20/03/2012 Newsnight Scotland


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Tonight on Newsnight Scotland: Whatever happened to the debate


about the monarchy and whether Britain - or indeed an independent


Scotland - should be a republic? As the Queen tells Lords and MPs she's


recommitting herself to the United Kingdom, has the country's view of


her family fundamentally changed over the past decade? Is the issue


of the monarchy no longer an issue? Good evening. The Scottish


Parliament is to hold a debate in honour of the Queen's Diamond


Jubilee. The First Minister made the announcement as the Queen was


accepting a stained glass window as a present from parliamentarians at


Westminster. In her Diamond Jubilee speech, there was no mention of any


possible changes to Scotland's status, in spite of the fact that


the Queen had wandered into that political minefield previously, at


the time of her Silver Jubilee in 1977. In a moment, we'll discuss


the relationship between the state and the head of state. First Julie


Peacock reports. There was plenty of the tomp and circumstance that


Britain does so well. But no mention of how this country could


look in a few years time. We're reminded here of our past. Of the


continuity of our national story and the virtues of resilience,


engeneral youty and - ingenuity and tolerance which created it. I have


been privileged to witness some of that history and with the support


of my family, rededicate myself to the service of our great country


and its people, now and in the years to come. Politicians from all


parties praised the monarch, Alex Salmond was one of them and said


his party had long since changed its view on the monarchy. Plans to


held a referendum on the royals' role in an independent Scotland


have been dropped. Policies change and that was an intelligent change


in policy. A lot of things change. As the Queen herself was noting


today, she has seen 12 Prime Ministers in her reign. She has


seen four Scottish First Ministers and three Welsh First Ministers and


two northern Irish ministers. I think that was very much a change


for the better. It places the monarchy as it should be in a place


which is above and beyond politics. I think that is all to the good.


is a different tone that the one set in 1977, when Scottish


independence was an idea gaining popularity. I number kings and


queens of England of Scotland and princesses of Wales among my


ancestors. So I can reddily understand these aspirations. But I


cannot forget that I was crowned queen of the United Kingdom, of


Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was still another 15 years


before her royal highness was experience her annus horrible lis.


But in the 70s there was opposition to the Queen. The sex pistols


almost made No 1 with good save the Queen. Some believed an


establishment conspiracy gave Rod Stewart the top spot instead. And


the SNP had never been more popular, with eleven MPs in Parliament. At


the time a significant number of members held republic can views,


particularly in the 79 group, a group that the young Alex Salmond


was a member of. Until it got him thrown out of party in the 80s. It


noise longer 1977 and attitudes to the monarchy have warmed. No longer


are they seen as cold and distant. They have reinvented themselves as


Britain's first family and are now as much part of British culture as


fish and chips and the Red Arrows. The SNP are unlikely to rock that


boat. The Queen is popular to add the issue of Republicanism that


would be the alternative into the debate would to put it mildly muddy


the waters. I think they have taken the right approach in this. Because


you could argue historically what they are saying is if the


independent vote gos in a certain direction, that abandoning the


union, but still retaining the union of crowns. According to some


it doesn't mean Republicanism has died out in the SNP. Alex Salmond


has worked out there is sup fort tr -- support for queen and the


monarchy in Scotland and the SNP policy, or rather Alex Salmond's


policy has changed to recognise that fact. Maybe I'm being cynical,


but I have been covering SNP kfrs conferences since 1979 and they are


58 Republicans. 2002, the last time there was a commission, headed by


the late Neil McCormack said there would be a referendum on the


monarchy. The idea was the Presiding Officer of this place


would be the temporary head of state until the referendum. In that


case it would be Tricia Marwick would be the head of state. What


happen after that, goodness knows. Regardless of thousand refer dup -


ehow the referendum goes, it is unlikety the Queen will be out o'


of a job north of border. I'm joined now from Edinburgh by the


Times editor, Magnus Linklater, and here by commentator and blogger,


Gerrry Hassan, and by Glasgow University vice-principal,


Professor Murray Pittock. Magnus Linklater is it conceivable tt


queen could have made remarks today along the lines of those in 1977.


