Friday, 1 June 2012

Jubilee - and winds of change

This weekend is the present British Queen's jubilee, where she celebrates 60 years of queening, a feat only previously matched by Queen Victoria. At a time when Britain is in its worst financial state for decades the national media - even lots of the Scottish media - is stuffed to the brim with coverage on how wonderful the institution of monarchy is, with extravagant and expensive celebrations in London and more to commemorate the event.

Yet all is not quite as it seems. In England and Wales some 6500 applications for street parties were made to local authorities to close streets off to have parties for the jubilee weekend - in Scotland, however, there were just a paltry 97 applications received. Of the 33 applications received in Edinburgh, only twenty were agreed, and in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, just seven were agreed. In North Ayrshire, where I live, there is not a single official street party, a situation matched by 13 other local authorities across the country - Aberdeen, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Moray, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire and the Western Isles. (Scottish Television has the story at (UPDATE: BBC Scotland news tonight claimed 9500 street parties in England, less than a hundred in Scotland - "Figures suggest the Scots haven't embraced the Diamond Jubilee as much as the south")

The Scottish independence campaign kicked off last week, but independence will not see a change to the status quo with regards to the monarchy. In this regard I actually disagree with the campaign, as I have always perceived the institution to be undemocratic. Yes campaign supporter Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Green Party has argued for the institution of monarchy to be consigned to history north of the border, and in this I am with him one hundred per cent. It's ironic that Alex Salmond and the SNP make the case that maintaining the Queen as the head of state in an independent Scotland would help to cement a social union with England, when the evidence of this weekend would seem to suggest that the majority of people living in Scotland just can't be bothered to actually celebrate what is certainly a historic occasion for the institution  itself. As with many other issues, on this there would appear to be an equal wind of change north of the border.

There are many ties that will forever unite us with England, even if and when we go our separate ways, not least of which the fact we share a small island together. But a democracy with an imposed head of state is not a true democracy. I certainly have nothing against the Queen on a personal level - as Billy Connolly once said "if anyone is going to save the Queen, God's the very chap!" - but if I cannot vote for her, I personally cannot view her as my head of state, despite the state imposing that on me. She is only my queen because I am told she is - it would appear to be a view shared by many across Scotland.

UPDATE: Looks like the First Minister is trying to apologise on behalf of Scotland with some interesting excuses! I suspect it will take a bit more than a few Lion Rampants, Alex, to get us to bite at the royal pie - but at least the chimps in Edinburgh are having fun! See

For a republican perspective on the jubilee, here's an interesting post also -

And see for how America views it all...


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