The Solid Ground of Eternity

THE SOLID GROUND OF ETERNITY: From The Province Of The Cat by George Gunn.

On BBC Radio 4, Thought For The Day (9.9.22), the Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“Her Majesty showed us that when we build our lives on God’s faithfulness, we are on the solid ground of eternity that cannot be shaken.”

When they finally laid the old Queen to rest on Monday September 19th 2022, was it a dead monarch or old Britain and the Treaty of Union that was buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor, or was it democracy itself?

Trying to make sense of events is increasingly difficult as the population was whipped up into a nervous lachrymose froth to observe an acutely emotional state/media generated mourning, while those one might expect truly to be in mourning were engaged in cold, political calculation – i.e. the monarchy and the government. King Charles spanieled around the devolved governments like a bad tempered retriever barking out his importance, whilst the Unionists were allowed acres of air time to tell us all that it was Scottish independence that was dead. Whilst in Edinburgh the “British” TV commentators proved yet again that south of the border Scottish history and the make up of our civic institutions is a mystery. The “solid ground of eternity” was quickly turned into elysian quick-sand. On BBC Radio Scotland (22.9.22) a Highland councillor put it more accurately, if a little metaphysically, when she spoke of the most immediate problem facing her constituents was not getting over the death of a Queen but, “To get through the living crisis.”

The English novelist and essayist Samuel Butler (1835–1902) wrote,

“Our bondage will steal upon us noiselessly and by imperceptible approaches.”

In a recent J.L. Partners poll of 8,004 UK adults for @ukonward the % support for running the UK with “a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with parliament/elections” was found to be,

All: 46%. 18-34s: 61%. 35-54s: 49%. Over-55s: 29%


So the majority of under 35’s polled would prefer a dictator. And who honestly can blame them when there is such a lack of a coherent alternative on offer? In Scotland at least we have the mercurial possibility of independence, but in times of great social stress and inequality fascism has always had its attractions. The longer independence stays as the Holy Grail rather than an a political actuality the greater the potential connectivity the hard right will have with the young.

The recent Tory “mini-budget” or “fiscal event” has only made that attraction greater. Every January, to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam tells us how much richer the world’s richest people have got. In 2016, their report showed that the wealthiest 62 individuals owned the same amount as the bottom half of the world’s population. This year, that number has dropped to 42: three-and-half-dozen people with as much stuff/wealth as three-and-a-half billion. The attractions of democracy fall away when faced with such gross inequality. Many young people will hold democracy responsible. They can vote – we have always voted – but it makes no difference.

The increased wealth of the uber elite gives them ever-greater control of our politics and of our media. Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies. Next step dictatorships. Russia is a case in point. How long before the UK finally (inevitably?) goes the same way? When you reward the rich and punish the poor there is, historically, only one outcome. And it is not good. The inner contradiction of our sham-democracy is being externalised.

The government fetishize the death of a monarch to disguise the cruelty of their policies. The inner contradiction of the BBC during those weird funeral days was also laid bare – there is no balance or impartiality left in the state broadcaster: only sycophancy to both government and state. Day after weary day, from noon to midnight, the message was: conform (or else). There is, after that abandonment, no getting back to “normal”. On the 19th of September the BBC was also buried. History shows us that all empires collapse under the weight of taxation and plunder. This is what is happening to the UK in 2022.

For the economist Daniela Gabor, the new financial shift means that “we are living through a revolution without revolutionaries … Central banks have quietly put in place a shadow monetary financing regime since the global financial crisis.”

The recent electoral successes of Giorgia Meloni and her proto-fascist party “Brothers of Italy” and the equally reactionary, although ironically named, Swedish Democrats and the strong showing of the Austrian Freedom party and in France Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, mark out the rise of the far right across Europe as a reality. “Shadow monetary financing regime(s)” are attracted to these movements. No amount of liberal counter arguments which will point out the various electoral defeats of far-right parties in other recent elections, including Germany, Norway and Slovenia, can undo the anxiety concerning the rise of modern fascism on our continental doorstep.

The real brother in arms of fascism, as in Italy, is corruption. Liz Truss’s new regime is jam-packed with former right-wing think-tank ideologues who care nothing for the common good of the people or the maintenance of human rights. Funded by dodgy donations and “dark money” they are steering a set of weak and intellectually challenged politicians and, by extension, the UK, to disaster. Ironically it was David Cameron, who in a speech in 2010, warned about secret corporate lobbying – in other words, corruption.

