Saturday, May 26, 2012

Time for a Unionists For Independence campaign?

    It was an bright spring day as well-kent faces from a variety of political backgrounds came together in Edinburgh to sign a declaration affirming Scotland's right to make its own decisions in its own way. No, not the SNP's Yes to Independence campaign on Friday, but the Claim of Right Declaration of Sovereignty in 1989. I've been knocking around Scottish politics longer than is good for me, and I couldn't help comparing the text of the SNP's declaration with the one I saw signed back in the day.

Friday's Declaration of Independence, signed by nationalist celebrities like Alan Cumming and Brian Cox, as well as political figures like the former Labour MP, Denis Canavan, read as follows: “I believe that it is fundamentally better for us all if decisions about Scotland's future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is by the people of Scotland”.

Roll back nearly a quarter of a century and the Claim of Right affirmed “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and [the undersigned] do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions their interests shall be paramount”.

No, they're not identical - the language is different, but the spirit is very much the same. They are both assertions of the sovereign right of a people to determine their future. And it is quite difficult to disagree with either proposition. Though of course the SNP did boycott the Claim of Right, which was signed by all of Labour's Scottish MPs except for Tam Dalyell.