The uncomfortable past

Is there any point to Neil Oliver? Asking for 5 million friends. The windswept hirsute one has been in the news again for all the wrong reasons. Actually that’s tautological, because the chairperson of the National Mistrust for Scotland is never in the news for the right reasons. This is after all the man who called the first independence referendum a “hate-fest”, and who described the possibility of a second one as a “cancerous presence”. Neil’s always been very keen on defending the British state from any threat to its continuing existence or its reputation.

The reason he’s swept his hair and flounced into the papers this week is because of his big take from the scenes of protesters in Bristol toppling the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston and rolling it into the water – in an echo of the slaves who were tossed overboard from his ships when they died or fell gravely ill due to the appalling conditions on board. Neil responded by making the trite, and another word that rhymes with trite, observation that the events were “filmed on iPhones by people wearing T-shirts both made by modern-day slaves.”

Neil thought about the African people who were ripped away from their homes for the profit of rich British merchants, sold as livestock, and shipped across the ocean on a death ship and if they were lucky to survive they’d live out the rest of their lives under the whip, toiling away in cane fields, cotton fields, and tobacco fields, or sexually exploited and abused by those who profited from their misery.  If by some chance they managed to create a new family they could see their children torn out of their arms and sold like cattle. Neil decided that this was totally the same thing as working in a factory in China for a shitty wage. And this is a guy who makes history documentaries for the BBC. Next month, we can see Neil’s take on the abominations of the slave trade, in which he discusses the connections between whipping, rape, slavery, and iphones.

Odd how he seems to be more angry about a statue than he is about black people being killed by the police. Actually no, it’s not odd at all. If you’re more angry about a statue than you are about black people being killed by the police and the systemic racism which pervades our society, then you’re a part of the problem. In Neil’s case it’s because he can’t handle anything that puts his beloved Britishism in a poor light. Because he’s not a nationalist, you understand. Oh no. Not at all. He’s British, and that gives him a free pass from the evils of nationalism.

According to Neil, removing the statues of racists, oppressors, and exploiters of human beings from our public spaces is just one step away from the guillotine. The usual message from the apologists for colonialism is that we can’t change the past. However this overlooks the vitally important point that we can indeed change how we look at the past. It was not too long ago that the likes of Edward Colston, whose statue was dragged down in Bristol, was uncritically hailed for his contributions to his native city, while everyone conveniently overlooked the fact that he was only ever in a position to make those contributions because he conspired to exploit, despoil, rob, and torture abroad. The benefits that he brought to Bristol were on the back of African deaths and misery.

Scotland has its own share of Edward Colstons. Our cities are full of streets named for colonialists, for slavers, for those who enthusiastically exploited their fellow humanity for personal gain and for the glory of the British Empire. Andrew Buchanan, who gave his name to Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, and Archibald Ingram, who gave his name to Ingram Street, made their money from slave plantations in Virginia and the Caribbean. They were amongst the infamous Tobacco Lords for whom the city’s Merchant City district is named. They grew wealthy from slave labour. The beautiful buildings in Glasgow’s city centre were built from money sweated out of slaves with blood, tears, and misery.

The imposing building that stands on Queen Street, formerly the Stirling Library and now the Gallery of Modern Art, was originally built as a mansion for William Cunninghame in 1780 at a cost of £10,000 (approximately £1.5 million in today’s money). Cunninghame’s wealth came from the tobacco grown on slave plantations in Virginia. Glasgow only has this beautiful building, which continues to enrich the cultural life of the city, because of the sacrifices and misery of generations of enslaved Africans. Yet nowhere in Glasgow is there any public recognition that the city was enriched by the labour of slaves. What is true of Glasgow is also true of other towns and cities in Scotland.

Scotland has a unique place in the history of colonialism. As individuals Scots were enthusiastic participants in the exploitation, theft, dispossession, genocide, and oppression which created the British Empire. In the process many came into immense wealth and accrued great power. Yet at the same time the majority of ordinary people in Scotland were being exploited and oppressed at home. The Clearances represented an act of ethnic cleansing which was not all that different from the dispossession of peoples from their land in other parts of the British Empire. The victims of the rural clearances – both Highland and Lowland – were for the most part crowded into the slums of those cities whose middle classes were being enriched by the exploitation of the Empire abroad. The less privileged became cogs in the machines of industrialisation, living short and brutal lives characterised by poverty and despair. The British state manufactured a Scotland founded upon religious discrimination, and created an underclass out of Scots of Catholic and Gaelic heritage in order to divide and rule the populace and keep Scotland safe for the Empire. Scottish culture and language were denigrated, despised, and oppressed. Scotland was simultaneously coloniser and colonised.

For Scotland confronting our past means confronting our dual role as both coloniser and colonised, as both oppressor and oppressed. It means looking under the stone where the British nationalist origins of sectarianism are hidden. It means learning the truth of the Clearances and the internal colonialism that the British Empire inflicted upon this land of ours, and remembering that the glories of the empty Highlands exist only because they were cleared of humanity, of our grandparents several times removed. It means accepting that Scotland’s wealth and architectural glories derive in no small part from the exploitation and oppression of people abroad. It means learning that Scotland isn’t just a victim but was also a victimiser. We were cleared from our lands in Scotland, and went on to clear others off their lands in Australia or North America. We lived in the misery of the industrial slums in Scotland, and enslaved and exploited others abroad.

We can’t confront our past while we uncritically celebrate slavers and oppressors in our street names, with statues, and whose beautiful buildings adorn our cityscapes unrecognised as objects created from pain and misery. It takes a dramatic event such as toppling a statue to force people to confront uncomfortable truths. The Scottish past contains much that is uncomfortable, both for British nationalists and for those in the independence movement who would prefer to paint a picture of a Scotland that was forever a victim. The reality is far more complex, far messier, far less cosy.

No wonder Neil would rather we didn’t examine it critically. Confronting the ugly reality of what the British Empire did abroad also means confronting the reality of what it did at home here in Scotland.  His beloved Britain doesn’t come out of the story well.

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105 thoughts on “The uncomfortable past

  1. The sensitivity of the likes of the Flouncer betrays their fundamental insecurity. Their Union is so fossilised and weak that it can no longer tolerate any diversity or challenge. Some on the indy side still appear to hold it in undue awe – and true, a cornered rat is at its most desperate – but we should no longer believe that it is omnipotent. On the contrary, it is hollowed-out and vulnerable, as its own proponents increasingly demonstrate (to those able to see).

    It’s time to pull back the curtain on the fake old Wiz of Oz, Dorothy!

  2. I’m not a fan of pulling down statues because of who these people were, I’m more in the strike big plaques with the true history of the individual and place them at the foot of every statue of every person involved, and in that way we both educate and disallow the memory to be erased to be rewritten all over again by the same type of people who put them there, a bit like Zoo really, educate todays people by not eradicating the past

    Neil Oliver, well this is a man more a problem to himself than others, the history of Neil Olivers imaginings is legendary, as are his descriptions of it
    Can we place a plaque on Neil Oliver, perhaps not, but in a way why would we, what’s the point of a clown if they don’t clown, Zoo maybe?

    • I agree. The statues are our history. It is illogical to condemn a person from our past with modern day attitudes which did not exist for the majority at that time. Tearing down a statue is in my view historical vandalism.

      I feel some people commenting on this issue are just grandstanding to show how righteous they are. Most people will be like me and abhor racism. I have dropped two good acquaintances in the last year when they kept repeating racist comments in my presence. This is how you attack racism, not mouthing off about historical statues.

      • I totally agree with you Andy / Dr Jim. Put plaques in place outlining their dirty deeds. Leave them in place for our children / grandchildren as a visual reminder not only of the individual in question but of the mindset of the ruling elite at the time (and now). Change the offensive street names / hospitals / buildings in Scotland and replace them with the names of our own local heroes.

