Today is the Queen’s official birthday so it’s not unreasonable to wish her a happy birthday. Which I hereby do. Not as the feudal vassal some nationalists seem to think is a necessary prerequisite of British subject-hood but as a free-born citizen equal before the law with all others in a fully functioning democracy.
It’s curious that the citizens of the model societies to which so many Scottish nationalists aspire – Norway, Sweden, Denmark – seem also to live in fully functioning democracies and be at ease with their own monarchies.
Of course, criticism of the monarchy is just part of the nationalist narrative that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, positive about the United Kingdom, one of the many myths necessary to sustain and grow separatism.
Although today is the Queen’s official birthday, I was reminded of it yesterday evening when the contents of her birthday honours list (strictly speaking lists) became apparent. If you have a minute, browse what might be called the ‘headline’ awards. You might not agree with every last recipient, but taken as a whole how could anyone object to the vast majority of these people’s efforts being acknowledged and celebrated?
The media in each part of the UK, from the four nations down to the Auchterturra Gazette will be scanning the list for ‘their’ local heroes. BBC Scotland’s already done it and if you take a peek you’ll see a whole swathe of recipients, from composer James MacMillan, through motor neurone disease activist Gordon Aikman, knife crime campaigner John Muir and (tucked away in the full list) a Samaritans volunteer in my home town, Margaret Smith, to Aileen Paterson, creator of the wonderful Maisie, Morningside kitten extraordinaire.
Also yesterday evening – yes, you’ve got there before me – the carping began.
From a prominent complainant of the ‘56’ came this tweet
He was followed by a splatter of more explicit excrement on Twitter that I didn’t save but was exemplified by one foot soldier in the fight for freedom who complained it was a ‘Britnat’ list, citing James MacMillan (who declared for ‘No’ in the referendum – a quisling of course), Gordon Aikman (stuff the fact that he’s a motor neurone sufferer, he worked for the No campaign) and a civil servant in the Treasury who was ‘biased’ in the campaign (never mind the fact that the same charge was levelled at Scottish government civil servants).
It’s a view, albeit a perverted one, of the honours list but it prompted me to wonder if the SNP might bring forward its own honours system.
Given their new-found progressive and egalitarian tendencies they might struggle with the word ‘honour,’ although it doesn’t seem to worry those arch-republicans the French, with their Légion d’Honneur. Sadly for the SNP the Légion comes as a hierarchy with three ranks, which they might struggle with. Presumably, given the prognostications for an ‘independent’ Scottish economy one level only, Third Class, might be appropriate.
No sooner had I voiced this unpatriotic thought on Twitter than other people as mean-spirited as me came in to help detail the independent Scottish honours system.
First and foremost, the back room hugger mugger of the Britnat system would have to be completely disposed of. No secret St Andrew’s House committees of civil servants deciding who gets what, but a ‘community honours’ system to mirror the ‘community justice’ proposed by new SNP MP Natalie McGarry for Labour parliamentary candidates. It could be run for virtually no cost on one of those online petition sites where it’s so easy to raise a hue and cry. Or even at a profit as a sort of Scotland’s Got Talent show.
Out would go the boring list of honours published as a press release and in would come the awards ceremony, preferably at the SECC and preferably hosted by a luminary of the new enlightenment, say Eddi Reader, with entertainment by The Proclaimers. Flower of Scotland would of course be sung.
As to the honours themselves, well of course, notwithstanding the SNP’s populism they would need some sort of structure to reflect the varied contributions of patriots to nation-building. It could be a debate at the next SNP conference although meantime they might wish to consider some of the suggestions that have already come forward.
- The Order of Darien, for services to the Scottish economy, sponsored by Business for Scotland
- The Grand Order of the Magic Money Tree, for services to optimism
- The Order of the Grand Unicorn, for believers in secret oil fields and hidden tax revenues
- Hero of the Scottish Republic
- The Scottish Resistance Medal (military branch)
- The Soutar award for equality and tolerance
- and the highest honour of all, to replace the life peerage (upon which we collectively spit in derision) The Lion’s Roar, first recipient of course the father of the nation himself, Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond MP MSP and, now, LR.
It could be a wonderful expression of our nationhood, just as the .scot internet domain has us all rushing to replace the .uk addresses that so soil us each time we set finger to keyboard.
Must dash. Got to e-mail Ms Sturgeon with my idea.
Footnote: my thanks to the various twitterati who contributed to this proposal. Happy to acknowledge you by name if you let me know but sometimes anonymity is preferable to the unwanted attention of cybernats.