Yes Scotland sets its face from public opinion on the monarchy

Yet another rift has opened up in the pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign, this time over the future of the monarchy if Scotland decides to break away from the rest of the UK.

Yet another rift has opened up in the pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign, this time over the future of the monarchy if Scotland decides to break away from the rest of the UK.

Following the birth of the King to be, the chair of the campaign has called for a referendum on the monarchy in Scotland, declaring it to be an “affront to democracy”.

In asserting that he was speaking in a personal capacity, the former Scottish Labour MP Dennis Canavan told the BBC over the weekend:

“True democracy is based on the sovereignty of the people, rather than the sovereignty of any monarch, and so in an independent Scotland the people should be given an early opportunity to decide whether they want a hereditary head of state or an elected head of state.”

Declaring that he preferred the latter option of getting rid of the monarchy altogether, “because a hereditary head of state is an affront to democracy and a complete anachronism in a modern 21st Century democracy”, he continued:

“I have no disrespect for people who believe in the monarchy and I have nothing against The Queen personally.

“I go as far as saying that supposing there was an election for head of state and The Queen were to throw her hat – or crown – into the ring, then even I would have to admit she would probably win – at least the first time.

“I doubt very much if I could say the same about her would-be successors, but I think it is important that the people who want to build a new democracy put across their views on these matters and have respect for the basic principles of equality and democracy.”

His call has garnered the support also of SNP MSP John Wilson, independent Margo MacDonald and Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie.

Canavan’s remarks, however, put him on a head on collision course with the SNP, who have made clear their preference to retain the monarchy.

Putting distance between the SNP and Canavan, a spokesperson for the Scots Nats responded:

“The policy of the SNP and Scottish Government is clear that the Queen will be head of state in an independent Scotland, as part of a continuing social union with the rest of the UK – that will be the position if Scotland votes Yes, and indeed all of the main parties in Scotland support the Queen as our head of state.

“Dennis Canavan is perfectly entitled to believe in an elected head of state, and will be free to argue that case in an independent Scotland – just as Labour MPs who support an elected head of state in the UK argue for that position at present.”

Canavan’s calls will have been further undermined by polling carried out by ComRes for yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph which found that 61 per cent of people in Scotland favoured monarchy compared to 22 per cent preferring the idea of becoming a republic. 70 per cent meanwhile said that they believe that Prince George will eventually ascend to the throne.

In seeking to puff up Canavan as the true voice of nationalist sentiments, a spokesperson for the Better Together campaign responded:

“It’s almost as if the Yes campaign is going out of its way to go against popular opinion in Scotland. Alex Salmond can try and kid people on that the SNP support the monarchy but Dennis Canavan represents the true views of the Nationalists.”

The calls for a referendum hinge also on Scotland actually voting for independence, another possibility that has been dealt another nail blow as polling conducted by Panelbase has given the anti-independence Better Together campaign a nine point lead over Yes Scotland, with the proportion of Scots preferring to remain in the UK at 46 per cent compared to the 37 per cent preferring to go it alone.

Ivor Knox, managing director of Panelbase, continued, however:

“If we include everyone who has told us which way they plan to vote, irrespective of likelihood, the No side has a more substantial lead of 58 to 42.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.