“It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how the Westminster political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest. It’s a reality that corrupted our politics for too long, that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”

But as usual with David Cameron it was all hot air. Within two years of that speech, it was revealed that the Tory party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was asking for up to £250,000 in donations to the Conservative party in return for access to the PM and the chancellor; at the time, it was enough of a scandal to force Cruddas’s resignation. The other, more recent scandals, are too many to list here.

The difference between 2022 and 2010 is that now Liz Truss’s government do not care what anyone thinks about what they do. They didn’t give a damn at the outrage generated when they abolished the ceiling on bankers bonuses (15.9.22), displaying that the current Chancellor of the Exchequer has forgotten or dismissed what happened in 2007/8 which led to the financial collapse. Their ears were deaf to the cries of woe when they increased the penalties inflicted on those trying to survive on Universal Income. The Angel of History, who flies backwards into the future, will point out that on one hand the Tories are merely rewarding the greed of their internal constituency and on the other they are punishing the weak and powerless, which is their delight. So it is that we enter the idioticon, that field of human endeavour where no thinking at all is the best policy, where callous disregard for suffering is seen as a virtue and where politics submits to “the market”. All that means, when translated, is that democracy must submit to the power of money and those who insist on voting are reduced to re-arranging the human debris the Angel of History pushes into the not so-solid ground of eternity.

Kwasi Kwarteng has said tax cuts worth more than £55,000 annually to someone earning £1m a year are part of a new direction for the economy and are designed to help boost growth to 2.5% a year. This is economics as mythology. The Treasury has admitted there were no forecasts for the impact of the measures on growth. You just say something often enough to enough people and it becomes “true”. The “facts” move out to the solid ground of eternity, that place where the old Queen sits on a cloud of faithfulness and the rest of us freeze and starve, the Angel of History waving like Captain Ahab as she passes.

On Friday 23rd September, Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said:

“Today, the chancellor announced the biggest package of tax cuts in 50 years without even a semblance of an effort to make the public finance numbers add up. Instead, the plan seems to be to borrow large sums at increasingly expensive rates, put government debt on an unsustainable rising path and hope that we get better growth. Mr Kwarteng is not just gambling on a new strategy; he is betting the house.”

The house, unfortunately, is about to fall down. Deliberately fracked. As Will Hutton pointed out in The Observer (11/10/22), “We are on an economic fairground ride led by fairies and fools.”

Anger is all very well – it is understandable and as Johnny Rotten sang, “Anger is an energy” – but it only gets you so far. The most pressing question for our democracy is how to connect the big issues with people’s lives and how to connect people to the big issues? Liz Truss’s answer seems to be to impoverish them or harass them into silence. We live in a world that has become intolerable as the subject of passive reflection. What is required now is active observation. The observer, every one of us, must say of our nation, “This is alive!” and feel the sensation of excitement that is life run through their touch. Then translate that into political action.

Independence for Scotland has to be about the protection and promotion of democracy. Scotland is far from immune to the rise of the far-right and the seeds of fascism can easily be planted here as well as in Italy or Sweden. We have to turn the structure of dominance, which is our current political model, upside down. Instead of continuity in relation to UK and global systems, as devolution demands, we should be working for rupture, for a new direction. Instead of an extended devolution we need to call out the UK non-constitution for the prison it is and declare self-rule. The Tories will gladly consign us to oblivion whatever we do or do not do. There is no point expecting this leadership to come from the SNP, instead the Yes movement has to ratchet up the pressure – more meetings, more marches, more strategies, more poetry, more optimism, more everything. The neo-liberal orthodoxy of Holyrood has to give way to a socialism from below, a true democracy that caters for all and leaves no-one suffering from hunger or want. That means we need to tax those things which oppress us, such as banks, land and inherited wealth and liberate through nationalisation or community ownership those things which we depend upon and which have been stolen from us, such as energy provision, transport and natural resources.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, applies to geopolitics as well. Which means that the UK government will try and suppress democracy in Scotland, even more than they are doing, because they are terrified that all of the above potential actions could become realities. All of this may appear to many as philosophy, not politics. Well, without philosophy there is no politics. Cicero tells us that philosophy is a “medical art for the soul”. Its compassionate task is to lead us from suffering towards a life lived well. Who in Scotland can argue against that? We do not need to seek out eternity to find solid ground. We have it here beneath our feet, from Muckle Flugga to the Mull of Galloway, and in the heart of every person who lives somewhere between the two. That is our certainty, and, as the man in the funny hat said, it “cannot be shaken”.