They were more pointed she said, perhaps this Jubilee is a time to


remind ourselves of the benefits the union has conferred. Is it


conceivable she could say that now? No, that would be a highly


political remark to make in the current climate and what the Queen


has done since then, every time she has come to Scotland, particularly


when she addressed the Scottish Parliament, that she has taken care


to praise the quality of the Scots, to talk about her close contacts


with Scotland and how much she a admires the Scottish character and


that has been the message she has emphasised since then. I think it


would be hard to imagine her now saying, I am the Queen of a United


Kingdom. Because that United Kingdom is changing. It is changing


in front of our eyes. Do you think, Murray Pittock, she could say


anything like that now? I think things have moved on in all sorts


of ways since 1977. People are less fearful of change. Change has


happened to the monarchy and to the British politic, that the idea that


any change would break things apart has been overcome by events. We're


in a process of change and one thing that has been interesting is


the palace adapted to the 2007 SNP victory in the Scottish election


much better and much more quickly than many of the opposition. There


was a very good and nuance adds and careful response to the First


Minister and a warmth seems to have developed. It I not surprising that


things have moved in the way that your interview with Alex Salmond


indicated. That explains why, the SNP was never a Republican party,


we should make that clear, Alex Salmond personally claims he was


never a Republican. Although I think a lot of people in the 79


group were. But any idea of let's have a referendum on this is out of


the window. We have a multiplicity of unions. The Queen has done this


better, a changing union, that most of the pro-union politicians. She


got it right in 99 and in 2007 her language was more understanding, if


you remember Blair and Brown and then in 2011. Now elected


politicians could take a few lessons from the Queen. We can talk


about her as a person and the institution, but as a person she


understands that better than they seem to be. There has been a big


rebranding exercise going on, if we look back a decade, events after,


well following the death of Diana in 97, it was a low ebb for the


monarchy. Well I am not sure I would agree that things have


changed enormously. There has been a nuanced change. But the monarchy


was very much a celebrity, a showbiz monarchy 0 years ago. What


happened in 19 97 the death seemed to take the celebrity out of the


monarchy for many people. So attitudes focused on the rest of


monarchy as not living up to the cult of celebrity. The monarchy are


back in that field again. Essentially, it is successful and


permanent come back tour and they never need to come wack back.


People always respond to them as - to come back, because people always


respond to them as figure Herds and features in society and they have


very good, clearly better and more nuanced advice than they had 0


years ago. There has been a big reinvens. -- 30 years ago. What


happened after the death of Diana, there was not a wave of weatherism,


-- Republicanism but people said we don't like the way this set of


royals is behaving and the reaction to the death. Rather than we don't


wouldn't a monarchy. I think that is right. There was a lot of


criticism, but I think the Royal Family itself learned a lot from


that. And the Queen of course, the Queen herself has become steadily


more popular, almost the longer she is there the more people warm to


her. Now in Scotland it is queer that she -- clear she enjoifs come


to Scotland and enjoys her holidays in slapped. And she as a person has


-- in Scotland and she has a person has become more popular. After her,


will that popularity pass on to her heir? I think there there may be


some doubts. And I noticed that although Alex Salmond is now a


signed up royalist, he still takes great care to say that he is first


allegiance is to the Scottish people. That is a distinction that


I don't think many English Parliamentarians would make. There


is still that sense that he has got his fingers crossed behind his back.


