BARBADOS is only a bit bigger than twice the land area of Glasgow. But by declaring itself a republic and ditching the increasingly bonkers Windsor clan as hereditary heads of state, the tiny Caribbean island has struck a blow for democracy – and for common sense.

The real question is whether other bits of the crumbling British Commonwealth follow the lead of Barbados and dump the Windsors?

Of course, Barbados is only the latest in a very long lone of escapees from the tentacles of the British monarchical caste. The first colony to decamp the empire in favour of a republic was, of course, the United States.

The principal ideologue of the American Revolution was the English-born radical, Thomas Paine. His influential pamphlet Common Sense – a spirited attack on George III and the insidious notion of choosing your head of state by reference to who slept with who – sold half a million copies in the original 13 Colonies (population two million).

READ MORE: Barbados ditching monarchy will 'trigger calls' for other countries to remove Queen

Paine’s “common sense” was a direct reference to Scottish Enlightenment thinking and his original republicanism has remained at the heart of the struggle for independence from the British imperial enterprise.

The Crown may have lost some of its formal powers over the centuries, but it remains a vital political smokescreen that allows the corrupt British oligarchy (Lords, Eton, Oxbridge, the City, the BBC) to pretend it is more democratic than it really is.

As a result, when the Indian sub-continent tore itself out of the Empire in 1949, new nations such as India and Pakistan immediately adopted republican constitutions. Currently, 34 out of the 54 Commonwealth members are republics.

The National: Which country will be next to dump the British monarchy? Which country will be next to dump the British monarchy?

Who might be next? Top of the list is Australia. The latest polls in Australia put support for a republic at 48%, for the monarchy at 28%, leaving the undecideds on 28%. The likelihood is that once Queen Elizabeth passes on, the mood will shift decidedly to embracing the Australian republic. The local Labour Party and Greens are strongly in favour of the change.

Next up is Canada. Hitherto, support for the monarchy has remained relatively strong among the mainstream political parties in Canada, perhaps as a bulwark against encroachments from the United States, or as an Anglophone rallying point against Quebec independence. But the latest polls put support for an elected head of state at 45%, up considerably from 2020. Only 24% now want to keep the monarchy. But 19% say they don’t care either way.

One suspects (like in Australia) this abstentionism may evaporate once Charles III ascends the throne, tilting the balance towards a republic.

READ MORE: Kevin McKenna: Barbados broke free from colonial past – despite Covid and a recession

We might note here an interesting constitutional point that Mrs Windsor is the monarch of each individual country rather than acting as a collective head of state, which means there will be big trouble if she becomes incapacitated through age.

Canada, for instance, has no legal mechanism to make Charles the regent should Lizzie not be able to continue with her duties. An ageing Elizabeth Windsor could conceivably end her reign with a Commonwealth constitutional crisis.

And what of independent Scotland? This writer attended the last major SNP conference debate on republicanism, back at the end of the last century. “Red” Rosie Cunningham was still in her republican phase (she grew up in Aussie land) and led the charge for a Scottish republic. Some arch constitutionalists demanded a separate (Jacobite?) Scottish monarch. Most delegates plumped for parking the issue till after independence.

Perhaps, after Barbados, it is time for the Scottish national movement to dust down its copies of Thomas Paine and join the modern world.

The National: