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Newsletter for 29th March 2024

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  • Newsletter for 29th March 2024

    Electric Scotland News

    Some of our older readers will know of Donna Flood who wrote many stores for the site on the Ponca Indian Tribe. I just learned that she passed away on November 27th, 2023. In later years she lost her hearing and also lost the ability to use her computer and so we lost contact.

    On Saturday her daughter Kay got in touch to let me know of her passing. She is going to send me a copy of her obituary and will add that to the site when I receive it.


    A radicalised, nostalgic and reductive unionism only alienates most people. To create a stronger union, we need to embrace and celebrate the UK’s rich diversity, writes Mark McInnes.

    This an edited version of a speech in the House of Lords last week.

    “I believe that every Scotsman should be a Scottish Nationalist. If it could he proved that a separate Scottish Parliament were desirable, that is to say that the merits were greater than the disadvantages and dangers, Scotsmen should support it”, the author and unionist MP John Buchan, later Lord Tweedsmuir, said in 1932.

    In this age, it is difficult to appreciate how someone whose very political identity was unionist—a unionism formed around Irish unionism—could make such a bold and seemingly contradictory assertion. However, that statement is not as contradictory as it first appears; in fact, it may offer a glimpse of how the union can be strengthened over the next 10 to 20 years.

    A stock take of the union may seem to some to be a fool’s errand from a unionist perspective when one considers its apparent, if superficial, fragility in both Scotland and Northern Ireland over the last decade. In both, a demographic inevitability is often cited in favour of Scottish independence and Irish unity. In Scotland over the decades, British identity has plummeted while political nationalism has dominated the Scottish political scene. Perhaps that is soon to change, but the SNP was seemingly only strengthened by the referendum defeat in 2014. In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, the assumption that demographic change could lead to a nationalist majority seems at first glance fulfilled with the Sinn Féin primacy at the ballot box and a Sinn Féin First Minister.

    However, regarding the future of the United Kingdom in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, public opinion and party-political support should not be confused. Yes, since 2014 Scotland has been divided almost equally on the desirability of an independent Scotland. However, despite the supposed kryptonite powers of both Brexit and Boris Johnson, that parity has not changed. Most importantly, the number of people who want an independence referendum now is less than half of those who favour an independent Scotland. Only last week, a poll showed that independence as a priority for Scottish voters is at its lowest level ever. It is no wonder that Nicola Sturgeon probably felt she had run out of road— as well as for various other reasons.

    In Northern Ireland, support for Irish unity remains stubbornly stuck at 30%, with the fastest-growing demographic groups—self-identified Northern Irish and “neither unionist nor nationalist”—favouring remaining in the UK by 2:1. As we also know, the number supporting Irish unity diminishes as people consider the disruption and changed public services that would result.

    Should those who support the union therefore enjoy a feeling of complacency about the continuation of the status quo? The answer is clearly no. While the current level of support for the union seems broadly stable in Scotland and Northern Ireland, in Northern Ireland most people see unity as inevitable when asked and traditional political unionism appears to be in retreat. At the same time, despite the fact that the SNP is now going through its own political travails, support for independence remains stubbornly stuck at 50%, with support among young people very high.

    Political uncertainty and a reaction against disruption and existential change have provided the union in Scotland and in Northern Ireland with a strategic breathing space of which the UK Government and those who support the union must take advantage. That is why John Buchan’s words in 1932 now seem so prescient: the union needs a new identity, to try to enforce a false Britishness on people who are currently, on balance, in favour of the United Kingdom would be counterproductive at best

    Born in 1875, John Buchan was the epitome of British imperial unionism. He was to serve as Governor General of Canada as well as being a unionist MP. However, if one looks at the unionism he celebrated, it was a union of diversity. In the Houses of Parliament, we see the English rose, the Irish harp and the Scottish thistle equally displayed—a display of diversity, difference and national pride. It was not some uniform symbol of British national identity that we would see, for example, in France at the same time. Even at its international height, the strength of the United Kingdom came from its diversity and not a desire for uniformity or what would now be called “muscular unionism”, where only the union flag, Britannia and related symbols can be deployed to argue for the union.

