Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Show Must Go On

So, 38% of our MSPs could find something better to do on a sunny July afternoon than listen Her Majesty blether on. Most of them were probably watching Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

Can't say I blame them to be honest. I was invited to the garden party at Balmoral in 2002... and was all set to phone and give my apologies until my mother stepped in. Apparently it "wouldn't look good" not to attend, and so attend I did. Ate her strawberry sandwiches, some Mackies ice cream and tried not to look out of place. MSPs didn't really worry about it how it would look yesterday.

Political commentators are having a bit of fun with it though. It's everything from a "snub" to a "scandal" that only 81 of the 129 MSPs showed up to listen to the Queen deliver her speech celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the opening of the Parliament.

For me though, it demonstrates two things. Firstly, that the monarchy is obsolete and that the Queen has no place in twenty-first century Scotland. And secondly, that nearly 40% of MSPs agree - including, it should be pointed out, 26 from Unionist parties. Now, I'm not trying to conflate being unionist with being royalist, but I would argue that the monarchy is a large part of why the Union was made - and remains a fairly visible symbol of it.

The SNP have been at pains to point out that, in their vision of an independent Scotland the Queen (and her successors) would remain Head of State in Scotland. The party want to have a referendum on the constituntional future of the country - how we should be governed - but have no problems taking this decision out the hands of ordinary Scots.

Republican elements within the party (Roseanna Cunningham and Christine Grahame spring to mind instantly) disagree with the party line on this yet the party appear either to think that they constitute a minority of the population on the issue, or they don't think the issue is important. Either way, the Scottish public apparently will not be consulted on whether - post independence - they wish to remain under the crown or become a republic.

Based on yesterday's turnout, the second option may well have some support among MSPs.

UPDATE - Alan Cochrane has his own inimitable take on it here.


Nobby Clark 2 July 2009 at 12:27  

Good point, and one which seemed to escape most journalists. To my mind, the MSPs were more keen to catch the first flight to Malaga as soon as the schools kicked out for summer at 12pm, than to attend yet another boring day in the office.

subrosa 2 July 2009 at 15:18  

Yesterday wasn't about the Queen, it was about celebrating 10 years of a reconvened parliament.

Now, if you worked for private business and the business was having a celebration for 10 of success, would you just not turn up?

I don't think so, not very wise.

Malc 2 July 2009 at 15:36  


I'm not quite sure what your point is.

Though if you want to argue the point, presumably a business wouldn't tell everyone to go on holiday one week then invite them back for a party the next.

Holyrood Patter 2 July 2009 at 19:13  

theres a plan to have one eventually malc as far as i know, but perhaps referendums on eu membership, the euro etc are seen as more imporrtant?

Stuart Winton 3 July 2009 at 01:01  

I daresay a few of those who did attend are anti-monarchy as well - as Subrosa alludes, non-attendance could be construed as a snub to the Parliament rather than Queen Liz per se.

Anonymous,  4 July 2009 at 10:17  

It's remarkable that Christine Grahame manages to spend just about every other day in Parliament, mostly in the Garden Lobby, but can't turn up when the Queen comes. She's a ridiculous character she really is.

Anonymous,  4 July 2009 at 10:26  

Maybe the Queen should visit every day then Christine Grahame would be forced to actually visit her constituents and not just sit every day in the garden lobby with the people that "work" for her.

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