SNP’s ‘preversion of history’ book is ‘dangerous nonsense and arrant propaganda’

All Nationalisms rely on revising history to their own glorification and Scotland’s is certainly no exception, writes Brian Wilson.

One expects to find deluded claims and distortions on the fringes of debate, perpetrated by people with allegiances designated by flags or the abuse they hurl on Twitter.

When the same stuff appears as a publication of the Scottish Government, with the intention of  inculcating it into the minds of the young, then it needs to be taken  seriously. In fact, very seriously.

The story of Education Scotland’s “time-line” leading to the establishment of the devolved Parliament in 1999 was  accompanied last week by horrified quotes from Scottish historians, regardless of political persuasion.

Sir Thomas Devine denounced it as “arrant propaganda” and “dangerous nonsense”.  Professor Chris Whatley of Dundee University described it as a “perversion of history … frightening as it was blatantly political and clearly designed to support the cause of Scottish independence”.

Glaring falsehoods like Churchill sending “English troops” to suppress “a major revolution” in Glasgow fitted into a more general theme of oppression and subjugation from 1296 onwards.  Needless to say, all inconvenient evidence to the contrary was excluded. The Enlightenment?  Never heard of it.

Slavery? Scotland’s role in Empire?  The suffering of working people? Our bairns don’t need to be bothered with that kind of thing.

There is a section which directly links 20th century “Radicalism and Nationalism” as if the two went hand in hand, which they most certainly did not. Sadly, there is no space for the dalliance between “Fascism and Nationalism”, perhaps with a Hugh MacDiarmid poem thrown in.

On Wednesday, this despicable, dishonest, crude propagandist “timeline” was removed from the Education Scotland web-site – an admission of guilt. A spokesman for Education Scotland said primly that it was to ensure “our resource is not open to misunderstanding or misinterpretation”. Aye, right.

However, the more sinister element of this story is not what “emerged” this week.  It is that attention was first drawn to the “timeline” two years ago but it has continued to be used in Scottish schools in spite – or because – of the fact it was “arrant propaganda” and “blatantly political”.

At that time, another Scottish historian, Gordon Barclay, wrote about it in the Scottish Affairs journal and submitted Freedom of Information requests about who wrote it, whether it was approved by Ministers, and so on.  All questions were blanked with the familiar contempt for Freedom of Information legislation.

John Swinney, Alex Salmond and NIcola Sturgeon.

If there was any possibility the Education Secretary, John Swinney, his advisers and the whole of Education Scotland did not know before then that they were publishers of a mendacious piece of propaganda, under the guise of children’s education,  they certainly knew then. Nothing was done to amend or remove it until this week.

We have no idea of the extent to which the “timeline” was propagated in Scotland’s schools, as encouraged by Education Scotland. I suppose that will depend on the intelligence and disposition of individual teachers. But we do know that for two years, it has been the intention of Mr Swinney and his cohorts that this is how Scottish history is taught to teenagers of voting age.

It may be pointless to expect Holyrood, far less Scotland’s broadcasters, to investigate anything which inconveniences the regime. But anyone who thinks that falsification of history as propaganda is a minor matter fails to recognise the direction in which Scotland is being led – and it isn’t healthy. The questions must be persisted with.

Incidentally, for further evidence of why history is dangerous in Nationalist hands look no further than the SNP’s own web-site.  As may be remembered, the ink was hardly dry on the Alex Salmond charge-sheet when he was entirely written out of the party’s history while “then deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon” had “spearheaded” the pro-independence campaign in 2014!  Poor Alex no longer exists.

I feel confident that Peter Murrell must have been in another room, or perhaps taking a shower, when that audacious re-writing of history was agreed upon, all for the National Cause, Party and Government as one.


Two years ago, I asked here a crucial question: what if Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker are telling the truth – and it really is a choice between their deal and no deal?

I now feel entitled to recall that everything which has transpired since flows from failure to face up to that question and the deceptions on which that refusal was based.

Regardless of outcome now,  I challenge anyone to point out how it will be an improvement on what was on offer then. In many respects, it is likely to be much, much worse.

Three key elements doomed what was sneered at as “Theresa May’s deal”.  There were conceited Tories who thought they could use the law to out-manoeuvre Parliament but repeatedly ended up in blind alleys.

Most Labour MPs, led by an ass, pandered to the delusion that by blowing hard enough, the Brexit walls would fall down and a second referendum magically appear. Instead, they gave us Johnson and crushing electoral defeat.

Third, the SNP at least knew exactly what it was doing.  Use the façade of anti-Brexit rhetoric to vote against everything, thereby opening the door to Boris Johnson, pictured left, and chaos. The implications for Scotland were the least of their concerns.

There will be few heroes when this story is written but I nominate the small group of Labour MPs who voted for Mrs May’s deal and pro-EU Tories like Ken Clarke who saw exactly what was happening, dismissed delusions about reversing Brexit and backed the least worst option.

Now the worst option is arriving, let’s not forget how the “opposition” of fools, cynics and the terminally naïve played its indispensable part.

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