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    A strong wind of change is blowing in Scotland…

     

    North Berwick Scottish flags © 2007 Scotiana

    North Berwick Scottish flags © 2007 Scotiana

    Dear readers,

    It has escaped nobody that a strong wind of change is blowing in Scotland these days, a wind murmuring echoes of the old Scottish dream of independence, a dream which is not shared by all, far from it.  In  a very  few days each Scot will have to say whether he chooses to remain or not in the United Kingdom actually composed of  England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, thus putting an end to a 300 years old union.  It is actually the 3rd referendum about the status of the Scottish nation within the UK,  following those of 1979 and 1997 but this time the question goes much further than getting more powers from Westminster government. The violence of the seism which is spreading all over Scotland, the United Kingdom and abroad as the countdown for the independence referendum is ticking towards the date of 18 September 2014 is revealing .

    The Kingdom of Scotland fought a series of wars of independence against the Kingdom of England during the 14th century. The two monarchies were in personal union from 1603 (the Union of the Crowns) when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. The two nations were united under one government when Oliver Cromwell was declared Lord Protector of a Commonwealth in 1653, but it was dissolved when the monarchy was restored in 1660. The Kingdoms of Scotland and England united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Great Britain in turn united with the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801 to form the United Kingdom. Most of Ireland left the Union in 1922, later forming the Republic of Ireland. (…)

    A proposal for a devolved Scottish Assembly was put to a referendum in 1979, but this resulted in no change.[9] A narrow majority of votes were cast in favour of change, but the legislation was repealed due to a clause requiring that the number voting ‘Yes’ had to exceed 40% of the total electorate.[9] No further constitutional reform was proposed until Labour returned to power in 1997, when a second Scottish devolution referendum was held.[10] Clear majorities expressed support for both a devolved Scottish Parliament and that Parliament having the power to vary the basic rate of income tax.[10] The Scotland Act 1998 established the new Scottish Parliament, first elected on 6 May 1999,[11] with power to legislate on unreserved matters within Scotland.

    (Wikipedia)

    A few days ago the debate gained momentum when the polls suddenly showed a reversal of the tendency, giving for the first time the lead to the pro-independence side, an event which so far had been considered quite improbable, especially by the Westminster politicians. Given the economic and political interests which are at stake here we can easily understand the big turmoil this news has caused in the UK and elsewhere! But the same news has also created a wave of enthusiasm among those who have cherished the idea of independence for so long. Today, they have found a leader in Alex Salmond, the charismatic SNP Prime Minister who is very efficiently assisted by Nicola Sturgeon, his popular deputy minister, not to mention all the members of a very motivated and dynamic team. Will they win, nobody can tell for the two sides are neck to neck in the polls.

    Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Scottish PM Alex Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Scottish independence: Poll puts Yes in lead

    THE YES CAMPAIGN is ahead in the Scottish referendum battle for the first time, according to a poll, amid signs of infighting among senior figures backing the union.

    The YouGov research for the Sunday Times found 51% supported independence, compared to 49% who wanted to remain in the UK.

    The results are the latest evidence of a dramatic surge for the Yes Scotland campaign, which has seen the gap between the sides – once regularly in double digits – vanish in a matter of months.

    The YouGov poll showed the Yes vote increasing by four points, while No dropped by the same number. (…)

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/scottish-independence-poll-puts-yes-in-lead-1-3533686

    Today the media speak of Alex Salmond’s “Black Wednesday” and the polls announce a new reversal of the tendency…  but what can we expect from the polls?

    No need to say how closely we follow the news, wondering what kind of future Scotland will finally choose, not forgetting that, whatever it be, the final result will make about one half of the Scottish population sad or resentful.

    Alex Salmond and the old woman Source Telegraph 10 september 2014

    Alex Salmond and the old woman Source The Telegraph 10 september 2014

    It’s not the place here to take side though we have our own convictions. Indeed,  they can easily be guessed 😉

    But now, let us try to listen to some of the old stanzas murmured by the wind which blows in Scotland… when you put them together they tell you a very moving story.

    Let us begin with the old song written by Robert Burns, the venerated Scottish bard:

    The lyrics were written by Robert Burns in 1793, in the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where Scotland maintained its sovereignty from the Kingdom of England. Although the lyrics are by Burns, he wrote them to the traditional Scottish tune ‘Hey Tuttie Tatie’ which, according to tradition, was played by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn,[1] and by the Franco-Scots army at the Siege of Orleans.

    (Wikipedia)

    “Scots Wha Hae” (English: Scots, Who Have) is a patriotic song of Scotland written in the Scots language which served for centuries as an unofficial national anthem of the country, but has lately been largely supplanted by “Scotland the Brave” and “Flower of Scotland.”

     

     

    Brownsbank MacDiarmid cottage near Biggar © 2013 Scotiana

    Brownsbank Hugh MacDiarmid’s cottage near Biggar © 2013 Scotiana

     

    The Rose of all the world is not for me
    I want for my part
    Only the little white rose of Scotland
    That smells sharp and sweet – and breaks the heart.

    (Hugh MacDiarmid)

    La rose du monde entier n’est pas pour moi
    Je ne veux pour ma part
    Que la petite rose blanche d’Écosse
    Au parfum doux et vif – et qui brise le cœur.

