Learning from Europe

The NO campaign has taken to scaring university staff and students alike this week with scare stories about tuition fees and Research Council funding.

If we take university tuition fees for starters. The Scottish Government has said that the current arrangements of charging students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland a tuition fee for university education would continue in an independent Scotland. Scottish students and those from the rest of the EU will continue to access tuition-free education (at undergraduate level at least).

The Scottish Government and the higher education lobbying body, Universities Scotland, both agree that there is a European Union concept termed ‘objective justification’ which allows for this to happen. Howls of protest from the Unionist-supporting Academics Together. Why should students from the rest of the UK pay when students from Latvia, France and Greece don’t?  Quite simply because the market between Scotland and the rest of the UK is different compared with Scotland and the rest of the European Union. Where it can be clearly shown that Scotland would be swamped by rest of the UK students taking advantage of our free higher education system in contrast to their pay-as-you-go system, then there are grounds for differential treatment.

Of course, the answer for the rest of the UK to make this simple – abolish student tuition fees and create a level playing field. But that isn’t on the agenda of the Tories and Labour (and long ditched by the Lib Dems).

The second scare story is to do with university research funding through the various Research Councils. The Scottish Government is prepared to fund a population pro rata for research funding. What this means is, you pay up front but frankly you do not know if you will get back your investment because research funding is awarded on merit. As it happens, Scottish universities do rather well out of it BUT they do not receive all this funding as individual institutions. Most Research Council funding is awarded to collaborative projects where universities across the UK and abroad with a research expertise, make bids. However, that could all change if Scottish universities do not have an excellent research programme to justify the money.

The bigger scandal, however, is in non-Research Council funding given out by the likes of the Ministry of Defence – rarely to Scottish universities and hidden away in what is termed Non-Identifiable Government Expenditure – or ‘how London and the South East rip off the rest of the UK’.

This is another classic example showing that so-called Unionists don’t like the idea of actually co-operating with other countries if Scotland is independent. The same Unionists who tell you that being in a political union within the UK is good, being in a political union in Europe – well, at best, not so good. When is international co-operation and collaboration good for a Unionist? When it suits them (i.e. they are seen as an elite, in control, belittling others).

Now as the European Elections approach in June, perhaps we should seek reform of the market for university education so that rather than a country having to treat each EU student as it does its own, why not treat each EU student as it is treated by their respective home country. That way, internationally we do not undermine the policy of domestic governments throughout the EU. Already the UK parties are lining up to demand Europe adopts such a position on welfare benefits, so why not on university education costs?

One thing is for certain, the next eight months will be full of ironic policy situations for Unionists. Sadly, they are unlikely to change their two-faced approach to politics.

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.

Yours for Scotland – a memoir       SI Feb 2013

In 2011 Jimmy Halliday published his memoirs entitled “Yours for Scotland”.  We reproduce some of the introductions to the book, including Jimmy’s own Foreword.

“Jimmy Halliday is unable to remember a time when he was not a Nationalist. He used to read the Scots Independent in the Greenock Public Library on the way home from school, and he joined the SNP in 1943 when he turned 16.

“He graduated in history at Glasgow University, and taught in Ardeer, Coatbridge, Uddingston and Dunfermline. In 1967 he joined the History Department of Dundee College of Education, and retired in 1988 as head of that department. He has written extensively on history and the teaching of the subject; in 1990 he wrote “Scotland – A Concise History – BC to 1990”

“In 1956 he was elected as the youngest ever Chairman of the Scottish National Party, aged 29, preceded by Dr Robert McIntyre, and succeeded in 1960 by Arthur Donaldson. He then became a Vice President of the Party for a number of years, chairing the Election Committee.

“During Jimmy’s stint as SNP Chairman the Scots Independent was formed into a limited company by the SNP; he was one of its first Directors, and is still Chairman of the paper.”

Jim Lynch SI Editor


“We should all cherish heroes: I cherish Jimmy Halliday now in his early eighties and still the quiet implacable embodiment of a Scottish nationalism truly rooted in the values of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, gorgeous mocker of Scots pseudo-Anglos and Scots Anglophobia, master analyst of Scots politics in the early eighteenth or mid-twentieth centuries, ironist and idealist, lover of life and laughter.

“My simplest answer as to why and how Scottish nationalism has endured since the 1930s to the present , anti-racist and anti-militarist, would be “Jimmy Halliday”. He did great things, though he makes little of them, but beyond all his accomplishments is what he was and is. If the SNP is great, it is because it has been home to a quiet, sardonic, realist philanthropist and he almost unconsciously wove his own spirit around his fellow members far beyond the realisation of most of them.”

Owen Dudley Edwards writing in “The Drouth”:

Jimmy Halliday signs a copy of his memoirs “Yours for Scotland” for Paul Scott in 2011.
Photo Tony Grahame



“I do not regard these reminiscences as a book. The events and developments during the years covered in the story have been examined, and narrated in scholarly fashion, by others. In particular the years of my chairmanship, and the issues and problems of these times, have been properly recorded by Dr Paula Somerville in her Strathclyde University thesis. The later years of my participation have been definitively chronicled by Gordon Wilson.

“My intention was to leave a personal report which might be of some interest for later researchers. As others before me have done I have left too late the writing of a proper book.

“In my younger years I didn’t find the time. Now I don’t have the years. My memories will go, with such documentation as I have retained, into the keeping of archivists. ”


Editor’s note:

The Strathclyde University thesis mentioned by Jimmy has now been converted into a book “Through the Maelstrom”, by Dr Paula Somerville, and will be published by the Scots Independent in the spring.


One brief quote from the book, in its Conclusion:

“In order to achieve its aim and policy, the SNP pursued an electoral strategy and practised a firm disciplined approach throughout 1945-67.  Under the chairmanship of Watson, McIntyre, Halliday and Donaldson, the Party became uncompromisingly committed to a strategy of electoral mandate, and despite the pressures and temptations from various quarters to disregard this instrument, the SNP’s leadership remained steadfast in its commitment to it.  The SNP’s refusal to become drawn into the pursuits of other nationalist organisations, particularly the Scottish Convention, underscored this.”