Sunday, 9 September 2012
The 20th century was to be the most significant period in Scottish political history since the Treaty of Union in 1707, especially from the end of World War I onwards.
Entente Cordiale and the Auld Alliance
In 1906 a treaty was agreed between the United Kingdom and France. This treaty, better known as the Entente Cordiale, also formally dissolved the treaty made in 1295 between Scotland and France (the Auld Alliance).
'French rights in Scotland were dissolved in 1906, but the French government declared that the terms of previous Franco-Scottish treaties remained valid in French law for every Scot alive at the time of the Entente - meaning that a Scotsman born before 1907 would possess the full rights and privileges of Franco-Scottish nationality.'
SOURCE: 'The Auld Alliance: 'still in vigour'?' by Dr. Siobhan Talbott in 'history SCOTLAND' magazine, Vol. 12, No. 1, January/February 2012, p. 6.
Liberal Government and Scottish Home Rule
'During the Liberal governments from 1906 onwards, a Government of Scotland Bill was almost an annual event, and the Liberals could unquestionably have carried such a bill through if they had really meant business, but the matter was not regarded as one of urgency.'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, p. 127.
An event in Glasgow, following World War I, very quickly resulted in the name 'Red Clydeside' being used. Blatant political misinformation led to an over-reaction by the British Government which was to have far-reaching consequences.
'The emergence of 'Red Clydeside' and the Labour breakthrough was only one part of the realignment of Scottish politics after the Great War. The most decisive feature was the complete collapse of Liberalism as an effective electoral force...Ironically, Labour itself owed much to pre-war Liberal radical policies for reform of the land, education, housing and Scottish Home Rule...
Scottish Labour was reformist rather than revolutionary, but the troubles on the Clyde during the war had raised the spectre of the 'Red Menace', despite the fact that the conflict was about pay and conditions rather than the founding of a socialist utopia by means of a workers' uprising...A 40-hour strike had been called to support the demand of the Scottish Trade Union Congress that the working week should be cut to help reduce unemployment which was increasing as demobilisation accelerated. The strikers were trying to prevent the removal of wartime regulation of wages and control of rents. The strike culminated in a mass demonstration of around 100,000 people in Glasgow's George Square which ended in a 'riot' as the police charged the crowds with drawn batons. The evidence suggests that there was no revolutionary conspiracy, despite the flaunting of the red flag, and that the disorder was sparked off by police over-reaction. This however, was not how the government saw it at the time. The Scottish Secretary advised his Cabinet colleagues that the situation in Glasgow was not a strike but a 'Bolshevist rising'. That day, 12,000 troops were sent in, six tanks in the Cattle Market and machine-guns were placed at the post office and the hotels. Glasgow was an occupied city.
The strike soon petered out and the 40-hour week was not granted. However, 'Bloody Friday', as it soon came to be known, had important longer-term political effects.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, pp. 313-315,
'The upshot was what Gallacher was to christen 'The Revolt on the Clyde', in effect a series of incidents mainly involving the engineers between 1915 and 1919. The most important of these were the 'tuppence an hour' strike in 1915, the struggles over the Clearance Certificates demanded under the Munitions Act before a man could leave his job, and over 'dilution' - i.e. the limited employment of women in certain mass-production munitions jobs like making fuses and shells. It culminated in the disruption of a meeting held by Lloyd George to convince the CWC shop stewards and their sympathizers of the necessity and importance of dilution, followed by the suppression of Tom Johnston's 'Forward' for reporting the incident accurately, and the deportation of the leading shop stewards to Edinburgh in February 1916. Thereafter there were no more troubles until after the end of the war.
There was, however, a dramatic post script in January 1919, when the CWC called the 'forty-hour strike' in support of a claim for a shorter working week to avert postwar unemployment. The unsuccessful attempt to make this a general strike of the Glasgow workers, and a subsequent riot when police charged a large demonstration of strikers in George Square who were thought to be interfering with the power supply for the tramcars, was enough to persuade the Secretary for Scotland that he was dealing with a Bolshevist rising (it was, after all, scarcely a year since the Russian Revolution). Next day, the citizens of Glasgow woke up to find six tanks in the Cattle Market, a howitzer at the City Chambers and machine-gun nests at the hotels and the post office: 'It was a strange experience to see...soldiers who were not from the front but walking the streets to hold us in check.' [H. McShane, 'No Mean Fighter' (London, 1978), p. 107]. Emmanuel Shinwell, the seamen's leader, who spent a month in prison for allegedly inciting the crowd to riot, recalled that the troops 'had nothing much to do but chat to local people and drink their cups of tea' while the officers 'complained about fraternization with the "enemy"' [E. Shinwell, 'I've Lived Through It All' (London, 1973), p. 46].
But Glasgow was obviously not Petrograd, or even Berlin, and it never could have been.'
SOURCE: 'A Century of the Scottish People 1830-1950' by T.C. Smout, pp. 265-266.
1903 - 1947:
'Prior to the outbreak of war in 1914, the Liberal Party had been the principal, but not exclusive, champion of Scottish Home Rule...but was mainly a consequence of the pressures brought to bear on the leadership by party activists and organisations such as the Young Scots Society...However, by the end of the war in 1918, the resultant social, economic and political changes induced by the exigencies of the wartime situation, effectively sealed the fate of the Liberal Party's hegemony in Scotland...It was against this background of political turmoil and change, that the decision was taken to reform the prewar Scottish Home Rule Association in September, 1918.'
