Scotland’s First State Visit 68

Who should an independent Scotland invite to pay the first State Visit to the country after independence?

I intend to do a series of posts at intervals over the next few weeks on some of the diplomatic needs of an independent Scotland. Before tackling some of the weightier questions, I thought today I might look at the exhilarating question of who Scotland should invite to pay the first State Visit after independence.

A State Visit is made by the Head of State to another Head of State, as opposed to just the Head of Government (so monarch or President as opposed to Prime Minister). Head of Government visits are quite frequent, but State Visits are generally just a couple a year. The recipient state extends the invitation, though it is not unknown for a message to be sent to indicate that an invitation would be welcome. A reciprocal visit the other way usually follows within a year or two.

State Visits are affairs of great pomp and pageantry, but also the highest level of expression of political amity. Behind the parading and banquets is a huge amount of government to government diplomacy and of trade and business discussion.

The first State Visit to an independent country is a matter of huge symbolism. So who should Scotland invite to be the first Head of State to greet their Scottish counterpart as an equal, after over three hundred years?

Fortunately we can rule out WENI (Wales, England, Northern Ireland), as the issues involved in the Queen visiting herself are over-complex. I expect the Prime Minister of WENI will pay the first Head of Government visit, as the relationship will be extremely important to both countries. But State Visit, no.

The same consideration rules out other countries which have the Queen as Head of State. Otherwise New Zealand might have been a good choice. A similar size to Scotland, a thriving democracy and a population very heavily of Scottish descent.

I think we can rule out the United States too. The US will probably need to back up the Tory Prime Minister of WENI by pretending to be hacked off about the relocation of Trident missiles from Scotland (in fact the US really finds Trident more a distraction than a serious part of the arms equation. Trident is of no interest to anybody except the Westminster politicians it makes feel important). But Scotland’s strategic position in the North Atlantic will remain vital to the USA, and post independence may increase the heritage awareness of the massive number of US voters of Scottish descent. So an early State Visit for the USA, but not the first.

One way that Scotland can immediately mark a more moral foreign policy than WENI is by recognising Palestine, now that its statehood has been accepted at the UN. Palestine should be invited to open an Embassy in Edinburgh, as opposed to the “Mission” it is permitted to the Court of St James. An early state visit to Scotland by Palestine would be a great event, but not I think the very first such visit, which Scotland might need to promote its own interests as it embarks on the path of statehood.

Much the same goes for other countries with which Scotland has a close historical connection, of which Malawi has very close links. But the human rights situation there is deteriorating.

Norway is a country with strong historical links to Scotland. Its management of oil wealth is viewed as the best practice example. It shares a key maritime boundary. A good relationship with Norway will be essential to Scotland.

The overwhelming interest must be for Scotland to use the honour of the very first State visit to cement a relationship with one of its key EU partners.

Ireland is an obvious candidate, Scotland’s sister nation. But nobody wants to stir the sectarian divide and further alarm the benighted bigots of the West coast. So I don’t think Ireland will be high on the list.

Scotland’s EU neighbours in Scandinavia – Denmark, Sweden, Finland – are those with whom Scotland is likely long term to share interests and a voting bloc. These relationships will be essential.

Italy and Poland both have a great many human ties to Scotland. It has been estimated that 25% of all Scots have some Italian blood, like my good self. Poland is sending its second wave of welcome immigrants, seventy years after the first, and has strong historic links through the Baltic trade.

But in the end Scotland’s interest must be best served by inviting the first visit from one of the most powerful European states, either Germany or France. There is a wealth of historical and emotional resonance for France to be first in the queue. The French may not remember the Auld Alliance as readily as the Scots, but they are ready to play a helpful role on Scotland’s uninterrupted EU membership. I would opt for President Hollande as the first state visitor to Scotland.

There are many reasons why it is a bad idea to have a monarch, not least the entrenchment of an aristocratic elite and the sheer insult to democracy. But having a Head of State who is also Head of other States whose interests are different is a limiting factor. The Queen dislikes State Visits immensely. She only receives 2 a year for the UK, 4 at most, and getting her available to host them for Scotland will be difficult. Just a minor one of very many reasons we need a Republic.

68 thoughts on “Scotland’s First State Visit

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  • craig Post author


    Precisely for the same reason you keep banging on about various Kurdish and Islamic themes. Twit. Of course we each have a special interest in our own culture and background.

  • GutterTheQuantifier

    How sad that Craig is wasting his valuable time and energy on this guff.
    ‘Exhilarating’? So’s a good wank.
    Which is all this is.

  • glenn_uk

    “Fool”: I agree, the Atlantic celts would be my choices too. Preferably those closest to home, and possibly against whom the least grief has occurred in the past. Preferably, again, one with which it can feel a kindred spirit, and shares the ignominy of being a small colony due to conquest, and of having the attempt at removing its culture, language and identity at least partially defied.

    Better still, one in much the same position of Scotland – still physically attached to the Olde Enemy, but having acquired a degree of devolution in the past few years, a few bones thrown to the notion of self governance.

    It’s up to the Scots who to invite – they’re not obliged to recognise a nominal “head of state” in the form of a Commonwealth monarch. They could recognise whoever that state suggested represented them – preferably on a democratic basis.

