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75 Years of the Scots Independent
November 2001

Peter D Wright, Executive Chairman, Scots Independent NewspaperNovember 1926 was an important literary as well as political month for Scotland. On the 22nd of the month Hugh MacDiarmid’s masterpiece in Scots "A Drunk Man Looks At The Thistle" was published, and 26th November was the date of the official launch of a new political newspaper "The Scots Independent". The new paper backed the case for Scottish Independence and was launched under the auspices of the Scots National League.

The present executive chairman Peter D Wright recounts for us the history and the fortunes of the paper from 1926 to the present day.

From the outset the Scots Independent called for the formation of a "Scottish National Party" and the Scots National League was among the bodies which came together to form the National Party of Scotland in 1928. Among the founders of the National Party was Christopher Murray Grieve, who wrote under the pen-name of Hugh MacDiarmid, and who became an early contributor to the new political newspaper. Back numbers of the Scots Independent clearly show that the backbone of the new political party owed much to the Branch structure of the Scots National League.

For a political newspaper to survive without any subsidy from a political party must be unique. This has most certainly been the case since 1957 when the present limited company took over responsibility for the Scots Independent from the Scottish National Party. But it must be acknowledged that the paper's continuation is very much due to the donations from readers, and in particular the generosity of the SI postal subscribers. Two excellent examples of the generosity of the readers are the support for the Scots Independent Schools Sponsorship Campaign (which enables us to send a copy every month to Scottish secondary schools), and sponsorship of the CD ‘Independent Scots’ to celebrate the SI’s 75th anniversary.

Earlier this year it was decided to do something unique to mark this anniversary and I was given permission to approach Gaberlunzie, Gordon Menzies and Robin Watson, the premier Scottish Folk duo, to record a CD of ‘Independence’ songs. The Gabs readily agreed and made a CD ‘Independent Scots’ with a mixture of new material and old favourites which would appeal to all Scots and Nationalists in particular. Gordon Menzies wrote a special song ‘Scots Independent’ recalling the launch of the SI under the first Editor William Gillies, aided by his son lain (grandfather and father respectively of Anne Lorne Gillies), to headline the CD. ‘Independent Scots’ has been well received and proved to be of wide appeal to all Scots.

The trust laid down by the SI founders, the Gillies Clan, according to Gordon’s song, and the first Business Manager, Tom H Gibson, is carried on by the present ‘volunteer’ team based at 51 Cowane Street. Loyalty and service is the keystone of the continued production of this Nationalist newspaper. For example, present Business Manager, Tom K Preston, has been doing that job since 1958 when he was introduced to the SNP National Council by Dr Robert D McIntyre, and the indefatigable Editor, W Kenneth Fee, has been producing the SI every month since 1985.

No mention of the story of the Scots Independent would be complete without paying tribute to the contribution made by Dr Robert D McIntyre. From the 1940s until his death in 1998, Dr McIntyre ensured the survival of this newspaper. This over and above the immense service he gave to the Scottish National Party, his heavy work-load as a Hospital Consultant and his many years as a Councillor in Stirling. Without his sterling effort, we would not be celebrating the Scots Independent’s 75th anniversary.

We live in a totally different age from that in which the Scots Independent was founded. Publishing today is much easier, with the passing of the days of hot metal, the rapid development of information services such as the world-wide web, and 24 hours’ news coverage on television. The Scots Independent in June 2001 joined the web and ‘Flag in the Wind’ ( has been updated, every week since then, by Jim Lynch. His valiant effort in providing a weekly political commentary with allied features has taken us back to days when the Scots Independent was weekly. Thanks must be paid to the SI Webmaster, Alastair McIntyre of Electric Scotland, without whose expertise ‘The Flag’ would never had been flown!

But there is a vital place for the printed word and the continuation of the Scots Independent newspaper is still our main aim. All those associated with the Scots Independent will carry on the task laid down by our founders and the dedication of Dr Robert D McIntyre — to continue production of a newspaper which espouses the case for Scottish Independence. A task which will be carried on until the day comes when the Saltire flies over a FREE SCOTLAND.

Peter D Wright
Executive Chairman



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