Forsyth takes the credit - but is it due?

BRITAIN
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Integrating politics and pageant into the Royal Mile equivalent of a tickertape welcome home for a 700-year-old stone is an exquisite exercise. The Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth, like some modern-day Walter Scott, will be given the credit for the rescue. But is credit also due elsewhere?

In July last year the historian and journalist Gerald Warner was appointed to the Scottish Office as Mr Forsyth's special adviser. In a newspaper article the writer and historian Michael Fry wrote, "a miracle has taken place, the Assumption of the Blessed Gerald Warner".

Although Mr Forsyth's loyal insiders will have none of it, insisting the Stone of Scone's homecoming has on it "only, utterly only" the fingerprints of Mr Forsyth, others believe Mr Warner and his brand of symbolic, patriotic, monarchy-adoring Unionist history galvanised the Scottish Secretary into believing his destiny was tied to the stone.

The potential power and symbolism of the stone featured in Mr Warner's work long before he joined Mr Forsyth. In 1992 he wrote: "Our history is glittered with relics, from the heart of Bruce to sufficient locks of Prince Charlie's hair to stuff a sofa, [we] persevere in our love affair with the past; without some tangible links it would be unrequited love."

But what is next? Edinburgh Castle now has the Honours (the Scottish Crown Jewels) and the Stone of Scone. What grand project can now be resurrected between now and May's election? In one column Mr Warner advocated the return of King James back to Scotland. Having lost the body of James IV somewhere between Flodden and Cheapside in London, Mr Warner admitted "the chances of recovering the king's head seem remote". However, the body of James VI is another matter. "To return to Scottish soil the body of our king, profaned 400 years ago by 16th-century English lager louts, would appease a subconscious need in the national psyche." So are we to have Michael Forsyth marching over Coldstream Bridge with the remains of James (first or sixth) - presumably to the tune of "He's coming home, James is coming home"?

Comments