Scottish independence: King Charles's coronation presents a crowning opportunity to ditch talk of a referendum – Brian Wilson
In the absence of personal memory, the ingrained fact that the Coronation Cup was won by Celtic in May 1953 while Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne in February 1952 is my best shorthand guide to a curious question.
Why does it take more than a year between a monarch taking over and a coronation being held? I’ve no idea. However, the fact it does means that at some point next year, the pomp and circumstance will again move into overdrive and the world will fly in for something that hasn’t happened for 70 years.
This will coincide with another timetable, however hypothetical. If Nicola Sturgeon’s attempt to divide the United Kingdom into separate states gets past the Supreme Court, it will reach its crescendo around the time Charles is being crowned. Perhaps we could have them both on the same day.
It would also mean that the referendum campaign, with all its attendant divisiveness (as opposed to civic joyousness of fiction and fable) would take place in the run-up to the said coronation. In purely practical terms, that is surely a non-runner and now might be a convenient time all round to acknowledge that.
The events of the past week have had a generally unifying effect throughout the United Kingdom, regardless of people’s political views. In particular, the rest of the country has been exposed to the beauty of Scotland and its place in the late Queen’s affections. It would be a kick in the teeth to promptly revert to trying to turn them it into a foreign state.
Oaths and solemn commitments might not carry much weight these days, but common decency suggests that Ms Sturgeon might allow an interval to pass before resuming the somewhat contradictory mission to break up Britain.
All of this should be academic. Unless the Supreme Court has a collective brainstorm, it is not going to legitimise the Scottish Government’s attempt to hold a referendum next October or any other time of Ms Sturgeon’s choosing. If by any chance it did, the SNP would have to decide whether running a referendum campaign in tandem with a coronation is a great idea from their own perspective, never mind anyone else’s.
Far better to acknowledge reality now, call the whole thing off and give us peace for the next year instead of a steady stream of barrack-room lawyers seeking to convey the impression that Scotland is being denied something it is crying out for. It isn’t – and is even less likely to be in the months ahead.
My own reasons for believing the creation of a separate state would be a seriously bad idea are utilitarian rather than monarchical. A border within a small island, based on exaggerated differences, would be hugely retrograde, economically and socially. The Scexit dividends would be as illusory as those propagated in the name of Brexit. And anyway, I like the multiple identities I have lived with all my life.
I understand that not everyone shares that view and prefers to look for identities elsewhere. Take, for example, Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Secretary for Constitutional Affairs and Culture, who was waxing eloquent the other day about “our immediate neighbourhood” which he defined as “Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the three Baltic states or, indeed, Iceland and the Faroes”.
While I have nothing against any of these jurisdictions, Mr Robertson’s list of our “immediate neighbours” does contain a rather obvious omission. Many of us might regard Newcastle and Manchester as closer neighbours in every respect than Riga and Helsinki. Defining a new “immediate neighbourhood” to replace the one history and geography have bequeathed to us is the stuff of fantasy.
So let’s, for starters, have a direct answer without prevarication from Ms Sturgeon. In the light of what might delicately be described as “changed circumstances”, is she going to press ahead with the delusion of a referendum, a year and a month from now?
And if not, should she not just say so – then concentrate on the urgent needs of Scotland as it is, rather than as she might vaguely want it to be?
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