Time to rebrand the Jubilee weekend as ‘Tom Paine day’

Thomas Paine

Sadly, my packed social diary means I will be unable to attend any jubilee street parties. I have a busy weekend planned, mostly consisting of hiding in a darkened room.

And I will not be alone – not that you’d know it from the wall-to-wall mediagasm that gives the impression we’re all rampant royalists eager to roll out the barrel and do perplexing things with bunting. Along with the millions of people throughout the UK who don’t hold with the hereditary principle I shall be avoiding the telly, radio or other mainstream media outlets.

I appreciate that there are many people who revere Queen Elizabeth I (as she should correctly be termed as she is the first Elizabeth to rule the United Kingdom). I get that they want to celebrate 60 years of being subjected to her. I wish them all the best through the Jubilee weekend. I hope they have a fine time eating red, white and blue cupcakes and waving Union flags (though Scottish royal standards are also available).

But I don’t share their enthusiasm and am not really sure where being “a fan of the Royal Family” ends and “slightly weird stalking behaviour” begins. And I will not be indulging in any rousing choruses of the music-hall ditty that encouraged its audience “rebellious Scots to crush”.

If I lived in Surrey I might trot along to St George’s Hill and raise a libation to the Diggers. Of course, 17th century agrarian commune is now a millionaires’ private estate so security would bundle me off quite quickly. Strangely appropriate, don’t you think?

I might saunter along to the Wallace monument and remind myself that there’s a darker side to all that pomp, circumstance and kowtowing. But I don’t want to get caught up in any crown-based celebrations.

I probably will not repeat my tactic for avoiding last year’s Royal Wedding: heading up Ben More Assynt and sinking pints in Ullapool.

Instead, I shall repair to the garden with Dick Gaughan on the iPod, pour myself a large Ardbeg and leaf through Tom Paine’s Common Sense. (And I might add a dose of Tolstoy to leaven the mix.)

I shall be paying particular attention to Paine’s Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession section. Written, 176 years before Her Maj became Her Maj it suggests that this kings and queens stuff is not such a great idea. It surprises me that this, well, common sense idea has not gained more traction.

Perhaps, if you share my scepticism that some are born better than others, you might like to do something similar. No street parties are required, no flags, no obsequiousness, no unhealthy obsessing about the lives of people you’ve never met. Just a little bit of common sense.

  • Stevo23e

    Well said

  • Jacque

    Hooray for common sense wherever it may be found.

  • WillieMacleod

    Stewart, I will join you in a glass and drink to Tom Paine.
    You would think that common sense would have prevailed by now, but here we are two hundred years on we and we still have the hereditary principle monarchy and the House of Lords


  • Swinister

    Thank goodness for some sanity in a mad, mad world

  • XenonTheMegablast

    There are political parties that oppose the monarchy – if Brits / Scots / English wanted to change the current constitutional make-up of Britain, then they could by electing them. So if people make a democratic choice to have a constitutional monarchy, then is it really a big deal?

    Incidentally, the ‘ER2 should be called ‘Elizabeth Reg in Scotland because she is the first queen called Elizabeth to rule Scotland’ thing is an urban myth (there was a court case about it –  MacCormick v. Lord Advocate (1953 SC 396) ) – the monarch is entitled to call herself anything she wants – so if she chose to call herself ‘Zardos the 16th’, then she could, perfectly legitimately – despite the lack of ‘Zardos 1 through to 15’. It is natural to assume that there is some sort of logical ordering going on in the naming of monarchs, but actually there isn’t (most of the earlier Scottish and English monarchs were named ‘Someone the Xth’ by historians, centuries after the fact – as a way of keeping track – they weren’t official names at all).

  • Anne

    It’s a relief to read this and other articles by the likes of Ian Bell, as they remind me that not all the media is as utterly one-sided as the BBC, which should be ashamed of its performance over the last few days. Even BBC Scotland has gone to some lengths to convey the impression that everyone is as gushing about the monarchy as those in London seem to be. Here’s to Tom Paine and the rest of us real people with real lives doing real jobs.