SOURCE: 'Independent and Free: Scottish Politics and the Origins of the Scottish National Party 1918-1945' by Richard J. Finlay, p. 1, ISBN 0-85976-399-4.
SHRA to National Party of Scotland
NOTE: From here on, in order to avoid unnecessary repetition, throughout this part of the post, due to the number of extracts from the same source, I have decided to group them together only specifying the full source with the first extract in each section and thereafter only the page number.
'It was only by May, 1919, that the Association felt confident enough to hold its first public meeting...
It was believed that the SHRA would be non-political in the sense that it would appeal to, and receive support from, a wide spectrum of Scottish society. Muirhead [Roland Eugene Muirhead] argued that the issue of Home Rule was of such importance that it would transcend normal party politics, and act as a unifying force which would bind together people who disparate political beliefs into a common cause.
However, the reality of the situation was quite different, as can be seen from the initial composition of the hierarchy of the SHRA which was predominantly made up of Labour Party interests.'
SOURCE: 'Independent and Free: Scottish Politics and the Origins of the Scottish National Party 1918-1945' by Richard J. Finlay, p. 2,
'Also, after the General Election in 1922, the Labour Party appeared to be able to win power, and with this prospect came the belief that the party which had a long-standing commitment to self-government, would enact the necessary legislation,' - p. 3,
'The popular definition of Home Rule within the SHRA was that it was something akin to Dominion status, but with Scotland still playing a full part in the running of the British Empire. Indeed, many believed that Scottish self-government was part of the process in the evolution of the British Commonwealth of Nations ideal...Developments in the British Empire were a major influence on the ideas which formed the postwar Home Rule movement:' - p. 4,
'From the outset, the SHRA stressed that Home Rule would not mean a lessening of commitment to the British Empire. Also, the extent of self-government was strictly limited to domestic Scottish affairs only.' - p. 5,
'The use of nationalistic rhetoric was a speciality with Labour politicians when addressing large audiences who...responded enthusiastically to the demands for a redress of Scottish grievances. Many Clydesiders blamed their lack of progress in attaining social legislation on the fact that Westminster was slow and cumbersome and bound down by English traditions. According to George Buchanan, what had taken seven months to complete in Parliament could have been done in seven hours in Scotland.' [George Buchanan speaking in Paisley, January, 1927. 'Scottish Home Rule', February, 1927.] - p. 9,
'...the MP for Gorbals, George Buchanan, had obtained through the private member's ballot a chance to put a Home Rule bill on the statute book...As soon as the news reached the Association, several activists took it upon themselves to prepare a draft bill and this was done without the authority or knowledge of the Labour Party. [Scottish Home Rule, April, 1924] It was proposed that once a Scottish Parliament had been set up, there would be a withdrawal of Scottish MPs from Westminster...However, although many members of the Labour Party accepted this long-term vision of Home Rule, they would not at this stage, countenance any Scottish withdrawal from Parliament as this would seriously weaken their position...' - pp. 10-11,
'At this stage in his career, MacDonald [Ramsay MacDonald] had no enthusiasm for the self-government cause as he was too busy with foreign affairs and other domestic problems...he believed that the best remedy for Scottish grievances was the action taken by a Labour Government in Westminster and not a separate Edinburgh Parliament. [Daily Record, 9th January, 1929] The net effect of the failure of Buchanan's Bill was that it led to a lack of confidence in the abilities of the Labour Party by SHRA activists...In response to this setback a Scottish National Convention was set up in November, 1924, by the Association.' - p. 13,
'In October, 1925, suggestions were mooted within the Association that the time was ripe for the formation of a national party. In December, 1925, Muirhead's brother, Robert, put forward the argument for the creation of a nationalist party on the grounds that the British political organisations were not interested in Scottish affairs, and that the only way to overcome this obstacle was to put into Parliament a body of MPs whose first and foremost commitment was to obtaining Home Rule. ['Scottish Home Rule', December 1925, p. 53] Those members of the SHRA whose loyalty lay with the Labour Party dismissed the idea as impractical.' - p. 15,
'In contrast to such lukewarmness, the activists in the SHRA believed that this was the most thoroughly prepared of all Home Rule Bills [the 1927 Bill] yet submitted. ['Scottish Home Rule', November, 1927] ...On 7 May 1927, the Bill was debated for only 45 minutes, after which the Speaker refused to allow a vote in view of the short period of discussion and, consequently, it was dropped. ['Scotsman', 8th May, 1927] ...as far as the Home Rule activists were concerned, it was the last straw, and it stiffened their resolve to find an alternative policy. Within the SHRA, one body came increasingly to the forefront in the call for independent political action. 'The Scottish National Party Group' announced its existence in October, 1927...' - p. 19,
'The activists had come to the conclusion that Home Rule was being sacrificed for party interests and more importantly, many now believed that the Labour Party was hostile to their intentions.' - p. 20,
'In many respects the Scots National League was the most important of all the inter-war nationalist groups, especially with regard to the future development of Scottish nationalist philosophy...Much of the relevance of the SNL's thinking to modern Scottish nationalism is accountable by the fact that many similar problems such as unemployment, de-industrialisation, housing, state welfare, the Scottish Assembly, or lack of it, etc., have continued up until the present [the book Independent and Free was published before a devolved Scottish Parliament was established in 1999]...the League advocated the creation of a new Scottish party which was to be set up solely for the purpose of obtaining Scottish self-government...The fact that many other nationalists had come round to the SNL's way of thinking was borne out in 1928 with the creation of the National Party of Scotland, whose raison d'etre was the League's dictum that political independence for Scotland could only be achieved by a party set ip specifically for that purpose.
The Scots National League was formed sometime during the year of 1920.' - pp. 29-30,
'In the years from 1920 to 1924, the Scots National League began to take steps to build a philosophy which explained and justified the role and necessity of Scottish nationalism.' - p. 35,
'The main reason for the League's initial failure was the inability of the leadership to grasp the political realities of the day. Much of the outlook of the early SNL was shaped by 19th Century and pre-First World War ideas about Scottish nationalism, which was romantic, backward looking and largely apolitical.' - p. 47,
'Gibson [Tom Gibson], who was more inclined to the centre of the political stage, was sceptical of the Labour Party's future pledges on Home Rule, because they had blown a perfect chance and seemed none too perturbed about it...No British political party, he stated, would ever secure Scottish Home Rule as this went against English imperial aspirations...' - p. 48,
'Gibson was confident that the SNL's uncompromising attitude would ultimately be vindicated, and that all those in favour of Scottish self-government would come to realize that the only way to obtain their objective was through the League or some other tailor made Home Rule party.' - p. 49,
'Reform within the context of the Union was not considered as a viable policy option by the League, because they believed that, in many important aspects, the economic interests of the two countries were diametrically opposed to one another.' - p. 61,
'Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the SNL and other nationalist groups was the priority they gave to the question of national sovereignty. Although the League often talked of Home Rule and self-government, what was really meant by these terms was full political separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom.' - p. 65,
'Initially, members of the SHRA thought that the best way to forward their cause would be to sting the Labour Party into action: 'The fact is that the most effective way to get the Labour Party or any other Party to take Home Rule, in earnest, is to show it that votes will be lost if neglected. Even if a Scottish National Party never became strong enough to carry Scottish Home Rule on its own effort, its existence might well prove to be just the stimulus required to make the Labour Party move'.' [Robert F. Muirhead 'Scottish Home Rule', August, 1926 p. 17] - p. 71,
'The National Party of Scotland was not born in a blaze of glory, but rather experienced a slow and painful birth, which was bedevilled by suspicion and procrastination by members from all the interested parties.' - p. 73,
'On the 11th of February, 1928, a meeting of all the main nationalist groups was held under the presidency of John MacCormick with the objective of narrowing down the areas of potential disagreement...It was also agreed that 'the object of the new Party shall be attained by putting forward national candidates at Parliamentary and local government elections, independent of the present political parties, and by the presentation of a nationalist programme for Scottish affairs'.' - pp. 76-77.
NPS to Scottish National Party
'The initial tolerance of the party leadership towards the Fundamentalists can be partially explained by the fact that the National Party virtually held a monopoly over nationalist political aspirations until the creation of the Scottish Party in June, 1932.'
SOURCE: 'Independent and Free: Scottish Politics and the Origins of the Scottish National Party 1918-1945, by Richard J. Finlay, p. 87,
'By June, 1930, the National Party had begun to make electoral inroads by securing 10.1% of the vote at a by-election in Shettleston and subsequently secured a respectable 13% in November at East Renfrewshire. This by election resulted in the party saving their deposit and was seen by many to herald a new era in Scottish politics.' p. 88,
'The failure of the National Party to make any significant electoral breakthrough in the early years of the 1930s, coupled with a decline of interest amongst the political mainstream Home Rulers led to an exacerbation of the inherent divisions within the NPS.' - p. 91,
'Although most moderates were prepared to accept this as a fact of political life, they were shocked into a dramatic reappraisal of their political strategy when in June, 1932, the Scottish Party emerged to challenge the National Party for control of 'moderate' nationalist opinion.' - p. 93,
'MacCormick [John MacCormick] astutely recognised this area as the Scottish Party's principal weakness, because the National Party was the only organisation which was prepared to fight elections on the self-government issue, and until their nationalist opponents resolved to do otherwise, they would be no more than impotent vocal detractors; a condition that was not conducive to gaining mass support.' - p. 99,
'MacCormick went on the offensive and advocated ideas that stressed the similarities in principle among nationalists rather than harping on about their differences in policy: 'The National Party, like all Home Rulers, believes in separating the affairs of Scotland from those of England, and placing them under a Scottish government'.' ['Scots Independent', January, 1933 p. 34] - p. 103,
'Donaldson [Arthur Donaldson] was one of those who believed that the party should hold out for complete independence even although, in the short term, this would not prove electorally popular. He and others argued that the process of independence might take a long time and that the party should take the lead in educating people to the nationalist cause.' - pp. 106-107,
'As far as Fundamentalists were concerned, the Scottish Party was a bulwark of British imperialism which was out to circumvent true national independence. They argued that the devolutionist proposals would leave Scotland with a political status similar to that of Ulster and as such, they believed, was incompatible with thr party's objective to secure 'independent national status within the British group of nations'.' - p. 113,
'The Fundamentalists' campaign failed in its objective, and merely drew attention away from the activities of MacCormick who was conducting illicit negotiations with the Scottish Party. However, it is important to emphasize that many in the National Party did not link the attack on the Fundamentalists with overtures of moderation to other groups.' - p. 115,