Comments (31)

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  1. John Learmonth says:

    Why are people across Europe turning to ‘right wing parties’ rather than ‘left wing parties’?
    Could untrammelled immigration be the cause, about which the left has nothing to say?
    20% of the population of Sweden wasn’t born in the country, this is a change in society unparalleled in human history and dismissing people who have concerns over this as ‘fascists’ is simplistic and counter productive.

    1. 220928 says:

      More generally, more and more people across Europe are turning to populist parties because they feel that their immediate concerns are disregarded by established elite groups. The ideological ‘left’, whose elitist, ‘we-know-better-than-you’. ‘woke’ moral superiority, atavistic grand narratives, and virtue-signalling name-calling (‘fascist’, ‘Tory’, ‘working class’, ‘left’, ‘right’, etc.) doesn’t speak to those concerns.

    2. Time, the Deer says:

      When you say ‘untrammelled immigration’, are you talking about the British Empire? Our colonisation of dozens of countries around the world dramatically and permanently altered their demographic make-up. At least folk moving to European countries from elsewhere are just looking for a new start in life, rather than seeking to destroy their host country’s culture and pillage their natural resources. Migration is life.

      Your chosen example of Sweden serves your purposes well – none more ‘Ayran’, we can hear your dog whistle loud and clear. The foreign-born population of the UK is around 15%, so Sweden is hardly unusual. You will also find that during 2021, out of a total of around 80,000 people, the sizeable majority of immigrants to Sweden were in fact Swedes who had left their country returning home. Out of foreign-born Swedes, the top two countries of origin are Syria and Iraq – where else would you suggest these people go? Home to the countries we have directly and indirectly destroyed?? The country with the third-highest number of immigrants to Sweden is Finland, and the fourth is Poland.

      Always best to check your arguments are backed up by facts, otherwise you are saying a lot more about yourself and your own prejudices than you are the subjects you pontificate on. Here’s some to start you off:

      1. John Learmonth says:

        Still blaming the British Empire for the world’s ills?
        If it was so bad why have all the former colonies chosen to join the Commonwealth as well as Mozambique which was never part of the empire. At its hight Mexico applied to join, bit strange if it was the ‘evil empire’ your arguing for.
        Sweden (as far as I’m aware) never had a colonial empire and has chosen to take in circa 1m refugees from the middle east whose integration into Swedish Society is proving to be ‘problematic’ to say the least. Where else could they have gone you ask? How about the Gulf States, some of the richest societies on the planet however their treatment of immigrants (including their fellow Arabs/Muslims)is to say the least questionable. No doubt that’s also the fault of the British Empire!
        Anyway keep blaming the west, it obviously helps your feelings of Liberal white guilt but putting your head in the sand but refusing to accept that Islamic integration into Western Societies has its problems that need to be addressed will help nobody but the far right.

        1. Niemand says:

          I think it a mistake to think that the rise of the right, far right even, in Sweden has come out of the blue. It hasn’t – there has been a core of this there forever. The progressive Sweden we know is real but by no means the whole story. Part of the issue in Sweden may be due to the problems immigration brings, but it is also endemic in Swedish society anyway. A look at the history of the country will show you this but even reading all the those Mankell Wallander detective stories from the 90s in which far right extremists feature on a regular basis. Or look at some of the influences online like The Golden One always banging on about the Viking legacy and Europe is being replaced and all that, and they have been online for years.

          1. 220928 says:

            There are literally hundreds of white supremacist groups in Sweden. The Expo Foundation, which was set up by the journalist, Stieg Larsson in the 1990s, monitors them. The scene is and always has been deeply fragmented and riven by ideological contradictions, even though its myriad factions share several symbolisms in common. Larsson likened its factions to rival motorcycle clubs or syndicates, which formed transitory tactical alliances but lacked any strategic unity of purpose.

