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The Tartan Army
Chapter 7

[the sword hissed in the air]

Between the bombing at Bridge of Earn in September 1973 and July 1974, the Tartan Army did nothing but watch the S. A. S. looking for them and generally keeping an eye on things. The "things" were all good. Money and members were flooding into the S. N. P. They left their humble headquarters in Manor Place and set up in Charlotte Square in the New Town of Edinburgh; the posh side of the city and now had a substantial H. Q. rubbing shoulders with government offices, banks and oil companies. They took on full time staff which was beginning to look more like a civil service rather than the mere employees of a political party.  In the October election of 1974 they won four more seats bringing their total to 11 and came second in another 49. There were at that time 62 seats in Scotland. The oil producing countries invited the S. N. P. , and not the British Government,  to attend their annual general meeting in Vienna. OPEC knew who was calling the tune in Britain; the S. N. P.  The Labour Party, realizing that they were falling way behind,  appointed an oil spokesman. He discovered that the Labour Party had no knowledge at all of oil and he appealed to the S. N. P.  The S. N. P.  handed him all their files on oil. It was reminiscent of the Maoris who when they discovered that the British army's ammunition had failed to arrive for battle, handed them 50% of their own ammunition. The British won the ensuing fight and the Maoris lost their nation. The Labour party appointed Dick Mabon,  their parliamentary member for the constituency of Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire; the home of the Tartan Army. Mabon would eventually cross over to the S. N. P. and now stands for election to the European Community. 

Up to this time it was all plain sailing. The S. N. P.  were rampant. Exiles were selling up and returning to Scotland from all over the world to join the party. If anyone had suggested at that time that the S. N. P.  would inflict upon themselves an almost mortal wound and bring the nationalist movement to a near fatal disaster, then they would have laughed their socks off. Winifred Ewing,  when she was the only S. N. P.  member in Westminster asked the government if they would give one million pounds to replace Glasgow slums [the worst in Europe]. She thought that this was a reasonable request since the Government had donated one million pounds to build a new monkey house in Regent's Park Zoo, [London of course]. Parliament fell about laughing. They weren't laughing now. Like Ireland there was nothing funny about Scotland. They gave 200 million pounds as part of their push a banana through the bars policy for the Scottish "monkeys". This was only a small fraction of the huge bounty that England had got from its rape of Scotland. 

And now the S. N. P would start to "blow it". The Tartan Army pointed out to Billy Wolfe, [of course the chairman of the S. N. P. had no idea that their spokesman, McGuigan, was the Tartan Army], that the S. N. P. now held the balance of power, which they did,  in the "hung" parliament,  and that they should bring down the Conservative Government at the first opportunity, return to Scotland and they would obviously sweep the polls and we would have Home Rule and never mind papers green or white. Six hundred years previously, Robert The Bruce had told the Scots that they must choose the time and place for battle. His advice had been ignored when the Scots crossed over the border into England and were slaughtered at Floden in 1514,  and now it was happening again.  The S. N. P. didn't respect the lessons of history and disappeared 400 miles to the South of England away from their home base and were now like headless chickens up a Westminster cul de sac waiting to be slaughtered.  They failed to grab the best chance that Scotland had had since 1745. They decided to play the Westminster party political game and talk instead of act. "Come into my parlour said the English spider to the Scottish fly and they did. It was the beginning of the end.  In Scotland their 800, 000 supporters waited and waited and waited for the S. N. P. to act whilst their enemies trembled.  Billy Wolfe said that the S. N. P's members in Parliament were going to play Westminster party politics. Instead of fighting the battle for Scotland on their home ground they were going to do it out on a limb 400 miles deep into England; and they in their new role as elitists thought they knew better.  The English were delighted when they saw that the S. N. P.  were amateurs. The Labour party was also pleased. The last thing they wanted was an election,  for obvious reasons. They would get decimated in Scotland by the S. N. P.  and would also probably lose several seats to Plaid Cymru in Wales. Since the Labour Party desperately needed the 60 or so safe Labour votes in these countries to keep their heads above water in England, then they would probably not only lose the election but would be permanently marginalised in an independent England. The Scotch professional politicians would find that the S. N. P.  would get all the credit for the new oil rich Scotland which would become the Kuwait of the North and they would lose their monthly pay checks.  England would then be deprived of the huge subsidy of whisky, oil and gas. The Scotch Labour Party would be blamed for the disaster. The English voters would turn on Labour and would vote Tory.  For these reasons Labour had no intention of honouring the hundred year old promise to get Home Rule for Scotland. 

