The SNP and 50 Years of Parliamentary Democracy, some dramatic moments.
Here is the late Arnold Kemp’s account of some of the history of the SNP in the Westminster Parliament starting in 1967. (Excerpted from the anthology of his journalism “Confusion to our Enemies”)
The devolution years really began for me in 1967. It was after midnight and on the Scotsman we were holding the Glasgow edition for the result of the Hamilton by-election. Seconds after the declaration – a stunning victory for the SNP candidate Mrs Winifred Ewing over Labour – David Bradford, one of the political editors, came on the line and bawled out the intro which I took down in longhand and sent to the composing room. I can remember that it began with the phrase, ‘The rising tide of Scottish nationalism ...’ and it expressed the mood of excitement. Mrs Ewing, though she lost the seat later, launched the SNP into the stratosphere of concentrated London media attention and from her victory is often traced the party’s modern prominence.
How Le Monde Sees Brexit and the Scottish Referendum
The week that ‘Article 30’ was triggered by Nicola Sturgeon and ‘Article 50’ was triggered by Theresa May’s letter, I was in France and over a cafe creme each morning, read about it all in Le Monde. This great European newspaper with its painstaking reportage and thoughtful opinion; sophisticated use of photography, and broad agenda of international news, illuminated the situation and it is always interesting to see oursels as ithers see us, as the poet said.
At their meeting in Glasgow, May said to Sturgeon about the referendum call: “Ce n’est pas le bon moment.” Some things just sound better in French. In English her: “Now is not the time,” has a rather nanny-ish ring, it’s one of those circular phrases that May likes. I can imagine a character saying this in Alice In Wonderland and the White Rabbit replying, irritated, looking at his watch: “The time is always now, don’t you know anything?” But “Ce n’est pas le bon moment,” sounds faintly desperate. It reminds me of the Jacques Brel classic “Ne me quitte pas,” with its lines “Oublier le temps..et le temps perdu” (Forget the time and the time that’s past). This song, of course, would also do as a soundtrack for Brexit.
A Thought for the Day the Scottish Parliament Votes for a New Independence Referendum
(Below this piece is a response from Bob Tait, in which he recounts being called a "rootless cosmpolitan" by the poet Hugh MacDiarmid.)
Recently, listening to Radio Four’s ‘Thought for the Day’, a programme that is intended for a moment of religiously-inspired reflection in the morning news cycle, I heard the Reverend Giles Fraser denouncing “rootless cosmopolitans’.I was surprised and horrified as to me this phrase connotes ‘Jews’. It has a history - the ideological separation of non-ethnic Germans from the rest of the population by the Nazi regime.
A video about this blog made by Phantom Power Productions is available here.
March 11, 2017.
Climbing Arthur's Seat on an overcast March day, thinking about politics, I wonder if Nicola Sturgeon is going to call a second independence referendum; if Theresa May is going to trigger Article 50 next week. Holyrood Park is busy - the route to the top is thronged and I hear snatches of conversation in many languages: French, then Polish, French again. A group of fit-looking German men files onto the path above me. It seems to me, returning after an absence of a few months, that Edinburgh increasingly feels like a European capital.
Behind me an English student is entertaining a visitor: “This is ten minutes from campus.” They are arguing about whether the rock paths laid on the hillside to protect it from erosion could be considered natural. “Is an anthill natural? Ants modify their environment.”
US Democrats should learn the lessons of Scotland's Independence Referendum
If the Democrats win the US election convincingly, they should learn the lessons of the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014.
It seems to me now, looking back, that the Brexit campaign was lost on the morning of September 19, 2014. That was when victory was declared for the side which fought to keep Scotland within the UK. It was the morning when triumphant Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne walked onto the steps of Downing Street - and stabbed the Labour Party who had fought alongside them in the back.
The ‘No’ campaign was fought and won largely by the Labour Party. The Tories, who had little support in Scotland, largely stayed out of it. The party political speech that Cameron gave that morning with an eye on the next General Election was the start of the unravelling of the coalition that could have swung the ‘Remain’ vote.
'Yon shadow mile o' spire and vane'. Edinburgh, photo Rob Bruce.
“I do not know much about gods, but I think that the river is a strong, brown god.” I always think of TS Eliot’s line about the Thames whenever I cross it.
The surface of the water is calm. You get no sense from looking at it of the political earthquake that is shaking the UK. That’s the difference between a political earthquake and a real one. You can’t see it, but that doesn't mean it isn’t happening or that its effects are unimportant.
After some time away, I am back in the UK, making the familiar journey from London to Edinburgh by train, the morning after a party.