I don't usually think of myself as naive, but when the Queen made her notorious "people should think about it very carefully" comment during the indyref campaign, my first reaction was that it must have been an innocent, spur-of-the-moment reply to a member of the public that had been randomly picked up by the microphones. I actually believed the establishment fiction that we live in a constitutional monarchy where the monarch would never dream of interfering in the political process. I thought that unionist sympathisers in the mainstream media were just mischief-making by trying to convince the public with a nudge and a wink that the Queen's remark had been intended to indicate support for Better Together.
When it later emerged that the Queen had indeed been following a script and had fully intended the microphones to catch what she said, a lot of things suddenly fell into place. This was a clear breach of her proper constitutional role, and it required active collusion between the Westminster government, Buckingham Palace and journalists. The crucial role of journalists, and broadcast journalists in particular, shouldn't be underestimated, because very few viewers would have read any significance into the Queen's remark unless reporters had helpfully interpreted it for them - in other words the whole exercise would have been pointless. And yet those same reporters misled viewers by neglecting to mention that they had been briefed by sources that the comment was planned and had a specific meaning. If it had been revealed that such briefings had taken place, the Palace would either have had to lie through their teeth and deny it, or the Queen would have been caught bang to rights doing something she knew was constitutionally inappropriate. Everything hinged upon a ludicrous media pretence that the Queen had been randomly overheard and that journalists had independently discerned her private feelings from those few words.
As it is, she's been caught out five years later anyway, and ironically the weak link in the triangle of collusion turned out to be David Cameron rather than the media. But there's no point in her blaming Cameron - the breach of constitutional propriety in this case was her own decision to interfere in the political process, not the failure of a politician to cover her tracks.
Incidentally, at least one broadcast journalist appears even now to be colluding with the great pretence. I gather that the BBC's Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell informed viewers today that the Queen had indicated support for Better Together on her own initiative rather than at David Cameron's request, and that it had nothing to do with "politics". We've heard this kind of nonsense from him before - that her active attempts to "maintain the Union" are somehow a natural part of her role and are entirely non-political. Back in the real world, during a binary-choice referendum campaign on Scottish independence, the monarch can either behave appropriately by staying out of politics, or she can actively seek to "maintain the Union". But she can't do both.
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I was interviewed on Radio Sputnik yesterday about the fifth anniversary of the independence referendum. I reminisced a bit about the day itself, and spoke about the Scotland in Union propaganda poll and the need for a Plan B if a Section 30 order is refused. You can listen to the interview HERE (and also read a transcript in which I'm referred to by my cunning pseudonym John Kelly).