Aspiration and Inspiration

Commemoration  Day
This publication date is the first anniversary of the death of Jimmy Halliday.



Aspiration and Inspiration

I am about one third of the way through reading the White Paper, and I am in no hurry to finish it, but finish reading it I will.  One friend who read the introduction commented “It says it all”, but I like the detail.  So far I find nothing to disagree with, and I do not anticipate any fault finding.

To put this into context for readers; I joined the SNP in 1966, when I was living in Peterhead.  Up to then I had no contact with any Nationalist; my education in Dundee, then a brief attempt to enter the religious life (3years), and National Service with the Black Watch  obscured any vision of Scotland, although I do remember having heated arguments with boys in my class about Scotland’s ability to be independent.  I also remember singing the hymn “Faith of our Fathers” and substituting “Scotland”  for “this land” – with a guilty feeling that I was doing something sacrilegious!

I do not remember exactly when I had my first letter to the Scotsman published, but it was around 1966 when I was living in Peterhead.  The letter started “Dear Mr English Taxpayer” and went on to thank him for the multifarious benefits to my life funded by him, whomsoever he might be!  The Scotsman, a different publication in those days, put it in a box in the middle of the page, a sure sign that the Letters Editor agreed with me.

At that time, I was in no doubt that we could manage on our own , but that it would probably take about 10 years to develop the full benefits of independence;  that view has not changed.

The White Paper has put flesh on the bones of my thoughts; they were not crystallised or foreseen but just a general belief that things would be much better.  Instinctively I felt we wanted to be fairer, safer, healthier and wealthier, the last of these to help a much poorer world.

The discovery of oil, much disparaged and denigrated by London, and by some “left leaning” members of the SNP, merely told me that we could fix things much more quickly.  Of course, London lied about the value of oil;  SNP Researcher Donald Bain had been studying and analysing figures, and he came up with a conservative estimate of £800 million a year.  This figure was treated with scorn and disbelief by London and the Unionist parties.  Thirty years after that the release of Cabinet Papers – the McCrone Report –showed that we had got the figures wrong – they ran into billions!   All kept secret from the people,  and all squandered

by Tory and Labour Governments, with assistance from the Liberals  as and when required.

And London wants to keep the oil revenue, which is the whole thrust of Better Together.

The White Paper is a blueprint, a manifesto, or a statement of intent, a range of possibilities for Scotland.  No one has put this together before and I find it inspiring.


The jaundiced view

As ever we find various elements determined to rain upon the parade – a bit superfluous with the weather we have been experiencing.  First off,  Labour MSP for Rutherglen, James Kelly, ray of sunshine that he is .  He is back on the Glasgow Airport Rail Link cancelled by the SNP as a waste of money, and harping on about selling off the land acquired at a whopping loss.

He blissfully ignored the fact that the valuation of the land required was done via the Strathclyde Passenger Authority – a Labour dominated quango;  the sale was made as required by the Scottish Parliament Finance Manual, but nobody wanted it, so the original owner bought it back for peanuts.  By the way the same Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority estimated that there would be a reduction of 13 vehicles per hour after 21 years – hardly a recommendation for spending a prospective £300 million or so. (Written Parliamentary Answer S30-8422 of 12 Nov 2009 to Charlie Gordon).  Mr Kelly also failed to mention that he and his Better Together cronies forced through the Edinburgh Tram Project against the wishes of the SNP, who had planned to spend the vast bulk of the £500 million on dualling the A9;  the good people of Edinburgh will pay for that fiasco for many years to come.  All because Labour MSPs shouting about  Glasgow being short changed were blowing all that money on Edinburgh

And then another excitable bore, North of Scotland Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald   who enthusiastically spends his current political life with the Labour Party’s determined drive to vilify Alex Salmond and make him a hate figure.   As the Referendum approaches, Police Scotland has appointed a Security Adviser  for the First Minister.  Mr McDonald has attacked this as Alex Salmond trying to boost his entourage to make him seem more important.   It has perhaps escaped Mr McDonald’s notice that we are living in a very dangerous world, and that the First Minister is exposed to great risk exacerbated  by him and his colleagues.  Sigh……

And just at the time of writing, Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw ;  his particular allegation is that a large chunk of the White Paper cannot be believed as it requires the consent of other countries!