    Some unionists may regret that the union is not to be saved by even more red, white and blue. They will be disappointed by what they will portray as my weak-kneed approach to the union’s cultural identity. There is, though, often a disproportionate relationship between those who did least in the 2014 Scottish referendum, when the future of our country was under existential threat, and their now fervent muscular unionism. The very idea that this approach will do anything other than alienate from the union the broadly younger and forward-looking median voters for whom the constitution is not a priority seems to me obvious.

    Yes, unionists must be able to celebrate their sense of Britishness as they see fit—I always will—but for the state to try to enforce a false Britishness on people who are currently, on balance, in favour of the United Kingdom would be counterproductive at best.

    That means that the First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland reaching out to celebrate all Northern Ireland’s identities and cultures should be celebrated, and not pilloried as we have seen over the last fortnight from some quarters. Reaching out to all communities was something that Lady Foster was a trailblazer in during her time as First Minister and it is surely the very essence of unionism. One need only look at how much damage the nationalist cause in Scotland has done to itself by using government as an extension of its narrow vision of Scottish nationalism. Unionists should rejoice that the SNP has chosen to do so. By refusing to engage with those who disagree with it or understand their views, the SNP has only helped secure the integrity of the United Kingdom. There is a lesson for all of us in this.

    A United Kingdom responding to its people’s priorities across the United Kingdom is the very best way to secure that United Kingdom.

    The danger to the union, both in Scotland and Northern Ireland, is a radicalised, nostalgic, reductive unionism of the last resort, where speaking forcefully about the union in a way that is completely disconnected from the priorities of real people does little to strengthen it. Too often, those of us who support the union assume that others see the world as we do, through that prism. A new train service to Glasgow or Cardiff, if it happens, should be celebrated by the United Kingdom Government because it improves connectivity and not because, as all too often department press officers are told to say, “It’s good for the union”. Immediately, a cynical public assume that the UK Government make an investment not for the betterment of all their citizens but for some distant and disconnected political term.

    Constantly using the word “union” and not pursuing policies that strengthen the union does nothing other than tick a box. Supporting the union should always be about actions in real people’s lives and not political polemic. A United Kingdom responding to its people’s priorities across the United Kingdom is the very best way to secure that United Kingdom.

    Of course the constitutional settlement must be upheld, and I applaud the UK Government for doing so over the recent gender reform issue in Scotland, but it should not be done for political partisanship. I find it odd that some of the most vociferous commentators concerned about the Scottish Government engaging in reserved areas did not have the same concerns when a Labour/Liberal Democrat Administration were doing exactly the same thing.

    Instead, the United Kingdom should play to its strengths and go with the groove in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. That means ensuring in Northern Ireland that the “best of both worlds” economic advantage of being in the UK and EU single markets is fully utilised. The UK Government should not be mealy-mouthed about the Windsor agreement and the return of Stormont, which has the support of the vast majority of unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland, as evidenced only last week in Liverpool University’s Institute of Irish Studies poll.

    The UK Government should be doing all they can to ensure that Northern Ireland can build on the dynamism unleashed since the Good Friday/Belfast agreement. Let us make Belfast and Derry/Londonderry the tech hubs of the UK, using all the human resource and higher education network the UK has to offer. For too long, the view of the UK Government has been that “Northern Ireland is different”. We need to properly invest the leverage that the UK has.

    In Scotland, we should work with the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure that the economic leverage of the UK builds on its energy past to become the renewable superpower of the world while we maximise the continuing opportunities of the North Sea.

    John Buchan would have approved of the strength of the UK being used to build and strengthen the success of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, making them ever more vibrant and successful parts of their country. These steps and this progress will then in turn make people even more risk averse to constitutional change, but in a positive, confident way—not the politics of financial transaction and “project fear”. For the union to build on its current structural stability, it needs to culturally change its attitude from fighting seeming inevitability to embracing diversity, returning to the roots of a successful and dynamic United Kingdom, where identity is not subsumed but celebrated.

    Lord McInnes of Kilwinning was formerly director of the Scottish Conservative party and a No10 special advisor on the Union.

    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers

    I am partly doing this to build an archive of modern news from and about Scotland and world news stories that can affect Scotland and as all the newsletters are archived and also indexed on search engines it becomes a good resource. I might also add that in a number of newspapers you will find many comments which can be just as interesting as the news story itself and of course you can also add your own comments if you wish which I do myself from time to time.

    Here is what caught my eye this week...

    Humza Yousaf lacks big vision for Scotland, says Kate Forbes
    The ex-finance secretary also hinted that she would likely run again for the SNP leadership.

