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WILSON'S WEEK; Why Charles should be the King of Scots.

HE'S the first heir to the throne to be Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

That's a hard job in itself. To that lengthy title add the following belters.

He's best known as Prince of Wales, or the Duke of Rothesay for Scots readers, a title going back to 1398.

In Scotland, he is also the Earl of Carrick (from 1186), Baron of Renfrew and Lord of the Isles, naturally.

The best is his role as The Great Steward of Scotland, a position that ensures I, for one, snooze soundly in my bed.

All that comes before you consider his English titles.

Still he's not satisfied. And his higher ambitions are worth listening to.

Yes, it was an odd sort of a fortnight for Charles Windsor. He rolled into Scotland with his main squeeze and proceeded to take the establishment by storm.

Yet most of the headlines were to do with his relationship with Mrs Parker Bowles.

That's a shame.

Leaving aside the crying need to have double-barrelled names made illegal, what have they done wrong? The nobility have been philandering for centuries. If a middle-aged widower and a divorcee can't find comfort, companionship and, yes, passion in their lives then it's a very sad day.

Let's cut the phoney indignation. Apart from anything else, it misses the point. There's more going on here.

It has only been whispered by the more concerned commentators, but if the Prince's plans come off, he could revolutionise one of the most conservative and slumbering of all the institutions of old Britain. The monarchy itself.

Now you may be among the one in three Scots who wants rid of this oddity. If so, stop and think... if you are being offered progress or nothing, which do you choose?

Charles appears to have a live interest in adding King of Scots to his long list of duties.

Now, don't all republicans and royalists among you recoil in horror. If we have to have a monarch, wouldn't it be better to have one of our own making and on our own terms?Way back in 1320, with Robert the Bruce as King, the Declaration of Arbroath was written and sealed somewhere near the Border.

It was essentially a letter to the Papacy at Avignon calling for the recognition of The Bruce as King of 'Scots', not 'Scotland'. The distinction is important because it anchored his position as head of the people, not lord of the land.

His legitimacy flowed from the sovereignty of the masses. It was not conferred from on high, as in Britain today.

Both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament are given their power by the Queen. We are all subjects of the Queen, not equal citizens of the same country. The Scottish tradition is the opposite.

That old Scottish document informed the principles of the American Declaration of Independence.

Rulers are employees of the people, not the other way round.

If Charles is willing to sign up to the Scottish tradition, then that signals a welcome change in Royal thinking.

Trappings such as a Scottish honours system are good symbols, and we should have them anyway, Royal or not. But the challenge for the Prince is to change with the times in Scotland.

The monarchy's foundations are irrelevant to our progress as a 21st-Century democracy. If he wants it to survive, Charles has to change them.

The prince would appear to recognise that.

If he is willing to become an equal citizen of Scotland, we should welcome it.

If he is willing to agree that power lies with the people and flows up to the rulers, it will revolutionise his role.

It works in Scandinavia and it just might work for him in Scotland. At the very least, it could buy him time.Heart op decisions a disgraceMAKE sense of this one. Scotland has some of the best medical talents in the world - but one of the worst heart condition records.

Put the two together and you'd expect us to have a national centre for heart transplants at the least.

Well no. Since January there have been no transplants as the only consultant able to perform them has left his job, leaving patients having to travel to Newcastle for a transplant, a delay which could prove fatal.

One surgeon offered to do the necessary training to replace the consultant who has left. He was refused and moved to Newcastle where he is now operating on the Scottish patients he would have been looking after in Glasgow. Make sense?

Back home, another three surgeons are now in training to plug the gap but it turns out they offered their services more than a year ago and were knocked back. As a result, we'll have to wait for them to be trained up, which will take another year.

Madness, I think you'll agree.

Smashing Anna's worth equal pay

WHAT'S the difference between Anna Kournikova and Andre Agassi - except the obvious that is?

About pounds 5million, that's what.

The top male and female tennis stars take home radically different pay packets, Andre with pounds 12.5million, and Anna trailing on pounds 7.5million.

This highlights a serious problem in our society.

Women, quite simply, get a raw deal. The Equal Pay Act was passed 30 years ago, and women still haven't caught up much.

The Scottish Parliament has an Equal Opportunities Committee which can look into the issue.

Once again, though, it has to bow its head to London, because we don't control equal pay legislation.

Why not? London isn't working for Scottish women. We should do it ourselves - we couldn't do any worse.

Shamed by posse of rebel aunties

A RIGHT load of trouble makers turned up at Parliament this week, complete with placards and the scariest of loud voices.

Not anti-capitalism demonstrators, but pensioners.

Looking like all your aunties together, they formed a gauntlet outside the entrance, with grinning faces and cheeks you just wanted to nuzzle.

Decent people who normally go about their business quietly.

So what brought them out into the cold wind and rain to lobby their MSPs?

Everything from residential care costs to paltry pensions demonstrates the contempt they're shown by the old London political establishment.

As I walked through the crowd I felt four years old again at a family party, but their point was well made.

Sadly, all the issues they care about are not in the power of the Scottish Parliament. Wouldn't you rather they were?

A clumsy mistake

CLUMSY child syndrome is a condition that affects up to one in 10 Scots.

Yet most of us have never even heard of Dyspraxia disorder. It can lead to psychological problems in later life, but if identified early there can be dramatic improvements in co-ordination and self-esteem.

My pal Duncan Hamilton brought it up in the Scottish Parliament this week in a debate calling very sensibly for pre-school screening.

His motion was backed by 66 MSPs but, despite agreement from every speaker, the Government knocked him back.

It's a shame, but the campaign goes on.

Save Our Sides

A DELEGATION of Morton fans came to lobby Parliament this week, frustrated at the decline of their club.

Other once-proud teams, including Airdrie and Clydebank, have had their share of troubles.

If we value local clubs, we need to find structures to allow viable ones to survive.

It's all balderdash now for Baldrick

AS a huge fan of TV's Black- adder, I was overjoyed to hear that Baldrick had topped the members' poll to go on to Labour's National Executive.

Actor Tony Robinson seems too nice to have signed up for New Labour, but fair play to him. He'll be joining a host of other comics running the party.

Baldrick will probably get a sense of deja vu as he looks round the Labour executive table. He'll join Peter Mandelson, who would cut a mean dash as a scheming Blackadder. And there is no doubt Alistair Darling would slot into the Captain Darling role, as the fawning assistant to Stephen Fry's General Melchet, a job you could land on almost any Labour peer. The rest of the Cabinet are probably too dull to cut it as comics, though unlucky ex-Minister Frank Dobson would make a great 'Nursey' to Glenda Jackson's Queen Elizabeth.

So good luck Baldrick. If you can civilise that bunch you deserve success.
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Author:Wilson, Andrew
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 28, 2000
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