    Clearly, Wales has a similar link to Scotland, as Gaza has to the West Bank. OK. Might be overstating it slightly.

  • mark golding

    My researcher a Tamil reminded me of the time I sat in with his mother in her beautiful home while she passionately and sadly brought to mind the agony of fleeing their bosom in Sri Lanka, a small village near Elephant Pass. Mother recalled grand-father blaming British colonial intrusion and tampering in english coded Ceylon. Sri Lanker, rooted in British colonial rule germinated political rancor, creating a change in a balance that negates ethic tension. Independence would feed the British war machine while a puppet government pulled levers on command.

    Predictably a civil war developed (how unusual) and many Tamils murdered, tortured, disappeared, discriminated, made stateless and deported.

    Scotland moreover would demonstrate the quintessential independence to the world, a window of retribution for the British establishment unable to pull the curtains… nice one! Thank-you.

  • Tony M

    Glenn_uk: Yes, but CM has already pointed out the absurdity of having HM pay a state visit on herself, unless Wales has recently made great leaps towards their independence from Westminster’s iron fist, wooden foot or piece of string.

    If anyone representing the nation could replace the actual head of state where none exists then they could do so even when there is a nominal head of state, over their head so to speak, snubbing the titular head. Wales could send Shirley Bassey or comedian John Sparkes instead of Liz, to meet Liz. I think Europe/Scandinavia are our immediate partners and one of the looser EU affiliated countries, EFTA member Norway seems important. I think we overstate the importance of such formal events at figurehead level and much more productive links are made at senior government levels, and where the scope and subject of such discussions are public and open. Recognition of Palestine and Palestinian identity is an important matter, initial symbolic and later more productive, supportive and mutually enhancing contact should be strongly encouraged.

    This puts me in mind of a list of interesting persons I’d like to have around an intimate table with a hearty meal, stimulating herbs and choice of drinks. I came up with this list of raconteurs, wits and thinkers (including some now deceased):

    Peter Jones, Peter Ustinov, Peter Cook, Clement Freud, Alan Coren, Clive Sinclair, Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Alexei Sayle, Jeremy Hardy, John Swinney, Mark Steel, Alex Salmond, Sheila Hancock, Fenella Fielding, Nicola Sturgeon.

  • glenn_uk

    Tony M: I definitely discounted HM from representing Wales. It might be a step forward to state that our elected representatives at the Assembly are up for the job. It would demonstrate a solidarity with another state under the same conditions prior to devolution. No offence, but Jeez – shouldn’t that be obvious?

    About your meal – aren’t you forgetting Linda Smith, and what about Carl Sagan? Scientists – people who actually know about “stuff” – are seriously lacking at your table!

    Back to the point though, this is a serious event, not a celeb love-in. We should be sending our nearest equivalent ranking representative, as the system currently allows.

  • Tony M

    Glenn: Yes Linda Smith definitely should have been on that list and is now. I wasn’t thinking so much of earnest folk who know too much stuff about particular stuff, but people with breadth of knowledge and most of all, with it, great wit; my goal was to have tears of laughter running down my face, guaranteed. I don’t know then, but it is wrong to leave things to the experts, those who we assume know better, that is partly how it has been so difficult to extricate ourselves from our prior predicament. But on this for now I’ll defer to your call to be serious and say I simply don’t know and don’t know if it matters at all, but it should not be genuflecting before power, rather solidarity with the oppressed.

  • Jives


    Elaine C Smith??

    Are you fucking joking?

    Why not Karen Dunbar or John Barrowman?Or The Krankies??Or a tin of shortbread with a Scottie Dug on the front..?

    Jesus,Craig,i’m undecided and veering towards Yes but sometimes i think you’ve completely lost it-or are batting for the other side,subtly or not.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    My Wife wants us to take our Very Tall Carbon Fibre Flag Pole with us…but the last time I remember using it was at Latitude Festival…

    You see I heard this band’s song…

    Grounds For Divorce…

    and I thought he was an American…I had no idea that it was this bloke in Elbow who Blew Bono and U2 Away at Wembley Stadium

    He says I come From Bury…

    Not Pilsworth Is it???

    I had my first job there…putting up light fittings on the top of a gantry…using a Hilti gun

    It drove The Rivets In.

    I said don’t worry love…they will hear our Lancashire Voices at Cambridge Rock Festival


  • glenn_uk

    Tony M: Come now, we don’t have to be entirely po-faced about this. We can have both a rip-roaring session at the extended dinner, and take this state stuff seriously.

    For the representatives of state – we need to show due deference, and match the intent and import of the counterpart. It would not do to make a “celebrity” show up as our equivalent to a genuine state executive. Otherwise, let’s have “Sir” Sean Connery greet “Sir” Anthony Hopkins, so we can hear one-liners regarding their various roles being exchanged to polite applause.

    Regarding your party list, I think you underestimate the humour scientists might actually provide. They are not the dour, soulless, dispassionate characters you apparently consider them to be.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I don’t think the Girls have invited any other couples like my wife and fact I don’t think they have invited any blokes – well apart from to keep in this spirit of things that may happen at Cambridge Rock Festival ..I have also invited My Ex

    We haven’t seen each other for 33 years…

    She hasn’t yet said if she will come.

