Leader: An independent spirit

The idea of Scottish independence is an ancient one – fought for on the battlefield of Bannockburn seven centuries ago and cherished by many ever since. The fight goes on as the referendum approaches next year and the political campaigns get under way. However, as the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie points out on page 30, independence is not necessarily synonymous with nationalism. True independence is exactly that – the ability to determine one’s own destiny, to support or boot out political parties at will, to speak freely. And no group in society embodies the spirit of independence more instinctively than its artists. In recent months, through campaigns and articles, protests and letters, Scotland’s writers and poets have powerfully resisted the devolved government’s attempts to co-opt them to its ends. They have shown that the value of art is not in its political or economic capital but in its existence for its own sake. There is surely no greater sign of independence than that.

This article first appeared in the 04 February 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The Intervention Trap