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The Highlands and islands

Posted on January 12, 2014 by

Chapter 9 of “The Claim Of Scotland”.


Quote Of The Chapter:

“At least in terms of a modest economic prosperity it is hard to believe that Scotland, if given the power, could not do what Norway has already done.”

Lest inattentive readers need reminding, that was in 1968, years before the oil.

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    1. 12 01 14 20:32

      Scotlands Date With Destiny ¦ 18/09/2014 ¦ The Highlands and islands

    41 to “The Highlands and islands”

    1. gordoz says:

      My copy of the Claim of Scotland (£15) came on Sat morning. Fatherinlaw got hold of it and haven’t seen it since – heard about it at his OAP club  so must be a good read !
      This makes up for it though, was just coming up to this section online anyway  so cheers.

    2. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Photograph of a ‘Highland Clearance’ – it’s in Michael Lynch’s Scotland – A New History. He says it was probably in North Uist, 1895. (Note the elderly woman bottom-right.)

    3. gordoz says:

      6.34 pm –  Is this some kind of record between posts on WoS ?
      See what happens Rev – WoS goes off line and everyone switches camps !
      BT numbers have surged meantime !

    4. Andrew Morton says:

      I worked in the north west Highlands and the Hebrides in the early 1970s and the road system was truly pitiful. Most roads were single track and getting almost anywhere took a long time. I remember that to get from Inverness to, say, Gairloch to make a call and then get back to Inverness again took all day. Imagine my pleasure then, when in 2003 (thirty years later) I returned on holiday and made the trip to Gairloch from Inverness in just over 90 minutes along a superb, well engineered road. 
      The catch? Large signs told me that the road had been built with finance from the EU. I dare say if it had been down to the British government we’d still be driving on single track roads.

    5. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    6. Brian Powell says:

      I thought I’d mention, after the previous article, “The secret of good comedy”, where the headline for the Times Saturday edition was shown as “Labour tells teachers to improve or face sack”, in the Scottish edition it was, “Scotland must face up to role in slavery“. The rest of the front page was identical to the one shown in the article.
      I couldn’t put this up yesterday as Wings was down.

    7. kininvie says:

      Maybe at this point it’s worth turning to Charles Moore’s extraordinary article in the Spectator:
      Forget the dictator bingo and all the untruths for a minute, and listen to the outrage. Then read this:
      The ‘English legend’ referred to in the book is still in place. Neither of the articles I have cited refer to people – culture – way of life. They both view our land as an empty disposable resource for those with money to exploit for their own pleasure. And the thought that this may cease to be the case causes a frothing, uncomprehending fury.

    8. KOF says:

      Somewhat O/T, but did anyone catch the first episode of Falling Skies (Yon Spielberg sci-fi thing) the other night? During a conversation between some of the characters about fighting the aliens who had invaded the Earth one character talked about the success of small determined forces in history making life too tough for an invading army to  remain on their land. One example given in the show was the “Scots fighting the British at Stirling Bridge”. Never a truer word said in ignorance, I thought. 🙂

    9. gerry parker says:

      And the thought that this may cease to be the case causes a frothing, uncomprehending fury.
      I like it!
      And when you lose your temper, you lose the argument.

    10. ronnie anderson says:

      Rev, as some of the winger,s have said, they like myself are not conversant with the WOS twitter feed, & much prefer Facebook,could you, & the winger,s keep that in mind on any other disruption,s to the main site,

    11. Vincent McDee says:

      That prime location link should come with a health warning.
      Another sleepless night ahoy.

    12. Hadrianswall says:

      Saturday Times had a worldwide poll on most admired people. The top 4 in the world were Bill Gates, Obama, Putin & the Pope. 

      The UK poll was interesting. Top 3 were the Queen, Obama & the Pope. Alex Salmond came in at no. 30. That’s in a UK wide poll. The Pope in 3rd place had 3.66%. Alex had 0.46%. As Alex’s vote would all have come from Scotland, on a Scottish only poll he must be the 3rd most admired person in Scotland behind the Queen, and Obama but ahead of the Pope! Amazing! The times didnt comment on it and not seen this story anywhere else. Surprise surprise.  

    13. Les Wilson says:

      Having read your extracts from the book, it feels sad what has and still is being done to us. The Union has been a disaster of biblical proportions for Scotland. They are trying their best to see it continues. However, the English are the ones accountable for all this, and helped by Scots who are gullible and believe all they are told by Westminster coupled with their own self interests. The whole thing is utterly shameful.
      When will we ever learn? If not now, when? We all here know what  will happen, which given the past, we should not be surprised. Scotland is half dead, it will be worse we do not wake up. It would be the biggest mistake we have ever made if we voted no.
      With the one exception, the fact that we joined the Union at all. If only we could get a copy of this book to every household in Scotland, that would seal a Yes by a storming margin and be rid of them. It is not possible of course, but maybe somehow we could make the book downloadable and have the link everywhere we can. Then the real truth would be out. I am no computer wizz but someone here must be. Consider it as our biggest chance to motivate Scottish pride, such as we have left.

