(63)  Flags in the Wind

Thirty years ago a Scottish flag was a rarity and was invariably printed in the wrong colours. During the Coronation celebrations in 1953 the saltire and royal blue of St Andrew flew proudly above nearly every building in Scotland and strangers remarked that it far outnumbered every other flag on display. … Flags as well as straws show the way the wind is blowing. Movements of the spirit, springing from the most deeply rooted sentiments of the people, can never be denied their goal. There is no doubt in my mind that long before the end of this century the Parliament of Scotland will once more be opened with ancient pomp and ceremony and that in this new age the representatives of her people will make her a valued partner in the British Commonwealth and an ideal ground for experiments in human progress. The promise implicit in her long history will yet be fulfilled. Meantime the struggle goes on. We fight, not against oppression from without, but against the private ambitions and narrow partisanship of our own politicians. It has been a long race but the last lap is now to come. (Dr John MacCormick, The Flag in the Wind (1955), 198) There shall be a Scottish Assembly. … A referendum shall be held .. on the question whether effect is to be given to the provisions of this Act. .. If it appears to the Secretary of State that less than 40 per cent of the persons entitled to vote in the referendum have voted ‘Yes’ or that a majority of the answers given in the referendum have been ‘No’, he shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council for the repeal of this Act. (Scotland Act 1978, ss 1(1) and 85). There shall be a Scottish Parliament. (Scotland Act 1998, s 1(1); also inscribed on the mace of the Scottish Parliament). The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened. (Winifred Ewing MSP, opening the first sitting of the Scottish Parliament following the swearing-in of the MSPs on 12 May 1999) The past is part of us. But today there is a new voice in the land, the voice of a democratic parliament. A voice to shape Scotland, a voice for the future. … A Scottish parliament. Not an end: a means to greater ends. (Donald Dewar, First Minister, replying to the Queen’s speech at the official opening of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999)