ONE of the least expected outcomes of the over-bloated coronation of King Charles was the unintended media attention it gave to the republican movement.

For that small mercy, in an otherwise ­relentless parade of privilege, we should thank everyone’s favourite and ­dysfunctional Keystone Cops, the Metropolitan Police.

It may be years yet before we know what motivated the rozzers to make such a ­royal arse of policing the coronation? Was it ­orders from on high, the dark hand of ­Buckingham Palace, or just the Met’s ­predilection for heavy-handed interventions?

Police arrested 64 people on the day of the coronation, only to be accused by a ­director of Human Rights Watch of ­“incredibly alarming” tactics over the ­detention of peaceful protesters.

What began as a planned but relatively ­restrained demonstration turned into a cause celebre about freedom of speech, which will be dragged out through the courts for months to come and has brought ­welcome attention to the ­republican cause in England.

The anti-monarchy group Republic’s membership has almost doubled in the week following the arrests and the pressure group’s CEO, Graham Smith reported that the group benefited from more than £80,000 in donations and sales ­income over the week of the arrests.

Republic supporters will shout about the affront to their democratic rights, but behind the scenes they must be ­quietly chuffed that the arrest of their ­members, and the confiscation of their “Not My King” placards, took their cause far ­beyond the margins and into the ­mainstream of everyday political ­conversations.

Until the bungled police operation, ­Republic had struggled to break through. Now they can make a new and sustained case to be included more widely in ­debates on public service television.

The Met blundered around on the day, not only arresting Republic ­demonstrators but also members of Westminster City Council’s women’s safety campaign Night Stars. The Met claimed that ­intelligence had indicated that people were ­planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the ­coronation procession.

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Almost every national newspaper, ­including those hardwired to ­ignore ­republican viewpoints, have given ­coverage to the arrests. Even the august establishment newspaper the Financial Times devoted a lengthy article to the group and changing public attitudes to the monarchy.

FT journalist William Wallis – a great name that manages to combine ­Scottish freedom fighters with an ­infamous ­American divorcee – argues that the “near taboo that existed around the cause ­during much of the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth has eroded”.

In an English context, Wallis is almost certainly right, but in Scotland, there has always been a stronger, a more vocal and unshakable strain of republicanism that has existed for decades.

Although the two events are not ­connected, I was born the day that first post box was blown in the opening salvo of Scotland’s so-called post-box wars.

For those too young to remember, the humble post box became an object of rage within communities across Scotland when the EIIR, claiming the monarch as the second to bear her name (despite there never having been an Elizabeth, Queen of Scots), symbol was first rolled out.

One post box in Edinburgh’s Inch was smeared with tar and on the night of ­February 12, 1953, the pillar box was blown to pieces with a gelignite bomb. The blast was heard miles away and a compromise was reached, which meant Scottish post-boxes would not carry the inaccurate EIIR logo.

The attacks on pillar boxes are now dismissed as political vandalism and no more than a footnote in the history of Scottish resistance. But coming as they did so soon after the formation of the Scottish Covenant Association, and the seizing of the Stone of Destiny from ­Westminster Abbey, post-box explosions ­underlined that Scotland harboured ­different ­responses to royalty.

The humble post-box controversy was recorded in an old republican folksong, Coronation Coronach by Thurso Berwick (aka Morris Blythman), a popular anti-royalist anthem regularly heard at folk clubs and on anti-Polaris demonstrations.

The song questioned the very existence of Elizabeth II, “how can there be a ­second Liz when the first yin hasnae been”. Ironically it was set to the tune of the old protestant and Unionist standard The Sash (My Father Wore).

Although Scotland was measurably more republican than England, it was the Irish Wars of Independence that gave ­republicanism a tense identity in Britain.

Even though republicanism was by then the dominant form of statehood from France to the USSR, and across whole swathes of the world, it was often confused here with darker issues such as terrorism.

Living in London in the 1980s, you could barely mention the word ­republicanism without being shouted down or sucked into a self-defeating dispute about the IRA and its paramilitary tactics.

All that has changed and profoundly so. The psephologist John Curtice of Strathclyde University has been studying these changes in attitudes to republicanism.

One of his key findings is that the ­“baseline for change” has shifted ­markedly. In the past, Curtice argues, most people softened their attitude to the royal family as they aged, but ­today’s younger generations are markedly more against the monarchy than 20 years ago, with no evidence that republican ­tendencies are weakening.

That poses a challenge for the media and particularly the BBC, who are intent on proving the worth of the licence fee to the young and yet are ­institutionally ­biased towards following old-school ­Buckingham Palace directives. It is a contradiction that cannot last the test of time. Impartiality requires the BBC to balance their historic support for the royal family with fairer reflections on republicanism.

The National: The Metropolitan Police have said a "number of arrests" have been made at King Charles III's

Meanwhile the cack-handed arrest of republican protesters at the coronation was emboldened by new anti-protest legislation, under the guise of the Public Order Act 2023.

Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s home ­affairs spokesperson, opposed the Tory legislation by saying: “This shameful piece of legislation clamps down on our basic democratic right to protest and is quite clearly one of the most draconian pieces of law to pass through Parliament in ­recent memory.”

One of Scotland’s most credible, hardworking and best-performing MPs, ­Thewliss went on to say: “The anti-protest law can be used to stop the public from seeking to hold placards in the street, see people being arrested for just ­standing near protesters, and see journalists ­detained. The appalling scenes at the coronation are a chilling insight into what could now become the norm.”

Sadly, her efforts failed not because of any lack of agreement across the house, but because of a party-political ­narcissism that threatens to undermine the ­credibility of Labour as an opposition party at Westminster, and which the SNP are not immune to either.

Labour refused to support the SNP ­motion, dismissing it as a stunt, and ­allowing an opportunity to give the ­unpopular sitting government a very ­public bloody nose to pass.

I am still at a loss as to why this opportunity was so blithely squandered. Was it an inevitable by-product of Keir ­Starmer’s compulsive monitoring of the Tory press and an instinct that supporting an SNP motion would invite negative headlines in ­England?

This debilitating and divisive narcissism exposes a fundamental flaw in the Westminster parliamentary system and the undercarriage of the Union.

If politicians in England are so hostile or squeamish to support SNP legislation even when they agree with it, then unconsciously they undermine the very Union they claim to protect by having an inflexible attitude to parties from smaller nations.

This cannot be healthy, either for ­democracy or for the Union, and whilst it shows the voting power of England’s block of Labour MPs, it also exposes their tangible fear of being a party of ­opposition.

Keeping your head down and avoiding controversy may have its short-term electoral appeal, but in an era where people crave change, it does not make Labour more electable – it makes them safer and more compliant.