November 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
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
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’ (www.scotsindependent.org)
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
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