    (Traduction by Kenneth White)

     

    Kenneth White Portrait on his personal web page

    Kenneth White Portrait on his personal web page

    “Listen to the Voice” wrote Iain Crichton Smith. This is the title of one of his short stories  and that’s exactly what I would  recommend to you, dear readers,  just to listen to the voice of  Kenneth White in his poems, in his books for this  great Scottish-French author opens roads in the chaos of our disillusioned world.  His books have been wonderfully translated into French by his wife, Marie-Claude. I’ve not found the translation into English of Kenneth White’s message to his mother country but I’m sure people who are interested will understand the clear-sighted message which is also a love message 😉

    Pour l’indépendance écossaise
    Le 18 septembre, les Écossais diront « oui » ou « non » à l’indépendance. « Je suis en contact avec le camp du oui », souligne Kenneth White, même s’il a quitté l’Écosse, il y a plus de 40 ans. « La Grande-Bretagne ne m’intéressait plus, il n’y avait plus rien dans la culture. » Pour autant, « je n’ai pas abandonné l’Écosse », s’empresse-t-il de préciser. « Mon oeuvre complète y est en cours d’édition. » Et ses archives en anglais sont déposées à la Bibliothèque Nationale d’Écosse, à Edimbourg.
    Écossais voyageur
    Lui s’inscrit volontiers dans une lignée d’Écossais voyageurs, depuis les moines évangélisateurs du VIe siècle, même s’il ne partage pas avec eux le christianisme, jusqu’à Robert-Louis Stevenson, traversant les Cévennes avec son ânesse Modestine. En passant par des figures comme Scot Erigène, traducteur du grec au service du roi Charles Chauve, Duns Scot et David Hume, philosophes renommés, et George Buchanan, l’un des professeurs de Montaigne. « Je continue cette lignée à ma façon, je suis un Écossais en Europe. » Il se dit partisan de l’indépendance écossaise, « pour des raisons historiques, politiques, culturelles ». Et d’argumenter : « L’union de 1707 était une supercherie. La Grande-Bretagne a mis l’Écosse dans sa poche. L’Écosse était un pays clanique, il suffisait d’acheter quelques chefs. »
    « Partagés entre le coeur et la poche »
    « C’était une provincialisation du pays, avec une caricaturisation de sa culture, une petite poche de pseudo-romantisme, et un terrain de chasse pour des gens fortunés. Une version édulcorée du pays qui est le mien », assène Kenneth White. Qui n’ignore pas que le « non » à l’indépendance est en tête des intentions de vote. « Les Écossais sont partagés entre le coeur et la poche. Ils adorent un film stupide comme « Braveheart » mais ils ont peur que l’indépendance soit un désastre économique pour le pays. Même ceux qui veulent l’indépendance n’ont pas une vision suffisante. »
    © Le Télégramme – Plus d’information sur http://www.letelegramme.fr/cotes-darmor/lannion/k-white-sur-ses-chemins-de-lettres-26-08-2014-10311780.php?utm_source=rss_telegramme&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss&xtor=RSS-52
    The Scottish Parliament & Salisbury Crag in the background © 2006 Scotiana

    The Scottish Parliament & Salisbury Crag in the background © 2006 Scotiana

    Since September 2004, the official home of the Scottish Parliament has been a new Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. Designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles, some of the principal features of the complex include leaf-shaped buildings, a grass-roofed branch merging into adjacent parkland and gabion walls formed from the stones of previous buildings. Throughout the building there are many repeated motifs, such as shapes based on Raeburn’s Skating Minister. Crow-stepped gables and the upturned boat skylights of the Garden Lobby, complete the unique[19] architecture. Queen Elizabeth II opened the new building on 9 October 2004. (Source Wikipedia)
    Hugh MacDiarmid's quoteThe little white rose of Scotland  Scottish Parliament  © 2006 Scotiana

    Scottish Parliament Hugh MacDiarmid’s quote © 2006 Scotiana

     

    Below is a picture of the inside of the Scottish Parliament. It is a cheerful place to debate and we hope to have the opportunity to visit it soon…

     

    Scottish Parliament at Holyrood Source Wikipedia

    Scottish Parliament at Holyrood Source Wikipedia

     

    The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament has seating arranged in a hemicycle, which reflects the desire to encourage consensus amongst elected members.There are 131 seats in the debating chamber. Of the total 131 seats, 129 are occupied by the Parliament’s elected MSPs and 2 are seats for the Scottish Law Officers – the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland, who are not elected members of the Parliament but are members of the Scottish Government. As such the Law Officers may attend and speak in the plenary meetings of the Parliament but, as they are not elected MSPs, cannot vote. Members are able to sit anywhere in the debating chamber, but typically sit in their party groupings.[26] The First Minister, Scottish cabinet ministers and Law officers sit in the front row, in the middle section of the chamber. The largest party in the Parliament sits in the middle of the semicircle, with opposing parties on either side.The Presiding Officer, parliamentary clerks and officials sit opposite members at the front of the debating chamber.
    In front of the Presiding Officers’ desk is the parliamentary mace, which is made from silver and inlaid with gold panned from Scottish rivers and inscribed with the words: Wisdom, Compassion, Justice and Integrity. The words There shall be a Scottish Parliament, which are the first words of the Scotland Act, are inscribed around the head of the mace,[28] which has a formal ceremonial role in the meetings of Parliament, reinforcing the authority of the Parliament in its ability to make laws. Presented to the Scottish Parliament by the Queen upon its official opening in July 1999, the mace is displayed in a glass case suspended from the lid. At the beginning of each sitting in the chamber, the lid of the case is rotated so that the mace is above the glass, to symbolise that a full meeting of the Parliament is taking place.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Parliament

    Next Thursday, in just a week now, we’ll know if the wind of change will have made the old Scottish dream come true…

    I know that much more could have been said about this fascinating page but I’m no expert in Scottish history, only a lover of a country. And whatever the choice, for all of us who do love her,  Scotland will remain Scotland 😉

    A bientôt!

    Our heart is with the people of Scotland!

    Mairiuna.

     

     

    Edinburgh Castle © 2006 Scotiana

    Edinburgh Castle © 2006 Scotiana

     

     

     

     

     

     

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