AUTHOR James Jauncey doesn’t consider himself to be from a background where support for Scottish independence is the norm.

Growing up in Edinburgh’s New Town in the 1950’s, he told The National that his upbringing was “very much of the establishment”.

“My father was an advocate in Edinburgh,” he said.

“He wasn’t particularly political but he was definitely a small-c conservative. We moved to Perthshire when I was nine and, back then in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a very Conservative constituency.

“So, it was a very Tory upbringing. I was sent to public school in England where Scots were a bit of an anomaly.

“All in all, I couldn’t help but have that political ideology rub off on me”.

The National: Robert Cunninghame Graham addresses an outdoor meeting in the 1920's in StirlingRobert Cunninghame Graham addresses an outdoor meeting in the 1920's in Stirling

Jauncey went to Aberdeen University before moving to London to make his way as a journalist.

And while the political movements of the 1960’s had shifted his political perspective from that of his parents, he still didn’t take much interest in politics – particularly not those of Scotland.

“I certainly wasn’t a Tory, but I wasn’t a Labour supporter either,” he added.

“For the 20 years I was in London I imagine I voted Liberal Democrat because that’s where I felt most comfortable, gravitating towards the middle ground.

“But to say I was political in any sense wouldn’t be true. It wasn’t until I moved back to Scotland that I began to take a real interest.”

Immersing himself in the Scottish literary scene of the 1990s, he witnessed the “enormous energy” of the country both culturally and politically.

Irvine Welsh published Trainspotting, James Kelman won the Booker Prize and Scots voted overwhelmingly in favour of devolution.

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However, what helped solidify Jauncey’s journey to Yes was the figure of his great-great uncle Robert Cunninghame Graham.

An often-overlooked political figure, Cunninghame Graham co-founded the Labour Party alongside Keir Hardie before going on to become one of the founding presidents of the SNP.

He also spent time in South America where he became fluent in Spanish and learned to be a skilled horserider among the gauchos, earning him the nickname Don Roberto.

“He was this monumental figure in my childhood,” said Jauncey.

“My mother had met him when she was a little girl and he’d made a huge impression.

“He was her role model in many ways and we were always fed stories of Don Roberto.

“Naturally, when I came back to Scotland I couldn’t help thinking of him. What he would have made of the politics of the time.”

The National: James Jauncey published a biography of his great-great uncleJames Jauncey published a biography of his great-great uncle (Image: Scotland Street Press)

It inspired Jauncey to write a book about Cunninghame Graham and the brand of independently minded politics he helped pioneer.

“I began to realise that he really wasn’t as well known as he should be,” he said.

“It was around 2012 when I began really researching the book, which of course was the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum.

“And without even realising it, I became sold on the idea of independence.

“The more I learned about Uncle Robert and read about his life, the more I felt validation for my own feelings.

“It seemed obvious, at that point, that Scotland would be better off it was run by and for Scots.”

Cunninghame Graham’s politics are still astoundingly prescient.

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He called for the abolition of the House of Lords, the introduction of an 8-hour working day, the nationalisation of land and even advocated for national parks.

“He was very ahead of his time and people didn’t like him for it,” said Jauncey.

If he were alive today, it’s fair to say that Cunninghame Graham would not have had to seek political frustration – with many of the issues he fought against still enduring. However, Jauncey points out that as a political figure his Uncle Robert is perhaps most useful to the independence movement as a figurehead of independent thought.

“He wouldn’t have liked the machinery of modern politics at all,” said Jauncey.

“He wasn’t a team player and he wouldn’t have liked party politics as it exists now.

“But we still need people with his strength of personality.

“We get so bogged down with process when it comes to independence, whether it’s international recognition of a referendum or the currency question.

“That leaves very little room for inspiring, independent thought sometimes. Plus, it’s difficult to be your own standard bearer in contemporary politics because so much comes at you.

“You’ve got to be an incredibly strong and resilient character to pull that off”.

James Jauncey’s book Don Roberto is published by Scotland Street Press.