Well, what a coup for the No campaign. At least that was my first thought before I found, annoyingly, that it seems to have occurred to every Twitter user too (at least, so I’m told). Anyway, a new baby in prospect for the Cambridges and a PR stroke of genius for the Unionists – because we know, don’t we, that the entire Royal Family is squarely behind the Union and would simply hate for the monarch to have to negotiate a border the way James I et al had to. See Daily Mail, passim. Pretty English Kate, symbolically fecund, has at a stroke trumped the weekend polls. The Better Together campaign must be weeping hot tears of gratitude at this providential turn.
That’s the unfair thing about the Royal Family. Without so much as uttering a peep, they manage to steal the national show, triumphantly demonstrating that the personal is not only political, it’s a more potent sort of politics than the dry, constitutional sort. Or rather, it is the very embodiment and incarnation of a critical bit of the constitution to do with identity and national sentiment.
Bagehot observed that ‘the nation is divided into parties, but the crown is of no party. Its apparent separation from business is that which removes it both from enmities and from desecration, which preserves its mystery, which enables it to combine the affection of conflicting parties.’
Well, it’s plainly not true on this one. When it comes to Scottish independence, the royals know exactly where they stand and the rest of us know where they stand. So, if the news of a little brother or sister for Baby George isn’t to nudge the poll for the Unionists, Alex Salmond had better act fast and say how delighted he is by the news and how much he’s looking forward to dandling the heirs to the Scottish throne on his knee when they come to Balmoral.