It was reported at the weekend that the Royal Family are to head a “charm offensive” in order to help head off calls for Scottish independence. If true this tells us two things, firstly that the British government is utterly desperate, and secondly that the head of state will get involved in politics after all. This destroys the traditional argument for a hereditary monarch and only makes it more likely that there will be greater pressure in an independent Scotland for it to become a republic. It is an abuse of the power of the monarch for the royal family to intervene in a democratic debate in the hope of influencing the outcome of a popular vote in a particular direction. That is the very definition of getting involved in politics.
What makes it all the more counterproductive is that Scotland is by quite some margin the least royalist part of the UK outside the nationalist communities of Northern Ireland. There can’t be many people in Scotland whose opinion on the future of Scotland is going to be changed because some spoiled princeling puts on a kilt and comes to wave at the public while telling us how much he loves Scotland and has many precious memories of coming here in order to blast wildfowl to smithereens with a shotgun. No one in Scotland is going to wake up of a morning and say, “Well I was concerned about Brexit and the chaos and corruption of Boris Johnson’s government and the way in which the Tories are unilaterally undermining the devolution settlement, but now that Will ‘n’ Kate have shown us some holiday snaps taken at Balmoral, my doubts and fears are totally assuaged.”
The Queen will continue to ensure that she remains in the affections of the oldest Scots by sending them a telegram when they reach a major life milestone. Although Buckingham Palace has refused to comment, these plans could only come to fruition with the express approval of the Queen. She could have said that this is a matter for the people of Scotland but if they choose to end the union of Parliaments , the union of the crowns will remain unaffected. But no. That will prove to be a serious error of judgement which will come back to haunt the palace. The question of whether an independent Scotland should retain the monarchy or become a republic is one which is rightly not an issue in the independence campaign. Rather it’s a matter for the people of an independent Scotland to decide after the fact of independence. This ham fisted intervention will only serve to boost arguments for a republic, especially after the 95 year old Queen is no longer with us and we’re faced with the prospect of King Charles and Queen Camilla – a man who selfishly broke travel restrictions early in the pandemic and with his over-sized retinue brought a case of covid infection to Deeside, depriving the local community of much needed medical resources and personnel that need not otherwise have been deployed.
After all its scandals and the exposure of its dripping entitlement the royals do not have the influence they once did, least of all in Scotland.
So far we have had Prince William muttering platitudes on a visit to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland. Meanwhile it is thought that plans are also being made to reach out to Scotland’s young people, although how they are going to do this remains unclear, perhaps Prince Andrew could use the free Wi-Fi at a pizza chain in Slough to send the youngest voters a text when they turn sixteen.
Over the weekend we had another illustration that “brand UK” no longer has the appeal and cachet that opponents of independence like to tell us it does. The UK crashed to a humiliating last place in the Eurovision Song Contest, receiving the dreaded null points despite the introduction of a new voting system which was designed to make such an embarrassing and humiliating score far less likely. Now admittedly the British entry was notable solely for its blandness, the aural equivalent of eating unflavoured dry oatmeal in a beige room, but then so were most of the other entries. As the votes came in it became clear that the UK is the Billy-no mates of Europe. Some expressed surprise that “even Ireland” had failed to give the UK any points. Although after the way that the British Government has treated Ireland these past few Brexity years, that should read “especially Ireland.” Douglas Ross has released a statement saying that not getting any points doesn’t matter, the UK’s vote share didn’t decrease so Italy isn’t really the winner. Coincidentally null points is also the exact same amount as the benefits of Brexit.
During the independence referendum campaign of 2014, Better Together warned Scotland that if it voted for independence it wouldn’t get into Eurovision. What are they going to do now, tell us that if we vote for independence we won’t be able to score no points in Eurovision? Eurovision is essentially a popularity competition. The UK does poorly because people across Europe dislike the exceptionalism and entitlement that characterises British nationalism and which was the driving force for Brexit. British nationalism’s crass lack of interest in other nations was illustrated during the announcement of the result when Amanda Holden joked about not knowing the difference between French and Dutch.
The ugly exceptionalism and entitlement of British nationalism was on full display when right wing commentator and Brexit fanboy, Tom Harwood, soon to be coming to Andrew Neil’s GB News, sent a surly tweet after the result saying :”Without the UK half these countries would not be free to perform in any song contests. Arguably the other half wouldn’t either. Their thanks? Nil points.” He later followed up his soor ploom with another tweet saying: I think every year we should forgo the contest and simply hand out points to the countries that were most courageous and successful at standing up against Hitler.” So Russia, then?
They already do much better at Eurovision than the UK does Tom. Maybe he ought to reflect on why the UK is less popular in Europe than Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian kleptocracy. But it’s more likely that next year’s entry will come from Tom Harwood and the Flagshaggers when the UK will compete on WTO rules and will award itself 30 points against Mauritania.
Both the royal intervention in the Scottish independence debate and the Eurovision debacle only show us that the British brand is tawdry, devalued, and unpopular. If Boris Johnson and Michael Gove think that its supposed appeal is going to prevent Scottish independence they are in for a big disappointment. British nationalism’s brand UK will get null points from an increasingly sceptical Scottish public.
NEW MODERATION POLICY
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