'The initial reluctance of members of the right wing nationalist camp to support the NPS was a result of their concern at the separatist and anti-British Empire tendencies expressed by the Fundamentalist wing of the National Party. However, such a loose sense of identity of interests meant that the Scottish Party displayed a whol series of ambivalent attitudes when it came to offering themselves as the alternative, moderate nationalist party.' - p. 129,
'The principal problem with the Scottish Party, they argued, was that it was not completely independent from other political groups in the same way as the NPS was. Also, it was pointed out that the SP had yet to give a united statement as to the status a future Scottish Parliament would have in relation to Westminster and Gibson was suspicious that it would not have the same powers as the one advocated by the National Party.' - p. 141,
'For many in the National Party the result was a vindication of the change in policy towards a more moderate, or as it was preferred to be known, 'common sense' nationalism. On the surface it appeared that by combining forces, the two parties could achieve greater electoral support than either could attain on their own.' - p. 150,
'With this major stumbling block removed, the next stage was for each party to pass the following resolutions at their respective annual conferences:
(1) The establishment of a Parliament in Scotland which shall be the final authority on all Scottish affairs including taxation. (2) Scotland shall share with England the rights and responsibilities they, as mother nations, have jointly created and incurred within the British Empire. (3) In a manner representing the will of her people, Scotland should set up jointly with England, machinery to deal with these responsibilities and in particular with such matters as Defence, Foreign Policy and the creation of a customs union. (4) It is believed that these principles can be realized only by an independent political party which has no connection or alliance with an English controlled party.'
- p. 153,
'Once the resolutions were passed the following subsidiary resolutions were also framed for submission, the first to the Scottish Party and the second to the NPS:
(A) This Conference of the Scottish Party, following upon the acceptance of resolution I, both by this Conference and by the Conference of the National Party of Scotland, resolves to unite with the name of 'the Scottish National Party'.
(B) This Conference of the National Party of Scotland, in as much as Resolution I had been passed by both this Conference and by a Conference of the Scottish Party, hereby resolves to unite with the Scottish Party, and in pursuance of that resolution to amend Clause I of the Constitution to read name: The Scottish National Party.'
- pp. 153-154.
SNP - Towards Electoral Success
'The Scottish National Party effectively moved back to the Scottish Home Rule Association's dictum that the conventional political divide could be overcome by the unifying force of the demand for self-government. However, the difficulties of adopting such a strategy soon came to the forefront when the party tried to come to terms with the political realities which were now facing them.'
SOURCE: 'Independent and Free: The Origins of the Scottish National Party 1918-1945' by Richard J. Finlay, p. 156,
'The reality of the merger was that the NPS did not join with another organisation, but rather, accepted a new body of leadership which fused with the old one to produce a distinctive change in nationalist direction. However, it has to be emphasised that the National Party of Scotland had been moving down this road under its own volition for some time and that the creation of the SNP was merely the finishing touch to a long and tortured process.' - p. 157,
'When the Scottish National Party was officially launched on the 7th of April, 1934, the new Chairman, Sir Alexander MacEwen, immediately set the tone for the new organisation. Despite the problems of the merger, most members were confisent about the prospect of success for the new party and its ambition to obtain self-government.' - p. 162,
'Throughout the first six months of the life of the SNP, branch activity flourished with an increase in the number of special events and speaking tours which culminated in an autumn campaign designed to be the first salvos in a general election contest. Throughout this time, there was a steady increase in the number of new branches formed which, again, is another indicator of a party in expansion...Contrary to what many historians have hitherto believed, the Scottish National Party, with its buoyant membership, high morale and increased organisational network, was better placed than any of its predecessors to make electoral inroads towards the goal of self-government.' - p. 164,
'It is of little surprise therefore, to find that one of the party's first actions was to issue a statement clarifying their attitude towards Fascism and the nationalist dictators:
The Scottish National Party is opposed to Fascism and dictatorship in any shape or form, being fully persuaded that it is repugnant to the ancient Scottish ideal of liberty and repudiates the suggestion, implicit in Fascist policy, that Parliamentary government on democratic lines has proved a failure and maintains that until Scotland has resumed self-government Parliamentary government in Scotland on modern lines has not been tried. [Minutes of the National Council of the SNP, 1st of June, 1934, page 90.]'
- p. 165,
'There was an urgent need for the Scottish National Party to expound their theory of nationalism and differentiate it from the national chauvinism which was now threatening world peace, much to the electorate's alarm.
The starting point for such an elaboration was to emphasise that Scottish nationalism belonged to the same family as those of the small nations of Europe whose ideas were liberal, tolerant and progressive. This was in contrast to the nationalism of the major powers which was strident, aggressive and prone to territorial aggrandisement. As such it was condemned outright:
If the policies of Hitler and Mussolini and Japan are Nationalism: then Nationalism is indeed a world danger of the first magnitude. ['Scots Independent', April, 1934, page 87.]'