He seems to be saying that both England, Northern Ireland and Wales will not countenance anything to do with Scotland, and as far as the EU is concerned we will become a pariah state.  This may well be his wishes, but remember real politik?  Aberdeen Council for instance is a coalition of Labour and Tories!  Same as when those Tories who campaigned enthusiastically against  Devolution, climbed over each other to get seats in the Scottish Parliament once there was a Yes!  As one of my old aunts (I had a few) used to say “Circumstances alter cases” – always with a knowledgeable nod.  On the EU front, the Spanish Fishing Armada sailing back to Spain from Scottish waters will also concentrate minds wonderfully!

I did meet someone over Christmas who was doubtful, as he felt keeping the Monarchy and the Pound were suspect;  we have the Monarchy and the Pound at present, and a No vote means we will have no choice but to keep them.  On the other hand, Yes gives us options which we do not have at present.  Personally I believe that with Scotland getting rid of the House of Lords, the position of the Monarchy will not survive after the death of the current Queen.  Power pomp and glory for England’s Ruritania – not ours.  And we will keep the Pound as long as it suits us.

Pithiest definition of independence by Winnie Ewing circa 1970 “Full control of the purse and the policies”.


First Minister’s New Year message

2014 will see the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ for Scotland to shape its future.

The First Minister has used his New Year message to urge the people of Scotland to wake up on the morning of 19th September 2014 “filled with hope and expectation” after voting for independence in the referendum.

Mr Salmond said 2014 would be a “truly amazing year” during which the eyes of the world would be on Scotland, with the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and the historic independence vote all to be held within the next 12 months.

During the message – filmed at the National Library of Scotland – the First Minister said the forthcoming year offered a chance for Scotland’s modern achievements to be showcased to the world as well as an “opportunity of a lifetime” for the people to build a “just and prosperous nation” using the country’s natural resources and talented workforce.



“Happy Hogmanay from the National Library of Scotland

“I’m at an exhibition called ‘The A to Z of Scotland’. It highlights the contribution our country has made to the world – from Dolly the sheep to the Dandy; penicillin to Harry Potter; television to tarmac roads.

“That contribution continues to this day. Just a few weeks ago, Professor Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University received the Nobel Prize for Physics for predicting the Higgs Boson, that’s the particle that binds this universe together. We have just announced funding to help establish a new Higgs Centre and to promote postgraduate opportunities – we’re using Professor Higgs’s legacy of achievement, to inspire and support the next generation of great scientists in Scotland.

“Scotland already has extraordinary strengths in fields such as life sciences, medicine, informatics and energy technology.

“Next year, we have the ideal opportunity to showcase those modern achievements, together with our history, culture and landscape.

“2014 will be a truly amazing year – one where the eyes of the world will be on Scotland.

“We are welcoming the world with our year of Homecoming – with more than 400 events taking place the length and breadth of the country.

“We stage the Commonwealth Games – the largest sporting and cultural celebration ever held in Scotland. Golf’s Ryder Cup will be enjoyed by a quarter of a million spectators at Gleneagles; but also by television viewers in more than 180 countries around the planet.

“And, of course on 18 September, we will decide whether to become an independent country. That’s the opportunity of a lifetime.

“It’s a precious thing; to be able to debate and decide our own future through a civic and democratic process. Let’s ensure that the debate over the next nine months is a constructive one – where we respect each other’s views, regardless of how passionately we hold our own.

“Let’s also ensure that we take this chance to think about the sort of country we want Scotland to become.

“Let’s not wake up on the morning of 19 September next year and think to ourselves what might have been. Let’s wake up on that morning filled with hope and expectation – ready to build a just and prosperous nation.

“Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world – but we need to ensure that prosperity is shared more fairly. We have oil and gas resources for many decades to come – but we have to harness the green energy wealth which will last forever.

“The greatest asset of Scotland is the people of Scotland, so let’s transform childcare in this country – unleashing the full potential of all of our working age population, and helping us become the best place anywhere in the world to raise a family.

“The Scottish Government has already put forward our proposals on these issues and many others in “Scotland’s Future”. It’s a positive vision which will be read, considered and discussed many, many times over the next nine months.