    Read more at:

    Dhanush,Udeni and the State Bankruptcy
    The biggest humanitarian crisis in decades is raging in the Global South. Around 50 countries are nearing bankruptcy, and 165 million people have fallen into poverty. The story of a brother and sister who have lost almost everything. Except each other.

    Read more at:

    Catherine Princess of Wales undergoing cancer treatment
    The Princess of Wales says she is in the early stages of treatment after cancer was found in tests.

    Watch this at:

    Humza Yousaf's hate crime confusion
    On April 1, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 will come into force. The Act will extend existing protections to characteristics such as age and religion. While Humza Yousaf has dismissed concerns that this will harm free speech, his own police officers beg to disagree.

    Read more at:

    Donald Trump media firm soars in stock market debut
    Shares in Donald Trump's media company have soared, as the firm makes its formal debut on the stock market. Shares surged past $70 each in opening trade - a price that gives the firm a market value of more than $9bn.

    Read more at:

    Conrad Black: The dirty Canadian secrets I don't tell Americans
    Other than in the most egregious or frivolous cases, I always feel it my duty to defend Canada against the criticisms of outsiders

    Read more at:

    State funeral for former prime minister Brian Mulroney
    CTV News Chief Anchor Omar Sachedina and Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos host special coverage of the state funeral of Brian Mulroney at
    Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica

    Watch this at:

    How Temu is shaking up the world of online shopping
    The company, which sells everything from clothes to electronics and furniture, first launched in the US in 2022 and later in the UK and the rest of the world.

    Read more at:

    Tricky brainteaser that requires high IQ to spot odd letter within 21 seconds
    If you think your observational skills are second to none, give this brainteaser a go and see how you get on. I found it in 2 seconds!!!

    Read more at:

    The 20th Annual National Tartan Day Award by the Scottish Coalition, USA
    To Andrew Morrison, Viscount Dunrussel

    Read more at:

    New home for Stone of Destiny prepares to open to public after £27m revamp
    The Stone of Destiny has returned to Perthshire for the first time in more than 700 years

    Read more at:

    Compelling evidence to make assisted dying legal, says MSP as Bill published
    Liam McArthur said he is confident the Scottish Parliament will back his legislation

    Read more at:

    Tesco shares important tips to help stop bananas going ripe too quickly
    Tesco has shared how households can correctly store their bananas to stop them from going to waste and spoiling other produce.

    Read more at:

    Electric Canadian

    Newfoundland 4K A Z
    A video about Newfoundland By Derrick Sturge which I added to the foot of our Newfoundland page.

    You can view it at:

    Royal Military College of Canada
    Regulations and Reviews

    I have found a collection of these reviews and will be adding one a week to the site which you can get to at:

    German Immigrants in Canada
    From the Immigration Research Series (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Ecozones of Canada
    A Government publication (1996) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    The Story of the Fourth Canadian Division 1916-1919
    By Major-General Watson (1919) (pdf)

    You can read this account at:

    Jonas W. Watson
    Lake Superior pioneer, Ancestry and Descendants, compiled by Jessie Palmer Williams (1950) (pdf)

    You can read about him at:

    Thoughts on the 24th day of March 2024 - Palm Sunday
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can watch this at:

    Royal Military Club of Canada
    Selected Papers from the Proceedings of the Royal Military Club of Canada.

    You can read these at:

    Electric Scotland

    The Ballad Minstrelsy of Scotland
    Romantic and historical, collated and annotated (1893) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    General Report of Scotland
    Statistical Tables or Results of the inquiries regarding the Geographical, Agricultural, and Political state of Scotland, second edition (1817) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    North and South of Tweed
    Tales, Legends, and Sketches from both sides of the Border by Jean Lang (1913)

    You can read this book at:

    The Battlefields of Scotland
    Their Legend and Story by Theodore Charles Ferdimand Brotchie, FSAScot., Author of Rambles in Arran, etc. (1913) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Congregation of Shawbost, Isle of Lewis
    Free Church of Scotland with sermons in English and Gaelic with archives of audio recordings.

