From across the Atlantic
at this time an emigrant Scot, Arthur Donaldson, who was to play an
important part in the future of the Nationalist Movement in Scotland and
to work in close contact with Robert McIntyre, was making his views felt
on the issue of expulsions.
prompted a reply from Roland E Muirhead (President of the National Party
of Scotland) to the effect: "You (Donaldson) say that the Party has
gone back to the exploded Home Rule programme. If that means it has
departed from the claim for independent national status, it is not
But no amount of
blandishments could conceal that MacCormick was willing to employ a
considerable degree of flexibility in tactics in order to bring into
being the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish
Donaldson had been in the
United States from the age of 21. Born in Dundee in 1901, he describes
himself as a "reluctant politician". In view of his lifeís
activity spanning 92 years, this needs to be taken with a guarded
incredulity. When his intelligence, tenacity, energy and sacrifice are
examined, one wonders what he would have been like if the
"reluctant" factor had been absent.
His boyhood years were marred by the death of his
father when Arthur was a mere nine years old, and the fact that he was
able to complete a school education to obtain a group of five Highers is
an indication of more than usual intelligence.
He commenced journalism
in Dundee and, after receiving a wide basic training, he decided to try
his hand at the same profession in the States. This was not an easy
proposition, due to differences in the laws, politics and social
conditions and he eventually found employment in the motor car industry
in Detroit, as a Secretary to an engineering department head. Back to
school he went, to the Detroit Technical College, to learn the language
Although he was now
beginning to be established in the United States, he never had any real
intention of staying there.
He joined the National
Party of Scotland in 1928, as an overseas member, and Scotlandís
political and economic plight was never far from his thoughts. In a
remarkable memoir written between December 1930 and June 1931, he set
out his thoughts.
Posing the questions:
"What of a new Scotland? What is it I want to see it become? What
shall I direct my efforts towards?".
He gives his answers.
"I would wish to see a new Scotland a stronghold of individuality.
Our people, if I know them, are the heirs to a strenuous individuality,
reduced in these days by unfavourable surroundings to a mere stubborn
thrawuness. But the elements are there for a great revival and the
material conditions of the country are such that there is a minimum
satisfaction with existing conditions, a possibility of a fierce
discontent which will wreck the old inhibitions and make room for new
thoughts in new ways. This is at present still true almost only of
economic conditions but it will not be impossible to divest some of the
fire with other things, and it is in fact already being done by
Renaissance workers and propagandists."
He goes on to give his
views on problems of land ownership and the future of the Highlands and
adopts a highly restrictionist approach on the issue of the need to
contain immigration of foreign labour into Scotland by arguing
that,"... our problems will be difficult enough without having to
shoulder the hordes of other nations".
He has distinctive views
"Much has to be done
to bring Scotland into line with the more progressive countries. This
must come before any consideration of school period. The whole system of
education must be re-organised around the needs of the communities. The
idea of education as scholarship must be upset and the wider one of full
individual development substituted.
Vocational education must
be made vital in the community life and directed also to the needs of
industry, commerce and agriculture. The craftsman must be exalted into
equality with the scholar but it must be an equality of standards and
these the higher.
Scholarships for travel
and study in foreign countries should be provided.
Internationally the policy of the new government will
be towards the advancement of peace.
Foreign economic policy
will call for agreements with other units of the British Isles.
It should not be too
difficult to arrive at some form of Zollverein ..."
Donaldson saw the need to
give specific assistance for business to export. "The interest of
Scottish business will in many cases require special representation
abroad and it should be possible to do this economically on a basis
similar to that used by American automobile companies abroad-by
travelling representatives with large territories each and central
offices at strategic points."
This document deals with
Donaldsonís assessment, thoughts and aspirations. He set out his plan
for a newspaper and its functions. He discloses he has a desire to write
a novel. This desire is of long-standing. Donaldson claims, "in my
boyhood I started writing stories - started and left unfinished
countless novels, actually finished one or two. Then I learned sense and
became too busy with things of life to keep up the habit. Always,
however, I have the idea that I had only suspended my activities, that
when I had gained enough contact with life I would return to novel
writing". But his real aim, in term of self-analysis, are clear.
Donaldsonís disciplined outlook was, "To determine the goals and
objectives, then to divide them up for limited exploitation and lay out
a plan for the attack". But what does he, "desire us to
be?". In his case, "My thoughts and efforts lie along the
lines of the publicist - I desire to play a manís part in influencing
and directing the thoughts of my countrymen and through them eventually
humanity". He recognises that, so starkly put, this may seem
grandiose but contends that, "It is correct and entirely
logical". He will not constrict his horizons. "In attempting
anything one may limit his immediate objectives but retain a generous
conception of ultimate ones... It may never be possible to reach those
furthest limits - and yet it may be - but in any case we all have to do
what we can and the way to achieve it is to begin." The journey of
a thousand miles from Scotland began with significant and impressive
steps. No doubt, the most important was the joint passage of time of
sixty years with a lass from Forfar, Vi Bruce. Vi has a cryptic recall
of their first meeting.
She was visiting a friendís
house in Detroit and she encountered Arthur who was listening to a ball
game on the radio. He passed what Vi took to be a sharp comment to her
friend and Viís spontaneous retaliation was a sharp smack on Arthurís
cheek. He went off to return later with an invitation to "go to the
movies" and thus began their long and happy partnership.
In 1932, they were married and set up home in
Washington, where Arthurís position as Assistant Secretary of the
Chrysler Corporation Government Sales subsidiary gained him additional
valuable experience on US industry and govermnent relations.
In the mid-1930ís, now with a family (a daughter,
Beth, and a second child expected) Vi was persuaded to return to
Scotland to assess the situation. The idea was that Vi would stay with
her family in Forfar and, if she felt she could settle again there,
Arthur would follow in about six months. Instead of waiting the six
month period, he was home in little more than three months to
re-commence his battles on his own soil.
And it was literally back to the land, with a
vengeance. Assessing the situation, a decision was made to set up a
poultry farm at Lugton in Ayrshire. This was a culture shock from the
bustle of Washington DC, but it meant that Arthur could devote energy,
time and intellect to Scotlandís problems from a Scottish base.
A Bannockburn Rally brought him into direct contact
with Robert McIntyre. Vi recalls that Robert was introduced to her,
"Yon way in the field... we went to a Bannockburn Rally and walked
through Stirling when there was may be one piper and a dozen of us, and
folk looking at us and say, "What on earth are they doing?".
Queried on the issue of the strength of the relations
between Robert and Arthur, because both claimed to have strong opinions,
the response is direct: "They always worked together and got