    14. Andrew Morton says:

      Les, presumably this book is still in copyright. We’d need to get the permission of the rights holder.

    15. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Les Wilson –
      Hear hear.
      It’s not easy to keep up with all the posts on Wings, and I was a relative latecomer, but of all the posts I have read in the past fifteen months or so, these extracts from Paton’s book have given me most food for thought. 
      What we’ve been reading, one chunk at a time, is, IMO, evidence of a crime against a whole nation. Given the fact that the man was a civil servant, and accustomed to writing in a restrained manner, the bare facts he’s laid out so carefully are all the more powerful.
      There simply isn’t any excuse now – some Scots didn’t want this referendum, some couldn’t care less, and many more (who always have wanted independence) didn’t see this opportunity coming. Like it or not, the decision now has to be made. Anyone looking at Paton’s work impartially, then tracing the fortunes of Scotland since the book was published, can only come to the conclusion that the Union has been disastrous for this nation. There is no logical reason to contend that a No vote will do anything but encourage Westminster to pursue the same vindictive, sadistic London-centric policies.
      The prospect of being physically attacked does wonders for the concentration – and that is where we now are. If we don’t win this thing, we can and should expect to be punished. That’s fair enough, for those of us old enough to know what we’re doing, and prepared to take the consequences. But it’s not fair on the weans. Look at that picture I linked to up-top, of the family huddled on what remains of their home. What happened to those children? Where did they end up? What memories did they carry for the rest of their lives? How did they explain, to themselves as well as others, what had happened?
      I’m studying to get the BA I need to do teacher training. And if we haven’t voted Yes? I’ll be offsky. Australia, NZ, Canada…the usual names, the usual places so many before us ended-up, whether they wanted to go or not. It’s the only way I can see of getting my weans (both teenagers) out of here. Because if we do vote No? I won’t watch them live here just to be treated as third-class citizens by a Westminster elite that doesn’t give a fuck about them. I’ll get them out. 
      Then, maybe, I’ll come back and help push yet again for the independence that we are entitled to. That will be my shout, my decision. This is my home, but it needn’t be my kids’.
      Sorry if this is a bit heavy, but I’m not pissed, and I’m not emotional – fact is, we all have our own stories, motivations for involvement in this process, and that’s mine. It’s been said hundreds of times, here and elsewhere, but it can’t be repeated often enough – we’ve got this one shot at it. Just the one. It’s never happened before, and if UKPlc gets its way? it’ll be generations before it’s allowed to happen again. Now or never.

    16. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Saturday Times had a worldwide poll on most admired people. The top 4 in the world were Bill Gates, Obama, Putin & the Pope. “

      Got a picture/scan/anything?

    17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Rev, as some of the winger,s have said, they like myself are not conversant with the WOS twitter feed, & much prefer Facebook,could you, & the winger,s keep that in mind on any other disruption,s to the main site,”

      I use Facebook as little as humanly possible. It’s an awful, toxic thing.

    18. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      A neighbour came in from church today in a bit of state. They are organising a food bank in Dunoon. They have been asked to bring in food that doesn’t have to be cooked or HEATED. Some of the recipients cant afford to use their cookers
      I worked for 15 years in Africa and I can’t believe this. 

    19. Andrew Morton says:

      @Ian Brotherhood
      As I’ve indicated already, I was around when this book was published and the information it contains was well known to the Scottish public, heck, we were living it. That’s where the impetus for the modern SNP came from. It’s only because we have our own parliament, however limited, that this seems such a contrast to younger people. I know that if we vote No, they’ll screw us over. However what I also know is that the more they screw us over the likelier it is we’ll vote Yes the next time. Experience has taught me to take the long view.

