Republican MSPs snub Queen's visit to Scottish Parliament

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A visit by the Queen to the Scottish Parliament became the focus of what appeared to be a republican boycott yesterday when 19 MSPs missed the occasion.

The apparent protest was made despite a three-line whip urging all 129 MSPs to attend the Queen's speech. Days ago, republican MSPs, under protest, swore allegiance to the Queen at the start of the new parliamentary session.

Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, led the protest at the swearing in when he made a short statement promising to fight for "an independent socialist Scotland, a socialist republic, a Scotland of citizens not a Scotland of subjects".

Among the no-shows yesterday was the Scottish Socialist Party - consisting of six parliamentary members - which had warned it would not attend. They were joined by six Scottish nationalists, including Roseanna Cunningham, the deputy leader of the SNP, who is nicknamed "Republican Rose" because of her views.

Three Greens were absent, as were three Labour MSPs - Elaine Smith, Gordon Jackson and Johann Lamont. The independent left-winger, Dennis Canavan, was also absent.

With no vote taken yesterday, there was no official list of those not attending and the reasons for each absence were not immediately known.

In her address to mark the second session of the Parliament, the Queen praised MSPs for carving out "a distinctly Scottish position" in the new political landscape after devolution. "There are many different traditions represented in this chamber and each can contribute to the shaping of Scotland," she said.

"We see in this new Parliament, even after four short years, clear signs of a legislature that is distinctly Scottish, a legislature that is working ... to fit contemporary Scotland into Britain, into Europe, and into the wider world. The days when Scotland was limited to a few Acts each year are now over," she added.