Christian Life 

President Salmond of Scotland

Recently-agreed constitutional changes relating to the rules of succession and religious allegiance of the UK monarch, could create an opportunity for those working towards an independent republican Scotland.

Alex Salmond PresidentThe recently-discussed constitutional changes a the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia provide Alex Salmond MSP, the Scottish First Minister with a further leverage in his aim of an independent Scotland – a republican Scotland even.

David Cameron chipped away at historic legislation which bestows the right of accession to the throne on the first-born male (primogeniture). The British Prime Minister also spoke of his intention to lift the ban on the Monarch being married to a Roman Catholic.

To the man in the street, these changes – actual or potential – are undoubtedly sensible in terms of gender-equality in multi-faith, non-discriminatory society. However the ramifications will most certainly undermine the historic Act of Settlement of 1701 which in turn led into the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain through the Act of Union in 1707.

King Henry VIII
King Henry VIIIAt that time, a post-Reformation presbyterian Scotland would never have countenanced a formal and constitional union without the essential guarantee, which the Act of Settlement provided, that the monarch would be a male Protestant.

And with King Henry VIII’s defection from the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, the monarch’s title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ (ironically first bestowed on him by Pope Leo X in that day) transferred to render the King protector of the Protestant faith.

However a multi-faith Prince Charles has made it know that if he succeeds his mother to the throne he would want to be known as Defender of Faith (plural and various). In the present climate it is likely that any necessary changes – legal and constitutional – would be made. In the words of one columist, an process which 'would destroy our Christian identity.'

Any change in the status quo would have huge ramifications given that the monarch is, as King Henry VIII declared himself to be, 'head of the Church of England'.

Given that Scottish Presbyterianism would sit very uneasily under a multi-faith monarch the Scottish First Minister could well attract the support of the Protestant churches and any neo-Covenanting spirit in Scotland to displace the UK monarch as head of state. While Salmond is presently stating that a politically-independent Scotland would retain the present Queen Elizabeth as the titular head of state, it is entirely possible that the wily politician silently relishes the thought of capping his political career with the title President Salmond in a republican Scotland.

If, as Otto Von Bismark opined, ‘Politics is the art of the possible’ then this scenario, for Alex Salmond, is growing more possible by the day.

UK Constitution: The UK has a delicately-balanced constitution whereby the sovereign agrees to 'sit under God' via the Protestant faith. The monarch invites the democratically-elected Prime Minister to form a government, which can only 'sit' while the the sovereign is symbolically present through the Mace on the floor of the House of Commons. The Mace is carried in by a representative of the House of Lords to which the House of Commons is answerable. Yet the bearer (Black Rod) has no guaranteed right of access. The House of Lords is comprised of both peers and senior clergy from the Church of England of which the monarch is the titular head.

The Act of Union (Article 2) specifies that Roman Catholics may not ascend the Throne of the United Kingdom. Tampering with this Act and (necessarily) a raft of inter-related legislation and the whole house of cards could come tumbling down.

Salmond upsetting the Roman Catholic Church
With regards the voting constituency in Scotland, Alex Salmond has most-recently alienated the Roman Catholic Church through his SNP administration’s call for same-sex marriage.

On this issue also, Sir Brian Soutar, a principle and high-profile funder of the SNP may pause before writing any further campaign cheques for SNP coffers. The multi-millionare co-founder of bus-company Stagecoach, along with the Scottish Roman Catholic Church’s then-primate the late Cardinal Winning, was at the van of the ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign in the fledgling years of the Scottish Parliament. The action which was designed to keep pro-homosexual teaching out of schools, almost brought down the Labour-led government while still in its infancy.

John Mason2Meanwhile the SNP leader has to contend with polarised views within his own ranks with relation to the SNP's overt support for same-sex marriage. SNP MSP John Mason was a attacked by both Westminster and Scottish parliamentarians in his own party when he earlier tabled a motion to protect churches from having to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Christians Together, 30/10/2011

Editor 12/09/2012 10:22
"Totalitarian SNP run like the communist party" says SNP grandee.

THE SNP hierarchy has been accused of exerting “totalitarian” control over backbenchers by a former deputy leader of the party.

Writing in the Holyrood magazine, Jim Sillars, who famously won the Govan by-election for the Nationalists in 1988, accused the current leadership of operating the most authoritarian regime in British politics.

In the article he comments: "Today, the SNP is the most leadership-controlled party in the UK. If I did not know better, I would easily believe the leaders had been schooled in the old communist party, where the top, the elite, made the decisions and the rest fell into step automatically, with not a word of dissent. Totalitarian would be a fair description of Scotland’s majority party.

"Few seem to have noticed that the Salmond/ Swinney leadership era has seen them do to the SNP what Blair did to the Labour Party – emasculate it, and impose leadership control. Labour’s annual conference, which used to be a vibrant forum for debate, became a mere platform for leadership speeches, a sycophantic clap-in. The National Executive, the elections which used to tell a political tale, was rendered meaningless. Likewise, the SNP annual conference became a debate-free zone, and I doubt today if more than a handful of its members can name its National Executive, the members of which do not rate a mention on the party’s website.

There is a virtue in loyalty, but if loyalty is taken to a point where an MSP, or even worse, a whole group of them, cannot balance loyalty to party with loyalty to principle and the interests of the people, then it becomes dumb loyalty; and that leads inevitably to an intellectually dumb party."

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