    • Rather than destroy them, we could move the statues to a disused industrial estate, and line them up to create a Walk of Shame. The proceedings from the entrance fee would be used for social justice projects.

    • Not a plaque for Neil. Digitally reimagine his work by placing a traffic cone on his head as he walks around Cambuskenneth Abbey, etc.

    • I’m with you on not tearing down the statues that stand in our towns, cities and countryside of those who carried out selfish, despotic, inhumane or murderous acts back in history, but rather, permanently affix plaques detailing the true and appalling acts carried out by these individuals in pursuit of wealth, at the dreadful cost to fellow human beings.

    • I heard that a petition was raised to have a plaque put on the Colson statue. Nobody could agree to the wording and after years of heated debate they handed the petition back to the community. Perhaps this will concentrate their minds.

  3. Perhaps worth noting that Oliver is not a historian, he’s an archeologist. A discipline (if discipline is appropriate) where scant, physical remains are interpreted to derive conclusions on the functioning of past cultures. This “interpretation” is inevitably influenced by the social norms of the day. To be a “successful” archaeologist (obtain State funding) the individual must reflect the political perspective of the State (British).
    James MacMillan is another fine example. Ner’ worked a day in his life but extracted a handsome salary for life as the loyal, British, Court composer.

    • Interesting information there, David, from Professor Kate Williams. So many decent people in Bristol sidestepped for monster Colston.

  4. The Uncomfortable present
    This from Wiki, and is by no means exhaustive. How did these families accrue and hold on to their great wealth?
    Answers of a post card please.

    .The Queen Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh and Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire
    The Duke of Rothesay Birkhall, Abere

    Duke of Hamilton Lennoxlove House, East Lothian Hamilton Palace, Brodick Castle, Dungavel House, Kinneil House, Cadzow Castle
    Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway; Bowhill House, Selkirk and Boughton House, Northamptonshire Dalkeith Palace, Midlothian and Montagu House, London
    Duke of Lennox and Duke of Gordon Goodwood House, West Sussex Gordon Castle, Huntly Castle, and Richmond House, London
    Duke of Argyll Inveraray Castle, Argyll Rosneath Castle, Argyll
    Duke of Atholl Blair Castle, Perth and Kinross Dunkeld House, Perth and Kinross
    Duke of Montrose Auchmar, Stirling Buchanan Castle, Stirling
    Duke of Roxburghe Floors Castle, Scottish Borders
    Duke of Sutherland Mertoun House, Scottish Borders Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, Trentham Hall, Staffordshire, Lancaster House, London.
    Duke of Fife Elsick House, Kincardinshire and Kinnaird Castle, Brechin


    Marquess of Huntly Aboyne Castle, Aberdeenshire Huntly Castle
    Marquess of Queensberry London Kinmount House
    Marquess of Tweeddale Edinburgh Yester House, East Lothian
    Marquess of Lothian Monteviot House and Ferniehirst Castle, Roxburghshire Newbattle Abbey and Blickling Hall
    Marquess of Bute Mount Stuart House, Bute Dumfries House, Cardiff Castle, Bute House, Luton Hoo, Lansdowne House.
    Marquess of Linlithgow Hopetoun House, South Queensferry

    Countess of Sutherland Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland Forse Castle and Skibo Castle
    Earl of Crawford Balcarres House, Colinsburgh, Fife Crawford Castle
    Earl of Mar St Michael’s Farm, Great Witley, Worcestershire Kildrummy Castle, Mar’s Wark and Doune of Invernochty
    Earl of Erroll Woodbury Hall, Bedfordshire[1] New Slains Castle[2]
    Earl of Caithness London Ravenscraig Castle
    Earl of Morton Old Mansion House, Dalmahoy near Edinburgh Aberdour Castle, Dalkeith House, Dalmahoy, Loch Leven Castle and Morton Castle
    Earl of Rothes Dorset Ballinbreich Castle
    Earl of Buchan Newnham House, Hampshire Almondell House, Midlothian and Lochindorb Castle
    Earl of Eglinton Tennessee Eglinton Castle, Ardrossan Castle and Skelmorlie Castle
    Earl of Cassilis Cassillis House, Ayrshire Culzean Castle
    Earl of Moray Darnaway Castle, Forres Doune Castle, Drumsheugh House and Moray House
    Earl of Mar and Kellie Hilton Farm, Alloa Kellie Castle, Fife
    Earl of Home The Hirsel, Berwickshire and Castlemains, Douglas Hume Castle, Fast Castle, Berwickshire, Douglas Castle, Bothwell Castle
    Earl of Perth Stobhall, Perthshire Drummond Castle
    Earl of Abercorn Baronscourt, County Tyrone Duddingston House, Edinburgh
    Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne Glamis Castle, Angus Castle Huntly, Gibside Hall, Streatlam Castle and St Paul’s Walden Bury
    Earl of Haddington Mellerstain House, Berwickshire Tyninghame House in East Lothian
    Earl of Galloway Cumloden House, Wigtownshire Galloway House, Wigtownshire
    Earl of Lauderdale Pimlico, London Thirlestane Castle, Ham House, London and Dunbar Castle
    Earl of Lindsay Lahill House, Fife, Scotland Combermere Abbey, Shropshire
    Earl of Loudoun Jerilderie, New South Wales Loudoun Castle
    Earl of Kinnoull Dupplin Castle, Perth Balhousie Castle
    Earl of Dumfries Mount Stuart House, Bute Dumfries House, Cardiff Castle, Bute House, Luton Hoo and Lansdowne House
    Earl of Elgin Broomhall House, Fife Culross Abbey House
    Earl of Southesk Elsick House, Kincardineshire Duff House, Banffshire
    Earl of Wemyss and March Gosford House, East Lothian, Stanway House in Gloucestershire, Neidpath Castle, Peebles and Elcho Castle near Perth Wemyss Castle
    Earl of Dalhousie Brechin Castle Dalhousie Castle
    Earl of Airlie Cortachy Castle Airlie Castle
    Earl of Leven Glenferness House Nairn Balgonie Castle
    Countess of Dysart Rothiemurchus by Aviemore Stobo Castle
    Earl of Selkirk London Brodick Castle
    Earl of Northesk Cambridge Ethie Castle
    Earl of Newburgh Milan, Italy Glentirran House, Stirlingshire, Slindon House, Sussex and Dilston Castle, Northumberland
    Earl of Dundee Birkhill House, Fife Dudhope Castle
    Earl of Annandale Raehills, Dumfries and Galloway and Lochwood Tower Lochmaben Castle
    Earl of Dundonald Lochnell Castle, Argyll and Beacon Hall, Kent Auchindoun Castle
    Earl of Kintore Keith Hall, Aberdeenshire Dunnottar Castle
    Earl of Aberdeen Haddo House, Aberdeenshire Tolquhon Castle
    Earl of Dunmore Tasmania Amhuinnsuidhe Castle and Dunmore Park, Falkirk
    Earl of Orkney Winnipeg, Manitoba Kirkwall Castle
    Earl of Seafield Old Cullen, Moray Castle Grant
    Earl of Stair Lochinch Castle, Wigtownshire Oxenfoord Castle
    Earl of Roseberry Dalmeny House and Barnbougle Castle, Edinburgh Mentmore Towers; Lansdowne House; The Durdans; Villa Rosebery, Naples
    Earl of Glasgow Kelburn Castle, Ayrshire Stanely Castle
    Earl of Hopetoun Hopetoun House, West Lothian Niddry Castle


    Viscount of Stormont Scone Palace, Perthshire
    Viscount of Arbuthnott Arbuthnott House, Kincardineshire
    Viscount of Oxfuird Battersea, London Oxenfoord Castle

