Cause: A History Of Scottish Nationalism, The




Flower of Scotland

"It was a was curiously like Trotskyism actually, and it was something that at that time was a blind alley." The intellectual Tom Nairn on Scottish nationalism in the early 1960's.

Nationalist activists describe how they were regarded as disloyal in a very unionist society and treated with a mixture of contempt and disdain and sometimes outright hostility - one man Gordon Caseley recalls his father's horror when his friend in the Special Branch told him that his schoolboy son had joined the SNP! Billy also traces the rise of Scottish cultural nationalism and the effect of the folk revival that swept Scotland and produced songs like the Corries' anthem "Flower of Scotland" We hear from Mary McCabe and former SNP leader Gordon Wilson of a nationalist pirate radio station called Radio Free Scotland and the SNP's struggle to get recognition for the nationalist movement on radio and television.

We detail the gradual transformation of the SNP from a small, marginalised "sect" to an organised political machine capable of achieving sporadic but spectacular successes such as Winnie Ewing's victory in the Hamilton by election of 1967. Winnie herself describes the

personal abuse she endured at Westminster until Harold Wilson and Emrys Hughes put a stop to it. Profesor James Mitchell of Strathclyde University traces the hostility between Labour and the SNP to this period when Labour was challenged in its former heartland.

The victory though began a seismic shift in Scottish politics which had long lasting effects, bringing thousands into the nationalist camp and dramatically improving the image and profile of the SNP..."a wee nudge of the earth, a wee earthquake" as Jimmy Halliday describes it.

042012101520121231 (RS)


Billy begins with the rousing sound of a brass band playing Scots Wha Hae and the voices of men with pride in their heritage as Free Colliers and patriotic Scots.

"I'm in the the former mining community of Redding near Falkirk where the men of the Sir William Wallace Grand Lodge of Scotland Free Colliers are staging their annual demonstration which began back in the industrial disputes of the 1860's when the cause of working class solidarity once again drew inspiration from the struggle for Scottish independence"

We hear how the story of Wallace inspired Scots through the ages. In modern nationalist history, we focus on the heady years of the early '70's when Gordon Wilson's "It's Scotland's Oil" campaign led to the "high" of the SNP electing 7 then 11 MP's in 1974. We contrast this with the deep depression which emerged following the failure to reach the 40% vote for Yes in the 1979 Referendum. Something akin to Civil War broke out in the SNP with the socialist wing led by Margo MacDonald, Jim Sillars and Alex Salmond vying with the fundamentalist wing of the party for supremacy. The First Minister describes the hurt he felt when he was expelled from the Party, and the "speech of my life" he gave to have him and other members of the '79 Group re-instated. We trace the growing feeling of alienation among Scots of different political persuasion under Thatcher's Tory government leading to a huge surge in demand for a Scottish parliament which culminated in the successful Referendum of 1997. We celebrate the international dimension of Scottish nationalism expressed in Hamish Henderson's song The Freedom Come All Ye which became an anthem for the pro parliament groups in the period.