There is a case for independence. There always has been, ever since the Treaty of Union was signed in 1707. Indeed, when the Jacobite army occupied Edinburgh in the 1745 Rising, Prince Charles Edward proclaimed an end to the “Pretended Union” between Scotland and England – the Union of Parliaments, that is, rather than the Union of the Crowns. If the Jacobites had won, there would have been a reversion to the 1603-1707 arrangement: One Crown, Two Kingdoms – which is indeed what Alex Salmond and the SNP now propose, since they intend to retain the monarchy.
The case has always rested on the belief that Scotland is a distinct nation with a long and proud history. If not a nation “rightly struggling to be free” – for there is no struggle and no servitude – it is one entitled to be independent if it chooses.
This fact has been recognised by the UK Government, which has put no obstacle in the way of next year’s referendum – even though the Scotland Act which established a Scottish Parliament in 1999 reserved constitutional affairs to Westminster. One may remark that this mature and sensible decision contrasts with the refusal of the Spanish government to permit Catalonia and the Basque Country to hold any referendum on independence.