Siol nan Gaidheal

Ruairidh Erskine

The Founding Father of Scottish Ultra-Nationalism.

Ruairidh Erskine may be one of the most important contributors to the creation of modern Scottish Nationalism but his name and worth has been all but forgotten. Along with John MacLean (although to a much lesser extent) the importance of Ruairidh Erskine has been belittled in favour of those whose only claim to fame has been the listless holding of prominent office within the S.N.P for many years.

Ruairidh Erskine was born into a landed family inheriting the title of the Earl of Mar but at an early age he rejected this privileged background and began a lifetimes devotion to the cause of Scotland’s freedom. In 1892, at the age of 23, he became the vice-president of the Scottish Home Rule Association but rapidly became disillusioned with the elements within it who argued for "Dominion Status" and other such craven capitulation’s to the kailyard of British Imperialism. Allying himself with the radical section of the S.H.R.A.s membership he denounced the Imperial Devolutionists as "gutless" (not unlike its spiritual descendant the "Campaign for a[new] Scottish Assembly).

Erskine’s greatest contribution was to the struggle for autonomous Scottish literature and for a Gaelic resurgence. In the later part of 1904 he founded "Guth na Bliadhna" - "The Voice of the Year" - which showed the advanced ultra-Nationalist standpoint that he had developed and the strong pan-Ceilteach influences on him. He advanced strongly the idea of Gaelic Confederation which he felt to be inevitable arguing, "....the drawing together of the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland is a natural development of the language struggle in both countries." As the journal progressed it carried detailed reports of the Czech national struggle whose leadership influenced the struggle of small nations for National Self-Determination far beyond their own national boundaries but always its main theme was the struggle in the Gaidhealteachd, the call for a separate Scottish National political party, the regeneration of the Gaelic language, and total support for Comunn an Fhearainn. (This it should be remembered against the Brit Left of the day who criticised Guth na Bliadhna’s support for Comunn an Fhearrain as, ...trying to elicit support for backward (sic) agrarian movement.") In 1911 he formed the first modern militant Nationalist organisation, "Comunn nan Albannach" - the Scottish National League. In the publication of the League, the "Scottish Review" came evidence of the emergence of real militant Scottish political lead.

The jingoism generated by the drive to the First Great Imperial War sickened contributors to the "Scottish Review", Erskine declared, "Asquith and his British Liberals are opposition to the new ideals of Scottish Democracy." The abiding strength of the British State to control its population and to mount a total propaganda war against dissenters and especially the Anti-British opposition left supporters of "Scottish Review" increasingly isolated until the earth-shattering events of the Russian Revolution of 1917. This gave Erskine energy anew to carry on the aim of advancing ultra-Nationalist aspirations for Gaelic.

Increasingly at this time Ruairidh Erskine moved closer politically to John MacLean and this showed in the leftish militant stance of the reconstituted Comunn nan Albannach after 1919.

MacLean became increasingly caught up in the turmoil of the Brit Left’s involvement in the Scottish worker’s movement, with their counterproductive continued sectarianism and Erskine was left alone to forge the campaign strategy of the new Scottish National League sing the slogan - "Scotland a Free State Again!" to build support for Scottish Independence. In 1928 the S.N.L became one of the main factions in what became the National Party of Scotland the ancestor of the modern S.N.P. From its high Radical ideals of its birth it fell increasingly prey to British Parliamentarian "moderacy" exemplified by the leadership of McIntyre and MacCormick who strangled political discussions on a non-Parliamentary strategy and repeatedly expelled militants who challenged their band hegemony.

These events and the displacement of his culture ultra-Nationalism by Economism and abject Parliamentarianism left Ruairidh Erskine a broken and disillusioned man in political isolation until the end of his life.

In the present climate the direct action campaign of Ceartas, there is no greater challenge to carry on the Ultra-Nationalist tradition that Erskine pioneered.

The Scottish people must be separated from their present abiding downward course of economic and cultural decline and this can only be done when Scotland is no longer imprisoned in the degenerate British State.

"Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people; and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him;"

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