    Lords of Parliament
    Lord Cathcart Gateley Hall, Norfolk
    Lord Forbes Forbes Castle
    Lord Borthwick Crookston, Heriot Borthwick Castle
    Lord Lovat Balblair House, Beauly, Inverness-shire Beaufort Castle
    Lord Torphichen Calder House, West Lothian
    Lord Balfour of Burleigh Edinburgh Burleigh Castle
    Lord Dingwall London Panshanger Park, Hertfordshire
    Lord Fairfax of Cameron London Denton Hall, North Yorkshire
    Lord Napier Thirlestane Castle Merchiston Castle
    Lord Forrester Gorhambury House, Hertfordshire
    Lord Belhaven and Stenton Pimlico, London Wishaw House
    Lord Ruthven of Freeland Easington, Co. Durham Castle Howard, Yorkshire and Naworth Castle, Cumbria
    Lord Nairne Bignor Park, Sussex
    Lord Polwarth Hardon, Hawick, Roxburghshire Marchmont House, Berwickshire

    Minor Barons (Feudal Barons)
    James Swinton of Swinton Edinburgh Swinton House, Swinton
    Professor Mark Watson-Gandy London Myrton Castle, Wigtownshire
    Dr. George M Burden of Seabegs Seabegs Feddal House
    Alexander David Mungo Murray Scone Palace Balvaird Castle 2015
    Newlands of Lauriston Lauriston Castle, Aberdeenshire Newlands, Drumcow [3]

    Baronets and Lairds
    Sir Henry Reid Ellon Castle
    Mr Donald Cameron Achnacarry Castle Fassiefern House and Tor Castle
    Lady Antonia Dalrymple Newhailes House, East Lothian
    Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott Abbotsford House, Scottish Borders
    Mr James Montgomery Kinross House, Perth and Kinross
    Mr Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington Ardverikie House, Scottish Highlands Muncaster Castle
    Mrs Althea Dundas-Becker Arniston House, Midlothian
    Major-General Sir John Swinton of Kimmerghame Kimmerghame House, Berwickshire
    James C. A. Burnett of Leys, Baron of Kilduthie Crathes Castle
    Alexander Irvine of Drum, 27th Chief and Baron of Drum Doha, State of Qatar Drum Castle

    Dip in tyo one or two and you come to realise that Scotland was sold by a ‘parcel of rogues’ in 1707, and the century before that for land and resources and enslavement of the peasants.
    Eton Harrow Oxford Cambridge….
    The Iron Heel Oligarchy who to this day hunt shoot and fish and are laws unto themselves in their little, well, not so little, fiefdoms.
    Land Reform; ‘take back control of Scotland from these fossils of Empire, obliging Jocks who enthusiastically joined in the white European Rape of the Planet for centuries.

    Alons enfants..but with the pen, not the guillotine.

    • “Duke of Fife Elsick House, Kincardinshire and Kinnaird Castle, Brechin”

      “Caroline Anne Bunting was born on 13 November 1961 at Windsor, Berkshire, England.She is the daughter of Martin Brian Bunting and Veronica Mary Cope.
      She married David Charles Carnegie, 4th Duke of Fife, son of James George Alexander Bannerman Carnegie, 3rd Duke of Fife and Hon. Caroline Cecily Dewar, on 16 June 1987.
      From 16 June 1987, her married name became Carnegie. After her marriage, Caroline Anne Bunting was styled as Duchess of Fife on 22 June 2015.”

      The Duke’s wife, the Duchess of Fife also happens to be a Vice President of the National Trust for Scotland. I guess she works closely then with Neil Oliver in his role as President of the trust.

        • You can see why they don’t fancy Scotland becoming an Independent country, where would that leave them in the hierarchy? It’s also why they, in the main try to lie low and make themselves appear invisible to the general population.

          They really really don’t want the cat let out of the bag, that they, the greatest opponents of Independence are those that have most to lose. The state works for them and always has, not for us, the people. Shhh! don’t tell anyone.

    • Brilliant! Utterly brilliant. What a lot of work went into this research and, I have to say, I felt sick in the pit of my stomach as I read through that list. There you have it … the evidence today, all these hundreds of years later, of the carving up of our country for the benefit of the few, that their progeny enjoy to this day.

  5. Pingback: The uncomfortable past | speymouth

  6. Neil’s always been very keen on defending the British state from any threat to its continuing existence or its reputation.



    Neil’s always been very keen on defending the British state from any threat to his continuing existence or his reputation.

    • Hate to be picky, but note that the caption must be wrong here.

      It says ‘circa 1830’ and also ‘God Save the Queen’. Surely, if referring to Victoria, then she ascended the throne in 1837. There was no Queen earlier until Queen Anne (1702-1714), the last of the Stuarts..

      • Circa means approximate.
        The dates could have been 1837, 1838, 1839.
        As they may not have known which of those dates it was,
        saying circa 1830’s is correct.
        The God Save the Queen part, narrows it down to circa late 1830’s.

  7. The National Trust were in the news for another reason a couple of days ago as well. Their Chief Executive, Simon Skinner has said that a number of their properties would not be able to reopen before 2022 due to Covid-19.

    The list of properties included the Bannockburn Visitor Centre which was opened in 2014 at a cost of £9 million. I’d like to see the books for this centre and whether it can pay its way or not. It just looks fishy to me that such a new centre needs to be closed to save money for the Trust.

    • Indeed, piloted as the most financially efficient of all NTS establishments there is more than the faint whiff of excretia about this, if not the “eu de latrine de Msr Jacquass”

    • I think the closure of the actual centre as opposed to the battle site with its statue of Robert the Bruce has more to do with the difficulty of organising the throughput of visitors while observing the social distancing measures.

      Some of the rooms are quite small. For example the one where the battle is projected on the walls and the visitors are in the midst of the battle. Limiting numbers to keep to the social distancing would make it impossible to experience the full effect of the battle.

      Also the likely decrease in visitor numbers this year and possibly into next year would impact their income. The Heritage centre – the previous one and its replacement – is a very popular place for tour buses to stop and sample the delights of the cafe. Like a lot of places the income from their tea rooms makes an important contribution to their viability.

      • Even if you were privy to the financial analysis across all sites I doubt any competent analyst could justify this particular selection, and even fewer would care beyond the site itself. That this featured across all media from the start stinks of the cartel in operation, and surprise, a petition is already under way.
        This is a political football not economics, were it anything other, NTS management would have been fired years ago…

  8. Dear Dug,I have contributed, it would have been remiss of me not to. I have a project for you 🙂  When I have to stay overnight for conferences etc, I normally use Premier Inn. The problem I have is when I check in. You have to state your nationality and from the drop down country list if you are from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England you only have the option of the UK, which as we know is not a country. I contacted the CEO of Whitbread PLC one Ms Alison Brittain (Whitbread do not do irony) as I wished to point out that on my birth certificate it states that I was was born in Solihull West Midlands, England, therefore I could not complete check-in process as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not listed. I tried to understand why this was, I did not get very far as you can imagine. But I did find out that all this stems from the “British Nationality Act 1981 – When Scotland becomes Independent, hopefully a week Tuesday. Give the Britnats a chance to get used to the idea. Regards Craig 

  9. Scots worth less than African slaves. Doesn’t seem to ”fit” Neil Oliver’s version of events.


    ..”The situation for the people on the Outer Hebrides was dire. They were without food, shelter or their traditional social support and were physically removed from their houses, their possessions and their houses destroyed without compassion or recompense. They were deprived of their freedom for payment of debt and sold into slavery by those who once inspired their loyalty and respect, their chiefs and their Church. Their position was untenable and there was literally no choice, as they were forcibly removed, but to leave their islands forever. The cry “Cha till mi tuille! – We shall return no more!” keened like a banshee throughout the Western Isles.

