“UNKNOWN district councillors rubbed shoulders and joined in pledges with the men whose titles had sounded throughout all the history of Scotland.

Working men from the docks of Glasgow or the pits of Fife spoke with the same voice as portly business-men in pin-striped trousers. It was such a demonstration of national unity as the Scots might never had hoped to see.” Thus John MacCormick – “Champion of Scottish Nationalism”, in the words of his 1961 Glasgow Herald obituary – recalling the third Scottish National Assembly called by the Scottish Convention, on October 29, 1949.

A Covenant was launched, to be signed by people who pledged to do all they could to secure a parliament for Scotland “with adequate legislative authority in Scottish affairs.” The Duke of Montrose was the first to sign, followed by civic and church leaders.

As Andrew Marr writes in his 1992 book, The Battle for Scotland, the Covenant “sparked a firestorm of enthusiasm across Scotland, gaining 50,000 signatures in the week after the assembly meeting. Copies for signature were stacked in bakers and fish-shops, university halls and city offices” and at social occasions such as the League of Young Scots’ St Andrews’s Day Ball, in Glasgow (above).

The document eventually was signed by two million people. “MacCormick and his associates,” said the obituary, “had caught the spirit of a great part of Scotland, in revolt against centralisation, austerity and bureaucracy.”