            More recently, however, a loose network of groups, calling themselves ‘autonomous nationalists’ and centred on the info-14 website, has permanently emerged over the past 20 years. It’s hardly a ‘movement’, but more just a kind of ‘family resemblance’ marked by the common belief that people can be divided into ‘races’, each with its own characteristic moral properties, a penchant for charismatic leadership rather than dictatorship or representative democracy, and a rejection of the materialism they believe underlies both decadent luxury consumption and environmental degradation. Other similarities include a conviction that only people of ‘Western genetic material’ should be considered Swedes, that Sweden should be independent of supranational unions and institutions, that natural resources and utilities should be publicly owned, and that ‘class division’ should be supplanted by ‘class community’ within the race.

            Another, weird peculiarity is that several groups identify with the Palestinian people, likening their plight to the racism being suffered by ethnic Swedes.

            But you’re right: the issue is endemic. That its a manifestation of the dark secrets and hidden hatreds at the core of the Nordic model of social democracy is a basic premise of the so-called ‘new wave’ of Scandi noir.

        2. Time, the Deer says:

          Ah, okay, you’re just a racist! Not nice talking to you.

    3. Derek Thomson says:

      “Have concerns”. What do you mean by that exactly John?

      1. John Learmonth says:

        Their concerned about their countries taking in too many people from different societies who are not successfully integrating into secular democratic states.
        I suggest you take a trip to Sweden and ask them.
        Why does the modern left ignore these concerns, after all it is working class people who are most affected by them?

        1. 220928 says:

          Not quite, John. Sverigedemokraterna, now the third largest party in the Riksdag, represents those Swedes who want to specifically halt *asylum* immigration, which is predominantly Muslim.

          And they want to do so not because Muslims aren’t successfully integrating into Sweden’s secular democratic state (Sweden’s secular democratic state is one of the most successful in integrating people of diverse cultural backgrounds into its shared civic life), but because Muslims aren’t assimilating/refusing to be colonised by the cultural norms of Sverigedemokraterna’s supporters but persisting in their ‘otherness’ instead.

          Like some Gaels, Sverigedemokraterna’s supporters see the presence of ‘others’ (currently 1.6% of the Swedish population) as a threat to their traditional way of life and its cultural expressions.

          1. Very odd comparison 220928. Gaels are defending a cultural that was systematically eradicated almost to the point of annihilation.

          2. 220928 says:

            Indeed! And Sverigedemokraterna considers itself to be defending a culture that will, like the Gàidhealtachd, be systematically eradicated almost to the point of annihilation.

          3. John Learmonth says:

            Muslims make up 8.1% of the Swedish population not 1.6

          4. 220928 says:

            The 1.6% pertains to the proportion of asylum seekers in the Swedish population. It’s asylum immigration that Sverigedemokraterna wants to halt. It isn’t [yet] talking of expelling refugees or other migrants who are established Swedish nationals. But you’re right: 8% of Swedes self-identify as ‘Muslim’.

          5. Time, the Deer says:

            The fascists in Sweden are objecting to a small number of asylum seekers coming to their country looking for a better life. It’s not remotely comparable with Gaels being permanently priced out of places in which their roots go back centuries by rich second-homers who bring nothing to the community, or to the cultural genocide that was inflicted upon them historically by the British state. Look at how the Hebrides has welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms, to give but one example. Scraping the bottom of the barrel with your trolling as ever – you’re as silly as the ‘comedians’ comparing the Scottish independence referendum with Putin’s Ukrainian one.

          6. 221002 says:

            I’m not comparing the two, Deer; I’m identifying them. I’m suggesting that the nationalism that underlies both phenomena is the same. Both are concerned to preserve, through some sort of privileging, a ‘native’ way of life that each, in its own way, perceives as being threatened by others.

  2. Elizabeth Broadly says:

    My God that was just a wonderful read. Inspirational , uplifting and prescient . Thank you .

  3. Meg Macleod says:

    The truth spoken well. Except..the stealing of our freedom is not happening stealthily but in leaps and bounds for anyone to see who has their eyes and ears open.IN MY OPINION.. BBC no longer speaks the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth . I MANAGED TO AVOID THE LAST WEEKS OF HYSTERIA….THE OFF BUTTON.

