- Paul Henderson Scott has written numerous books on Scottish history, literature and affairs, including 'A 20th Century Life' and its sequel, 'The New Scotland'. He has been Rector of Dundee University, President of the Saltire Society and of Scottish PEN and a Vice-President of the Scottish National Party (SNP). The opinions expressed are his own -
My most recent book of essays had the title, 'The Age of Liberation', because many of them considered the transformation of the world by the recent dissolution of all the empires and most of the multi-national states into their component parts. So far Scotland has been left behind.
This is surprising since Scotland is one of the oldest nations of Europe with a strong cultural and intellectual identity. We have made a remarkable contribution to the world. The American historian, Arthur Herman, in his book, 'The Scottish Enlightenment', said: ”As the first modern nation and culture, the Scots have by and large made the world a better place.”
In 1707 England achieved, what it had failed to do in 300 years of military invasion, the suppression of Scottish independence. Even so, this left intact the Scottish church and the legal and educational systems which for centuries had more influence on intellectual and cultural attitudes than any parliament. This meant that Scotland continued to be a distinctive country, in spite of British involvement.
There have been moves towards the recovery of Scottish independence for about two centuries and they took a decisive step forwards with the restoration of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, although with many powers still “reserved” to Westminster. The Labour Government took this step in response to years of campaigning in Scotland and in the hope that it would satisfy Scottish aspirations.