    More than one third of those so displaced came to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia with their physical possessions amounting to little more than the clothes on their backs. However, they brought with them a richness of language, culture, character and community which continues to shape and colour the social fabric of Atlantic Canada to the present. Their communities, isolated geographically and insulated by this isolation against the cold and Canadian Sassanachs by the ethos of Gaelic spirit until relatively recent times, have perpetuated this cultural transference. Although records of their eviction experiences document exceptional misery, even more horrid tribulations lay ahead for the landless and destitute Highlanders and their terrible ordeals were far from over.

    THE COFFIN SHIPS. The only means of transport were second and third rate ships whose owners were as greedy for the filthy lucre as were the chieftain‑landlords. Regulations were in effect governing the number of African slaves the ships could transport. However, no such rules governed the number of Cleared Scots each ship could carry to the New World. The continued wave of emigration attracted some attention to the conditions of emigrant ships, many of which carried larger numbers in more crowded conditions than they were permitted under the slave trade. Shippers were reluctant to pay for improvements to ships involved in the timber and emigrant trade, for it was largely the rough and odorous hulks of timber ships that were used to carry the human cargoes. And until forced to improve the filthy and crowded conditions, some ship owners paid as much concern to one cargo as another. This would appear to be a very sensible business fit for the ship owners, as they carried people to Atlantic Canada and lumber to Europe knowing that on the way over it mattered little if the cargo perished and on the return trip a ship full of wood won’t sink unless it gets water-logged or it breaks apart. Further evidence of the abysmal conditions, even worse than that of the transporting of African slaves, in the ships ferrying human beings on a one-way Atlantic crossing is illustrated by the following passage.

    In the summer of 1801, George Dunoon advertised the sailing of the Sarah and the Dove from Fort William for Pictou. Had the laws then governing slave ships applied to these immigrant vessels, they would not have been allowed to carry more than 489 passengers. Dunoon filled the tiny holds with 700 [Note: Shipping records indicate a passenger count of 569 for these two ships but perhaps these numbers may refer only to the surviving passengers.]… Forty‑nine people died on the Sarah alone.

    Inadequate supplies of food and water, seasickness, lack of sanitation and toilet facilities, combined with the already weakened state of health in which the Highlanders found themselves, led to outbreaks of fatal diseases such as dysentery, cholera and scurvy. There must have been scenes of unimaginable misery on the appropriately named “coffin ships”. The treatment of the Cleared Scots may be explained in part because of the fact that African slaves had value and there was economic benefit to the slave-traders in getting as many of them as possible to their destination alive. Cleared Scots, however, had no such value other than the price of their passage, which was usually paid by their former chieftain‑landlords prior to departure, to the shipping agent submitting the lowest bid and there were no incentives to get them to their destination alive and healthy…”



    ..”There is no question that many Highlanders were betrayed by their clan chiefs and imported English noblemen. The utter disregard for the life of a proud people inflamed passions then, as it still does. Much of the land is still owned by the same families and sheep are still farmed where people once lived. During 1995, a campaign began to remove a statue of the notorious 1st Duke of Sutherland, which dominates the hills and skyline above the small east coast town of Golspie, replacing it with a more fitting memorial to the victims of the Clearances.

    Whether that will ever happen remains to be seen. But it is worth recalling that when the factor called by after the Duke’s death in 1833, those tenants allowed to remain on the Sutherland estates were asked to contribute to the costs of raising the monument.

    They knew they had a choice – pay up or face the threat of eviction, hence the reason for them being described as ”grateful tenants” in the inscription on the statue’s plinth.”.

  10. Speaks volumes.

    ‘Neil Oliver sparks outrage by supporting Dominic Cummings.’


    Meanwhile back to the uncomfortable present. What do the BritNats, Carlaw, Davidson, Leonard, Rennie and people like Oliver, have to say about this?

    ‘Covid-19: Devi Sridhar concerned over number of cars crossing Border.’

    ..”Public health expert Devi Sridhar has voiced concern over the news that thousands of cars are crossing into Scotland every day from the north of England, where the Covid-19 infection rate is rising.”..

  11. This is not totally off topic:
    I have been interested in the Govan Graving Docks for some years. It is owned by a property development company who wanted to build flats on the site. These flats would have been outwith the reach of the majority of local people. They proposed to build a number of ‘affordable’ houses, whatever that means. The proposal was fought and permission was refused.

    You can look at the history at the the Graving Docks below.

    Govan Graving Docks is perfect for a maritime history/small business development site including an education facility or museum dedicated to the slave trade, among other things. It is also perfectly placed to deal with the history of migration from the Docks and the history of shipbuilding on the Clyde.

    Given the attention being directed at the Slave Trade and Glasgow at the moment, might Glasgow City Council wake from its stupour and actually consider backing a potential world class education and tourist facility? The only councillor participation in the public part of the planning procedure was one councillor who actively promoted the property development company’s proposals while seeming to ignore other, more community beneficial uses of the Govan Graving Docks.

  12. The Scots and Irish were some of the first documented to be sold into slavery. The problem is that Scots aren’t being told their history of slave trade. Education is key. We can’t learn lessons from the past by erasing the past. I’m not against taking down statues and replacing street names but we need to think about what we put in their place. We also need to educate our children so they learn from the past. Auschwitz still stands as a sombre reminder that history must never repeat itself. And in fact, racism is a huge problem in, say parts of America or even in parts of England but Scotland on the whole is an inclusive and welcoming country and Nicola Sturgeon plans to keep it that way. We can’t allow the small minority of racists their voice, just as we can’t allow the small minority of protesters to become a large majority of protesters and creating a problem that’s not really here in Scotland. The small group of racists we have can be tackled by educating them. It takes everyone to challenge their racist friends and neighbours when they hear them make racist comments.

        • In some cases indentured servants were treated worse than slaves. Slaves & their progeny were considered as livestock; they had a value & were kept alive. Indentured servants were of no value beyond their term & were sometimes worked to death.

      • ”Governments have allowed this part of American and British history to be swallowed up.”

        ”Each of us needs to search our hearts and find the answer to stop racial hatred. One place to begin; realize that the black race was not the only race in the last 400 years that was in bondage.”

        ‘White Slavery.’

        …”Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South explain that white enslavement was crucial to the development of the Negro slave system. The system set up for the white slaves governed, organized and controlled the system for the black slaves. Black slaves were “late comers fitted into a system already developed.” Pp 25-26. John Pory declared in 1619, “white slaves are our principle wealth.”

        The above quotations from various authors are just the tip of the iceberg on the white slave trade of the Americas. People from the British Isles were kidnapped, put in chains and crammed into ships that transported hundreds of them at a time. Their destination was Virginia Boston, New York, Barbados and the West Indies. The white slaves were treated the same or worse than the black slave. The white slave did not fetch a good price at the auction blocks. Bridenbaugh wrote in his accounting on page 118, having paid a bigger price for the Negro, the planters treated the black better than they did their “Christian” white servant. Even the Negroes recognized this and did not hesitate to show their contempt for those white men who, they could see, were worse off than themselves.

        Governments have allowed this part of American and British history to be swallowed up. The contemptible black slavery has taken a grip on people associated with American History. Yet, no one will tell of these accountings that are well established on to the middle 1800’s.

        Slavery is not something to be proud of but it is a fact that happened to every country, kingdom and empire that has been on this earth. Each of us needs to search our hearts and find the answer to stop racial hatred. One place to begin; realize that the black race was not the only race in the last 400 years that was in bondage.”

  13. NTS full to the gunnels with the landed gentry. Not the least bit surprised.

    I received the following email a few days ago from the SNP TUG regarding the NTS and their decision to keep closed some properties until 2022.

    You may have seen the front page of The National today and the article on the National Trust of Scotland not opening some properties until 2022 and the proposal to make 50% of the staff redundant.

    The SNP TUG was aware of this and discussed it two weeks ago at a zoom meeting of the Executive Committee, where it was agreed that we should make a statement to go on our social media and to email all our members.

