Why does anyone think that the Queen can influence voters? – Telegraph Blogs

Photo: DONALD STEWART

The Queen, we are told, has “warned” Scots to think carefully when we vote on Thursday. I don’t think “warn” is the right verb. There is always a hint of a threat when it is used. The Met Office issues “weather warnings” when it expects storms, heavy snow, high winds or flooding, not when the sun is going to shine. All that seems to have happened is that in a brief conversation with some members of the public after Sunday morning service at Crathie Church, the Queen said that she hoped people would “think very carefully” about how they cast their vote. Well, there’s nothing controversial about such a remark.

It’s assumed of course that Her Majesty would prefer her kingdom to remain united. There are many who will agree with a telephone caller who told me the other day that she felt so sorry for the Queen and was sure she must hate the prospect of the UK breaking up. I daresay she may do so; few of her age welcome change and she has devoted her life to the service of her people. But she is, and has always been, a model of constitutional propriety and good sense. So she has refrained from any expression of opinion. The strength of the monarchy has lain in its ability to adapt to changing circumstances; it has never flown in the face of reality. The Queen’s father was the last Emperor of India. When he died in 1952, much of the globe was still coloured red on the map. The Empire has since been dismantled and turned into the Commonwealth, of which she has been a caring and devoted Head.

If there is a majority for independence on Thursday, Scotland will not become a republic. There are republicans in the SNP, just as there are republicans in the Labour Party throughout Britain, and some doubtless in other parties too. But the intention is that an independent Scotland would keep the Crown, with Her Majesty being known as Queen of Scots, the title borne by her ancestress Mary Stuart. Scottish monarchs were always Kings of their People, not the country. The Palace of Holyrood house in Edinburgh would remain the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, and she would still spend holidays at Balmoral which is her private property, not State property.

Things might change in the future. Almost anything may change anywhere in the future. But this is how it is at present. Alex Salmond faced down the republicans in his party. He did so because he knew that they represent only a minority. A promise to get rid of the monarchy would have made rejection of independence certain. That he himself is said to have good relations with the Queen – they talk racing together – and indeed with Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, is almost irrelevant.

It is true than an independent Scotland would be based on “the sovereignty of the Scottish People”, but this is an old idea that goes back to the Middle Ages. The signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, a letter to the Pope affirming Scotland’s right to independence, even declared that they would get rid of the hero-king, Robert the Bruce himself, and replace him with another, if he should ever betray Scotland’s independence. Yet the idea that monarchs ruled by consent was a commonplace in medieval constitutional thought. More than one King of England was deposed because he was deemed to have forfeited that consent by his acts. In any case the sovereignty of the Scottish People was always channelled through the Crown.

Any royal intervention in the referendum debates would have been unnecessary and unwise. Unnecessary if there is a majority against independence, unwise if the majority votes for it. I doubt if a royal intervention in favour of the Union would have swung many votes in that direction. I am certain that it would have put the future of the Crown in Scotland at risk if Scotland votes “Yes” to independence. Indeed it is difficult to see how the monarchy could survive if the Queen had indicated a preference for the Union which the electorate had rejected. As it is, if there should be a “Yes” majority, she would still be Queen of Scots as she is Queen of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with only this difference: that she would, for geographical reasons if no other ones, be in Scotland more often than she is in these other countries.

It is difficult to gauge the strength of royalism in Scotland, partly because we are a more self-consciously egalitarian people than the English. The Queen herself is popular and respected, as she is everywhere, and her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with more enthusiasm than many expected. Princes Charles has often expressed his love for Scotland, and the young Princes seem to be as well-regarded and warmly-greeted here as they are in England. Scottish royalism is perhaps less demonstrative, but it is real enough.

In his autobiography John Buchan told of an old shepherd’s wife in the Borders who, when asked why she had tramped miles to see George V, replied “we maun a’ boo tae the buss that bields us” – we must all bow to the bush that shelters us.

Perhaps few would now express that sentiment in those words, but the sentiment is still alive. As one Borderer, a man in his late thirties, said to me the other day, explaining why he will vote No on Thursday: “I like the Queen. I like Britain. I like being British”. There are lots of us who feel like that, and perhaps the Better Together campaign should have been less shy of expressing this sentiment.

Nevertheless keeping the Queen out of the debate has been wise, because doing otherwise would have made the Crown an object of controversy, and Her Majesty has of course had the wisdom to keep her own views to herself, merely advising us to think very carefully before we vote. Nobody surely can argue against that advice.

Get the latest comment and analysis from the Telegraph

Read more from our news and politics bloggers

If the article suppose to have a video or a photo gallery and it does not appear on your screen, please Click Here

15 September 2014 | 2:17 pm – Source: telegraph.co.uk

[ad_2]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.