    The house of cards is will take us with it..hardship is a reality for ordinary folk and we are trapped in a system..but it it possible to create an alternate lifestyle ..we just have to believe in our ability to do it…people have kind hearts and will help each other as things get worse…

  4. Alex McCulloch says:

    An accurate summary of our current reality.
    Although that reality is sobering here we start to talk about the opportunity of an alternative!
    We need to start to focus on how we start the conversation about the alternative.
    I would caution that ‘ pressure’ is not the tactic but rather persuasion!

    There is no conflict of interest in an even better Scotland -so the national conversation needs to be about what that could be and how best to achieve it!

    There is a need to involve, inform and inspire everyone to contribute to improving their own daily realities and own areas. They need to know their views are sought, valid and will be included in identifying new solutions for an even better society within the context of an ever changing world. It is of no consequence what political persuasion they have favoured previously – it is a whole new ball game and everyone is invited!

    It is important for people to understand that their mainstream media is blinding them with a distorted, biased, twisted view of reality and events designed to cause the binary division that safeguards the protected interests of an elite few.

    The realisation that people are being lied to and manipulated against their better interests by those they favour will be a shock to many ,initally resisted, but will ultimately serve to build a curiosity and appetite for change.

    Then we can focus on the real change that the vast majority of our fellow citizens, civic organisations etc have already stated is required.

    Key Documents describing the recommendations, new ways of working and policy options identified by our fellow citizens, trade unions, civic organisations, business community, third sector groups and our children and young people to enable an even better Scotland include:
    Citizen’s Assembly Report, Poverty Alliance Manifesto, Social Justice and Fairness Commission Report, Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, Scotland’s Climate Assembly Report

    The different views on how to achieve the aims of our people as stated in these documents will create the dynamism and desire for solutions and change and maybe then the courage to leave old redundant ways, ideologies and political badges behind!

    Only if we change the conversation will change itself be possible.

    Or we could continue the neverendum on borders, defence, currency etc or continually highlight and attack the representatives of the people we wish to persuade – who can see for themselves that their key values are not reflected by the words or actions of those who supposedly represent them

    It is up to us to change the tone and content

    It starts with ourselves …If we are inspired by what we say and do, we will inspire others…together we will make it happen…

    A Scotland for everyone , shaped by everyone!

  5. Lordmac says:

    What is Boris Johnstone dad taking about, in a you tube video using a vaccine to kill 15 million people mercifully and he and his other son is waiting to get into Parliament as if its a easy entry

  6. Alex Shenfield says:

    Clearly the crisis is upon Britain and looming for Europe as a whole; what is to be done?

    Two suggestions: firstly let’s stop referring to the enemy as the right wing since it grants them a totally unwarranted semantic advantage. instead let us consistently refer to them as the WRONG Wing, which is precisely what they are – wrong in every aspect that matters, social, political and economic as well as the less prominent implications of their policies. Secondly, it is now the time to go beyond the merely rhetorical ant to think seriously about concrete action(s) to impede and sabotage everything they do. Now is the time for a NEW MODEL ARMY of resistance; occupy our lives and we all fight back by all means necessary.

  7. A.D. Shenfield says:

    Clearly the crisis is upon Britain and looming for Europe as a whole; what is to be done?

    Two suggestions: firstly let’s stop referring to the enemy as the right wing since it grants them a totally unwarranted semantic advantage. instead let us consistently refer to them as the WRONG Wing, which is precisely what they are – wrong in every aspect that matters, social, political and economic as well as the less prominent implications of their policies. Secondly, it is now the time to go beyond the merely rhetorical ant to think seriously about concrete action(s) to impede and sabotage everything they do. Now is the time for a NEW MODEL ARMY of resistance; occupy our lives and we all fight back by all means necessary.

  8. Willie Lawrie says:

    Excellent article but why no reference to her fraudulent claim to be Elizabeth the Second of the UK. A blatant lie but tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. And why no mention of her flagrant disregard for the law when she provided money so her son would not face justice in a court of law?

    1. 221002 says:

      The ruling in MacCormick v Lord Advocate in 1953 established that the use of the numeral “II” was a correct use of the royal prerogative and hence valid in Scots law.

      And the correctness of this usage isn’t just a matter of Scots law. The principle, that a monarch can use whatever name and regnal number s/he chooses, is more or less universal. John XXIII styled himself such even though he was not, in fact, the 23rd pope named ‘John’. Alphonso styled himself ‘Alphonso XII even though the previous 11 had been kings of Castile and not of Spain. The first king of Italy dubbed himself ‘Victor Emmanuel II’.

