Let’s Appoint The People Of Scotland As Collective Head of State

What purpose does a Head of State actually serve?  Apart from having the run of some disgustingly large houses and being invited to fancy shindigs, I can’t work out what possible benefit there is in having a ceremonial figurehead who we deem superior to all the other citizens of that country.

The arrival of a new royal baby has brought this into sharp relief; with so much fawning coverage of a hospital door and flag-waving, sycophantic nonsense about the importance of this royal spawning, it enourages a more critical look at our constitutional arrangement and the benefit of a hereditary monarchy. In other words, aye but fit div they dae?

In Scotland, we have a unique chance to take control of this debate as we’re currently shining a big shiny spotlight on our own constitutional arrangements as part of the UK. Should we become Independent, there could well be a second referendum on our relationship with the monarchy and, personally, I think it’s long overdue. The very concept that one person is superior to another through lineage and birth is vile, and there is no place for it in a modern democracy.

The only argument people ever seem to muster is one of tourism, but surely we can do better than that, right? I mean if the only reason for keeping this jaded, anachronistic dinosaur of an institution is so American tourists can gawk at them while on holiday then we really are a country of subservient morons. Fuck that.

I have a proposal. It’s a bit out there, but bare with me. We don’t need a singular head of state. No King, Queen, Elected President or Imperial Ruler. A country does not need a ceremonial figurehead in a democracy.

So what would we have?

We would already have a government, a cabinet and a leader of government (First Minister or Prime Minister). They would take care of all genuinely important business, negotiating treaties, etc. Why not designate the collective citizens of an independent Scotland as the Collective Head of State?

This radical idea would set the people at the heart of constitutional affairs and raise them up as the ultimate rulers of state. We could hold a lottery for civic occasions, with different members of society getting the chance to represent Scotland at state events or meeting foreign dignitaries. How great would that be? Barack Obama meets the First Minister to discuss the latest trade agreement then is swiftly driven off for lunch with the State Representative Big Jim Buchan fae the Broch, just in aff the boats. He could present some fresh Langoustines to the President and then introduce him to the fineries of the Doric language on the Buchan coast. Amazing.

We need to get away from this idea that only those born to rule, should rule. It’s absolute shite. The reason we have such low engagement in politics across the UK is because the majority of people don’t identify with their representatives and the political elite are absolutely fine with that. It means we don’t look too closely at what they’re getting upto. Get more normal people involved at every level and we’ll soon see people becoming more engaged in the politics of the country, and a more representative system of government. We will no longer be ruled by the public school attending political and aristocracy elite of UK life.

Politics is important, and the independence referendum proves that normal people are willing to be engaged in political debate, it’s just that no one wants to speak to them normally. Scotland needs to bring more of it’s people into political life to ensure we always stay grounded and don’t allow the minority of connected, rich members of society dictate how the majority should live.

Only a Yes vote will bring about any chance of reform on the monarchy, it’s just another item (along with electoral reform and removal of trident) that isn’t being put on the table by any mainstream Westminster party. Once we vote Yes, Scotland can be whatever we want it to be.

David Officer
National Collective

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There are 19 comments

  1. Aidan Kerr

    A lottery system to be Head of State for the day would not be fitting for a sovereign nation. This a role of importance not a tombola.

      1. Aidan Kerr

        It would not be fitting to hold a national lottery to perform the duties of state of a sovereign nation. It isn’t some sort of student society or a ramblers committee, it’s the head of state of a nation.

        What would happen if the Head of State selected was someone with a string of criminal convictions? What would happen if the person selected to receive dignitaries had absolutely no knowledge of geopolitical affairs? What would happen if the person selected had absolutely no media training and made a fool of themselves and in result brought the role into disrepute?

        Your idea is noble but flawed nonetheless.

        1. David Officer

          I’m not proposing the person holds the post for years, only that they get the chance to represent the people at that particular state function. It’ll be great!

          Can’t be any worse than Prince Phillip…

          1. Aidan Kerr

            I think the Republic of Ireland have a pretty good system with an elected Head of State, the President, serving a 7 year term and having to be over the age of 35. Moreover the President can be impeached.

            I would like a similar role in a hypothetical independent Scotland with the role being title Mother/Father of Scotland. A figurehead elected by the people to be one of the central pillars of statehood.

          2. David Officer

            but why do we need a figurehead? isn’t that just a relic in modern democracy?

            obviously I’ve put forward a slightly tongue-in-cheek argument to raise a real issue. we could have the chance to reshape everything if we wanted to, so why do it the same as everyone else?

          3. D.I. MacDonald

            These arbitrary age requirements for political leadership (as in Ireland, US, most democracies) are pretty fucking problematic. Once you are legally deemed old enough to vote, then surely you are old enough to represent the country? Otherwise its just a system for solidifying the position of rich middle-aged and elderly people (usually men) as controllers of the political system.

        2. Dougie Lockhart

          Nonsense. We select juries this way and allow them to make life or death decisions. It’s a simple matter to define certain groups as being ineligible for service. Statistically, anyone randomly selected from the ranks of Joe Public will have fewer criminal convictions than the average career politician or head of state.

          I always been of the same mind as David Officer, and my tongue is not in my cheek (shame on you Mr Officer – stick to your guns!). The post of Head of State is completely redundant, but if you must have one, pick him/her at random. The people are sovereign!

          1. David Officer

            ach I think it’s a great idea, but I’m really just wanting to start the discussion rather than putting forward any serious proposals! I don’t want that responsibility!

            As you say we select juries this way so there’s no reason it couldn’t work. I do genuinely believe we need more normal people involved in public life, not media trained puppets of the elite.

        3. bobduncan

          “What would happen if the person selected to receive dignitaries had absolutely no knowledge of geopolitical affairs? What would happen if the person selected had absolutely no media training and made a fool of themselves and in result brought the role into disrepute?”
          I suppose that would mean it was the Duke of Edinburgh’s turn again.

  2. Linsey Young

    I don’t believe we should be elevating any one person above the rest of us. We have the opportunity to do something truly different here and have NO head of state. If we need someone to stand in for one when dealing with the heads of state of other nations the presiding officer would do fine. They would explicitly NOT be head of state however.

  3. rod mac

    Talking of Royal Baby and Heads of State a fabulous comment from Craig Murray blog .

    Had me laughing anyway
    ==================================================================

    Losing Bet

    by craig on July 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

    I lost my money on the name of the royal baby. Still, I suppose “Privileged Wanker” was always a very long shot.

  4. Wayne Brown

    I had a similar/connected idea a few years back when I wrote to the then Presiding Officer, George Reid. I suggested that, at the Scottish Parliament opening ceremony there should be no oath taken by prospective MSPs. Instead a randomly chosen, and willing, member of the Electorate should, on behalf of the whole electorate, read out a statement placing our trust in our electorate representatives.

  5. disqus_zZA6sDUpNy

    I had never thought of this until now. It really would be an expression of the Sovereignty of the People (People, not people, because Sovereignty does not belong to all the individual people, but to the People as a body). I need to think more about it, how it might work in practise. My immediate reaction is YES!

  6. Callum la Grange

    How about “Guardian of Scotland”? A distinctly scottish role that recognises our heritage but in the modern context of independence becomes guardianship of the common weal.

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