The issue there is that he is's looking at the issue of popular


sovereignty and aware of the aspects of theory which mean that


the popular sovereignty is at the heart of the Scottish. It accept e


means Scotland is a different -- it means that Scotland is a different


part of the constituency. I think what Alan was saying earlier, there


is still opinion within the SNP that is probably still quite


strongly Republican. I don't think you can ignore that. Do you think


Republicanism as a radical cause is lost? No also to take the point,


popular sovereignty is a myth in Scotland. It doesn't exist in legal


intenty. I think we have a probable, we live in a country that is not a


democracy. We have one part of constitution that is elected and


still we have problems with and the queen has personified that. Not a


democracy? The House of Lords is not elected, the Queen is not


elected and we have heads of states around the world who are not


elected. But we have gone through change since 1977 and a great


widening of inquality and somehow despite the royal being connected


to that, she has stobed some element of continuity --


established some element of continuity. Once she goes, there is


an issue of how the new royals will manage that. 30 years ago they


would have represented the wealth and consumption, a pattern we saw


in the 80s as well. If you think as long as they're there, Britain is


no t democratic, what do you suggest, we elect them or just get


rid of them? It is an issue that needs to be you know put forward


that you can have different elements of authority and we could


have an elected head of state or accept for a period that you don't


directly elect everything. Nobody is suggest Scottish Enterprise is


elected. We're not electing police heads, but a debate should be


brought forward and acknowledged that Britain notice a democracy.


Isn't that what people think. You say Britain noise t democratic.


Most people would say that is none sense because we accept that the


Queen, with has no political power, you know and is not elected. It


doesn't mean Britain is not democratic. To be a full democracy,


that is a fact. What is a full democracy? All countries have


institution and not all have all their members elected. And in the


UK and in Scotland, a lot of institutions have a link to the


crown. And so there is an issue, the monarchy is an institution,


there are institutions that that depend on the monarchy. It is a


question of how you want to treat institutions in the wider society.


But frankly no democratic country has democracy in all its


institutions from top to bottom. Because that democracy requires


institutional things to ensure liberty of its people. Do you think


the culture has changed? Constitutional issues, whether


Scotland should be independent, is important to nationalists. But more


generally across Britain, some of the arguments for Republicanism,


for changing, getting rid of the House of Lords, look at the


difficulty the Liberal Democrats are having with that and with AV.


These are issues that for a minority were very important 30


years ago and don't seem to be as important now. I'm not sure they're


as important in many people's minds, because in a sense they seem to


belong to a virtual political realm. Reforming the House of Lords is


like an endless joke without a punch line. It what going on since


Lloyd George in 1911 and one reason the lords is not reformed, in the


UK, no one can decide what to do with it. To make it more democratic,


because the commons don't want it challenging their authority. And


the idea of making it a kind of federalist chamber, which has been


kicking around for 15 years is also unpopular. So... Yeah, people have


lost interest in constitutional change in large parts of the UK.


And they haven't here. That is one of the interesting differences


between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Does it concern


you, not specifically that your views on the Queen, but there have


been murmurings from some people of look if you're going to have


independence, there must be must be some vision of what you want to do,


rather than just have, you're not in the United Kingdom any more. Is


this an example, this effort to make independence look exactly the


same as staying in the UK and with the risk people say, sorry what is


the point? Yes it is true f you go back to the 70s when there was a


more powerism Republican tradition in the SNP. They loved the stuff of


the house of Windsor and going to the receptions. But I think I


understand why the SNP have shifted policy on the royalty, the Queen's


popular and there will be change already with independence. One of


the thins we have to talk about is about the powers, because Britain


as a country is distorted by crown powers, we're talk about this when


the Scottish affairs committee has published a report on the crown


estate. A body that is unaccountable and could have great


potential. A final thought from Magnus Linklater, we are talking


about how the criticism was a particular members of Royal Family,


rather than royalty after the death of Diana. How dependent is the


current warmth on the Queen and could that change? In the culture


we're in, could some misbehaviour create problems? I think the jury's


out on that and there will be a lot of speculation about whether Prince


Charles is likely to prove as popular as the Queen. It should


jump a generation and there is erd that Prince William and Kate are,


will be hugely pop raw Lahr. I think it will carry on for some


time. -- hugely popular. We have to leave it there. Thank yu. Time to


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