    20. kininvie says:

      What you say.
      We may be at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but the rage burns equally deep, I assure you.
      I’ll tell you what gets to me, my friend – it’s the sense of being patronised, ignored, allowed into the gang on suffrance. Above all, it’s the sheer ignorance, and the failure even to bother to make the effort to understand.
      When was Scotland last a happy and peaceful country? 1286, that’s when. And here’s what they said. Almost as if they knew what was coming:

    21. Elizabeth says:

      Rev Stu, Re poll of ‘most admired, it’s a YouGov one:

    22. call me dave says:

      “Why are you sleeping”  Says the skipper from Norway.  Marvelous book!
      I’ve been catching up on the last three chapters and it’s like walking over a shallow grave, it’s frightening, every second or third paragraph is just as pertinent today as it was then. There are references everywhere that show we are not really any further forward in terms of social justice or economic fairness. It makes me so angry.
      We have been ethnically cleansed and to all intents neutered, it’s a miracle we are still able to have one last chance at independence. The landslide in last election was great but the vote in 2007 where we squeaked in by just one seat to be the largest party must be regarded as the turning point, without that final declaration in Kirkcaldy we would not be here. We must do this thing in September.  

    23. john king says:

      Oops seem to have touched a nerve
      “Thanks for contacting the BBC.
      We understand you feel it’s inappropriate to schedule English football coverage on BBC Scotland, as you believe the level of interest or viewers would not justify the broadcasting of programmes like ‘Match of the Day’.
      The BBC is a national broadcaster and BBC One is a national television channel, albeit Scotland, like Wales and Northern Ireland have their own continuity and some local-only programming, like ‘Sportscene’, on BBC One Scotland. ‘Match of the Day’ is also a national programme thus can be seen by everyone – and there remains a huge demand from all over the UK for it the programme, indeed that’s perhaps why it’s one of our oldest and longest-running programmes.
      We disagree with your view that not many people in Scotland are interested in seeing Premier League highlights on the BBC because it is incredibly popular around the entire globe, and it’s worth adding here that of course Scottish football like all other home nations enjoys a mix of both local and national coverage across the BBC too. The Premier League is no longer just English football clubs with Welsh involvement of course, and we understand there are calls to the governing body to permit future involvement by other UK nations.
      We’re naturally sorry to learn that you feel MOTD is “imposed” by the BBC on Scotland but we can’t agree: the programme is provided to all viewers right across the UK by the BBC like any other national programme whereby audiences can choose whether they wish to watch it or not based on their own personal and individual tastes and preferences.
      This is the very premise of being a “broadcaster”, in that the BBC endeavours to serve the whole of the diverse United Kingdom but as a broadcaster by definition our approach has to be somewhat “broad” thus requiring a degree of compromise by all parties. That being the case, there is no way that we can possibly hope to match every single individual viewer’s own personal and subjective expectations, demands, preferences or tastes but we hope that viewers generally are comfortable and happy with our general approach.
      Other audience feedback doesn’t suggest to us that your views are widely shared thus we have to deduce that audiences, generally speaking, are happy with how these things work and appreciate that it’s not a question of foisting anything on anyone but simply providing a service to national audiences as best we can to try and best reflect audience expectations.
      You refer to “Scottish licence fee payers’ money” and describe the broadcasting of MOTD in Scotland as a misuse, but we must explain that we do not separate TV Licence fee revenue based on geography as you are perhaps suggesting. All revenue is aggregated and used to fund the entire BBC which centres of national programming alongside specific local services such as Scotland-only programming across BBC One Scotland and BBC Two Scotland and other outlets such as BBC Radio Scotland…
      Clearly you dislike MOTD and/or the Premier League as a premise and we’re sorry to hear that, but as explained we cannot agree with your view that the programme shouldn’t be broadcast nationally including in Scotland. Like any audience member, you of course have the right to choose not to watch the programme yourself, but we believe many, many Scottish viewers greatly value and enjoy the programme every week and they rightly expect the BBC as the UK’s national public service broadcaster to provide them with this coverage.
      Please be assured we’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.
      The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.
      Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.
      Kind Regards
      Andrew Hannah
      BBC Complaints

    24. john king says:

      Anyone want me to respond to this totally arrogant and unbelievable response, apparently you all are on the edge of your seats waiting to see highlights of West Ham v Aston  Villa

    25. edulis says:

      I can so identify with this book, especially this extract. I remember once having to do my duty by my employer and stand in grouse butts in the Peak District in England. One of the guns was Lord Leverhulme of Lewis fame. In conversation with him I casually asked him about his land interests in Scotland. He was dismissive of the crofters that made his life difficult. He gave me the impression that it was not that they were obstructive so much as the fact that he was being stymied in what he could do with his land and crofting legislation was such a bother – an Englishman and his castle and all that.
      Iain MacWhirter’s article in the Herald continues the theme by blaming the whole economic mess in which the UK finds itself with this English obsession with property. It is that obsession which saw Clan Chiefs sign up to English public schools and become lairds rather than stewards of their local communities, even to simply assuming that they owned stuff that wasn’t theirs e.g the Cuillin of Skye as Andy Wightman has revealed in his recent book, ‘The Poor had no Lawyers’.

