Forty years after the initial Claim of Right for Scotland was signed and triggered the Scottish Constitutional Convention which in turn led to the re-establishment of a Scottish Parliament with devolved powers, 50 cultural heavyweights have united to publish a “manifesto for independence” –a prospectus of “guiding principles” on independence for Scotland.
The manifesto concludes: “It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country. The alternative is to accept that Scotland’s fate would remain in the hands of others and that the Scottish people would relinquish their right to decide their own destiny.”
The signatories include actor Brian Cox, historian Sir Tom Devine, novelist Val McDermid and poet and playwright Liz Lochhead.
Keith Brown, SNP Depute Leader, welcomed the declaration saying:
“This is a very welcome and hugely significant intervention, showing that it is the vision of Scotland as a successful independent country that offers people hope, at a time when the UK Government and Westminster parties have brought only despair.
“It’s clearer than ever that the Westminster system is broken beyond repair. The people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the one being imposed upon us.
“Scotland must have the choice to decide its own future. It’s for the people of Scotland to decide how they are governed – not a Tory party which has been rejected by Scottish voters at every election and is soon likely to be out of office.”
A Declaration for Independence, 2019
It is the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. (A Claim of Right for Scotland, 1989)
Guiding principles for a new and better Scotland
It is the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, now and in the future. In all political deliberations, decisions and actions their interests should be paramount.
– Scotland should be an open and democratic society in which no individual is excluded, oppressed or discriminated against on account of their race, colour, faith, origin or place of birth, physical or mental capacity, sex, sexuality, gender or language.
– Scotland should have a written constitution which clearly lays out the rights of its citizens, the country’s system of government and the relationships that exist between government, its instruments and powers and the rights of individual citizens.
– Scotland should take its place as an independent country on the world stage, free to join international organisations and alliances for purposes of trade and commerce, and for the protection and care of the planet’s natural environment, without which the human race cannot survive.
– Scotland should uphold internationally acknowledged values of non- aggression and self-defence, and should refuse to maintain, stock or use, for itself or on behalf of any other power or government, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction.
– There should be clear separation of the powers of the Scottish parliament and government (the executive). The judiciary should be completely independent of government.
– Independence will provide an opportunity to review and, where necessary, change the systems of both national and local government, in order to make them more accountable to the people and more beneficial to their needs.
– Ownership of land, property and natural resources should be subject to open and democratic scrutiny. The ability of communities, both rural and urban, to own the land in and on which they exist should be enhanced and extended. There should be total transparency in the way property in Scotland is bought, sold or possessed.
– Freedom of speech and action, and the freedom to work, create, buy, sell and do business should adhere to principles of environmental and communal sustainability and responsibility. Profit and economic growth should not be pursued at the expense of the wellbeing of the people or their habitat or that of other people or nations.
– We affirm the values of care, kindness, neighbourliness and generosity of spirit in all our dealings. Such values are the foundation stones of a fair, free and open society where all citizens have the opportunities to lead the best, most fulfilling lives they can.
– It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country.
– The alternative is to accept that Scotland’s fate would remain in the hands of others and that the Scottish people would relinquish their right to decide their own destiny.
These guiding principles are a welcome reminder of the contrast with our unwritten constitution which has led a despot Prime Minister to ride roughshot over the monarch, the House of Commons and the very basic British values which many No voters in 2014 did not want to give up.
Now’s the time and now’s the hour to point out the very difference in approach which an independent Scotland can take going forward.