    But I think She Will


  • Jives

    Tony Opmoc,

    As always Tony i wish you well but i have to ask..

    Is your wife aware of this potential arrangement??


  • KingofWelshNoir

    You need that rare bird, a monarch who is iconoclastic, republican at heart, erudite, compassionate and well-loved by all countries and creeds. I suggest the King of Welsh Noir.

  • doug scorgie

    Resident Dissident
    4 Aug, 2014 – 9:11 pm

    “… you can add membership of NATO to the list of questions that those favouring independence will not answer clearly for the present.”

    Such a question would be for the government elected after independence.

    The referendum is about independence. It is not a vote for or against the SNP.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    ““… you can add membership of NATO to the list of questions that those favouring independence will not answer clearly for the present.”

    Such a question would be for the government elected after independence.”

    Indeed it would. As would just about every other issue on the table.

    But would it be unreasonable for the main parties in a future independent Scotland to state their preferred position on this question before the referendum?

    You are sounding somewhat evasive on this.

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !
    5 Aug, 2014 – 8:42 am

    “But would it be unreasonable for the main parties in a future independent Scotland to state their preferred position on this question before the referendum?”


    Not one of the main (better together) parties has put forward the policies that they would adopt after a successful Yes vote.

    If Scotland voted for independence what would the policies of the Conservatives, LibDems and Labour be on the issues involved, including membership of the EU, the currency, defence etc?

    Well we don’t know because they are not saying. They are clinging to the hope of derailing the yes vote one way or another.

    But if Better Together is right to demand that the SNP answers all the questions asked of it if a Yes vote is successful; then it is only reasonable that the other parties do the same.

    Would Scottish Labour keep the pound? Would the Scottish Conservatives join the EU? Would the Scottish LibDems keep Trident?

    They’re not going to say until after the referendum and only then if the Yes voters win.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    “Not one of the main (better together) parties has put forward the policies that they would adopt after a successful Yes vote.”

    If that is so, it is deplorable. I’m surprised that the Scottish electorate is not pressing ALL the Scottish parties to set out their intentions in the event of a Yes vote.

    I do howver feel this is particularly incumbent on those parties which, on the basis of the present position, seem most likely to form a future Scottish govt; this means, certainly, the SNP.

    Your attempt to deflect attention onto the no-hopers (the Conservatives and LibDems) seems slightly evasive to me, Doug.


    Habbabkuk for openness and transparency.

  • Abe Rene

    This sounds like a good case for giving France the first state visit, if the people in Scotland decide for independence. But perhaps they won’t. 🙂

  • DoNNyDarKo

    France or Germany. France because our connections go way back and they are one of the founding members of the European Union.
    Germany I’d prefer, as Merkel said no to Cameron re: pimping the United Kingdom plus they are without doubt an industrial and economic giant.In or out of the EU , a good friend to have.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “Germany I’d prefer, as Merkel said no to Cameron re: pimping the United Kingdom plus they are without doubt an industrial and economic giant.In or out of the EU , a good friend to have.”

    There you go – the dreaded “realpolitik” even before the deal is done! 🙂

    Wasn’t Germany – according to many on here – the engineer of Greek downfall?

  • Tristan

    I immediately thought France, if only because it would piss off the xenophobic unionists of UKIP etc 😀

    I suspect the Baltic states might be high up on the list – prosperous, liberal and small (with a big bully, former imperial power next door).

  • nevermind, it will happen anyway

    I would prefer there to be a prioritisation of welcome, meaning that Obama would be invited, but he’s down to the end of the queue, whilst the Atlantic Celts and immediate friendly nations are at the front.

    Am I too diplomatic? don’t think so, I would not invite Israel as it is not a state in the UN sense,i.e. that it has never declared its borders.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Go chew on a lemon Habba.

    Scotland is becoming a leader in renewable energy and Germany needs it badly to replace all the scrapped nuclear power stations = synergy.Realpolitik will always hold sway, doesn’t mean you have to be a poodle like Westminster is to Washington and Tel Aviv.

    Goldman Sachs / selling of Default Swap Credit insurance / strong Euro and of course a Germany that frowns on debt whether domestic or foreign ,as well as an economy in Greece that was never fit for the Euro, engineered Greece’s dive into despair.I’m sure I missed a few other factors.Who twisted figures in Brussels and which Bankers were responsible ? They should suffer instead of the population of Greece.

  • lola mcnutty

    Wake up and smell the haggis!
    If anything, England would have to separate from Scotlatnd as the UK wad forrmed by the fact that the scotch monarch added England to his realm in 1603 (James vi ) .

  • Kempe

    ” Scotland is becoming a leader in renewable energy and Germany needs it badly to replace all the scrapped nuclear power stations ”

    Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    Germany is way ahead, it produces so much renewable energy that at peak periods the price becomes negative. Quite literally it has to pay other countries to take it away. Scotland, or anyone else, has no chance of making big bucks from the sale of renewables, the market is already over subscribed.

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