    26. john king says:

      “This is the very premise of being a “broadcaster”, in that the BBC endeavours to serve the whole of the diverse United Kingdom but as a broadcaster by definition our approach has to be somewhat “broad” thus requiring a degree of compromise by all parties.”
      Dontcha just luv em ? 
      no wonder we just cant wait to part with our licence fees eh? 🙁

    27. OT: LFI now over 4000 likes the natives are getting restless.

    28. tartanpigsy says:

      F**kin’ Hell that’s a lot more reply than any political complaint, they must be feeling sensitive, good, they should be.
      Still think pressing the money spent on EPL v SPL point could wake a few ‘cannae-be-bothered’s’

    29. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Rev Stu, Re poll of ‘most admired, it’s a YouGov one:”

      Ta. Shame about Farage 😀

    30. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @kininvie –
      Either end of the spectrum? Maybe we’re where MacDiarmid always tried to be – where extremes meet: ‘It’s the only way I ken to dodge the curst conceit ay bein richt, that damns the vast majority of men.
      Or then again, perhaps the ‘political’ spectrum simply isn’t broad enough to encompass the scale of change we now face? In any event mister, we’re in for the fight of our lives, and I’m delighted we’re on the same side.

    31. msean says:

      Every time I read part of this book,I feel as if it was written recently. On the subject of  the emmigration of Scots,I often wondered what they did in the New World.I found this book which helped.

    32. Molly says:

      John king, I do know people who watch MOTD on a Saturday night but what’s the excuse for The football League show which follows immediately after? 
      The BBC diverse? Thats why there has been non stop debate about corroboration , explaining to people in Scotland what a  fundamental change in the law (by removing corroboration )could mean
      Thats why Curriculum for Excellence was never explained to the wider public, what is involved
      Thats why the 20/20 Govt paper for the NHS (Scotland) was never explained to the public, explaining they have a role in their NHS. 
      Then we wonder why some Scots say “they don’t know enough”
      Personally I think a channel that can Commision another series of Miranda is seriously wanting but I’ll shut up now because MOTD 2 is on.

    33. SquareHaggis says:

      The link you posted leads to a blank .pdf page. I’m interested to know more.
      Checked the Kinghorn website but couldnae find a link, any chance of a wee pointer?

    34. Hetty says:

      regards this book, which is excellent, blood boiling at the cruelty and oppression of the people of Scotland, but also, the lack of knowledge, ie education about it. I hope that if it is a yes vote, we can regain much of the arable land, the ‘machair’, so that rural Scotland can be inhabited by the people, ideoligical I know, but hey when I go to buy me tatties and leeks, why the heck are they nearly all from England! Forks and spades at the ready, time for change! Yes! 

    35. Andrew Morton says:

      Does anyone have a link to a readable version of the Purcell article in the Sunday Times?

    36. Seoras says:

      I come from that lost generation of Highlanders who, with 4 grandparents that had to learn English and a mother also fluent in gaelic, has to admit that I cannot speak very much in my native tongue.
      Ironic then that in many parts of the Highlands and Islands that it is the English couple who sold Hetty her tatties and leeks that are sending their kids to the ever increasing number of gaelic-medium primary schools.
      But perhaps the worst irony of all is that 2 of my grandparents are going to vote No in the referendum, as we Scots “are too fiery to look after our own affairs”. It’s the Union for them. The very same Union that turned it’s back on the Gaels generations ago. They’re is nothing that will persuade them otherwise. I’ve even cited Skye as being the hotbed of civil disobedience that led to the Napier Commission and that their ancestors if they were alive today and given the same choice as they’re getting would be voting Yes.
      And that brings me back to the English couple and their gaelic speaking offspring. Which way will they be voting in September?? If they vote Yes, then it’ll just cancel out 2 natives who are breaking my heart.

    37. Andrew Morton says:

      Unfortunately a lot of Scots actually believe that we can’t run our own affairs. They’ve been brainwashed.

