ROLAND MUIRHEAD, LOCHWINNOCH’S FORGOTTEN RADICAL, AND FATHER OF THE FIRST SCOTTISH NATIONAL CONGRESS
A guest article by Cllr Andy Doig, independent councillor on Renfrewshire Council and a recent recruit to both Salvo and Liberation.scot This week I took a decision to join Salvo Scotland and endorse the Edinburgh Proclamation . I am an Independent Councillor, with previously 38 yrs of activism within the SNP, and I think theContinue reading "ROLAND MUIRHEAD, LOCHWINNOCH’S FORGOTTEN RADICAL, AND FATHER OF THE FIRST SCOTTISH NATIONAL CONGRESS"
A guest article by Cllr Andy Doig, independent councillor on Renfrewshire Council and a recent recruit to both Salvo and Liberation.scot
This week I took a decision to join Salvo Scotland and endorse the Edinburgh Proclamation . I am an Independent Councillor, with previously 38 yrs of activism within the SNP, and I think the YES movement needs a strong activist and campaign orientated group which understands the deep historical roots of the doctrine of Scottish sovereignty. This is not to subvert the activities of Scotland’s pro independence political parties but rather to complement them. For the battle for independence will not just be won at the ballot box but in the streets, schemes, villages and communities, and that will demand a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience which is positive, creative, and which inspires Scots at home and all democrats abroad.
I am intrigued that one of Salvo’s aims is to create a 21st century Scottish National Congress as there was, in the 1950’s an earlier Scottish National Congress founded by the late great Roland Eugene Muirhead, described by many as the “Grand Old Man of Scottish Nationalism”. Frustrated by the electoral failure of the SNP at the time, Roland broke with the party in 1950 and ran imaginative campaigns such as passing a resolution condemning the right of Westminster to enact national service in Scotland, which even caused questions in the Commons by outraged Tory MP’s in 1951.
In 2018 I put a motion to Renfrewshire Council to erect a plaque in the new refurbished McKillop Institute in Lochwinnoch, which is part of my ward, to the memory of Lochwinnoch’s forgotten radical, Roland Eugene Muirhead (1868-1964). It was here, in the border country between Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, both counties with a great radical tradition, that the great Roland Eugene Muirhead was born and campaigned all his adult life for the causes of social justice and Scottish nationhood. He had a youthful flirtation with anarchism, settled down to liberalism, became a financial doyen of the Independent Labour Party for decades, and then helped found the SNP in 1934.
Despite his change of political party and allegiances throughout his political evolution his core principles remained the same, the betterment of humanity and giving Scotland back its voice in the counsels of power. He was a key influence on Labour’s Tom Johnston, wartime Secretary of State for Scotland, who in his 1951 memoirs said of Roland: “Almost as far back as spans the memory of living man Roland E Muirhead has been a notable standard-bearer for self-government in Scotland”. At his cremation in 1964 at Woodside Cemetery, Paisley, the words of the great ILP leader, James Maxton MP, were recalled that Roland was “The greatest patriot Renfrewshire has produced since William Wallace”.
Roland made an outstanding contribution as a journalist and campaigner to Scottish public life for a sustained period of sixty years, he was the only public figure from Lochwinnoch in the 20th century active on the national political stage, and he campaigned particularly strongly as a champion of de-colonisation in the 1950’s at a time when this policy was far from being universally popular. Being very influenced by Ghandian principles of non violence it was very likely that his choice of the name “Scottish National Congress” was tribute to the growth of both the Indian National Congress and the African National Congress, the latter organisation being named after the former, and also because of Muirhead’s championing of the break up of the British imperial colonies and territories. A contemporary of Muirhead was Oliver Brown, who was the President of the first SNC, so the original SNC had a very strong link to Renfrewshire. Furthermore the original SNC, like Salvo, understood the need for widespread education about both Scottish sovereignty and the numerous breaches of the Treaty of Union.
Roland Muirhead was a man who practised what he preached. His family ran the famous Tannery at Bridge of Weir (and still do) and when Roland took over the family firm in 1919 he was a convinced socialist and donor to the Independent Labour Party. He immediately instigated a shorter working week, a system of employee shares, and had an employee representative on the Board. These are policies which many private companies in Scotland do not have to this day. The Edinburgh Proclamation stands by principles of peoples ownership of national assets which Muirhead would have heartily applauded. This is not to prohibit private property but to assert, rightly and fairly, that the national assets of Scotland should be in public ownership and used for the benefit of the people. In the wake of a dire situation where over the last decades a Spanish company has ran Scottish Power, and a Dutch company has ran Scotrail, the ghost of Roland E Muirhead will be standing with Salvo today in its demands for economic as well as political independence.
I am delighted Andy has joined Salvo, he will be a great asset. Andy along with the recently deceased Chic Brodie, the former SNP MSP, formed Scotia Future and run it for several years.Now on Chic’s passing Andy has decided to closedown Scotia Future and turns his support over to Salvo, also transferring the contents of Scotia’s bank account over to Salvo as well. So thanks Andy and welcome aboard!
I am, as always
YOURS FOR SCOTLAND.
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The work and important development of Salvo has been a beacon of hope in 2022 and as it develops Salvo is creating campaigning hubs throughout Scotland. Salvo will join with Liberation.Scot and as the campaigning arm of Liberation we are looking at very effective campaigns kicking off very early this year and introducing some new campaigning methods as well as those that have worked well in the past. This requires money so all donations to this site, once the running costs are covered, will go to support the work of Salvo/ Liberation. I think you will see it well used and effective.
We are seeking to build Liberation.Scot to at least 100,000 signatures just as quickly as we can. This is part of our plan to win recognition as an official Liberation Movement via the United Nations. We intend to internationalise our battle to win Independence and through the setting up of our Scottish National Congress will prepare and develop our arguments to win progress in the International Courts. Please help by signing up at Liberation.Scot. It is from those who sign up to Liberation.Scot that the membership of the SNC will be created by ballot.