    This is the statement,

    National Trust for Scotland

    Due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic and consequent lack of income the National Trust for Scotland has announced that 429 staff are at risk of redundancy. In addition, there are also plans for more redundancies and closure of venues.

    Most of the iconic cultural and heritage sites in Scotland such as Culloden, Glencoe, Bannockburn, Culzean Castle, and many more are managed by the NTS. They provide much-needed employment and career opportunities ensuring economic security for many small communities. The loss of employment consequent upon these redundancies will have a devastating effect in mainly rural areas, where there is little opportunity to find alternative work.

    The National Trust and the Government must engage with the Trade Unions representing workers to ensure that all avenues are explored in finding answers to this crisis rather than resorting to the blunt instrument of cutting workers.

    Quite apart from the issue of declaring so many staff redundant the loss to the nation of these iconic sites must be addressed and continued access to and maintenance of these special places requires the continued presence of the staff who have tended them and guided visitors.

    The SNP Trade Union Group requests that we seek to support and show solidarity to Trade Union members and the workforce as a priority.

    You can help to support the workforce by contacting your local MSP and MP to highlight the many local benefits of particular sites in your area as well as their national significance. The consequences of the closure of these national treasures and their possible subsequent neglect and decay does not bear thinking about.

    • Of course, some of the landed handed there mansion over to the N.T who keep them in repair and let them and their descendants live in them rent-free. It was too expensive for them to repair themselves.

  14. Just because someone was/is living on Scottish soil and/or was/is born from Scottish ancestors doesn’t make him/her Scottish.

    “Ius Sanguinis” or “Ius Soli” are two sides of the same coin, always exploited by colonialists and oppressors to gain supporters betwixt the population to be turned against their own kind.

    A small minority of rich and powerful people, born or resident in Scotland, behaved – and still behaves – in a guise that outright disqualifies them from claiming to belong to Scotland.

    They do not chime here, and I object to anyone’s claim they are part of our history.
    They are part and parcel of the rotten, disgusting BritNazi Empire cesspit.

    And I’m more so entitled to this stance, for I have *chosen* to be a Scot, to live here and to abide by the rules, traditions and costumes of this land and the majority of its people.

    • I think that you’ll find that most, if not all of them, were educated at English ‘Public Schools’, Eton or Harrow, and studied at Oxford or Cambridge.
      Scotland’s their country retreats, and mugs that we are, we are now paying for the upkeep via the National ‘Trust’. ‘Take back control’, evict the chinless wonders, and develop the land for the people.
      When they open their mouths they speak in Oxford Received Pronunciation, posh rich English Boys and Girls.

      But they rarely appear in public.
      They have millions of our acres to play in because of their bloody forebears.

  15. The bullied became the bully. The oppressed became the oppressor.

    Scotland needs to apologise and somehow find a means to atone for our part in the heinous crimes of the British Empire. Then we need to leave Britain behind and start afresh to build a new country where ALL Scots of all ethnic backgrounds are respected as equals. And all our rights as equals are enshrined in the constitution of our new country. We gotta do this.

    • Who’s on the BBC’s Question Time tonight? Two Tory’s of course plus Ms Bruce herself.

      ”Liz Saville Roberts

      Who? Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru

      Plaid Cymru’s first female MP, London-born Saville Roberts is little-known outside of Wales and hardly a household name there. The former Gwynedd councillor wrote this week that “the British State has had its time – now we need and can have an independent Wales that puts people, honesty and efficiency at the heart of our politics”.

      Also took the knee in a virtual protest against racism, saying: “I am encouraged to see this level of youth engagement in anti-racism campaigns. The voices of young people in politics has never been so important.” In 2018 became the first person to speak Irish in the House of Commons since 1901 and, it turns out, is also an incredibly difficult person to write even a semi-humorous Question Time preview about.”

  16. Bravo! Bravo! and Bravo! again, Paul, for this wonderful piece. So eloquently written. Sincerely hope a copy is read by one Neil Oliver.

  17. As Burns noted – to see ourselves as others see us.

    Was having a discussion about leadership and honesty on Facebook last night with some friends – and we ended up comparing the First Minster with th Prime Minister. This was from one of my friends down here – have a great deal of respect for his views and activism, but I’d noticed some of his comments previously about Nicola Sturgeon – and thought he was mistaken. Let’s call him Dave.

    Dave: I didn’t say I didn’t like her. I admire her far more than the shower of shite on either side of much of the Commons. But her policies aren’t mine and she is a politician first, and an honest and earnest woman second. Her honesty in answering questions shows incredible confidence and understanding of the value of words. It would’ve been good to see her in Corbyn’s place. And I know you asked to put other thoughts aside, but I don’t want to break up the union.

    Me: Good answer thank you – but re Union. Why?

    Dave: Several reasons and I suspect after a couple of beers that I’ll struggle for a coherent case. We share more in common than not. Although it is an argument that can be made anywhere, our being an island makes it more poignant that our borders are artificial. A product of history, rather than culture, but a history that is very intertwined. Both countries greatest days were when they were together. Scotland prospered tremendously after Union and in turn contributed a great deal to the British Isles. The big problem is with under-representation. It is the argument that the UK keeps voting Tory and the Scots aren’t Tories. Not true in itself, but certainly true that Tories in the later years of Union have been few North of the border. It ties to my dislike of the British Labour Party, not socialist principals overall, but our Labour party’s implementation of them. I think that Britain would have been better served if the Labour Party had never eventually succeeded in holding power. If the Liberals had been able to adapt, smell the mood of the country and win the working class over, we’d have had a far less militant socialist movement and thus seen a far more balanced management of the country without the roller coaster of spend and cut that we’ve suffered since the Second World War. This in turn would’ve tempered the Tories. The further to the left, Labour go, the further to the right, the Tories can go. The difference between progressive liberals and conservatives is far less and I believe under such conditions, we’d all still be more prosperous. The SNP’s policies are closer to the common sense of Liberals, than the wackier ideas of Labour. None of this addresses why you should want to stay, except to say, I don’t think Scotland was served well by backing Labour for so long. I don’t want you guys to go. Personally, I consider Scotland part of my heritage and a place dear to my heart. I don’t buy the arguments either. One of the reasons I feel critical of Sturgeon and Salmond before her is that some of the premises of the referendum were a lie. There was a constant suggestion of what Scotland was and wasn’t and how these things would be delivered post independence. Chief among them was the notion that there were no Tories and being such was in some way out of step with a notion of a mythical Scottish identity. People were voting for things therefore that weren’t on the ballot. The ballot was simply independence yes or no and the opportunity to create a country with the ability to set its own destiny. The SNP’s campaign though sought to define that country, something which simply couldn’t be predicted and therefore was a mistake to vote upon. I didn’t vote for Brexit for sun lit uplands. I voted to be free of the EU so that if we saw sun lit option we could make an effort to get there. The two things are very different. There was nothing to say that an independent Scotland wouldn’t end up with a rough 50/50 split between left and right once the dust had settled, but all talk was of some sort of liberal utopia, describing the Scots as some sort of forward thinking open and tolerant multi-cultural society that those little Englanders simply weren’t. Only problem with that is Scotland is the only country on earth where a terrorist on fire has ever been kicked by a member of the public, causing Frankie Boyle to pass comment on the stupidity of someone trying to introduce sectarianism to Glaswegians. Right, I’ve just typed an absolute, no doubt meaningless waffle on a phone and can’t review it without submitting. Here goes. P.S. Don’t go, we love you!

    Sometimes, despite everything – I have the feeling we are all still Jock Tamson’s Bairns.

    • Hmmm, I’m not sure what all that signifies except that the typical English person like your correspondent manifestly just doesn’t “get” us. The fair-minded ones want to hang on to us in a sentimental sort of way – though scrape away the surface and it’ll likely reveal a fair amount of amour propre, fear of a loss of face if we walk out – but they are willing to do damn all to accomodate us properly. And that’s fundamentally why we have to leave.