    38. kininvie says:

      @ square haggis
      Sorry about that. Works for me on Firefox. The link is to a memorial In Kinghorn, where Alexander III died. The words are also here, which I hope works for you:
      Brings half a tear to my eye every time…

    39. Robyn - Quine fae Torry says:

      Sorry Rev, am a wee bit tipsy so forgive me.  I’ve been writing apologies to the in-laws tonight as well. LOL.  I hope they are as, if not more, coherent than this.  No offence. 
      I comment on this site infrequently because most of you say, more eloquently, what I feel about indy.  This series of posts by the Rev has made me feel more sad than others because I have felt and can see, always, what Scotland can be.  There is a Fleetwood Mac song – Songbird – and I always think about Scotland when I hear it sung. Am a sentimentalist at heart – forgive me. I will always love Scotland and I will love it like never before.  It isnae really a logical response. 
      I love this country and all of its culture and ways.  I am not xenophobic, am well traveled, and love England and Europe and the World as much. I grew up in East Central Fife off the back of the Miners Strike and feel its effects to this day in Aberdeen.  My partner (English, sympathetic to the cause of indy and parents who live in Languedoc, France, which I love) is also a Yes.  I also think England should have its own parliament, and after Scotland, I feel most at home in North Wales for the simple reason that it is bonny.
      Today, I was in Fife, my happy homelands, Elie, for the first time in a very long time.  A lot wiser than the girl that used to sing “Derry’s Walls” because her dad liked RFC.  Why do I feel so inferior about my home? I feel sometimes like I apologise for my accent in Aberdeen – even though my accent is almost Doric now.  A’body up here thinks am from Glasgow! Lol – sorry Rev.  My point is, that having lived in sort of dissimilar regions, I can appreciate what both have to offer and that they are not , actually that dissimilar.  Maybe it is me?  I wish I knew more about Scotland as I did about NIreland and England as a child is what I am trying to say. 
      I sometimes feel I have had the Scottishness kicked out of me, although now I do not feel embarrassed about it.  I feel almost defiant about it and I do not put on the telephone voice now.  But it has taken a bloody long time to feel comfortable with it.  I live in Torry, Aberdeen.  So thanks to all the couthy folk here who knows what that means and who have helped me over the last 12 years.  In recent months, I have felt more proud to be Scottish than I ever have.  When I walk or run around to the Torry Battery and look at the Saltire and think the next stop from the sea is Norway or Holland.  Aberdeen is a unique place and it has shaped the way I think about Scotland.  Is there a more scenic gateway to Scotland than Aberdeen Harbour?? Aberdonians seem to me to be so confident and they always seem to know the answers and are willing to take a different perspective, that it rubs off.
      The things I have learned in Aberdeen make me proud of my Scottish heritage.  Thanks Aberdeen.  You are a great city and the bothy ballads of your countryside and especially the Christian Watt diaries and James Leslie Mitchell of Auchnagatt and latterly, Arbuthnott, they really have helped me with Scottish heritage.  I know there is a lot gone before and after,  that has passed me by unfortunately. 
      My primary schooling was first rate.  High-schooling was SHITE. 
      In Aberdeen, I read Sunset Song, on the recommendation of another Medical Secretary.  It is an astounding book.  Sorry, Rev, I said I was tipsy.  I am rambling now.  I got American fiction at high school.  It meant nothing to me.  I am all right at English from a knowledge point-of-view, but I take note of the grammar pointers as  I would like to know more than what I do and I was always taught to put 2 spaces after a full stop. 
      When I read Sunset Song for the first time, that is when I felt deprived of anything ever.  How could I have not known of this book before 2004?  I have read extensively and used to stay in at break time at primary school reading Roal Dahl books, rather than go out and play.  Chris Guthrie is Scotland and I cannot get her out of my head.  I feel this deprivation til today as a 32-year-old.  I hope my kids do not feel that deprivation because, having caught up somewhat, there is nothing that has not been written or thought by a Scot, that has not been written by anyone from anywhere else in the world; I say that with an open and glad heart, not from a “no-one else could” viewpoint.  I feel like my culture has been denied to me.  This is the main thing that makes me angry about it all. 
      #too much gin and fresh, home air. 
      good luck tae us all
      I am glad this site exists.  I learn a lot not only from you, Rev, but from the other contributors and you should not take for granted that everyone knows what you know because a lot of people, who consider themselves reasonably well traveled and educated, have possibly not had half the education they deserved for whatever reasons. 

       I have traveled in Lewis and the Highlands a fair bit – camping – fucking too many sheep in Scotland for a good nights sleep but still, the black houses and Lewis  and Caithness and Smoo Cave, as well as the clarity of the light and seas around the Tongue, are something I will never forget – that is what I want to know more about – not the big houses but the wee houses of Scotland.  I want to know more about my land and the people like me who live/d there. 
      #am pouring another gin
      it has been a long day. 
      sorry Rev.
      Gin-fueled spiel over.

    40. yerkitbreeks says:

      WE should note that the Norwegian initiatives described long predated the discovery of her oilfields

    41. gordoz says:

      More power to you for your honesty Robyn – repression of Scottish interests (and her sovereign people) is at the Heart of the British state.
      Similarly the common folk of England suffer much the same but that is form them to reolve.

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