Stewart kings and queens as Scotland emerges as a significant polity on the European stage. There is so much of this history relevant here, if only I had the space!
 
 
# GuitarBoy 2013-12-18 06:16
I'm a passionate supporter of Scottish Independence but I am also passionate about our monarchy.

I also believe that it's very unhelpful to the Independence cause to start banging on about removing the monarchy upon achieving independence. That's just gonna alienate a whole section of potential Yes voters. Independence is a definable, and achievable, goal but if we start muddying the waters with talk like this I think it weakens and undermines, the whole argument. Our problem is not with the monarchy, or the english - it's with the Westminster Government and their grossly inappropriate policies, and detachment from the reality of most Scots.

I love NNS and the information it makes available that would otherwise never see the light of day but some people just seem to like listening to themselves.

Can we PLEASE just focus on gaining our independence and then let the people decide how to be governed once we have it.
 
 
# JimW 2013-12-18 09:16
There is a much broader question facing an independent Scotland. While the US does not have a monarchy, it would be naive to suppose that the country is governed solely by the wishes of the people without money and political power having a major say. Only very wealthy people can become US President. In the UK look at the way in which one man of Ineos held both the Scottish and UK governments to ransom. That is not to say that countries can do entirely without non-political leaders and people who have accumulated wealth. If that was the case communism would have been a great success.

Scotland's challenge will be to build a country where there is a balance between money and people, and not to allow either rank and privilege, nor foreign money to acquire the stranglehold that these concepts have in the UK and US.
 
 
# advocat 2013-12-18 14:50
The Queen has said she wants to keep Scotland but would she want an independent Scotland with the first minister having the same access rights as England. Having a Queen or not the constitution should be designed for a "clean parliament" with no chance of big business buying the government, as has happened in the USA.
 
 
# Cruachan 2013-12-18 23:34
This is what qualifies as the perfect face-palm, an example of the astounding ignorance that perpetuates among the uneducated and unread masses.

When will people realise that the monarch is OUR representative above parliament... the protector of OUR sovereignty, defender of OUR laws, protected from political idealists by OUR military might above the political operators.

Scrap the monarchy at your peril, for in doing so you will hand Scotland back to England on a silver platter of crass stupidity.
 
 
# GuitarBoy 2013-12-19 00:23
Cruachan, you hit the nail right on the head! If there was a Like button on here I'd be pressing it furiously right now.

The Queen, as our head of state, commands a significant respect from the government of the day. More importantly, the civil servants who execute policy are servants of the Crown, and not the government. This provides a significant level of protection against business interests owning our government.

It's not perfect but it's miles better than the situation in places like the US, where politicians are bought and paid for before they even reach their positions of power.

If we want to reform something for the better, my preference would be to reform the political system and remove the influence of the party machines, which is where the self interests tend to be.
 
 
# Fungus 2013-12-19 00:04
Quote:
When will people realise that the monarch is OUR representative above parliament... the protector of OUR sovereignty,

Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King

We are the protectors of our sovereignty, the people of Scotland get to decide who should be their leader, not some random act of sexual congress foisted on us because someone's ancestor was the biggest thug around.
 
 
# christiedrc 2013-12-19 00:24
Think carefully about the very idea of monarchy. The top job in the country is out of reach for your kids because it is reserved for one family. The kids of that family may not be the sort of people you want in that job. e.g. George 111 , Mary (Bloody Mary), William (the mover behind the Massacre of Glencoe).

Now just think. You go to a hospital for your very delicate heart operation. Your surgeon says "Sorry old bean I'm off that day but my son/daughter will do it. Not actually passed any exams in it but they've watched carefully over the years and they've got my genes. You'll be fine."

Sounds ridiculous but so is passing headship of a state down through a family line.

A grown up country elects its head of state and that is what an independent Scotland should do. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a country where even the top job is attainable which it isn't with a monarchy.
 
 
# GuitarBoy 2013-12-19 06:14
An elected head of state owes favours as soon as he/she attains the office. It's a race that is won by whoever has the most money behind them. We have a head of state that is above such influence. That's something we can take pride in.
 
 
# Blanco 2013-12-19 08:58
I don't see the USA as a particularly good example of equality, magnificent place as it is it is a country founded on slavery, which still suffers from endemic racism and has some of the worlds highest income disparities today.

What about the Scandinavian countries, they have much to admire and have kept their own 'public transport' monarchies. Obviously a republic is the most logical choice but I'd be content with that.
 
 
# alasdairmac 2013-12-21 12:10
While I support the abolition of the Monarchy and of heriditary titles and privilege, I don't see this as an "must do" in the short-term post independence; our new government will have far more pressing things to do. But, I would hope that one of our parties seeking office at a general election would commit to a referendum on this by, say, within ten years.

Like an earlier poster, I too favour the Irish-style of presidency, but I would want some sort of safeguards in place to prevent the post becoming a sinecure for time-expired politicians; perhaps a rule that no candidate must have had any connection with a political party or been active in politics in any way for at least ten years before they stood as a candidate.
 
 
# bringiton 2013-12-21 13:39
Completely agree.
One of the more pressing issues should be how to prevent or at least mitigate the effects of money buying outcomes in our democracy.Political party funding must also come into this.
What is happening with campaign funding,in particular for the No campaign where a small number of people are involved needs to be addressed.
 
 
# Breeks 2013-12-21 13:59
Strikes me a monarch is one of these things you won't miss until it's gone.

I don't wish to see Scotland saddled with layers of privilege and hereditary titles, but that's an argument against privilege and hereditary titles, not a monarch as such.

Do we really want to be a Russia without a Tsar? Maybes aye, maybes naw, but how many people all over the world hoped and preyed that Anastasia had survived the murder of her family?

Scotland has a unique monarchy, appointed by the people, not divine right. Our stone of destiny is a unique cultural artifact, just as our Scottish Crown Jewels are too. Dunadd Footprint in the rock?

OK, maybe they are archaic concepts in a modern democracy, but are we happy the story of Scotland's royalty is at an end? Have we such little imagination that we cannot find a way to maintain this anachronism, even if it's merely symbolic?
 
 
# Cruachan 2013-12-27 01:53
dailycaller.com/.../...

Obama presidency cost the US $1.4 billion last year.

Then add the 100 Senators each receiving a $174,000 annual salary.

Then add the $billions spent on civilian arms sales to uphold the 2nd amendment and consider the loss of life through the illegal use of said arms and the cost in legal proceedings, jailed offenders and loss of revenues (all relevant to the republic/monarchy argument).

Once you've added all this up, I think it's fair to say the cost of maintaining the US republic's constitution is around 5 to 10 Billion dollars annually.

When viewed against the £36million it costs to maintain our monarchy, it kinda puts things into perspective, don't it?
 

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