- pp. 165-166,
'From the beginning, nationalists argued firmly in favour of government intervention as a means to stimulate economic growth and although there were flaws in the capitalist system, they did not believe that it was fundamentally wrong. What was required, they stated in frequent and various articles, was the need for the Government to fine tune and regulate the economy in order to avoid the usual pitfalls associated with the capitalist system, especially unemployment. In rejecting a class orientated view of economics while, at the same time, not accepting outright the doctrine of laissez-faire, the nationalists, although propounding something similar to the Liberal Party, were able to produce a distinct economic policy which they hoped would contrast favourably with those of the Tory and Labour parties.' - pp. 167-168,
'Unnecessary conflict and confrontation were to be avoided as the whole community was expected to pull its weight in solving the country's problems:
The Scottish National Party makes no appeal to class interests, to sectional or sectarian preludices, or to worn out political creeds. It takes its stand on the urgent necessity for all men and women of goodwill in Scotland to unite in the work of national redemption. ['Scots Independent', July, 1934, p. 135]'
- p. 168,
'Also, the objective of the party was shortened and simplified to 'Self-government for Scotland', with all other subsidiary clauses concerning the Empire and Commonwealth removed. The idea behind this was to remove all frippery and there was a forlorn hope that somehow this would prevent disputes if it was not there.' - p. 188,
'By the beginning of 1937, the divisions between the left and right of the party had largely become meaningless as the SNP became more firmly a left of centre political organisation. Most of the prominent former members of the Scottish Party had either left the party or had ceased to play an important role in its organisation.' - p. 191,
'In January 1939, the creation of a Scottish National Convention was announced, which was the result of two years of negotiations carried out by John MacCormick on behalf of the SNP.' - p. 199,
'In September 1940, John Taylor, the Scottish Secretary of the Labour Party, published an article in which he outlined proposals for Home Rule after the war. [These proposals were reprinted in the 'Scots Independent', September, 1940, p. 3.] MacCormick responded warmly to these favourable utterings anf formally put forward the case that self-government would be best served by the setting up of a united Scottish Front.' - p. 217,
'The principal SNP demand concerning the Convention was that it would also press for a plebiscite on the self-government question once the war was over. Again this was in keeping with MacCormick's philosophy of trying to find the quickest and least painful way of establishing Home Rule, and it also had the benefit of circumventing the direct use of political parties by making the issue the primary concern of a specific popular ballot. It was hoped that the other political organisations would support this proposal and it was made known that the SNP would refrain from contesting elections against official candidates who were prepared to commit themselves to the plebiscite idea.' - p. 218,
'MacCormick's ruse worked and the Labour Party was forced to call a meeting at which they gave the necessary assurances that they were prepared to support the SNP's proposals for a plebiscite and cross-party cooperation on the issue of post-war reconstruction. The nationalists grabbed their opportunity with relish and, after John Taylor had stated quite emphatically that MacEwen's challenge would present them with problems, one of the Labour delegation, Baillie MacKinlay, was humiliatingly dressed down and made to publicly recant on his earlier statement that Home Rule was 'nothing more than a political obstruction at the present time'.' - pp. 219-220,
'MacCormick wanted assurances from Labour that their plans for nationalisation of key economic assets would not mean total centralised control from London. Also, he wanted a more emphatic commitment to the setting up of a separate Scottish Parliament which was democratically accountable, rather than what appeared to be being proposed, the enlargement of the Scottish Grand Committee.' - pp. 222-223,
'Labour interest in the united front began to peter out as Johnston [Tom Johnston] presented an alternative to self-government in the form of his 'strong man in the cabinet'.' - p. 226,
'McIntyre [Robert McIntyre] was a disciplinarian and had decided that the party's tendency towards factionalism had to come to an end. From now on the SNP would project its aims and would under no circumstances modify its approach for the sake of short term expediencies. The emphasis was placed firmly on the necessity of converting the public to the nationalist point of view. ['Scots Independent', January, 1943, p. 6.] - p. 234,
'However, the SNP was now formulating distinct policies on a whole range of issues and - unlike previous times - was going to stick to them. This, in turn, would help to reinforce their political identity.' - p. 238,
'The extent to which the McIntyre line had been taken on board can be illustrated by the fact that preparations were soon under way to formulate an electoral strategy for the forthcoming general election which was expected some time in 1945. By the middle of 1944, the modern Scottish National Party had clearly begun to take shape.' - p. 239,
'Democracy fulfilled a central role in this philosphy and McIntyre was determined that the SNP should be directed by pragmatism rather than ideology: 'Every Scot must have an effective voice in government and must be sufficiently independent, from an economic point of view, to exercise his democratic rights in freedom, without fear of the state, the combine or laird'.' - p. 240,
'The mixture of social responsibility and the rights of the individual was to become the hallmark of future nationalist philosophy and proved to be the ideal weapon to challenge the centralising tendencies of the wartime administration. Furthermore, it was different from what was on offer from the other parties and not only helped to distinguish them in the public's eye, but helped to reinforce their own sense of political identity. Whereas Scottish interests were often over-ruled or not taken into account by British establishments, the SNP was able to use McIntyre's philosophy as the rationale to justify their action in highlighting local grievances.' - p. 241,
'In many ways Robert McIntyre's election on the 12th of April 1945, marks the beginning of the modern Scottish National Party as we know it today. Although there would still be difficulties and disputes in the future, they were never as serious as the ones which dogged the movement up until 1942. Also, the fundamentals of SNP strategy and identity had been firmly established. The objective of independence, in the sense that a self-governing Scotland would not have any limitations placed on its sovereignty, was firmly enshrined.' - p. 242,
In 1947, thirteen years after it was formed, the SNP agreed a constitution -
'...members remained resolved that their direction was the correct one and enshrined it in an official constitution in 1947. [This is reprinted in full in Hanham pp. 213-231.] ' - p. 243.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
The 19th century had started with a further expansion of the Union which brought Ireland into it. The failure of the planned risings in Scotland and Ireland had the effect of causing a cessation of Radical political activity - but only temporarily. The reaction of the British Government was still fresh in the memories of republicans. What political activity there was during the nineteenth century was mainly related to the Industrial Revolution. There was to be an event in 1820, details of which came to light in 1970, and even today in 2012 these details are still widely unknown.