“But ultimately, at the heart of that vision there’s one fundamental point, one overwhelming argument: that the best people to take decisions about Scotland’s future must be the people who live and work in Scotland.

“Scotland has already shaped much of the modern world. Let’s make sure that 2014 the year when we take responsibility for shaping our own future.

“One of the exhibits here is one of the first ever published versions of “Auld Lang Syne”, a volume of songs that once belonged to Keir Hardie, yet another example of Scotland’s contributions to the world – the song which encapsulates the spirit of the New Year like no other.

“So, wherever you are – in Scotland or overseas; with family and friends, or at work – I hope you’ll tak a cup o’ kindness this new year. And I’d like to wish each and every one of you all the best for a happy and prosperous 2014.”


The First Minister’s New Year message can be watched on the Scottish Government’s YouTube channel here:

Jimmy Halliday’s contributions to the Cause

Jimmy Halliday – lifetime Nationalist

To put matters into context, in 1955 the SNP contested only two Parliamentary seats in Scotland. Dr Robert McIntyre fought Perth and East Perthshire and Jimmy Halliday fought Stirling and Falkirk Burghs.  Jimmy then became the youngest ever SNP Chairman and served 1956-70; in 1956 the entire SNP Conference delegates were photographed on the steps of the Allan Water Hotel, Bridge of Allan.


There will be a Referendum for Scottish Independence this year, which was unthinkable in the dark days of 1955.  Jimmy died on 3rd January 2013 at the age of 85, and we will be publishing all his articles in the Scots Independent, all those we have electronic input for. It is anticipated we will publish a book with all his contributions over many years but this will have to wait until after the Referendum


Among Jimmy’s contributions we will also be publishing obituaries and tributes paid after his death; they emphasise the vast influence he exercised on the Independence Movement, and how he was viewed by his contemporaries.



The Measure of the Man                     

This week will be the first anniversary of the death of Jimmy Halliday, and we are publishing one of the obituaries printed around that time.

Over the next few months we will be publishing intermittently the various tributes paid to Jimmy, so that readers can appreciate how he was viewed by his contemporaries.

We feel this is important as many readers will have heard of Jimmy but not of the wide swathe he cut in the Independence Movement throughout his life, and of his influence on others in that Movement.



Jimmy Halliday   27 February 1927 – 3 January 2013

The night before Jim Halliday’s death I was considering the wording of an Immortal Memory for later in the month and was wishing that I could capture the knowledge, wit, and love of Robert Burns that Jim brought to the task – a fell dab hand at The Immortal Memory.

I noted –

‘Fir his fella Scots an a continuan Scotland Robert Burns wis an is the BRIGHEID an the STARN’S LICHT’.

Well to many of us, as Scots and Nationalists, James Halliday was and will continue to be the Brigheid and the Starn’s Licht.

He was a man who was completely at ease in his Nationalist certainties – an instinctive Scot, a born Nationalist and a man who could pass that certainty onto others.

A brilliant speaker, he captivated me on our first meeting some fifty years ago. Dr James C Lees had organised a meeting in the Old Beveridge Library, Adam Smith Hall, Kirkcaldy, with the intention of forming a Branch of the Scottish National Party. James Halliday, Vice-President and recently retired National Chairman of the Party, was the guest speaker. I sat spellbound as he articulated the Nationalist thoughts that I had developed as a halflin. Nationalist thoughts inspired by The Scots Independent which, like James Halliday, I was reading long before I joined the Party. A week or so later I saw Jim Halliday taking part in an STV programme ‘Sense and Nonsense’ and even on gritty black-and-white telly he was outstanding.

At that time public meetings were regular events and both in Kirkcaldy and subsequently Glenrothes I heard a wide variety of Nationalist speakers but none who matched Jim Halliday. Billy Wolfe rightly referred to him as the best orator in the SNP – I would go further, from his early days as a Glasgow University Debater, one of the best in Scotland. Not only brilliant on a public platform but a centre of attention after any meeting as he was always worth listening to on any subject.

