KENNY MacAskill’s excellent article in Monday’s National on Scottish working-class mass action in the last century raised many points, unheeded today (These workers’ fights are our fights – just as they were in days gone by). Not least the lack of solidarity from the more deferential English working class and the Great British Labour leaders and tame unions.

The Scottish trade unions were taken over – sorry, “amalgamated” – and like the separate Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society were asset-stripped. “An injury to one is an injury to all” is more than just a slogan, just as history is more than just a record of events. Scotland has had more than just its industries stolen. Our history and our folk memories, past, present and future have been deliberately stolen. The cross-party Scottish Republican Socialist Movement has just republished Professor Marwick’s old Scottish Secretariat pamphlet, listing all the old Scottish trade unions of the time.

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At the time Michael Grieve, son of Hugh Grieve/Hugh MacDiarmid, as editor of the old Scots Independent, used to run a weekly column on Scottish economic history that recorded the never-ending factory closures in Scotland, week in week out. We used to sell his paper round the pubs of Woodside, Maryhill, carrying a collecting can, giving him the contents in the Pewter Pot pub when we were finished.

Kenny mentioned Tom Johnston’s excellent History of the Scottish Working Classes and Our Scots Noble Families, which were withdrawn by the author when he quietly dropped his republican socialist stance. “The best prime minister or president that Scotland never had” was credited with winning hydropower for Scotland. In fact, Churchill wanted it for ingredients to make the atom bomb, and Bevan to beat the Yanks by having a Union Jack on “our” bomb. Even US presidents had to win the support of the nuclear lobbies to create their own massive dams.

He also alluded to the domino effects of our never-ending factory closures. As Mike Grieve must have pondered, when the going got tough in England, they got tough by closing the Scottish branches, or taking over the independent factories, services, often with government grants to relocate in England. At the time, and in another life, I happened to be a shop steward in Pilkington’s Fibreglass factory in Possilpark, Glasgow, which was out on a six-week “unofficial” 1969 strike against the bosses and tame unions that were policing Labour pay freezes. Our glorious tame union leader inevitably sold out and the factory was moved to England with a Labour government grant. When we phoned the English workers for a bit of solidarity, we were told, “Every man for himself, Jock”.

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During the workers’ struggle of the last century in Kenny’s article, John Maclean was an international and practical figure, who led from the front by demanding a Scottish Workers Republic. Kenny, as a young lawyer, was once a member of the John Maclean Society, where we were both involved in stopping a takeover split at the tearful request of secretary Nan Milton, John Maclean’s daughter. Kenny recently made a generous donation to the John Maclean statue crowdfunder appeal and is involved in negotiating with the more progressive trade unions in funding the project. Previously he was a member of the Scottish Workers Republican Clubs and was involved in a split, supporting the short-lived Scottish Republican Leagues. The SRSC later became the SRS Movement, changing its name to join the SSP, which split.

Kenny served well in the SNP, as Justice Secretary, before joining the Alba Party. I do sympathise with the complaints levelled at the SNP for not putting their dukes up. I also hope to see Kenny’s new party in a reconciliation with the main party, or we will never see independence.

Donald Anderson