'No full-length study of the uprising had ever been attempted; in fact, hardly anyone in Scotland had even heard of the event. It had been deleted almost entirely from Scottish historical consciousness.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, from the Preface to the 1989 Edition, p. 1,
'Our knowledge of the event and the personalities involved has continued to expand. Prior to this volume's first appearance, the events of April 1820 had almost been deleted from Scottish history. Even after publication, the event was regarded with some discomfiture by certain sections of academia. Perhaps there was a feeling of guilt that such an important event had previously been ignored by historians. In an apparent attempt to justify this, a few scholars have tried to downplay the insurrection and its significance.
Two aspects of therising seem to particularly increase scholastic discomfiture.
Firstly, the fact that it was an aim of the Scottish Radicals to set up a separate parliament in Edinburgh has been met with sceptical posturing. Yet this aim was clearly spelt out by Glasgow Police Chief, James Mitchell, in his letters to the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, of March 18 and 29 1820.
Secondly, a few scholars,...have baulked at accepting any widespread involvement of Government agents provocateur in instigating the rising. Again, this is simply a denial of clear primary source evidence.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, from the Preface to the 2001 Edition, pp. xi-xii.
1803 - 1902:
Early 19th Century
In 1812 there was an industrial strike by weavers throughout Scotland. This industrial action came after weavers had proposed wage rates which were ruled by a court to be "moderate and reasonable", employers, however, decided not to accept that decision. This was the trigger for the emergence of the Scottish Radical movement.
'On October 29, 1816, it was estimated that 40,000 people attended this first massive Scottish Radical demonstration - which became known as the Thrushgrove Meeting.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 103.
'The Glasgow gathering in October 1816 at Thrushgrove on the outskirts of the city attracted an estimated 40,000 people, the greatest political assembly that had ever taken place in Scotland.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 224.
'The swing to Scottish Radicalism was spectacular and Richmond and his fellow agents were busy trying to stir up some form of unconstitutional protest among the Radicals in order to give the Government a legal excuse for the suppression of the movement.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 105.
'After lying almost dormant for a year following the farcical High Treason trials in 1817, the Scottish Radical movement was growing stronger than ever before. Paisley, the centre of the weaving trade in Scotland, was also the main centre of Radicalism.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 115.
'The red cap of Liberty made a startling reappearance at a Paisley meeting for reform, and five thousand regulars were marched into the south-west. Young Radicals had begun their military training in 1819, but the movement was weak and ill-armed, and its leaders did not think a rising would be possible before 1821. The establishment could not wait this long and on March 21, 1820...it arrested all twenty-eight members of the hopeful Provisional Government...Since they had been careful to keep most of their names and much of their activities secret, the body of the movement was unaware that its head had been removed.'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by James Prebble, p. 319.
The Radical Rising
'THE SCOTTISH INSURRECTION OF 1820 was predominantly a gregarian Radical uprising born out of the social evils of the time...But as well as the Radical reform aspect, there was also a strong Scottish national aspect, for it was the intention of the 1820 Radicals, as well as that of The Friends of the People, in the early 1790's, and their successors, the United Scotsmen Societies, to dissolve the Union of Parliaments between England and Scotland of 1707 and "to set up a Scottish Assembly or Parliament in Edinburgh".'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 36.
On 1 April, 1820 a proclamation, in the name of the 'Committee of Organisation for Forming a PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT' was posted on the walls of buildings in Glasgow as well as in the towns and villages of several other counties.
'Reading the proclamation, Hunter made a mental note for the editorial jeader which he was to write in his newspaper the next day. He noticed that in one paragraph the proclamation referred to Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, which were not part of Scottish history. To Hunter this seemed to suggest that the author was an Englishman, because a Scot would naturally refer to the Declaration of Arbroath in the place of the English Magna Carta. As later events were to show, this was a highly significant fact.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 25.
'ON MONDAY MORNING, April 2, 1820 , the effect of the call for a "Liberty or Death" uprising could be seen across the whole of South-West Scotland. In obedience to the command of the "Provisional Government" almost all the labouring population had abandoned their work and where any remained, agents from the various Radical Committees compelled them to stop. Even in Glasgow "this was done openly". From Stirling to Girvan, seventy miles from east to west, and from Dumbarton to Lanark, forty miles from north to south, all the weavers, mechanical manufacturing and labouring population became idle and the Radical Committees began to make preparations.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 146.
'The trials for High Treason were actually held under English Law and not Scottish Law, contravening the Treaty of Union of 1707.
These records are now held by the Scottish Record Office, referenced as "JC 21".'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, from the Preface to the 1989 Edition, p. 7.
