Deprive the people of their national consciousness, treat them as a tribe and not a nation, dilute their national pride, do not teach their history, propagate their language as inferior, imply they have a cultural void, emphasise their customs are primitive, and dismiss independence as a barbaric anomaly.
These are the words Reihnhard Heidrich the Director of the Reich Main Security Office in 1930s. Much has been made recently of how the Mainstream media have been treating the independence debate. However their incapacity to deal fairly with matters of Scottish history and culture is nothing new. Back in the 1992 as a reaction against the Tories wining a Westminster election with no Scottish representation the need for a Scottish Parliament became manifestly clear and the movement towards greater devolution gathered strength. A demonstration was called for the 12th of December which on the day was attended by over 25,000 people, which at the time was seen as truly momentous. One of the groups actively promoting the cause was the Vigil for a Scottish Parliament which maintained a permanent presence outside the gates of the old Royal High School – originally the designated home of the hoped for Scottish Parliament – from the 10th April 1992 till the Labour General Election victory in 1997. Now the Vigil was non-party single issue concept but those involved, and I was one of them, were concerned about how Scottish history has been dealt with in the period since the Union. When the date of the march was decided we were aware that this was in fact a significant anniversary. Precisely two hundred years earlier there had been a Convention of the Scottish Friends of the People held n Edinburgh calling for parliamentary reform. The upshot of this meeting was that a group of men, known thereafter as the Scottish Political Martyrs were transported to Botany Bay for sedition after a series of blatant show trials presided over by the utterly venal Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville who kept an iron grip on all levels of Scottish public affairs on behalf of William Pitt’s Westminster government.
Now anniversaries have long been a staple of the media so it was decided to inform all media outlets in Edinburgh of this significant anniversary. A for page briefing document was put together and delivered by hand to every television and radio station and all newspaper and news agency offices in the capital. The upshot? Nothing. The Radical agitation of the 1790s – which included specific calls for the overthrow of the Act of Union – was not something the MSM wanted to deal with. Or should we consider the matter in the light of the opening quotation above? The simple truth of the matter is that much of Scotland’s history has been deemed unsuitable for public consumption by the Gatekeepers who have so avidly supported the status quo which suits their nest-feathering self-interest so well. Later this year my book Scotland’s Future History? which looks in detail at the process of how our history has been distorted and suppressed, will be published by Luath Press,but for present purposes a couple of instances should suffice to exemplify the pattern.
The role of the Scottish Radicals, of whom Robert Burns was one, in Scotland of the 1790s and their inks to later political agitation has been virtually ignored and it is a telling point that the most significant monument tin Calton Cemetery at the East End of Edinburgh’s Princes Street – the monument to the transported Martyrs which toers over the cemetery and was raised by public subscription in the 1840s – does not even rate a mention on the board at the gate which lists the notable people buried within. There is no need to censor those who are happy to censor themselves.
Heidrich suggests it is a good idea to “propagate their language as inferior”. This is precisely what was done via the Education Scotland Act if 1872 where is was stipulated that the language of education was to be English, effectively disbarring Scots and Gaelic form the education system entirely. This was thought to have finalised the process – which had accelerated during the Enlightenment with those who considered themselves the ‘elite” in Scotland –aping the manners, attitudes and language of the southern ruling class. In later years, once the assimilation of Scotland into Britain was assumed to be complete, it became acceptable to take an inters tin Gaelic and later in Scots. The fact that the languages have survived and are now taught in our schools to some extent is iIlustrative of the virr and smeddum of our indigenous tungs, despite the best efforts of the gatekeeping classes. The languages if Gaelic and Scots were assumed by the Gatekeepers in the 19th century to have been driven from all important areas of society and could be safely left to slowly die out on the tongues of the great unwashed. If you wanted to get on you spoke English – an attitude that has left deep cultural scars across Scotland.
I mentioned that there was a strand of nationalism apparent amongst the Radicals f the 1790s and later but an earlier period of our history also suggests this was nothing new. The representation of the ’45 as a doomed Romantic adventure by the dying remnants of an anachronistic society has long been a cornerstone of British history. The fact that the Highlands were not truly pacified until almost a decade after Culloden, that much of Lowland Scotland was under military occupation till the same time and that Charles Edward Stewart was still actively trying to regain the thrones of his ancestors till the late 1760s have been conveniently ignored by mainstream historians, happy to go along with the notion of British history – which has never been more than English history with a few sops to the ‘fringe’ nations of these islands. And along with this suppression there has been no attention paid till very recently to the reality that many of the Scots who came out in the ’45, from Lowlands and Highlands were heirs to a tradition of nationalism that had built on the resentment of the people to the Union of 1707. Most of the Jacobite leaders at the time would have been happy to have a Stewart king of Scotland, free of all ties to our southern neighbour.
So we should not be surprised that the MSM in Scotland, thirled as they are to the preservation of the status quo, should be so biased, they perceive it to be in their own interest. They have been pro-Establishment for centuries and the Establishment in Scotland has existed on the back of the Union. Hamish Henderson regularly quoted Gramsci saying ’politics follows culture and never the other way round” and there is no doubt that we have seen a Scottish cultural revival over the past few decades. And history is a cornerstone of culture – the more we know of how we have been lied to, the more we are liable to insist on taking control of our own lives, and our own land. Yes independence is about the future but as the old cliché has it, how can you tell where you are going if you know not where you have been?