    You can explore this at:

    The Bishops of Scotland
    Being notes on the lives of all the Bishops, under each of the Sees, prior to the Reformation by the Late Right Rev. John Dowden, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Edinburgh edited by J. Maitland Thomson, LL.D. (1912) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Ancient Catholic Homes of Scotland
    By Dom. Odo Blundell, O.S.B., Monk of Fort Augustus, with an introduction by HONble Mrs. Maxwell Scott of Abbotsford (1907) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Scots in India
    Added a video about Clan MacPherson links in India

    You can watch this at:

    Clan MacPherson
    Added a video tour of the clan museum to the foot of their history page which you can get to at:

    Clan Watson
    Have updated links to this clan and also added a newsletter page for Watson within our Newsletter section.

    You can get to this at:

    Bygone Scotland
    Historical and Social by David Maxwell, C.E. (1894) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:


    History of Argyllshire

    (The London Argyllshire Association offered medals and prizes for competition among the various burgh schools for the best essay on the “History of Argyllshire.” The following interesting paper by Mr. Neil Morgan, Campbeltown Grammer School, was awarded the first prize medal).

    The history of Argyllshire is a subject that well deserves the study and attention, not only of the people of Argyllshire, but of all the Scottish race, for in Argyllshire it was that Scottish history began. In these latter days, when men are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, and when patriotism is in some danger of losing its force as a factor in men’s lives, it may be well for Scotsmen to turn to the history of Argyllshire, and see how important a part that rock-bound county played in the early history of their motherland.

    At the dawn of history in Scotland, when Agricola and his mail-clad legions carried the Roman eagles right up to the Grampians, Argyllshire was not absolutely unknown, and, indeed, Tacitus relates that Agricola posted troops “in that part of it which lies opposite Ireland.” Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, also mentions Argyllshire, and more especially Kintyre, but it was not until the beginning of the sixth century that Argyllshire began to play that part in Scotland’s history that was afterwards to make her famous in the annals of the land.

    In the year 502, Fergus, Lorn, and Angus, the sons of Ere, crossed from Ireland and landed at Dunaverty, in Kintyre. In a short time their people, the Dalriads had over-run all Argyllshire, Fergus occupied Kintyre and built strongholds at Tarbert and Dunaverty, while Lorn and Angus occupied Lorn and Islay respectively. These Dalriads or Dalrudinians soon became so powerful that they held the supreme authority over all Scotland, and traces of their occupation still remain in the place-names of Kintyre, Dalaruan, the name of a district in Campbeltown, being the modern form of the old name of Fergus’s capital; Tirfergus, the name of a farm near Campbeltown, meaning the land of Fergus.

    The Dalriadic Scots were Christians before their departure from Ireland, and some years after their arrival in Kintyre, St. Kiaran came from Ireland and erected a church at Kilkerran. He afterwards became the patron saint of the district, and his name is a prominent one in local tradition. In 565, in the reign of Connal, grandson of Fergus, St. Columba came from Ireland and was given Iona as a missionary centre from which to convert the wild Pictish tribes of the mainland. During the reign of Connal, the Scots were continually at war with the Picts. In these wars the Scots were usually the victors, and they extended their boundaries greatly under their next king, Aidan. This Aidan was perhaps the most enterprising of the Dalriadic kings. He reigned for more than thirty years, and was buned in Campbeltown in 606.

    The reigns of the kings who came after Aidan are comparatively unimportant, and no event of great importance happened in the history of Argyllshire until 642. In that year the Britons of Strathclyde killed the Dalriadic monarch and his kingdom became subject to them, and remained under their sway for more than thirty years. At last, in 676, Fearchar, head of the house of Lorn, took up arms on behalf of the Scots, and they regained their independence. After this a period of wild disorder followed. Selvach was the nominal ruler, but Argyllshire was harassed by internal war, and by the attacks of the neighbouring barbarian tribes, and it was not until 729 that Dalriada was again united under the sway of Eocha III., a descendant of Fetgus. Eocha was succeeded by Muredac, but in 741, the Picts completely defeated the Dalraids and laid waste their territory.

    Between 742 and 843, when Kenneth M‘Alpin came to the throne of the Scots and the Picts, there was a period of strife and confusion, and it cannot be definitely stated whether Dalriada was ruled by Scots or by the Picts who had ravaged it. About this time the Danes began to attack Dalriada but they were repulsed by M‘Alpine, who became so powerful that he was able to make his son Kenneth king both of the Picts and Scots. Kenneth removed the capital from Campbeltown to Fort Teviot, and Argyllshire was attacked again and again by the Norsemen. In the 9th century a Viking became first Lord of the Isles, but in 1125 the kingdom of the Lord of the Isles was divided, and Somerled became Prince of Argyllshire.

