Referendum campaign begins with a bequest from Edwin Morgan

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by a Newsnet reporter

The SNP set out the roadmap to independence today as Angus Robertson MP, Director of the Independence Referendum campaign revealed the party has ring-fenced a £918,000 legacy left by Scotland’s late Makar Edwin Morgan for the party’s campaign for independence.

by a Newsnet reporter

The SNP set out the roadmap to independence today as Angus Robertson MP, Director of the Independence Referendum campaign revealed the party has ring-fenced a £918,000 legacy left by Scotland’s late Makar Edwin Morgan for the party’s campaign for independence.

Edwin Morgan was the last survivor of the seven Scottish poets of the 20th century whose work signalled a rebirth and renewal of Scottish culture and confidence.  A poet of international standing, Edwin Morgan’s work was broad and all-encompassing in its scope and range, fuelled and informed by his love for Scotland and humanity.  

In 2004 Edwin Morgan was awarded the title Makar of Scotland and wrote a poem to commemorate the opening of the new Scottish Parliament building.  He died in 2010 at the age of 90.  Edwin Morgan’s poetry and translations themselves are a bequest to the Scottish people and the world, but shortly after his death it was revealed that he had left a bequest of almost £1 million to the SNP to be used to help secure a ‘yes’ vote the referendum campaign.

The bequest was confirmed for the first time as the SNP Conference came to a close in Inverness.  Telling conference that the referendum campaign is starting Angus Robertson said:

“Today we are announcing that the independence referendum campaign is starting.  We will work as hard as possible in an unprecedented national campaign to secure the majority ‘yes’ vote for a sovereign independent Scotland.”

“We will galvanise and motivate our members and supporters; work with the many supporters of independence with no party affiliation and in other parties; engage with different sectors of society to build confidence and optimism in the independence case and reach out within our communities, door by door, street by street in the most unprecedented campaign of mobilisation and communication by the SNP and in the history of Scottish politics.”

Confirming the bequest Mr Robertson said:

“As the First Minister said yesterday Edwin Morgan didn’t wear his politics on his sleeve but he has left this party a legacy which is transformational in its scope and which we will put to use campaigning to build a better nation.”

“Today I am delighted to confirm that Scotland’s independence campaign has been generously supported by the late, great Scots poet and Makar Edwin Morgan with a substantial contribution of £918,000, which is ring-fenced for the referendum campaign.”

“In appreciating this financial generosity we are inspired by the words of Edwin Morgan, who wrote the formal poem for the opening of the new Scottish Parliament building:

When you convene you will be reconvening, with a sense of not wholly the power, not yet wholly the power, but a good sense of what was once in the honour of your grasp.

All right. Forget, or don’t forget, the past. Trumpets and robes are fine, but in the present and the future you will need something more.”

“Edwin Morgan was absolutely right: we need something more, which is independence. We are indebted to him for his inspiration and his financial support.”

“With these resources we are going to be able to properly support campaign efforts on the ground, in our communities the length and breadth of Scotland.”

“Support for independence has moved into the lead and the people of Scotland want to be persuaded.  Scotland’s independence campaign starts now.” 

“Scotland, it’s starting.”

You can visit the campaign website here: http://www.scotlandforward.net/

Poem for the Opening of the Scottish Parliament

by Edwin Morgan

Open the doors! Light of the day, shine in; light of the mind, shine out!

We have a building which is more than a building.

There is a commerce between inner and outer, between brightness and shadow, between the world and those who think about the world.

Is it not a mystery? The parts cohere, they come together like petals of a flower, yet they also send their tongues outward to feel and taste the teeming earth.

Did you want classic columns and predictable pediments?  A growl of old Gothic grandeur?  A blissfully boring box?

Not here, no thanks!  No icon, no IKEA, no iceberg, but curves and caverns, nooks and niches, huddles and heavens, syncopations and surprises.  Leave symmetry to the cemetery.

But bring together slate and stainless steel, black granite and grey granite, seasoned oak and sycamore, concrete blond and smooth as silk – the mix is almost alive – it breathes and beckons – imperial marble it is not!

Come down the Mile, into the heart of the city, past the kirk of St Giles and the closes and wynds of the noted ghosts of history who drank their claret and fell down the steep tenements stairs into the arms of link-boys but who wrote and talked the starry Enlightenment of their days –

And before them the auld makars who tickled a Scottish king’s ear with melody and ribaldry and frank advice –

And when you are there, down there, in the midst of things, not set upon an hill with your nose in the air,

This is where you know your parliament should be

And this is where it is, just here.

What do the people want of the place?  They want it to be filled with thinking persons as open and adventurous as its architecture.

A nest of fearties is what they do not want.

A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want.

A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want.

And perhaps above all the droopy mantra of ‘it wizny me’ is what they do not want.

Dear friends, dear lawgivers, dear parliamentarians, you are picking up a thread of pride and self-esteem that has been almost but not quite, oh no not quite, not ever broken or forgotten.

When you convene you will be reconvening, with a sense of not wholly the power, not yet wholly the power, but a good sense of what was once in the honour of your grasp.

All right. Forget, or don’t forget, the past.  Trumpets and robes are fine, but in the present and the future you will need something more.

What is it?  We, the people, cannot tell you yet, but you will know about it when we do tell you.

We give you our consent to govern, don’t pocket it and ride away.

We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern well, don’t say we have no mandate to be so bold.

We give you this great building, don’t let your work and hope be other than great when you enter and begin.

So now begin.  Open the doors and begin.