ANOTHER BOOK WORTH A READ

A guest post from Matt Vallance. The book is available from Amazon in the USA so I presume it is also available in Scotland. LAST week, I completed a long-standing chase, when I received a copy of ‘The Douglas Affair,’ a novel by Alistair Mair. I read it in one sitting. Mair published the bookContinue reading "ANOTHER BOOK WORTH A READ"

ANOTHER BOOK WORTH A READ

A guest post from Matt Vallance. The book is available from Amazon in the USA so I presume it is also available in Scotland.

LAST week, I completed a long-standing chase, when I received a copy of ‘The Douglas Affair,’ a novel by Alistair Mair. I read it in one sitting.

Mair published the book in 1966 – before Hamilton – when the SNP was a fringe party and Scottish Independence a seemingly far-off dream.

The hero, James Douglas, is a millionaire Scottish civil engineering contractor – I suspect Mair modelled him on Willie Logan, who ran a successful construction company at the time, and founded Loganair. Douglas, returning from holiday in Spain, sees a Basque separatist shot while trying to escape Spain, which gets him thinking on state power and the abuse thereof.

He is also a committee member and principal funder of a nationalist party, so, he calls a meeting of the executive and suggests they push for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, with real powers. This splits the executive, and leads to him forming his own party.

He also starts a party newspaper and, when their early electoral success sees them win a parliamentary by-election, the security services begin to take an interest in him.

I will not say too-much about this excellent book, which is of its time – concentrating on the need for a parliament in Edinburgh, but without the final step to Independence. Try to get hold of a copy and read it, I urge you, but, one of its central themes is – after seeing the Basque murdered by the Spanish security forces, Douglas wonders if such actions could happen in Scotland.

Well, we find out before the end.

The Douglas Affair is fiction, however, it raises several points which are relevant today – 55 years on from its publication. The book comes long before, but has hints towards the Willie McCrae case, the stitch-up of Alex Salmond, the way the Police are used to ensure The Establishment gets its way; and, the malevolent influence of that London-centred Establishment in Scottish affairs.

As a journalist, I was interested in one of the book’s major premises, that, by having a pro-independence (in this case pro-Home Rule) newspaper, actively pushing the case for greater autonomy for Scotland, support for the notion grew.

Imagine if, today, we had even one truly-independent pro-independence media outlet (the National simply does not cut it), highlighting and correcting the lies and misinformation of the London-owned papers and the London-based political parties? How high might the pro-independence support be – and how far would the Establishment go to suppress that voice?

Of course, the main difference between The Douglas Affair and where we are today is – in the 1966 book, James Douglas’s principal opponents are from the London Establishment. Scottish politicians, from different parties, have a degree of mutual respect which, in these days of ‘The Bain Principle” are not as-evident in 2021. Also in Scotland in 2021, the main opponents and active preventers of Independence appear to be as much from from the so-called independence party in government in Edinburgh as from the London-based parties.

It appears, the Establishment’s tentacles extend far beyond London.

ends


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