The fight for the ordinary


by Andrew Barr

The fight for independence is not a movement towards the extraordinary but to the ordinary. Scotland is yet to reach a level of normality that recognises the sovereignty of the people. It is not privileged to have received devolution, nor is it to be grateful for a parliament it should never have lost. Independence provides integrity through self-governance. It provides sovereignty for the people to do what is best for the community. These national rights, indeed, these international rights, have been lacking in Scotland for over 300 years.

The independence cause is not a narrow and inward view of Scotland but one that reaches beyond the context of the British establishment and considers our place in the society of the universal. Throughout history people have campaigned for causes that are universally basic: justice, equality, and democracy. The Nationalist movement in Scotland is the same movement which swept the Empire from India in the 1940s and the same which led to the liberation of many of the near 200 nations which coexist on the planet today. Each movement works within unique circumstances but all are centred on the sovereignty of the people and the assertion of a right to democracy. To challenge the legitimacy of an independent Scotland is to challenge the legitimacy of every nation that is free and self-governing.

Now for the first time in more than 300 years a sense of ambition, optimism, and confidence for the Scottish nation has been voiced by its electorate. The campaign for hope and progress is now so firmly rooted in the modern narrative of Scotland that the fear and doubt of Unionism grows fainter by the day. As Home Rule campaigner James Barr MP once wrote: “Her story is one of continual struggle towards better things; of the passion for freedom bequeathed from sire to son, from age to age; of great achievements wrought, and even fresh stages of advancement won, in the onward, upward march of a great people’s progress.”

It has been a slow movement, but one that has carried through and won the hearts and minds of the Scottish public. Generations of poetry and politics have accumulated to this very moment in our history; this moment by which time devolution had been designed to wipe Nationalism from Scotland altogether. It is, in so many ways, an extraordinary fight for the ordinary. In the words of the Indian nationalist hero Mahatma Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”