    • Mark, perhaps because of friendship, you are not able to stand back far enough to judge.
      Your friend’s musings reek of the ‘superior’ exceptionalism of an English man spouting the usual ‘the trouble with you Jocks is….’ dross you can hear in any Wetherspoons the length and breadth of Merrie Olde England.

      God, if only we had realised that after Independence that there might be Tories and Lefties crawling out of the woodwork to usurp the Lib Dem Gladstone Dream of small but fair government, we’d never have embarked on this mad insane journey

      He’s spot on. The borders on these isles are false political and regionally cultural concepts.
      We are England, Britain, the UK. King Alfred, Good Queen Bess, and ahem, The Model Army.

      I am not Scottish, living in ancient Caledonia. I am a citizen of the UK, I am UK-ish.

      No, I can’t keep it up.

      People were voting for Self Determination.

      In 2016 your friend was voting for England taking back control and a ban on free movement on our continent, and foreigners doing British/UK-ish/ but really, English, jobs. You know the jobs done by Froggies Krauts and 3 million EU furriners.

      I’ll be charitable, and believe that you wrote this with tongue in cheek.


      • PS
        Mark, see my list of the Parcel of Rogues at 2.49 pm above.
        They, and the Albion Branch of the London Oligarchy, the top tiers of the Scottish Pyramid, the Jock Law Lords in long powdered wigs,the ‘ Professional Bodies’, in the legal profession, insurance, banking, industry, energy, Banking, Finance, the Heads of our Educational Establishments, the Leaders of Christian Churches, Broadcasting, journalism, and the secret but not so secret societies, the Sports Mafia, bind Scotland to English Rule.
        The cancer runs through our society.
        Power, wealth, and influence is in the hands of the Few, no matter how we vote.
        The solution can not be resolved merely at the ballot box. It is much more fundamental than that.
        In every Brit Armed Forces mess hall in Scots barracks, naval docks, fortifications and air fields, are portraits of Lizzie and Union Jacks, which are toasted and allegiances pledged on a daily basis.
        They control the gun boats.

        I know the mere mention of ‘religion’, and ‘secret societies’ upset some Duggers.
        Until we face the truth and drag Scotland into the 21st Century then I despair.

        • Aye Jack,
          George Younger lost his seat and ministerial car on the Thursday. Monday he was Chairman of a national bank.
          Wonder what happened to the lost tory seat holders at the last election,kerr, masterton and hair?

          • Dave, Lord Mike Watson, fireraiser and convicted arsonist. Lord Jack Mc Connell who gave 1.5 billion back to Gordon Brown because he could find nothing to spend it on in Scotland in 2006, when the Glasgow women were in the midst of a ten year battle with GDC Labour for equal pay, and Leonard’s GMB sat back and watched.
            Lord Robertson, the man who bragged that devolution would kill off Nationalism, who threatened independent Scotland with invasions from Mars, and who, if his current Wiki entry has ran out of fingers to put into juicy Non Exec pies, and all the other firebrand Socialists who wreaked havoc in Scotland for five decades but are all very wealthy men and women now, born again filthy rich capitalists.

            Blair’s Gang of thugs expenses cheats and carpetbaggers in particular are filthy rich Brit Nats for a reason. Thirty pieces of English silver.

          • And don’t forget the Equal Pay cases of the 1990’s, Jack. I had been involved in a number of them, one of which was ultimately heard in the House of Lords in 1999 following years of fighting through the Scottish Courts with no financial help from the Unions. At that time, prior to him becoming FM McConnell was the Finance Minister. All in it together. The corrupt Unions, Blair, Brown, Dewar, Derry Irvine Lord Chancellor, Labour MSP’s (1999), Labour MP’s and Labour Councillors the length and breadth of Scotland.

            ”McConnell was elected an MSP in the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999. He was appointed Minister for Finance in the new Scottish Executive by then First Minister Donald Dewar. One of his first moves as Finance Minister was to establish the budgeting procedures for the new Scottish Executive, including publishing a consultation document asking the public and MSPs how the budget should be spent. His department also passed the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 through Parliament, which set out the finance and auditing procedures of the Executive.”


      • No tongue in cheek, Jack. I’m very fortunate – I can see the issue from afar, whilst hearing the arguments intimately. Most of the time, what we base our opinions on – is the media. Not many have personal involvement aside from local issues. You – rightly – rail against BBC Scotlandshire – but the people in England only have what they are fed; they have no appreciation of the argument from your perspective. Nor you of theirs.

        If we did, then we would find that we are not that far apart after all. The “us” and “them” really isn’t about where you were born or where you live. It’s about who you are.

        I used to have coffee every morning with two old men before this shite started – a Hungarian and Englishman. I’m usually referred to as the “porridge-wog” or “Jock-Bastard” – but I’m too embarrassed to tell you what I call them back. Sticks and stones…

        Good things come in small packages. I like the idea of small governance, identity and culture – Scotland is a remarkable example – just like Norway, New Zealand et al. But we all belong to something much bigger that ties us all. Let’s find a common cause and standard – and flavour it with our own experiences – and celebrate – all under one banner.

        Keep well.

    • Mark, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed by the musings of your Brit friend.

      I have lived as a Scot abroad, in England, for the last 40+ years. I can’t recall having a “discussion” about Scotland’s independence with any Brit that lasted more than a very few minutes. That is despite my making it clear to anyone raising the issue that I first joined the SNP at age sixteen and am still a member. Given that we humans are animals, I am guessing that any who wanted an argument on the subject could smell that it would be unwise to engage with me.

      Three wee toddlers cowering, traumatised. and distraught out their minds in the corner of the shell of a flat somewhere in the middle east, screaming mummy, mummy make it stop, with tears and snot running down their wee faces and Brit weapons raining down on them – that is what Brits mean to me.

      Maybe let your friend know that this how another sees him and that maybe we’re not all the same after all.

  18. Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
    by Shashi Tharoor

    Should be read by all upstanding Brits.

    A wee snippet
    In the eighteenth century, India’s share of the world economy was as large as Europe’s. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. Beyond conquest and deception, the Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation. British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes on and demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial ‘gift’ from the railways to the rule of law was designed in Britain’s interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain’s Industrial Revolution was founded on India s deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry. In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain’s stained Indian legacy.

    • Read it. Glad you mentioned it. Its noteworthy for us all to read to see how the British state functions in hubris and nemesis.

      I Always thought it ironic about the Tata family and the attempts to destroy their business. The Indian/Pakistan situation should be a warning to us also how the British fomented sectarian dispute to divide and rule and ultimately divide when they could no longer rule.

    • In his private diaries, Amery wrote “on the subject of India, Winston is not quite sane” and that he did not “see much difference between [Churchill’s] outlook and Hitler’s”.

      ”Churchill often made disparaging comments about Indians, particularly in private conversation. At one point he explicitly told his Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery that he “hated Indians” and considered them “a beastly people with a beastly religion”.

      Churchill was inspired by the remembrance of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 to take steps that disregarded the value of civilian lives in India. Churchill was also an avid admirer and follower of physicist Fredrick Lindemann, who regarded colonial subjects as “helots”, or slaves, whose only reason for existence was the service of racial superiors. Lindemann also supported scientific racism and mass lobotomies of Indians so that they would have “no thought of rebellion or votes, so that one would end up with a perfectly peaceable and permanent society, led by supermen and served by helots”.

