TUESDAY is Independence Day. Not in Scotland, just yet, but in a nearby country. May 17 is Constitution Day in Norway. Grunnlovsdagen, as it’s called, is a public holiday held each year to mark the signing of the Constitution of Norway on May 17, 1814.

A little bit of history is helpful to see what links there may be with Scotland’s path.

The celebration of this day began ­spontaneously among students. However, ­Norway was at that time in a union with ­Sweden (following the Convention of Moss in August 1814, by which they shared a monarch as separate nations) and for some years the King of Sweden and Norway was reluctant to allow the celebrations. For some years during the 1820s, King Karl Johan actually banned it, believing these celebrations were, in fact, a kind of protest against the union.

The king’s attitude changed after the Battle of the Square in 1829, an incident which resulted in such a commotion that the king had to ­allow commemorations on the day. It was, however, not until 1833 that public addresses were held, and official celebration was initiated near the monument of former government minister Christian Krohg, who had spent much of his political life curbing the power of the monarch.

The National: POLITICS Norway 125141

Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1905 that the ­union with Sweden was dissolved and Prince Carl of Denmark was chosen to be King of an independent Norway, under the name Haakon VII.

It’s a very special day in Norway – a ­people’s celebration that is distinctly non-military. Schools all over the country organise children’s parades and visits to homes for the elderly. There are marching bands and people singing the national anthem. People wear red, white and blue ribbons and some wear the traditional dress known as bunad. And thousands march through Oslo.

Constitution Day is also celebrated by ­Norwegians across the world. I have personal memories of this Norwegian passion. When I ­attended Heriot Watt University it had a ­student population that was almost a ­quarter ­Norwegian. Back then, it was a source of ­considerable amazement for local students to be confronted by a bunch of folks, who generally were thought to be even more dour than Scots, suddenly throwing sobriety to the winds.

Most of us knew little about Norway, and even less about constitutions, so it came as a shock to see these celebrations. Especially at a time when most students were panicking ahead of rapidly approaching exams.

We were perplexed about generally restrained folks suddenly becoming joyous about a scrap of paper, as this is how most of us viewed a ­constitution.

Now I feel very different. Norwegians were right to celebrate their constitution. As a nation they understood what many Scots still don’t, that it is essential to spell out to yourselves and others what you stand for, and what you will not stand for. Like people, nations have values. Most of the time these values, for individuals and states, go unsaid. But they help us navigate through life. And they are what make us, us.

Compare and contrast the civilised nature of constitutions like Norway with that of the UK. The flummery and downright nonsense and ­silliness of the State Opening of Parliament would be hard to beat. People dolled up in fancy costumes telling the great unwashed they ought to be happy with their lot. A “stand in” for the head of state sits alongside a crown that has a seat to itself. You could not make this up!

The National:

As one report put it: “Today a priceless gold hat with a 317-carat diamond and 400 other ­jewels was driven in a custom-made Rolls Royce to a £2.5 billion palace, where it was placed next to a gold chair in which sat one of the world’s richest men, in a room crammed with unelected ­legislators. Astoundingly, he told two million cold, hungry subjects that there’s no money to help them.”

The tabloids then laud the stand in because he can read a script. This is all so sick, it borders on obscene.

As Dr Elliot Bulmer says: “The problem is not so much about the hereditary prince, the ­golden throne or even the unelected chamber – it is the incongruity of all that ridiculous pomp in a country riddled with corruption, abuse of ­office, child poverty, homelessness, food banks, stagflation, isolation."

I do feel this is a tipping point. This obscene nonsense surely must come to an end. It has ­little place in a state that is failing its people. More and more people are saying: We need to hear it for the Norse and get rid of this circus stuffed with clowns.

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