    Somerled had his headquarters at Saddell, and the tombs of his warriors are still to be seen there. He was killed in a rebellion against the Scottish king in 1164 and was succeeded by Ronald, who built Saddell Monastery. In 1263 Haco, king of Norway, and ally of the Lord of the Isles in his rebellion against King Alexander, tried to seize Arran and Kintyre, but he was defeated at Largs, and Alexander was acknowledged by the Lord of the Isles.

    During the Scottish War of Independence Bruce found secure hiding in Kintyre, and at Bannockburn the Kintyre men fought so bravely that they got the credit of turning the tide of battle. On this occasion the Kintyre men were led by the Lord of the Isles, one of whose descendants rebelled during the 15th century and was almost successful in overturning the royal power. In this century Argyllshire was in a state bordering on anarchy, for the jealousy and rivalry of contending parties were then at fever heat. James IV. endeavoured to settle the disputes of the different parties by holding a Parliament at Campbeltown, but he was openly defied by the Macdonalds, so he transferred most of their lands to the Earl of Argyll.

    For many years after this Argyllshire enjoyed a period of comparative peace and quiet, but it can hardly have been very prosperous, because the long continued internal wars had depopulated the district, and much land had gone out of cultivation. During the reign of Charles I., when the persecution of the Covenanters was going on in Scotland, the Earl of Argyll took the side of the persecuted people, and many of them found refuge in Argyllshire. Montrose had taken up arms on behalf of Charles during the Civil War, and he attacked and defeated Argyll—who was for the Parliament—at Inverlochy in 1645. However, in 1647, Argyll and General Leslie joined forces and attacked Macdonald, the Lord of the Isles, who was on the Royalist side. They defeated him at Rhunahaorine, near Killean, and drove him to Dunaverty Castle, where he and his forces were besieged for some months and finally massacred by Leslie’s orders, between two and three hundred men being put to the sword. When Argyll was charged with treason this was one of the charges brought against him, and he was beheaded in 1661. His son was not more fortunate, for he, too, was charged with treason, but escaped to Holland. He returned, however, in 1685, and landed at Campbeltown, where he published a declaration of war against the Stuart King. He then gathered his clansmen together and prepared for the rebellion that was to take place simultaneously with that of Monmouth in England. He crossed into Dumbartonshire, intending to march to Glasgow, but was captured at Inchinnan, on the Cart, and brought to Edinburgh, where he was beheaded.

    Thus Argyll’s rebellion was a failure, but yet it began the Revolution which was afterwards to win such a signal triumph in the expulsion of the Stuarts in 1688. This rebellion seems to have been almost the last war-like effort on the part of the men of Argyllshire, for, although some Argyllshire men did take part in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, yet the county, as a whole, was not much affected by the national enthusiasm for the exiled Stuarts.

    Towards the end of the 17th century the people seem to have turned from war to peaceful arts, and indeed in the “piping times of peace” Argyllshire made rapid progress in agriculture and commerce. Cattle browsed peacefully in fields that once had heard the clang of battle, and had once been dyed by the blood of many slain; fishing skiffs sheltered in the bays where once the fierce Norse sea-kings had moored their pirate fleets; and peace and plenty reigned in the straths and glens that once had echoed the shrill slogan of the clans in wild foray or plunder raid.

    In 1700 Campbeltown was made a Royal Burgh, and this may be taken as evidence that the southern part of Argyllshire was becoming more important than it had been for many years. Agriculture and fishing were the staple industries of the people, but soon the county became over-populated, and many families emigrated in the earlier years of the nineteenth century. During the Napoleonic wars many Argyllshire men fought for their country, botn as sailors and soldiers. Many also fought in the American War of Independence, and in the Mahratta Wars. The Argyllshire men, too, have made names for themselves in the world of commerce, and one of our great shipping companies, the British India Steam Navigation Company, is to-day a monument to their energy and perseverance.

    Thus Argyllshire has emerged through the ages from the darkness of heathendom and barbarism into the light of civilisation, and is still one of the most important counties in the country, which owed so much to it in the early days “when the Scottish Monarchy had there its origin, amid wild waves and wilder times.”


    Weekend is almost here and hope it's a good one for you.