'The trials for treason which followed were held in defiance of bitter protest, and in violation of the Treaty of Union, for they were conducted by English law and prosecuted by an English barrister. Of twenty-four men and boys sentenced to death, all but three were eventually transported for life. These three were weavers: James Wilson,,,Andrew Hardie...and John Baird...'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by James Prebble, p. 320.
Middle to late 19th Century
After the trials the aims of the Radical movement faded until later in the 19th century. There was a brief attemptin the 1850's when the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights was formed in 1853.
'But the National Association also demonstrated how feeble political nationalism was in the 1850s. It lasted for only three years and was wound up in 1856:...'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 287.
'On the other hand, 1886 saw the foundation of the Scottish Home Rule Association. The agitation of the 1880s did not produce Home Rule, but it did produce a Secretary for Scotland in 1885...'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, p. 126.
'In 1885 the office of Secretary of Scotland was revived, the Scottish Office established in London and a Scottish Standing Committee was set up in 1894 to consider all Scottish legislation. In addition, a Scottish Home Rule Association was founded to campaign for a parliament in Edinburgh. Between 1886 and 1900, seven Scottish Home Rule motions were presented to parliament. Those submitted in 1894 and 1895 gained majorities but failed because of a lack of parliamentary time.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, pp. 307 - 308.
Friday, 20 July 2012
'By the early eighteenth century, Scotland was a kingdom in crisis. Her economy had been severely weakened by a series of major harvest failures beginning in 1695. The 'Lean Years' of the 1690s were compounded by the catastrophic failure of the Darien Scheme and the attempt to establish a Scottish imperial outlet, the colony of Caledonia, on the Isthmus of Darien. Deliberately sabotaged by the combined efforts of the English East India Company, the international financial markets at Amsterdam and King William, it is estimated that almost 25% of Scotland's total liquid capital was lost in the Darien venture.'
SOURCE: 'The Last Scottish Parliament', BBC, paragraph 1.
1703 - 1802:
'1703-5 ANTECEDENTS OF THE TREATY OF UNION
...England, in 1701, had settled the succession on the Hanoverian line, but no such provision had been made in Scotland. This meant that on Anne's death, either the personal union might be dissolved or the relations between the two countries could be revised. The Scottish parliament which met in 1703 could not be controlled by the court, and it passed acts, which contained threats that Scotland would pursue an independent foreign policy and might appoint a different successor from the successor to the English throne. England retaliated in 1705 with the Alien Act, which declared that, until Scotland accepted the Hanoverian succession, all Scots would be treated as aliens in England and the import of cattle, sheep, coal and linen from Scotland into England would not be allowed; this measure stimulated the Scots into appointing commissioners to treat for union.'
SOURCE: 'Scottish Historical Documents' by Professor Gordon Donaldson, pp. 265-266.
Treaty of Union (1707)
'The English had decided to insist on 'incorporating union' at all costs. The Scots had a preference for some sort of federation, but they had no clear scheme for this, and the obvious foreign example of federation, the Netherlands, did not provide an encouraging model...There was not available in 1706 a formal study of political institutions, or a wealth of written constitutions to consider as examples.'
SOURCE: 'A History of Scotland' by Rosalind Mitchison, p. 308
'Professor Lodge, an English historian and pro-Unionist, admits...that:
"They [the English Government] had commercial inducements to offer and the ruin of Scottish agriculture to threaten, and by a judicious combination of bribes and menaces, they succeeded in bringing about the negotiations of 1706."
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 42, ISBN 0 85976 519 9.
'1706-7 THE ARTICLES OF UNION
Commissioners representing Scotland and England sat from 16 April 1706 to 22 July, when the Articles of Union were signed. The Articles were debated in the Scottish parliament from 3 October 1706 to 16 January 1707, when they were ratified with only minor changes. The English parliament then likewise adopted them and they received the royal assent on 6 March.'
SOURCE: 'Scottish Historical Documents' by Professor Gordon Donaldson, pp. 268-269.
All of the commissioners representing Scotland were appointed by Queen Anne and, apart from one of them, were in favour of an incorporating union with England. During the period in which the Articles of the proposed Union were being debated by the Scottish parliament there were riots throughout Scotland.
There is a widespread belief that the failure of the Darien venture was directly responsible for the Scots decision to treat for Union with England. That is a myth. It is quite clear that the cause of the Treaty of Union in 1707, between Scotland and England, was, in actual fact, the Alien Act of 1705.
The Company of Scotland, which was formed in 1695, was initially set up for the purpose of trading with Africa and the Indies. After this was blocked it became the focus of a Scottish attempt to found a colony on the Darien isthmus. The following is an extract from Article XV of the Treaty of Union in 1707 -
'...This 'Equivalent' is to be devoted to...(b) payment of the capital (with interest) advanced for the Company of Scotland (which is to be dissolved)...'
SOURCE: 'Scottish Historical Documents' by Professor Gordon Donaldson, p. 271.
'Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was 'contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom'.'
SOURCE: 'The Last Scottish Parliament', BBC, paragraph 18,
'Parliament was adjourned on 25th March and the Estates were ordered to reconvene on 22nd April. No such meeting appears to have taken place and on 28th April the Scottish Parliament was dissolved by proclamation.'
SOURCE: 'The Last Scottish Parliament', BBC, paragraph 15.
'The Estates met for the last time on March 25, 1707.'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by John Prebble, p. 285.
