We will get publication of the Government’s White paper on Independence this month and my informant tells me it will be so comprehensive that it will open the Ark of the Covenant, describe the Fourth Dimension, incorporate a time-elapse video of the Big Bang which created the Universe, reveal the truth about the Turin Shroud and re-write the Third Secret of Fatima. The one question it will not answer is: Why do people elect Ian Davidson?
We know that nothing, even the amalgamation of every single Wikipedia entry on the internet, will satisfy the Unionists. When it proposes using sterling for example, the answer will be that Scots can’t decide that in Scotland. Remember, our role is to be supplicant to the London master and he – be it Dave and George or Ed and…erm…Ed – will decide that, not the Scots who have been full partners in Union for 300 years and who have contributed to the strength of sterling and whose oil underwrites it today…and who have shared rights in it because that’s what the Union is supposed to be about.
Is there no articulate Unionist out there, representative of a party, group or interest or representative of none, who will declare on behalf of all Scots that sterling belongs as much to them as it does to England? I keep wondering about that great silent swathe of humanity which is telling the pollsters they are either No or Don’t Knows but who contribute nothing visible to the debate, as if being against is enough. If the argument is that, as Alastair contends, Scotland can – of course – become independent and survive, just not as well as inside Union, where then are the proud Scots who support him? When will we hear the Unionist Scot announce that we are Better Together but the campaign must stop misleading and demeaning? It cannot be inimical for a Unionist to insist it will be Scotland’s right to use sterling, it’s just that he doesn’t believe we should split from England to do so.
Please – and no offence, Grahamski – would a proud Scottish Unionist get in touch and explain their feelings about some of this propaganda. This is the most one-sided debate in that all of the ideas, the creativity, the inspiration are copyright Yes and the hidebound, deferential, “It’s aye been” cowed opposition is clustered behind No.
On which point, I now reveal my role in drafting the White Paper…or at least my role in attempting to influence it. You’ll remember that the First Minister suggested some time ago that an inspiring preamble to the document might be written by Willie McIlvanney. Nothing daunted, I said: “Willie who? Is that the football reporter in the Observer? I can do better than any tabloid footy hack.” So I did. I wrote my own forward and submitted it to the FM’s adviser. (It may never have arrived as I had no acknowledgement. My guess is that they looked, laughed and litter-binned it.)
So, exclusively, as they say in the Record when Johann puts out a quote on Falkirk, here is my version of the preamble for Scotland’s White Paper. (I’ll explain the thinking behind it after you’ve read it but some of you will realise what I’m doing as you go through it.)
We know from the chronicles of the ancients that the Scots are among the most venerable and renowned nations of the world. For a thousand years and more we have resisted invasion and occupation. We held our lands free of servitude with our own unbroken line of royalty until agreeing to share monarchy with our neighbours and then joining voluntarily as an equal partner in political union 300 years ago retaining our inalienable right to dissolve the treaty.
We wish no malice or treachery to friendly neighbours yet have defended our nation against incursion and threat through the centuries so we could live in freedom – freedom to act in our interests and freedom to think for ourselves, to imagine and create the country we desire. No constraints should placed upon this rightful freedom, not by alliance nor contract nor the claims of others.
The right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations charter is a freedom that belongs to all nations. It is a fundamental human right we claim as our own.
The right to freedom must resist all challenge from within and from without and any attempt to deny or restrict it will meet with total defiance. Even our leaders will be driven out if they waver or subvert this principle. Power is vested not in Crown, nor parliament nor high office but only and alone in the people for they are sovereign.
We hold this to be true in the face of glory, riches and honour and in the name of freedom, which no honest Scot gives up but with life itself.
We will stand by the people in all our efforts and stand by all the people. We make no distinction between race, religion, gender or social standing and embrace all who live here as true Scots in a sign to the world of our open and deep desire for peace. It is peace that forms the basis of all communities and governs all relationships and peace springs from love, which free people give to the world.
As Scots we desire to redeem our ancient right and resume our place among the independent nations of the world, at peace and in trade with neighbours, yet dependent on none. Through learning and commerce at home we seek equality and opportunity for all.
All people are born free and equal and their rights are the foundation of democracy. To the world we say: Our flag is the saltire and it is the flag of freedom.
So, yes, it’s basically a re-write and update of the Declaration of Arbroath and I’ve attempted to capture some of the phrasing and cadence applied by those Scots 700 years ago. I reckon there is no better foundation for today’s nationalist movement than the Declaration which remains one of the outstanding statements on the rights of man ever written…way ahead of its time. It also contradicts all of that sovereignty of the crown in parliament nonsense in the English tradition. Also, don’t you think that it makes a difficult target for all critics if it’s based on Arbroath? You may have spotted the use of the word Love. This is not at all the usual country-building protocol which is meant to be male and militaristic but I think that single word sends a signal about us and our country and I intend soon to write about what those two concepts – Love and Country – mean to me. If you think I’m a bit flowery for your taste, you have to remember that this is traditional in such documents. (Try the Quebec Sovereignty Declaration…you’ll still be reading next Tuesday!)
I don’t know what the Government is going to choose, probably something prosaic, but why don’t some of you have a go too? What is your declaration of independence?
I’ll post them all – funny or otherwise.
Meanwhile please vote on my effort by answering either:
Yes, I like Derek’s preamble,
Or: Yes, I definitely like Derek’s preamble.
In keeping with modern referendums, there is no second question.