Scottish independence: Support for monarchy vote

The Queen meeting the Royal Scots Borderers at Dreghorn Barracks earlier this month. Picture: Jane Barlow

The Queen meeting the Royal Scots Borderers at Dreghorn Barracks earlier this month. Picture: Jane Barlow

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Growing numbers of independence supporters are backing a call from the chairman of the Yes campaign for a referendum on the future of the monarchy after ­independence.

Prominent pro-independence figures have supported the anti-monarchist stance of former Labour MP Dennis ­Canavan, who said the hereditary principle was an “affront” to democracy.

Yes Scotland chairman Dennis Canavan. Picture: Robert Perry

Yes Scotland chairman Dennis Canavan. Picture: Robert Perry

SNP MSP John Wilson, ­independent Margo MacDonald and Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie have all said a national referendum should be held on who will be head of state in the event of a Yes vote.

The opposition to the monarchy is at odds with the SNP leadership’s position of keeping the Queen as head of state in an independent Scotland.

Senior pro-independence campaigners insisted that First Minister Alex Salmond would not be allowed to dictate the make-up of Scotland’s constitution, including the issue of the monarchy.

Robin McAlpine, director of the left-wing Jimmy Reid Foundation, and Jonathon Shafi, co-founder of the Radical ­Independence campaign, have backed Mr Canavan on the issue.

Mr Canavan, chairman of the Yes Scotland campaign’s advisory board, told The Scotsman’s sister newspaper Scotland on Sunday that Prince George should never be king of an independent Scotland in the wake of the birth of the royal baby.

Mr Wilson said that “clearly the issue is up for discussion” as he suggested an independent Scotland should replace the monarchy with an elected head of state. 
Mr Wilson added: “Dennis’s line is the correct one as it’s the right of Scottish people under independence to decide what type of Scotland they want.

“I have a similar position to Dennis, as in a ­democracy we should all be treated as equal citizens and there are ­issues about having a ­hereditary head of state. Clearly the issue is up for discussion and we could look at having an elected head of state.”

The SNP issued a statement claiming the Queen would ­remain as head of state if Scots vote for independence in the referendum on 18 September 2014.

An SNP spokesman said: “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.”

However, Green MSP Mr Harvie, said the issue was not solely within the gift of the SNP as he backed a vote on the monarchy as part of moves towards a new constitution for an independent Scotland.

Mr Harvie said: “It seems ­bizarre that we are debating ­creating a new independent state without a discussion on how we appoint a head of state.

“It should be part of the process of drawing up a constitution in an independent Scotland not something that’s dictated by the current Scottish Government.”

Independent MSP Ms MacDonald said the monarchy was “undemocratic and a quirk in our range of beliefs” as she insisted that the issue of the head of state under independence had to be resolved.

She said: “Alex Salmond is at pains to say that there won’t be a burst of lightning after independence and that the strands of British life that people appreciate will continue. But people should decide and will decide on the monarchy and the head of state.”

Pro-independence campaigners Mr McAlpine and Mr Shafi both said a referendum on the monarchy should be held soon after a Yes vote.

Mr McAlpine said: “In the coverage of the monarchy in Scotland, it’s implied that it’s a decision for Alex Salmond to make on behalf of Scotland.

“But it’s for all of the people of Scotland to decide and if we went a year past a referendum, I’m not sure that people would vote to keep the Queen.”

Mr Shafi said: “If we win independence a whole range of questions have got to be addressed and the monarchy is one that would have to be dealt with fairly quickly.”

Support for Union on the increase

THE campaign to keep Scotland in the UK has a nine-point lead over its rival, according to a poll.

The Panelbase survey suggests support for the Union stands at 46 per cent, up two points from May, while support for independence increased by one point to 37 per cent.

But in a warning to the Better Together movement, the results show pro-independence supporters are more likely to take part in the ballot in September next year.

Panelbase managing director Ivor Knox said: “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.”

The poll of 1,001 adults in Scotland found that 94 per cent of independence supporters said they are very likely to take part, compared with 87 per cent of unionists.

Meanwhile, the SNP has seen its support increase by three points to 48 per cent.


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