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Dr Robert D McIntyre
Chapter 7 - Arthur Donaldson


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.

Donaldsonís views 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 true".

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 Party.

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 of engineering.

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 on education:

"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 on."


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