Today is a day that will go down in Scottish history.
In 20 years time, as we look back on how Scotland became independent, 25th January 2012 will be seen as the starting point. The interviews to the media, the photographs from the referendum consultation launch, will feature in the retrospectives and in the history books. Those images and soundbites will become part of our nation’s story, a well-remembered back drop: the sights and sounds at the very beginning of a process that will change Scotland for good.
This is the most exciting project that any nation can undertake. We have the opportunity to choose a better way forward, to choose the right path for this 21st century.
70 journalists from nations around the globe will be in Edinburgh today to witness events. They know something is happening in Scotland – they can see a nation on the move. I was speaking to one of them yesterday. A man who has witnessed the emergence of many new, independent nations, and indeed, whose own country became independent in living memory. And he used a phrase that has stuck with me:
“Every independence movement has its heroes, men and women who perform herculean tasks for their country.”
Across Scotland tonight are the men and women who will become Scotland’s heroes. The people who will build our new, independent nation. Some will be at the coal face of government, working hard to ensure that on day one as an independent country, Scotland has everything in place, with the firm foundations we need to prosper and grow. Knowing many of these people, I have no doubt that they will be successful in this task.
However, the majority of our independence heroes will not work for the government or for the SNP. But, over these next two and a half years, they will be the people who deliver independence. They will be advocates and ambassadors for independence, making the case in their work places and on the doors.
And, they will have a powerful and winning message: independence will put the people who care most about Scotland, that is the people who live and work in Scotland, in charge of Scotland’s future and Scotland’s success.
No one is better placed to govern Scotland than the people of Scotland themselves. No one will do as good a job, because we have the greatest stake in making our country the best it can possibly be. It really is that simple.