      During the Bengal famine of 1943, Churchill said that because Indians bred “like rabbits”, relief efforts would accomplish nothing. His War Cabinet rejected Canadian proposals to send food aid to India, but did ask the USA and Australia to send such aid instead. According to historian Arthur Herman, Churchill’s overarching concern was the ongoing Second World War, and he was thus willing to divert food supplies from India to Allied military campaigns. However, this assertion is belied by Churchill’s own words and actions, when he persisted in exporting grain to Europe, not to feed actual ‘Sturdy Tommies’ (common soldiers), but add to the buffer stocks that were being piled up in the event of a future second front invasions of Greece and Yugoslavia.

      Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India and Burma and a contemporary of Churchill, likened his understanding of India’s problems to King George III’s apathy for the Americas. In his private diaries, Amery wrote “on the subject of India, Winston is not quite sane” and that he did not “see much difference between [Churchill’s] outlook and Hitler’s”. In the end though, Amery admitted that without Churchill’s assistance, the Bengal famine would have been worse.

      According to other defenders of Churchill, he was a “liberal imperialist”. He saw his country’s role as an imperial power as spreading liberal principles to “backward-looking societies” like India.”

      • I know he had it in for my native city when they opted for another as MP. Thats why Dundee has ” no statues to Churchill”. All we have is a discrete little plaque.

        • After WW2, places were offering Churchill the ‘keys’ to their town or city.
          When Dundee made their offer, he was reputed to have said he would see grass grow on the streets of Dundee before he set foot back in the place.

          • My granny used to mention that.

            Everytime I pass the old houses and parks with the medal fences cut I remember him. He told people it was for gun metal..nonsense. He just wanted them to know there was a war on.

  19. Your piece on Mr Oliver reminded me of the email I received from the NTS in October 2017 after his appointment. Both me and the boss stopped our subscription.
    You may find this of interest

    Dear Xxxxxxxx.
    Thank you for your email.
    The National Trust for Scotland is a politically neutral charity and has no interest in any individual’s political views.
    Our job is to protect the wonderful places in our care and share and celebrate
    Scotland’s amazing history and spectacular scenery with as
    many people as we can.
    The role of President is largely an ambassadorial one, supporting our fundraising and engagement activities and spreading the word about our
    work generally, so in looking for a new person to take on
    this role the Trust was looking for someone who could help us take that message to even more people.

    Neil Oliver has done a fantastic job in promoting the heritage, history and
    archaeology of Scotland and that clearly chimes with our
    objectives as a charity. These are the skills and qualifications which led to his nomination and appointment.

    I have cancelled your membership as per your request, however no refunds can be offered as per our terms and conditions.


    Joe Shabashow, Customer Service Executive
    The National Trust for Scotland

    Hermiston Quay, 5 Cultins Road,
    Edinburgh, EH11 4DF

    I wonder if Hermiston Quay will remain open since they do a marvellous job apparently.

    Transfer ownership to the people proper. No interest in castles where the owners live rent free. Bannockburn is ours for posterity.

    On another blog at the time that supported independence I noted the past presidents – mostly rugger supporting private landowners. All tories. Took it from their web page which they then hid from view. Sensitive wee souls.

    • The properties are supposed to be held in Trust for the Nation and they do have a duty to ensure they maintain the integrity and the availability of those properties. They are also required to ensure their business model, because they are business as well as holding charity status, is fit for purpose.
      If there current proposal for closure and redundancy was a one off it would be possible to accept their actions as necessary due to the Covid 19 downturn, but its not, job cuts and closures have been on going for years.
      Many businesses and organisations are currently going through the same process, but their primary purpose is to restructure, new conditions and less pay.
      The SG needs to look at this, and they might want to start at the top.

  20. I have to be honest I’m not really up for destroying monuments to our past however morally wrong their totemism might be.

    St Andrew’s cathedral lies as a ruin because the reformers didnt agree with the iconclasm/ perceived idolatry of my own faith and Bruce’s tomb was destroyed because he was Catholic and so forth but that doesn’t mean I want to see the monuments to Knox, Patrick Hamilton, the covenanters and many others destroyed. On that level are we any different to the Taliban and ISIS?

    Oliver? The NTS may have closed their Bannockburn site but as any decent archaeologist will tell you it’s on the wrong site.

  21. It all comes down to might is right and money equals power plus the power to control education or to withold the right kind of education
    At school my knowledge of English history was extensive because that’s all that was taught and by gosh I could recite all the victorious English battles date by date along with the geography of the commonwealth and how wonderful that was to learn where our bananas came from, fortunately my father was an educated man and educated me in the history and culture of the country I actually lived in until I became old enough to find out more for myself

    My father always taught me the one thing above all that’s important about education, he used to say son you don’t go to school to be taught information by teachers, you go to school to learn how to learn, once you understand that the rest is easy

    I’m 71 years of age now and I’m still learning, thanks Dad

    • The song of Mr Alister Jack, spinster, late of this parish. (With acknowledgements):


      I am the very model of a modern Viceroy-General

      I am the very model of a modern Viceroy-General
      I only have information on matters Better Togetheral,
      I dunno the kings of Scotland, nor the battles historical
      Not Flodden nor C’loden, in any order categorical.
      I’m not at all acquainted with matters mathematical,
      I mis-understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
      About binominal theorem, I really have no news,
      With a doleful look about the square of the hypotenuse.
      I’m hopeless at integral and differential calculus;
      I dunno scientific names of beings animalculous:
      ‘Tis only in matters completely Better Togetheral,
      I am the very model of a modern Viceroy-General.

    • ‘ learn how too learn ‘

      It’s a long,long time since I first heard that used. As true today as it has always been.

      • This is a good one

        Some people can read all the great works in the world and learn nothing
        others can read the ingredients of a chewing gum wrapper and unfold the secrets of the universe

        Lex Luthor, another great man eh, or the guy who wrote the line for the movie of course

    • Dr Jim,
      As the saying goes: ‘When you are taught to read, you learn to think, then your education begins’

  22. I think the Germans were correct in leaving Auschwitz concentration camp intact.
    It serves as a reminder of mans’ inhumanity to man and a counter to the holocaust deniers.
    The problem with the current outrage is not so much about slavery but deep seated racism and bigotry which exists across the globe.
    Colour is an easy way for people who have these issues to target others in a similar way to religious affiliations in parts of Scotland and Ireland.
    Education can go a long way to breaking down these barriers but as we know here in Scoland,it can take a long time.
    I believe it was Mary Robinson who said that some Irish people were very proud of their bigotry and went to great lengths to ensure it was passed down from generation to generation.

    • They didnt leave it (sic) intact. They blew it up. It wasn’t one camp. It was many camps and they were in Poland. The holocaust deniers have used Polish misidentification of the gas chambers at Birkenau to deny their very existence.

  23. When I was a kid at school the bad guys always used the line *what school do you go to* that was to find out if you were one of them or one of the ones they didn’t like, they call that one sectarianism because if we’re all white they can’t tell which people to persecute, but if we were different colours it’d be racism that’s why I prefer the word exceptionalism to cover all bigotry because colour is just the easy identifier to the mindset of the people who’ve employed the same tactic probably since mankind began walking around this planet to dominate diminish and demean others who aren’t them

    I had a pal at primary school who was a Polish Catholic at a Proddy school because his parents didn’t differentiate between religion and education they just thought a school was a school which is what the *State* school was supposed to be, the bad guys were never sure what to do with him, too complicated

    The people who employ colour religion geography probably don’t give a monkeys about these things themselves but they know if they use it to convince the weaker minded that whoever those others are are a threat to a way of life or a culture of those weaker minded they’ll fall for it and the job of tribal division is done

    The so called *British* empire was created in this way, a copy of the Roman empire and others
    Like the Roman empire crumbled it’s time for the British empire to go the same way, I figure we’ve all earned our Rudis (wooden sword of freedom) by now

  24. Neil Oliver is not only a rampant unionist but an obvious Tory as well, not to mention having an ego the size of a planet. For Scottish history Tom Devine is a far better source.Oliver is not a historian but an archaeologist but unlike him most Scottish archaeologists some of whom I know are decent people trying their best to examine and restore the sites of Scotland ancient history. It is ironic that a friend of mine who is almost same age as me won a scholarship to an independent school in late 1960s and was taught far more about Scottish history than I who went to non denominational school in Glasgow. Its no surprise though that Labour local authorities emphasised a curriculum which emphasised British rather than Scottish culture.I hope that has changed in our schools today

  25. Just read Hitchens book on that very subject. And this lot of present Tories are about to give what’s left to the US.

