A few weeks ago I was asked to speak on a panel in Poland on independence movements across the continent of Europe. Europe has been fundamentally changed in the past few decades with the arrival of a number of new nations and there are still many unresolved issues from the North Atlantic to the Urals.
What struck me was just how unique the movement towards Scottish independence is and how no-one has done it our way before. Our movement is singularly civic. There are no issues of ethnicity or culture in Scottish independence that characterized so many of these Eastern European independence movements. There is no sense of grievance at the heart of our independence demands to underpin what we want to achieve. We are not being oppressed by anybody and we are happy and secure with our Scottish identity. The clarion call of our movement is that it is ‘the people who live and work here that are the best placed to make the decisions about our future’. Almost clumsy in it’s design, in it’s modesty, it is absolutely revolutionary.
Being entirely civic, our case has been cerebral rather than emotional. It places the citizen at the centre of the debate and asks him or her to consider a range of external factors to make an informed decision about the possibility of another better future. Being primarily rational, answers are required and a road map and plan must be produced that would offer a prospectus on what an independent country would look like. Hence the impending White Paper, a guide that will offer a fully comprehensive vision on how an independent Scotland would function.
This is the ‘enlightened revolution’ as Kevin McKenna so eloquently described it, and what a fantastic definition of this unique movement. We are choosing our independence because it is rational and the best model available – what a quintessentially Scottish way to construct a revolution! But that doesn’t make it any less revolutionary. We are acquiring a country of our own by discourse and reason, principles of basic democracy and rational argument.
This is also an evolutionary independence. This independence plan has emerged out of the devolution era and the success of running our own Parliament. Placing certain responsibilities under the Scottish people’s control has demonstrated clearly that we run them better, simply because we care more about their success. The rational option therefore is that we will similarly run the ‘full’ set of responsibilities better too. We will also be easing into our independence by continuing with a number of features that we want to retain and which works for us as a nation. This ‘evolutionary independence’ won’t start from a year zero but from a clear trajectory that has almost been predestined by the emergence of a new democratic and culturally secure Scotland
But just because it is civic and enlightened that doesn’t mean that it isn’t transformative and exciting. We are regaining our nation and securing the levers of power and acquiring a country of our own. This is the first time that a country has arrived through this model, and for the sake of future examples, let’s make sure if succeeds.