‘THE Queen is dead, long live the Scottish republic!” There are many in the movement for Scotland’s indep­endence – myself included – who had that very thought when they heard that Queen Elizabeth II had died at the grand old age of 96.

As quickly as I had that thought, ­however, I also thought what a pity it is that neither Scotland’s First Minister nor any member of her government would express any desire that the late Queen should be Scotland’s last and final hereditary monarch. No ­statement coming out of Bute House would point out the obvious absurdity of our ­nation’s head of state – indeed the titular head of any country – being a person who achieved that position through no greater accomplishment than simply being born into a particular family.

Nor would our First Minister – who we know to be a woman of progressive ­instincts on a whole raft of other issues, from gay rights to opposing racism and ­fascism – say a word about the obscenity of the Queen bequeathing to her pampered family a personal wealth of at least £370 million (not a penny of which will return to the British treasury in inheritance tax).

Not a squeak would we hear about the streets of Edinburgh being sullied by a ­procession in which the late monarch’s ­coffin was ­followed by senior royals, ­including Prince Andrew (a man who paid £12 million in hush money to a woman he insists he did not sexually assault on three occasions when she was a teenager).

Indeed, the Scottish Government would not even speak out about the shameful ­hypocrisy of Andrew’s participation in the Edinburgh procession being endorsed by the state, while a young republican ­protester’s use of a commonly uttered swear word on a placard led to her arrest.

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Nor would there be any reference ­whatsoever to the bloody, imperial history presided over by the House of Windsor (which was renamed such by King George V in 1917, as the family’s real name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha did not sit well with the anti-German jingoism of the First World War).

There would be none of this – despite many Scottish National Party members and supporters being ardent ­republicans – ­because the SNP’s vision of ­Scottish ­independence is so denuded of real ­radicalism that it doesn’t even stretch as far as the demand for an elected head of state.

Consequently – rather than express sympathy with the personal loss of the Windsor family members on the same ­basis that she would offer condolences to anyone who had lost a nonagenarian ­relative – Nicola Sturgeon released a statement so full of monarchist forelock-tugging and disingenuous clichés that it was barely distinguishable from comments of the Tory Prime Minister Liz Truss herself.

“Like everyone across ­Scotland”, ­Sturgeon began (deliberately dis­enfranchising the country’s significant ­republican minority), “I feel a deep sense of sadness on the death of Her Majesty The Queen…

“She has inspired us... and always ­personified values we hold dear”, the First Minister continued, in reference to a monarch who, early in her reign, presided as imperial head of state over a number of colonised nations, including Nigeria and Kenya.

The fact that she did not continue to do so had nothing to do with her supposed “values”, but with the struggle for freedom and independence of the colonised peoples themselves (indeed, for three years, between 2009 and 2012, at the High Court in London, the British Government sought to block compensation to over 5000 Kenyans who suffered atrocious abuse by the British armed ­forces – including castration and rape – during Elizabeth’s reign).

If the First Minister’s statement was characterised by historical amnesia, it also descended into the kind of ­sycophantic royalism that has, quite ­rightly, been ­inspiring disbelief and derision among sensible republicans over the last nine days. “Her Majesty was rarely happier than when she was here in Scotland at her beloved Balmoral”, wrote Sturgeon, before adding, queasily, “a fact I have been privileged to observe personally.”

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Now, we know Sturgeon – a lawyer of undoubted intellect, the first woman to hold the highest office in the Scottish Government – to be a person of some confidence, courage and conviction. For instance, the manner in which she dispatched the vile neo-Nazi candidate Jayda Fransen – “you’re a racist, you’re a fascist, and the southside of Glasgow will reject you” – during last year’s election to the Scottish Parliament was a credit to her.

So, why, in the face of the death of the Queen, is the First Minister reduced to regurgitating childish, obsequious ­platitudes? At one level, she is simply ­following the majoritarian logic of our ­political system.

Like UK Labour leader Keir Starmer – whose royalist brown-nosing has been on a par with his well-established, flag-hugging British patriotism – Sturgeon daren’t diverge a millimetre from the royalist script set out by the British state and its largely compliant mass media.

To do so would have been to court outraged denunciations from the right-wing press, including The Scottish Sun (the electoral endorsement of which Sturgeon has received gratefully in the past).

Having supped with the Murdoch-owned devil with the shortest of spoons, the First Minister wasn’t going to risk the ageing media mogul’s wrath by being ­anything other than fawningly royalist on the occasion of the Queen’s passing.

We shouldn’t be surprised. A lack of republican principle has been baked-in to the SNP throughout its modern history.

It was Alex Salmond (a one-time ­republican, briefly expelled from SNP for his membership of the socialistic 79 Group) who, as party leader, met then Prince Charles in 1998 to offer him ­reassurances about the future of the ­British monarch as head of state in an independent Scotland. That, in itself, was unsurprising given that the SNP – hardly the most radical of organisations – has never so much as broken a window in the cause of independence.

A party created, in 1934, through the unification of the left-of-centre ­National Party of Scotland and the right-wing ­Scottish Party (the original Tartan ­Tories), the SNP has spent most of its electoral history (since it won its first ­parliamentary seat in 1945) competing with the Tories and the Liberals in rural and semi-rural constituencies. Built on a historic compromise between left and right, the party has always been engaged in a careful political balancing act.

When the SNP replaced the collapsing Labour Party as the first party in Scotland in 2007, the traditional, dynastic Ewingite right-wing of the party had to suck up the Salmond-led tilt to the centre-left. ­However, it hasn’t been too painful for the SNP right to accept the just left-of-centre, “Nordic social democratic” model that Sturgeon inherited from her ­predecessor.

Indeed, that model is happy to follow the British Labour Party into support for the US-led western military alliance that is Nato. It was sad to see even Young Scots for Independence using the war in Ukraine as an excuse to dump their ­previous opposition to Nato in May of this year.

Such an absence of radical principle means that the SNP is now in the entirely ludicrous position of being in favour of the Nato nuclear alliance, but against the nuclear base at Faslane. Just how it thinks an independent Scotland will be able to both achieve Nato membership and get rid of nuclear submarines from the Clyde isn’t clear.

Add to that the SNP’s long and far from illustrious history of close relations with sections of big business. We should be not in the least surprised that – in the face of a vociferous royalist frenzy from the British political class, its state machinery and a mass media that is, almost in its entirety, grovellingly monarchist – the SNP leadership has been so embarrassingly supine.

For my part, I can do no better than quote Scotland’s republican bard, Robert Burns: “Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine… The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor, Is king o’ men for a’ that.”