It had looked like 1745 again. Bonnie Prince Charlie had landed at Glen Finnan. The war pipe and pennant were at Inverlochy and the Scots were marching from all over the world. The media from Vancouver to Delhi not only carried the news of the Tartan Army they also gave wonderfull publicity to the S. N. P.  and the new spirit in Scotland.  What they didn't know was that the S. N. P. had reached their "DERBY" and were already turning back as Charlie did on that fatefull day in 1746 when he decided not to go for London which was waiting for him with open arms.  The S. N. P.  were preparing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

If the people of Scotland were waiting for their new found leaders to act then the Tartan Army wasn't waiting for anybody. They knew what would happen if they waited for results from Westminster. All two of them held a high level conference and decided that they would shove another one up their pipe.  When Gerry was living at Channonenry Point on the Black Ilse Don visited him and brought with him a young giant built like the side of a house and told Gery that he recruited him. Gerry wasn,t too happy about this but Eoin MacPherson was a quiet unassuming man with brute strength which might be usefull, so when they went to blow the pipeline at Bo'ness, Eoin came along. As at Bridge of Earn the trench had been dug and the pipes were lying waiting to go in or were already placed in the trench. Gerry drove the car and Don and Eoin got out and crossed the field and laid the bomb set to explode at three in the morning. As usual they repaired to the bar in Menstrie and had a pint and a chat with the locals.  It was getting to be routine.  It was July 1974. 

Within two weeks of this event McGuigan's parents in Dundee received a phone call from man called Robertson. He claimed that he had worked with Gerry on the oil rigs and wanted to know where he could contact him.  This was very strange.  Gerry knew no-one called Robertson. Neither had he worked on oil rigs. It was a very clumsy attempt by the police, or was it? This was obviously the same Robertson who had done sterling service for England when the Stone of Destiny had been retrieved from Westminster Abbey in 1951.  But the Scottish police could easily find out, if they didn't already know where Gerry was. However the English police would not find it so easy. Had they got Robertson to work for them, not wanting the Scots police to know that they didn't trust them? They knew that Gerry spoke Gaelic probably and hoped that the Gaelic speaking man from Skye could use his language as he had in 1951 for England's gain. But Robertson, as all those who have read of his part in the Stone affair know, is or was a very smart man. It was his intuition that took him to the Mitchell library in Glasgow to find out who had recently been researching into the Stone of Destiny. He discovered that it was a Glasgow university student whose spoke Gaelic. When he visited her house he overheard her speaking to the other conspirators on the phone in Gaelic. He caught them. This thrilling tale can be read in the book of that name"The Stone of Destiny".  Robertson was nobody's fool and this apparently clumsy attempt at catching McGuigan was too obvious. Perhaps he was warning Gerry.  Perhaps like Judas of old he had repented and in the autumn of his life, no longer a serving policeman, he had found his roots; Scotland.  

Two weeks later, Gerry was returning to his home near the city of Edinburgh from a five mile jog when he saw a large man run from the door, jump into a car a race off. It turned out that this was "Romeo" Brown of the Edinburgh police. He had knocked on the door and run away without waiting for anyone to answer.  Later another cop had called and asked if Gerry would go to the local police H. Q.  and have a talk. Gerry went and had a talk with two high ranking officers about who might be doing all this bombing. It was a very laid back chit chat and the cops didn't take any notes. Gerry got the impression that the cops were just obeying orders and in fact were not interested in finding out anything. An impression that would be repeated by all the police in the ensuing years except for two. 

Don and Gerry now realised that they were running very close to the edge. It was July 1974. 

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