      The convention is that, where regnal numbers become disordered due to separation or amalgamation of states, the higher number should be used. Thus, when Iceland became a separate monarchy in 1918, King Christian X of Denmark became Christian X of Iceland, not Christian I. When the Statute of Westminster converted the Dominions into new sovereign states, explicitly applied the ‘higher number’ convention; thus Edward VIII, not Edward I, became New Zealand’s new head of state. The first head of state of all the sovereign members of the Commonwealth that retained the monarchy on independence was Elizabeth II, not Elizabeth I.

      In terms of the British constitution, the UK parliament ruled that regnal numbers would be tallied for English monarchs from 1066 and for Scottish monarchs from 1306 and that the higher number should be applied by an incoming incumbent of the unified monarchy. Thus, any future UK monarch adopting, for example, the name ‘James’, ‘Robert’, or ‘David’ would be advised to follow the Scottish regnal numbers. Hence, a future UK King James would be expected to style himself ‘James VIII’, not ‘James III’. However, this remains only advice; what a British monarch calls her/himself remains her/his prerogative.

      1. Willie Lawrie says:

        Thanks for replying. You should have started your post by stating that the UK Parliament has 59 Scots MPs and over 500 English MPs. (I cannae mind the numbers in 1953 but you get my point) Any decision of that Parliament will clearly reflect what the majority of English MPs vote for.
        “The ruling in MacCormick v Lord Advocate in 1953 established that the use of the numeral “II” was a correct use of the royal prerogative and hence valid in Scots law.” But the Lord Advocate kens who pays his wages, and why is there a prerogative? Surely whichever monarch is on the throne it’s started with the first, second and so on. No need for a prerogative. It’s common sense.

        “The principle, that a monarch can use whatever name and regnal number s/he chooses, is more or less universal” So what you are saying is that William IV, Edward VII & VIII and Elizabeth II all made the decision for themselves that they should follow the English monarchical lineage. Do you really believe that?

        “In terms of the British constitution, the UK parliament ruled that regnal numbers would be tallied for English monarchs from 1066 and for Scottish monarchs from 1306 and that the higher number should be applied by an incoming incumbent of the unified monarchy”
        Surely in a new invented state like the UK in 1707 the monarchy should start from 1, 2, 3 and so on. But of course I’ve already pointed out that there are at least 10 times the English MPs against the Scots ones.
        Do you really believe that we will ever see a King Constantine, Alexander, James, Robert or David.
        Even if we did then according to you the monarch can call themselves any name they want. Ergo David 1, Robert I or even James III.

        Presumably when the UK parliament decided which regnal numbers should apply they backdated it to include William IV and the two Edwards and Elizabeth the Second.

        Is there much of a difference between gullible and naive?

        1. 221002 says:

          Indeed, the decision of any parliament that operates according to the Westminster system will reflect what the majority of members of that parliament vote for. We might not like it (and I for one don’t), but that’s the way such parliaments operate – by majority rule.

          I’ve no idea why the UK parliament decided on 1066 and 1306 as the baselines for the tallying up of regnal numbers, but the fact remains that it did. I imagine it has something to do with the ruptures that occurred in the hereditary succession of the two former kingdoms on those respective dates. To be honest, I couldn’t care less.

          And, I agree; it would be sensible for regnal numbers to proceed serially and sequentially from ‘I’ onward. But no European monarchy has ever in fact operated that way. I gave several examples of this, from the papacy to various secular monarchies. It’s just one of those queer cultural traditions that persist for no particular rhyme or reason, like holding Auld Year’s Nicht of the 31st December.

          Royal prerogative exists because a residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority legally remains in the hands of the crown, powers which the monarch, as head of state, can use without the consent of parliament. Among those powers is that of deciding by what title s/he is going to style her/himself. Again, I agree that the head of state should have no such arbitrary authority, but the fact remains that many (most?) legally do.

          Finally, the UK parliament’s ruling on how regnal numbers should proceed predates the accession of William IV, the two Edwards, and Elizabeth II. And I live in hope that we’ll never see a King Constantine, Alexander, James III, Robert III, or David – I’m not a big fan of hereditary heads of state.

