"The path of truth is a lonely road" Cairngorms: A cyclist emerging from a cloud inversion. Photo Rob Bruce 2015
2015 has been the year I really started blogging. It was a big step for someone who has worked as a professional journalist and freelance to start putting their work out there onto the web without it being commissioned and paid for. Why would you write something when you are not getting a fee? Once this kind of writing was known as 'vanity publishing'. David Torrance quoted the great and much-missed Ian Bell in his Herald column this week “There is no such thing as free in journalism. Free is just another word for hobby.” Maybe so. I believe in the value of newspapers and professional journalism.
The next Holyrood election is in May and on current form, the SNP will take almost all (if not all) the directly elected seats, leaving the Scottish Parliament with only a token (list-based) opposition. But why is this? There are many issues that “normally” might affect their poll rating.
What really happened at "1707: What Really Happened?"
The faultlines of Scottish politics go back a long way: historians are still arguing about the Union of Parliaments back in 1707 when the Scottish Parliament voted itself out of existence. For some it was a pragmatic decision; for others it was a grave error. These controversies were argued over afresh at “1707: What Really Happened?” at Scotland’s History Festival last month.
Playwrights Tim Barrow and Jen McGregor read from Tim Barrow’s play “Union’ set in 1707. The scene dramatised the clash over the Treaty of Union between Lord Queensberry who was a main proponent of the measure and steered it through Parliament and Lord Hamilton, who led the opposition to it. Here is an excerpt from the scene, set in the “magnificent chamber of the Scottish Parliament”.
Spending Review Sets the Scene for Scottish Tories to Beat Labour into Second Place in Holyrood Election
Was George Osborne’s spending review drawn up with an eye on the forthcoming Holyrood election?
With his U-turn on tax credits, he has certainly redrawn the political landscape; shooting Scottish Labour’s fox and perhaps creating the conditions in which the Scottish Conservative Party could become the second party in Scotland. That would be an earthquake in Scottish political terms.
Perhaps ‘Earthquake’ will be the title of Iain McWhirter’s next book as ‘Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution’ about the SNP landslide at the General Election is piled high in Scotland’s bookshops in time for the Xmas market, illustrated with a Japanese-style drawing of a huge wave.
Jackie Kemp is chairing an event at the History Festival on Thursday November 19 at 7.45. On the panel will be historians Michael Fry, Professor Christopher Whatley, Professor Murray Pittock and dramatists Tim Barrow and Jen McGregor.
1707: What really Happened? November 19, at 28 York Place, Edinburgh. 7.45pm to 9.15pm. Free. Tickets available at www.historyfest.co.uk
In the run up to the historic vote intense debate raged among “Great & Small, Rich & Poor, Old & Young, Men & Woman”. It was ‘the common discourse and universal concern of all ranks of people.” Hundreds of broadsheets and pamphlets poured onto the streets. Speeches from parliamentary debates were printed. The independence lobby were the noisiest - the mob was against. A key contemporary historian was a Jacobite. But many middle class Protestants and merchants were quietly in favour of the Union of Parliaments in 1707.