Editor calls for elected head of state

Click to follow
A Church of Scotland publication will call today for the monarchy to be replaced by an elected head of state.

But the call by Dr Robin Hill, editor of the official kirk magazine, Life and Work, is unlikely to stir great passions within the church, its chief spokesman on constitutional affairs said yesterday.

"I would not say it is a subject which is taboo, but nor would it be seen as something which stirs great passions on either side for the most part," said Dr Alison Elliot, convener of the kirk's Church and Nation committee, which deals with public affairs.

She said the Church of Scotland, the mainstream church north of the border with 700,000 members, has a different relationship with the monarchy than the Church of England.

Members of the kirk, which regards Jesus Christ as its head, owe no more than normal duties to the monarch, and the Queen holds no privileged position within the church structure.

Life and Work is editorially independent, and Dr Hill, in a personal view, writes in the latest edition: "A modern country which continues to appoint a head of state by means of the lottery of inheritance runs a very real risk of getting what it deserves - a leader who is neither respected nor wanted but who must be tholed [endured] nevertheless, possibly for several decades."

He praises the Queen as the "world's finest head of state", but criticises the monarchy for "failed marriages, expensive royal yachts, and outdated traditions".

He says citizens should have the "dignity" of choosing their own head of state - either an elected president, or a ruler from within the ranks of the Royal Family.

His call is balanced in the magazine by a defence of the monarchy from the Rev Charles Robertson, who argues that the monarchy works at least as well as any other system and has a "sacramental" quality.

The Church of Scotland's main concerns with constitutional matters over the past 50 years have centred on the way Scotland is governed.

Last year, one member of its ruling general assembly objected to the use of the term "loyal subjects" in a formal letter to the Queen.

Dr Elliot said yesterday: "In Scotland we are used to questioning the constitutional framework that we are in.

"While for a lot of people that has been concerned with the government of Scotland itself, increasingly we are looking at the government of the United Kingdom as a whole.

"So the wider question of the constitution, a Bill of Rights and other matters, is becoming more of an issue in Scotland."