A People's History of Scotland

A People's History of Scotland by Chris Bambery

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Authors: Chris Bambery
‘Scots Wha Hae’. Their rebellion would follow two years later. Unfortunately,French help arrived too little and too late, and the British administration in Ireland had sufficient time to prepare. Although initially successful, the United Irishmen were eventually defeated and subject to merciless persecution.
    â€˜Scots Wha Hae’ would be sung by radical reformers and Chartists in the 1820s, ’30s and ’40s, not simply in Scotland but south of the border too, in tribute to the idea of freedom. In 1839, the Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor, touring Scortland, reported back from Kilmarnock that the ‘whole population’ could sing the song in perfect harmony. 27 Few of those who recite ‘Scots Wha Hae’ at school or at a Burns Supper will be aware they are inciting revolution.

    I have been lucky to know some of the people I have written about and quoted in this book. As a young student I had to pick up Harry McShane to bring him to a student meeting in Edinburgh and could not believe I was in the same car as someone who had been John Maclean’s right-hand man. I was in Hamish Henderson’s company at Sandy Bells and Morris and Marion Blythman’s daughter Joanna took me to meet them over dinner and good malt afterwards.
    Mike Davis and Tariq Ali suggested I write this book and for that I am grateful but also owe them a debt for the inspiration they have given me over the years.
    My engagement with Scotland’s national question began some four decades ago. The late Neil Williamson wrote on independence as part of a debate among members of the International Marxist Group to which I belonged in both Edinburgh and Glasgow in the 1970s. In the following decade my own clumsy attempts to write on it were superseded by those of Neil Davidson who’s Discovering the Scottish Revolution, 1692–1746 I would urge everyone to read.
    James Foley and Pete Ramand were writing their own book on the Scottish question at the same time as me, and far from being rivals I learned much from them, and I hope they too learned a wee bit fromme. Marion Blythman and Jenny Donaldson also commented on what I wrote about the Women’s Liberation Movement in Scotland.
    I owe thanks to Jonathon Shafi, key organiser of the Radical Independence Campaign, as well as thanks to all the comrades of the International Socialist Group in Scotland.
    My editor at Verso, Leo Hollis, was my best critic and a tower of strength. Thanks to him and all the team at Verso.
    Lastly, apologies to my partner, Carmela, and to our two sons, Malcolm and Leonardo, for the time this project took away from them and for keeping the boys off the computer; double apologies to them for lumping them in with supporting Hibs – as well as Arsenal and Roma. No apologies that they can choose to be Italian or Scots or both – a great choice.
    Any mistakes or faults are my responsibility. Whether the analysis is right, we can debate.

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