I decided early on that if I was in a position to influence the choice of an SNP Parliamentary Candidate in West Fife that choice would be James Halliday. That came to pass when, as Chairman of West Fife CA, I pushed through, with the help of Dr Robert D McIntyre, the adoption of Jim Halliday as prospective candidate. Jim tells the tale of becoming candidate in his excellent memoir ‘Yours for Scotland’ including his amusement that his rival for the “job” was a certain Scottish film actor – Sean Connery!

Some 300 attended his adoption meeting (about the size of the Party when he took over as National Chairman) in Aberdour when the supporting speaker was the Hamilton MP Winnie Ewing, a life-long friend and indeed admirer of James Halliday. It was certainly one of the best SNP meetings I had ever had the honour and pleasure to chair – two marvellous speakers and a great audience. The election campaign, though the result of a narrowly lost deposit was disappointing, was an exciting and enjoyable affair. Nationalist roots were certainly laid down which were to bear fruit in later years and campaigns.

The 1970 election also ensured that out friendship was firmly consolidated and many enjoyable meetings were to follow – ranging from public meetings, National Council and Annual National Conference (including a memorable 1972 trip to the Plaid Cymru Conference in Rhyl), football matches and in later years SI Board Meetings and monthly dispatch. At all times Jim brought to the table his vast knowledge, encyclopaedic memory and wit – it was always a pleasure and joy to meet him.

Our shared interest in history – he was a Historian, although modestly would claim only to be a History teacher, I merely an interested layman – saw us organise a yearly gathering at Pettycur to remember Scotland’s greatest King, Alexander III. His reign Jim rightly regarded as the last good luck that Scotland enjoyed until oil was discovered. We also both held the Radicals of 1820 in high regard, particularly the Strathaven Radical James Wilson, a man very much in the Halliday mould. One of my very few achievements in life was ensuring that a series of Scots Independent articles on The 1820 Rising were published in pamphlet form. The late John Innes and Angus McGillveray were willingly roped into doing the setting and printing. The book was twice sold out and in recent years reprinted by The 1820 Society.

Jim Halliday was very much at one with the men of 1820, just as he was with the Covenanters. Jim was a Covenanter, not in any religious sense, but in politics and principles. His belief in democracy and sense of humanity shone through all his activities. Thank goodness some of that wisdom, wit and knowledge has been captured for all time both in an up-coming Scottish Television programme and last year in Billy Kay’s byornar five-part programme ‘The Cause’ on Radio Scotland. Jim wrote to me after the first part was aired on the wireless congratulating me on my contribution, a letter I will treasure, but the real star was James Halliday. Speaking to Billy Kay, (whom Jim regularly met at Tannadice as they both gave support to The Arabs), after Jim’s funeral service I thanked him for capturing Jim’s contribution to ‘The Cause’. Billy told me that the complete tape of Jim’s interview for the programme is now lodged with Stirling University – it should provide students and historians in time to come with much factual material. A veritable gold-mine of knowledge of the Party and the Nationalist path over the past 70 years.

Another shared delight was in Scottish folk song and Jim would regularly come to the Golden Acorn, Glenrothes when I ran monthly folk nights in the 70’s on behalf of the Party. He had a fantastic repertoire of song and amongst his favourites were Hamish Henderson’s ‘The John McLean March’ and ‘The Freedom Come All Ye’. On the trip to Wales we told the Plaid delegates that they were in for a song treat when Jim Halliday arrived – he didn’t let us or Scotland down!

Indeed he never let Scotland or her people down. He was to the forefront of planting Nationalist seeds in the barren times of the 50’s. Indeed his decision to contest Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth Burghs in 1955 was crucial, for without a running partner Dr Robert D McIntyre was unwilling to stand again. Both Jim and the good Doctor stood and the rest, as they say, is history. James Halliday served as National Chairman, the youngest ever when elected to the post, from 1956 to 1960, and through diligent building work the Party was able to contest five seats in 1959. Thus the foundation bricks were laid for the major breakthroughs in the 1960’s.

Some 60 years on these seeds have rooted and flowered and we are on the cusp of harvesting the major National fruit – Scottish Independence. That will be the final and most-fitting tribute to all the Nationalist pioneers who have brought Scotland to that point. James Halliday is up there with the best of them.

Goodbye, old friend and mentor – like Robert Burns ye war abune thaim aw – we will not see your like again.


Peter D Wright