          I must admit, though; I find it awfie hard to feel aggrieved at how a British king or queen chooses to style themselves.

          1. Willie Lawrie says:

            “I must admit, though; I find it awfie hard to feel aggrieved at how a British king or queen chooses to style themselves”
            I take it you weren’t around in 1953.
            I’ve been arguing my case on another forum where one guy gave me a link to the NRS.
            Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) and Scotland | National Records of Scotland (
            This was my reply.
            Thanks for that link. So the numbers are bugger-all to do with Churchill or anyone else. Why would that woman want to acknowledge her namesake Elizabeth I of England which in itself is wrong. There has only been ONE reigning monarch of England named Elizabeth. And convention states that you don’t have a number after the FIRST monarch but only when there are two or more.
            “Her Majesty was styled Queen Elizabeth II to acknowledge her namesake, Elizabeth I of England, and to avoid the double numbering of some monarchs after the Union of the Crowns in 1603, such as her ancestor James VI of Scotland and I of England. This caused controversy in Scotland, and in 1953 an unsuccessful legal challenge went as far as the House of Lords.”
            And what was the makeup of the HoL? It would be filled with diehard little Englanders and others who would look after their titles rather than the truth.

            I used to take great delight in reading of their exploits
            New pillar boxes in Scotland bearing the cipher E II R were a public symbol of the unpopular title. After some were attacked in 1952-3 it was decided that pillar boxes, mail vans and Post Office branding north of the border would henceforth only carry the Crown of Scotland. Pillar boxes were manufactured at the Carron Works, whose records are in NRS.
            A short, sharp action which brought results.
            No matter how you or anyone else tarts it up the plain and truthful fact is that there has only been the one reigning monarch of the UK named Elizabeth. Ergo that woman was a fraud and a disgrace to Scotland.
            And that was how I responded to their utterances.

            Picture the scene in the years in the future when schoolbairns are learning their history.
            “Please Sir, the book says there was a Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, who was the first?”
            What would the answer be?
            I dinnae wish tae be rude but you remind me of the Scottish Cringe – take anything the English/British Establishment tell you and just accept it.
            No for me and that is why, whenever I can, dispute the sycophantic rubbish that is spouted regarding that auld wife. She was never my queen just as her son will never be my king.

          2. 221003 says:

            I was around in 1953. And, though I still had my milk teeth, I do remember the zealous vandalism of those who objected to the Queen’s decision to style herself ‘Elizabeth II’.

            It is indeed a fact that there has only been the one reigning monarch of the UK named ‘Elizabeth’. And that one was Elizabeth II.

            And the answer any teacher worth their salt would give the child who asks who was the UK’s first Queen Elizabeth is ‘Elizabeth II’, along with an explanation of why this is the case.

            Does it really matter how the reigning monarch chooses to style themselves? Surely what matters is the fact that we have a monarch at all?

  9. Willie Lawrie says:

    Thanks for replying 221003(?)
    Much as I agree with that sentiment regarding the monarchy it matters to me how a monarch choses to name themselves. I think you’re being a wee bit naive if you think teachers way in the future would offer an explanation as to ER II being the first monarch of the UK. My guess is they would say Elizabeth Tudor was the first ergo Elizabeth Windsor is the second. And you boy, who asked the question, take a 100 lines.
    Every single ‘British’ monarch follows the English monarchical lineage. Do you deny that? William IV, Edward VII & VIII and Elizabeth II. So I dinnae think they made the decision themselves as to what they were called. Dare I say it? It feels like a conspiracy

    1. 221005 says:

      I don’t share your low opinion of teachers. No teacher worth her or his salt would refuse to explain to a child why something is as it is. And I can’t imagine why a teacher would want to explain how regnal numbering works as it does in terms of some speculative anti-Scottish conspiracy rather than in terms of a demonstrable and widespread historical convention.

      And, yes, since the convention on regnal numbers was agreed by the united parliaments, every head of the UK has followed it in choosing how s/he is to be styled. Like I said earlier, this is a convention that’s shared by most (if not all) European monarchies.

      But why does it matter so much to you. In the larger scheme of things, how our monarch is styled seems such a trivial matter. Are there not much more pressing concerns over which we should be exercising ourselves? Is this fixation with regnal numbers not some sort of displacement activity?

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