'Furthermore, there were grounds for believing that England might impose a military solution in order to safeguard her northern borders if the union project failed. Godolphin made veiled threats to this effect and, as has been seen, troops had been stationed in the north of England and reinforcements also sent to northern Ireland.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 16, ISBN 0-713-99351-0.
'England was not going to permit a disruption of the existing union, and the scanty and ill-trained Scottish regiments could not have resisted Marlborough's veterans.'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, p. 57.
'Yet the Scots made a grave miscalculation. They thought of the treaty as a written constitution, and, even with all the concessions they had obtained, they would not have accepted that an omni-competent parliament had power to abrogate provisions which they fondly imagined to be 'fundamental and essential'...But the theories of English constitutional lawyers prevailed, and the union has proved to have no more sanctity than any other statute...The list of violations of the treaty is already a long one and always growing longer...The fact is that, contrary to the beliefs and hopes of those who framed it, the treaty of union has proved to be a scrap of paper, to be torn up at the whim of any British government.'
SOURCE: 'Scotland: The Shaping of a Nation' by Gordon Donaldson, pp. 58-59.
After the Union
'But Union froze many Scottish institutions in the attitude, or stage of development, of 1707, and made it hard for them to adapt in the next hundred and twenty years...Scotland was to suffer from undergovernment, and in particular from a lack of legislation for a long time.
...in the work of Parliament, it was rare for a Scottish model to be preferred to an English one, even when, as for the instance of the Scottish system of banking, it was a better one.'
SOURCE: 'A History of Scotland' by Rosalind Mitchison, pp. 312-313.
'In response to the abortive Jacobite rising of 1708, the new United Kingdom parliament in 1709 extended the draconian English law of treason to Scotland against the concerted opposition of the Scottish members in the Commons.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 18.
The first attempt, other than the failed rising in 1708, to dissolve the Treaty of Union was in 1713 -
'To the Scots this was the climax of a whole stream of provocative actions which threatened to break the union. Scottish peers and members of the Commons came together in a series of meetings and agreed that the only solution was repeal of the treaty. What was remarkable was the unanimity of all the parties on such a fundamental issue...The motion was put by the Earl of Findlater in the House of Lords in June 1713 and was only narrowly defeated by four proxy votes.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Nation 1700-2000' by T.M. Devine, p. 20,
'In June, 1713, the Scots peers introduced a bill to repeal the Union. It was narrowly defeated, but it is doubtful if anyone would have known what to do had it passed. The horse was gone, and there was no stable door.'
SOURCE: 'The Lion in the North' by John Prebble, p. 285.
With regard to Scottish Independence the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 must be treated with a degree of circumspection. While assurances were given by James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) regarding dissolving the Treaty of Union in 1707 it is more likely that the main aim in the 1715 rising was the restoration of a Stuart to the thrones of Scotland and England and in 1745 to the British throne.
'...and the far more dangerous Shawfield riots in 1725 in Glasgow over the enhanced malt tax...Only Glasgow rioted...but the towns all over Scotland were ready to join in and every sign points to this being a movement of national resistance.'
SOURCE: 'A History of Scotland' by Rosalind Mitchison, p. 326.
Towards the end of the 18th century, following the French revolution and the American War of Independence, there was an increase in political societies founded on the philosophies of these events.
'In Scotland, the move to this way of thinking was a more gradual one. Nevertheless...succeeded in forming a movement based on the lines of the first United Irishmen societies, called the Friends of the People. This was, at first, a reform movement but its leaders were republican almost to a man. They were quite open in advocating the repeal of the Union with England, which made them "nationalists" as well.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A' Ghobhainn, p. 56,
'By the spring of 1797 the United Scotsmen had spread rapidly, completely taking over from the Friends of the People.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 75.
'The year 1798 proved a fateful one. It was in January of that year that the Government learnt the truth of what was about to happen in Ireland and Scotland. Their informers told them that the United Irishmen and the United Scotsmen were going to set up separate republics in Ireland and Scotland.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 80.
Treaty of Union (1801)
In June 1800 the Treaty of Union, which expanded the existing Union of England and Scotland (Wales having been incorporated into the realm of England in 1284 following military conquest) to include Ireland, was agreed. That Treaty came into effect on 1 January 1801 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
'At first the Irish Parliament rejected the Union when it was put to a vote in 1799...The Union of the British and Irish Parliaments in 1800 cost the Government of Britain more than a million pounds in bribes...Thus the majority of the 300 members of the Irish Parliament were "persuaded" to vote for Union either by blackmail, financial gain, or the enticement of higher position.'
SOURCE: 'The Scottish Insurrection of 1820' by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn, p. 83.
There is a misconception that the United Kingdom was created through the Treaty of Union in 1801. That is incorrect. The term United Kingdom was used for the first time, as part of the formal name, in that treaty, however, the United Kingdom was initially created through the Treaty of Union in 1707. The term is used a number of times in the Articles of the 1707 treaty.
Thursday, 12 July 2012
'Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.'
SOURCE: Constitution of the Scottish National Party.
The case for Scottish independence is better understood when it is put in the context of actual historical facts and not the negative, distorting and selective arguments of its opponents. I have attempted to provide such a better understanding by spreading the most pertinent historical facts (mainly using extracts and specifying sources) over five periods of time -
Part 1: 1603 - 1702
Part 2: 1703 - 1802
Part 3: 1803 - 1902
Part 4: 1903 - 2002
Part 5: 2003 - 2012