AS 2022 dawns, one question in the mind of every indy supporter is when will the Scottish Government introduce the bill for a second referendum? But if the British establishment has their way, the thoughts of the Scots will be on monarchy, not democracy and independence.

In 2022, the British Government intends for us all to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee with as much gusto as possible, including giving citizens two extra days’ public holiday. Although, overtly a celebration of the longevity of Queen Elizabeth, the not-so-subtle hidden agenda will be to promote the Union.

However, the independence movement could use this opportunity not to celebrate the royalty of the Windsors, but the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

This year, the British establishment is staging (in every sense) a Festival of the Union, thinly disguised as a royal jubilee. All being well, Covid and the monarch’s health permitting, the British state has arranged for lavish festivities to mark 70 years of Elizabeth sitting on the British throne. There is the purple and platinum jubilee squiggle – sorry, emblem – which is available in English and Welsh, but strangely not Gaelic, which will appear on the flood of jubilee tat such as mugs, plates and T-towels that is always a feature of royal festivities.

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There is also the Queen’s platinum jubilee medal, with a red, white and blue ribbon, which will be awarded to members of the emergency services and the armed forces. There is a jubilee 50p piece. Presumably the Poet Laureate will compose a suitably patriotic poem. The climax of these royal festivities will come in four days in June, when we can expected to be “Union Jacked to the max” by the Westminster Government and the MSM.

As the official jubilee website states: “An extended bank holiday, from Thursday to Sunday June 2-5, will provide an opportunity for communities and people throughout the United Kingdom to come together to celebrate the historic milestone. The four days of celebrations will include public events and community activities, as well as national moments of reflection on the Queen’s 70 years of service.”

Quite what are these years of “service”? Back in the 19th century, Gilbert and Sullivan when satirising another unelected British institution the House of Lords in their comic opera Iolanthe, said that it “did nothing in particular but did it very well”.

That would seem a fitting description of Elizabeth’s 70 years of service. She has attended lots of ceremonies, opened many buildings and bridges and made numerous platitude-filled speeches. In return she has lived a life of luxury and leisure and deference from others. It speaks volumes about the reactionary nature of the United Kingdom that there are no public festivities to celebrate achievements of ordinary people, for example the enormous efforts of the NHS through the Covid crisis, only those of the monarch for living for a long time!

Naturally, these jubilee festivities will be focused on London, although we are promised that the royals “will travel around the country to undertake a variety of engagements to mark this historic occasion”. In Scotland, this probably means the eco-warriors princes Charles and William being helicoptered around Scotland to fly the Jack and press the flesh and the Queen hosting garden parties at Holyrood.

The format of the jubilee weekend itself is as follows. On Thursday June 2, there will be Trooping the Colour and Platinum Jubilee Beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom. On Friday, a service of thanksgiving will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral. On Saturday, after going to watch The Derby at Epsom, there will be a Platinum Party at the Palace of assorted pop stars. Lastly, on the Sunday, there is “The Big Jubilee Lunch” – street parties where the monarchy faithful can wave their Jacks and sing God Save the Queen.

Few of these state-sponsored festivities are likely to appeal to many Scots, especially those who support independence. Most Scots will simply ignore the platinum jubilee.

But rather than passively just ignoring the platinum jubilee, the independence movement should turn it into an active opportunity to promote independence. The British Government may have the power to grant the people extra public holidays, but they cannot control what we do with extra free time!

The Platinum Jubilee Weekend could and should be liberated as a Festival of Scots Democracy Weekend.

Instead of Union Jacks, the country could be covered in Saltires. The Jubilee Beacons could be repurposed as Freedom Beacons, symbolically shedding the light of Scots liberty amid the Unionist gloom of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain. The public holidays on Thursday and Friday could be used to hold mass rallies and large demos. It would be especially fitting to hold a national rally at Bannockburn where we could celebrate the fact that the Queen’s ancestor Robert the Bruce fought for the cause Scots independence against the might of the English crown of Edward I, the self-proclaimed “Hammer of the Scots”.

Perhaps, pro-independence public lectures and debates could also be held in on those days. Lastly, maybe the jubilee street parties could become indy street parties, where the cause of Scots independence could be celebrated among friends, neighbours and strangers.

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I would stress that all these events should be pro-Scots independence, not anti the monarchy or, still less, anti-Queen Elizabeth events; celebrations of democracy and self-determination, not protests against the monarchy. The case of independence is a positive one, not a negative one. It’s about taking back control from London. It is not about being anti-royalty, anti-English or anti anyone else. It is about the positive power of independence.

THE MSM and Tory Government would quickly weaponise any anti-royalty sentiment against the independence movement. Although many leading pro-independence activists are republican, we need to remember that we need to convert more Scots to the cause of independence and that very few votes for independence would be won by campaigning against the monarchy, but that many votes might well be lost by it.

Australia, Canada and New Zealand are free sovereign states, even though they share a sovereign in the person of Queen Elizabeth. For this reason, the SNP have been wise to maintain their long-standing policy that an independent Scotland will be a monarchy rather than a republic.

Of course, once independence has been achieved, the people of Scotland will be free to change the head of state from a monarch to an elected head should they so wish, but that is a battle for another day. Indeed, I suspect it is a battle for many years down the line as a newly independent Scotland will have plenty of issues political and economic that are more pressing than whether the state is a kingdom or a republic.

SO the timing of the platinum jubilee in June this year is potentially a wonderful opportunity to kick start a mass movement towards a successful outcome in indyref2, which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised will be held by late 2023. The impact of the indyref2 bill going through Holyrood would be greatly increased by extra-parliamentary demos being held in support of the bill.

There will be a whole year to win more hearts and minds to the cause of Scots freedom before the referendum is held. Independence is a cause which inspires and enthuses people, as seen by the unprecedented levels of activism prior to the September 2014 independence referendum.

This jubilee kickstart towards independence could and should be done by citizens’ grassroots movements, but it would be turbo-charged if the Scottish Government were to take the lead.

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Although the Unionists would howl their complaints at the subversion of the Queen’s jubilee by the Scots “secessionists”, what could be more democratic than an SNP government elected on a platform of independence campaigning in the country for that independence? Furthermore, the sight of masses of Scots led by their First Minister publicly calling for Scottish independence would put further pressure on Johnson to agree to grant permission to hold a legal referendum on independence.

Just as King Robert and the warriors at Bannockburn “sent proud Edward’s army home to think again”, the sight of the Scottish Government and the Scots people united in public peaceful calls and mass demonstrations for the right to a legal vote on self-determination during the jubilee might just possibly send proud Boris home to think again on his plan to say no to indyref2.

Moreover, even if, as is likely, London continues, to say no then the whole world would see in the demos how little legitimacy the Union enjoys in Scotland. Such public demonstrations could well aid Scotland in its quest for EU and international recognition as an independent country when the time comes.

The SNP have been in power for 14 years and consistently won Holyrood elections and the majority of Scottish seats at Westminster. Surely 2022 is the perfect time to turn the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen into a Festival of Scots Democracy.