Sean Connery died today at the age of 90. Much is being written on behalf of Hollywood with little reference to the famed actor’s ardent support for the just cause of democratic renewal, the right to self-determination, and Scottish independence. Reflecting his Scottish working class roots, he put his sentiments into action.
In 1992 he read the now-famous “Democracy Declaration of Scotland” before the massive ‘Scotland Demands Democracy’ demonstration held in Edinburgh, December 11 and 12, 1992 (pictured below). More than 30,000 people participated and endorsed the Declaration by acclamation. The Democracy Declaration united the new movement for a Scottish Parliament in the 1990s.
Along with campaigning for and financially supporting the Scottish National Party, he backed the anti-war movement at Faslane, the US-British Trident nuclear submarine base on the Clyde just 30 miles from Glasgow and the largest British military base (of some 134) north of the border.In one such action on February 12, 2001, anti-nuclear protesters blockaded the entrance to the Faslane and brought the base to a standstill. More than 300 protesters, including George Galloway MP, were arrested during the demonstration. This protest had the backing of both Sean Connery and Emma Thompson. Although he could not attend the demonstration in person, he gave his backing to the demonstrators from the Trident Ploughshares campaign. “I cannot be with you in person because of filming commitments. But be assured that I am with you in spirit and give you best wishes for your demonstration and your just cause,’’ Connery told former Scottish National Party head Alex Salmond by phone.
He used his fee for Diamonds are Forever of several million dollars to establish the Scottish International Education Trust.
On retaining his accent, he said, “I am not an Englishman, I was never an Englishman, and I don’t ever want to be one. I am a Scotsman. I was a Scotsman and I will always be one.”
On Scottish independence, he affirmed “I’ve always been hopeful about Scotland’s prospects. And I now believe more than ever that Scotland is within touching distance of achieving independence and equality.”
His most famous statement was: “My position on Scotland has never changed in 30-odd years. Scotland should be nothing less than equal with all the other nations of the world.”
On the class system and entitlement, he said “I just think that the most difficult thing to displace is privilege.”
He also knew bourgeois politics in Scotland were unquestionably skewed, once saying: “There’s something fundamentally wrong with a system where there’s been 17 years of a Tory government and the people of Scotland have voted Socialist for 17 years. That hardly seems democratic.”
Sean Connery was inconsistent in his stands. The nationalist became a British Knight, getting down on his knees before Queen Elizabeth II, which he rationalized was bestowed in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, the struggle that he upheld – for the independence of Scotland – is objectively a revolutionary struggle, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines British imperialism.
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The Democracy Declaration of Scotland (1992)
Posted below is “The Democracy Declaration of Scotland” drafted by Common Cause on behalf of the Organising Committee for the massive “Scotland Demands Democracy” demonstration (pictured) at the European Summit held in Edinburgh, on December 12, 1992. More than 30,000 Scottish citizens accepted the Declaration, read by Sean Connery, by acclamation. It was also endorsed by civic organisations including the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Scottish Churches, the National Union of Students, Common Cause and Democracy for Scotland, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Scottish National Party. The Democracy Declaration united the new movement for a Scottish Parliament and democratic renewal in the 1990s.
Text of the Declaration
A warm welcome to Scotland, one of Europe’s oldest nations. The Edinburgh Summit is the latest event in a long history binding Scotland to its European neighbours.
Today we share with you a commitment to Europe’s democratic future. Scotland’s ancient Parliament was adjourned in 1707, before the birth of modern European democracy. Since that time Scotland has remained a nation with its own separate legal system and national institutions. Today the majority in Scotland demand the recall of our own Parliament as a modern and democratic body empowering all our citizens.
And yet you have come to a nation denied democracy by the present British government. At the April 1992 General Election in Britain, 75 per cent of Scottish voters supported parties calling for a Scottish Parliament. A government that won only 25 per cent of the Scottish vote, with only 11 out of 72 Scottish Members of Parliament, ignores this clear majority for constitutional change in Scotland.This government now imposes its minority policies on Scotland through an executive Scottish Office with more civil servants than Brussels, yet with no Scottish legislature to examine or pass such policies. The people of Scotland face problems and opportunities which can best be dealt with by our own Scottish Parliament. We know of no other nation placed in such a predicament and you can surely understand why we are calling for a constitutional referendum to enable democratic renewal within our country.
We recognise that on the Summit Agenda is the issue of the definition and implementation of the principle of subsidiary. Let it be brought to your attention that subsidiary – decision-making at the level closest to the people concerned – is being denied to the people of Scotland by the British state. It limits subsidiary to relations between London and Brussels and seeks to remain the most centralised state in the European Community.For us, however, the claim to our Parliament is not a matter to be left to interpretation but is ours of right – the right of national self-determination. The central issue at stake is that of sovereignty. The unwritten British Constitution, founded on the notion of the absolute sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament, gives Scotland no constitutional right of democratic control over its own affairs, let alone provides the right of national self-determination or fundamental individual rights for its citizens. This concept of sovereignty has always been unacceptable to the Scots constitutional tradition of limited government or popular sovereignty. Today, in the modern world, it is no longer acceptable in practice to us.
Therefore we call upon the people of Europe and the Government leaders at the Summit to recognise Scotland’s right to self-determination – the right to our own Parliament. We have voted for this right, we have asked for a referendum – now we appeal to you to raise our claim with the British Government as a matter of principle. We have now an historic opportunity of a peaceful and democratic assertion of our national right. There is no issue of violence or of ethnicity. For us rights are means as well as an end in itself. The recognition of our right causes no harm to any other nation or people. We invite the President of the European Parliament to consider our case by meeting a representative delegation from Scotland.
At the heart of our nation’s history, at the centre of Europe’s future, lies rule by consent of the people. The call of our times is that of democratic renewal. When the eyes of the world are upon our capital, Edinburgh, we are confident that the peoples and governments of Europe will recognise the appeal of its host nation. We therefore raise our demand without fear or favour – Scotland demands democracy.