    • Yeah but we’re getting a cow and a chicken injected with goodies to make us fat
      They gave the American Indians smallpox infected blankets, Ooh, and beads

      America first, everybody else dead, no matter what colour you are

      Still when all the wonderful American food arrives on our shores and in our supermarkets at one third of the price of our own produce will people say *I’m not eating that shit because it’s unhealthy* or will they say *I’m gonnae die anyway so I might as well burden the health service with my obesity while I’m doing it*

      Fortunately along with the wonderful American obesity food on our shelves today shoppers you can buy our new line in *Health Insurance* to combat the effects of our new wonderful American food because America bought that too, not the buildings you understand because America doesn’t want to buy the NHS, no no no, they just want to buy your access to it

      I found out that America has cheese that contains no cheese, now that’s clever eh

      • I have no doubt that come January 1st 2021, the Brit and US owned supermarket chains will display the US stars and stripes on Kentucky fried Bleached chicken and steroid enhanced Texas Aberdeen Angus Beef, along with the Butcher’s Apron on every product still produced here.
        The Saltire will disappear from Scottish products.
        Kentucky Scotch, here we come!

        I note that because of the pandemic, England will exercise a ‘light touch’ approach on EU goods entering the UK from ‘Take Back Control Day’, Jan 1st 21, while the EU conversely is determined to apply No Deal restrictions on produce coming from England.
        You may note that it’s all gone quiet about the progress of the 3 million Europeans applications to Remain in the UK post Brexit.
        England’s Government is in total meltdown on all fronts…
        They are running out of rope and time to hang themselves.

        BBC Radio Scotland, TV, the Herald and the Sun have unearthed Mr Nobody, Alister Jack, to mutter incoherent nothings about the two meter rules, and ‘kick starting’ the economy.
        It comes as no surprise that the Scottish Government have ignored this sorry excuse for a politician.

  26. Let’s do it the Tory way. Murder on a grand scale.

    ‘Covid-19: Nicola Sturgeon hits back at Jack’s economic demands.’

    …”On Twitter, Nicola Sturgeon responded to Jack’s demands, reminding him how Scotland had managed to reduce the coronavirus reinfection rate while parts of England see their R numbers rise.”..


    Alister Jack? Who’s that? The waste of space (and money).

    ‘SNP Health Secretary exposes irrelevance of Scottish Office and Scottish Secretary.’

    …”Freeman also said that the Scotland Office had not played any role in the relations between the UK and Scottish governments, going as far as to say that she could not remember having any communications with the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack. While the Scotland Office is copied in to some letters between Freeman and Hancock, she said she was “not aware [of] and can recall no communications with Mr Jack”…

  27. Scotland, the SNP Government, leading the way again.

    ‘English teachers’ union calls for national plan like that of SNP Government: BBC Scotland AWOL.’

    ..“The consequences of Covid-19 are going to be felt in our education system for months to come. What is needed, now, is a national plan for education, along the lines being developed by the Scottish government.’…


    Check out Ann’s latest links on the Indyref2 site.

    • A guidebook I was editing once featured a statute of a native Prince of Wales (i.e. before the loss of independence in 1282) which was labelled as ‘the King of England by the book. The error was repeated in French and German versions of the same book.

      Boy was I steaming when I presented the publishers with that one!’

  28. The uncomfortable truth.

    You don’t get to be an Empire by being a nice guy. You get to be an Empire by being an evil bastard. The “colonial” period was in fact a government funded house breaking spree, were we stole other peoples goodies and broke what we didn’t like. We put statues up to the most violent and successful crooks. They told their children lies about what the Empire was. Those children pass it on to future generations, until it got to us. When I was a kid at school, we learned about Sir Francis Drake, a dashing musketeer and sailor who looked a lot Errrol Flynn, and how he saved us from the nasty Spaniards. Later you learn (but not from any school book) that he was a Slaver and state sanctioned terrorist and pirate, who stole other peoples gold to bank roll England (one trip was enough to pay off England’s national debt at the time) and sell stolen slaves. During the Armada it is known that he fucked off during the fight, to rob a Spanish ship he knew to be carrying the Spanish sailors payroll. He wasn’t a hero – he was a fucking crook. People would say he was the product of his times, and its not fair to judge him by todays standards. Problem is, that even by Elizabethan standards. Drake was a pirate who didn’t trade with anyone, he stole it. England was engaged in state sanctioned piracy. Even by their standards of the time, England was taking the piss. When reading History, you must always be aware of context and have a sense of perspective, but above all to look at it honestly and to look at it from all sides.

    That there is a reason why Mr Windswept is so annoyed. He doesn’t want to teach History. He wants to keep peddling the bullshit version of history, so the UK doesn’t end up looking like a greedy, grasping and slimy little spiv – which, during its days of Empire it most assuredly was.
    Thats not to give Scotland a free pass. A lot of Scots did very well out of this business as well.
    The harsh truth is that there is nothing unusual about these people from that time but it is also fair to say that there were many people from that time, who thought this trade abhorrent. For a time they were the exception to the rule. But that is not the case anymore. Any decent historian can look at a period of time and simply state the bald facts. They are not there to pass judgement but to show us a snap shot from a certain period of time, regardless of how uncomfortable or unpleasant it is.
    We as a society can then make a judgement and say – ” that to the people of the time, a statue to a philanthropist who earned his money with slavery, might not have looked out of place.” But today it is inappropriate to celebrate any figure of history, who by today’s standards would be seen as a war criminal, a pirate or worse, a terrorist.

    We did not put these statues up. It was even our parents or Grandparents. It was from a distant past and a distant time. These statues are an echo of the past, put up by people whose ideas of morality and probity were very different from ours. It is distasteful, it is abhorrent. But it is our past. Not the candy coated version that revisionists and apologists like Neil Oliver want to sell us. But an unvarnished and often brutal window on to our past. We do not celebrate slavers nor should we because they went on to spend a lot on charity. The reason this kicked off is that we forgot our past history. Had we remembered it correctly, had it been taught properly at school, then these statues to slavers and other bastards in history would have been removed and consigned to a wing in a museum, were future generations can learn what the term “the banality of evil” means, look it in the eye and with a shock realise they looked like us.

    • Good points David, but disagree on the timescale aspect. The vast majority of these effigies were erected when it was a fashion in the Victorian era, a symbol of Empire towering over the lower classes in public spaces. Colston’s statue was erected in that same period, 170 odd years after his death, and there was much disquiet about it in Bristol at the time by all accounts.

      A remedy to these effigies which has long been sought is a plaque affixed setting down their historical context, a move which has been vigorously defended and stymied by today’s “great and good”, as exampled in Edinburgh etc.. When Bristol frustration boiled over and Colston went for a swim, it echoed sentiments in cities and towns across the UK, perhaps that may change attitudes.

      It is not statues or slavery which is the root of the problem, but denial of appending historical context by the same elites which put the damned things up in the first place.

      Cannot recall which country it was where all the ornaments and effigies of communism were removed to a public park all carefully annotated for historic context, but if the elitists won’t have their Empire view sullied, perhaps that is an alternative solution…

  29. Just picking up from a few days of absence. Superb Paul 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Neil the knob is a complete tosser. I’m told by someone who has been around him, that’s he’s actually a quiet, gentle person and the hair is a tv theme…I’m not so sure…

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