Edinburgh Tired Of Protestant Extremism
By PETER F. ANSON If the Gilmour Committee's scheme comes into operation Scotland will, in practice, be given an entirely new status, not unlike that of a Crown Colony, placing it on a level of self-government infinitely lower than Northern Ireland, administered by a large body of civil servants, who although working in Edinburgh, would have no authority to legislate on national affairs without liaison with London.
Scottish Administration The Report of the Gilmour Committee on Scottish Administration, which was issued last month, has given rise to much controversy; the general feeling being, so far as one can make out, that although it is certainly a step in the right direction, it cannot be regarded as the ultimate solution of the problem of administering the local affairs of a nation by an Imperial Parliament, already overburdened with business.
In the King's Speech at the opening of Parliament Scottish affairs were accorded a mere twenty words, and those dealt with rural housing.
We may well be thankful that Protestant party's ambition to secure yet more control in Edinburgh's municipal affairs has proved a complete fiasco.
Eleven anti-Catholic candidates have been defeated, including Councillor Cormack, the leader of the Protestant opposition, who contested two wards, He did not manage to retain his own scat in North Leith.
In Glasgow, Mr. Alexander Ratcliffe, who might be described as our Scottish John Kensit, failed to win the votes of the Camphill Ward, and neither was the " Independent Protestant " candidate, Isaac Queen, any more successful in the Mile End Ward, being defeated by the Catholic Labour candidate, Michael Scanlan.
Thus it might seem as if both Edinburgh and Glasgow have lost interest in the violent tactics of the extreme Protestant agitators.
Sir Herbert Grierson's rectorial address in the McEwen Hall, Edinburgh, in which he discussed "The Universities and a Liberal Education " attracted wide publicity in all the Scottish papers, and, as might be expected from the literary attainments of the new Rector, was full of stimulating ideas.
To the great surprise of most people the students of Glasgow University elected a Pacifist Rector, Canon " Dick " Sheppard. whose sudden death last week called forth heartfelt expressions of sorrow, even from those who did not share his views. Anew election must now he held, and it is quite uncertain who will be chosen by the students to fill the place of " Dick " Sheppard.
" The Scotland of Our Sons " One finds it difficult to keep abreast with the number pf books which are being published on the social and economic problems of Scotland. This spate of Scottish literature is a sufficient proof, if it were needed, of that general feeling of uneasiness that there is a great deal wrong with Scotland at the present time. On this point every author is agreed, although few of them put forward quite the same remedies for the solution of our ills.
Mr. Alexander MacLehose in The Scotland of Our Sons (MacLehose, 5s.), feels that the root of the evil is to be found in the sad truth that Scotland has lost its soul, and he maintains that until the " freedom of the spirit" can be regained, in other words, until Scotland can experience a " conversion of life " and a spiritual re birth, no political party can hope to achieve much for the material betterment of the nation.
Life in Scotland, even more so than in England, has got out of joint. The problems of the depopulated Highlands and the over-populated industrial districts of the Lowlands are becoming more and more acute. Mr. MacLehose feels that it is not more money that we need in Scotland but men; that given leaders, the Scottish people would solve their own problems without the financial aid of a parliament at Westminster, or in Edinburgh for that matter. But where are these leaders, he asks. He agrees with the Nationalists who maintain that only a " revolution " can save Scotland, but he is of the opinion that, first and foremost, it must be a spiritual revolution. Only this can " lift our Scottish race out of the morass of poverty and confusion which the false ideals of the industrial revolution created "—to quote from Sir John Orr, who contributes two chapters to this book in which he depicts Scotland as it is and as it might be. Mr. MacLehose bids us forget our sense of grievance with England and lift our eyes to a vision of a happier, healthier Scotland which could be achieved if only we could realise that it is in our own power to do so. " We have the men, the materials, and the land," he writes, " all we have lacked hitherto is the courage to imagine Scotland as it might be, and the will power to translate that vision into a glorious reality."
This is a book which provides plenty of food for meditation and reflection; even more so is the following.
" Hebridean Altars " Hebridean Altars, a small volume which more than many others which have come my way in recent years, manages to convey the very soul of the Hebrides and the people of the Outer Isles, is not a book to read at a sitting, but to keep close at hand and to be picked up for half-an-hour or so at a time.
I have been doing this for the past month, and every time I dip into its pages, always discover some fresh beauty in the exquisite translations from Gaelic runes and prayers which Mr. Maclean collected in the Hebrides, " I have taken the little ships of tradition," so he tells us in his charming preface, "and have towed them into port. For years, forlornly and apart, they have floated among -my note books or drifted past the treacherous shoals of memory, now they have come to the anchorage of the printed word. My purpose has been to illumine and to strengthen the Faith. The prayers are heart cries; the occasional poems, banners, for those who so care to follow after."
When one turns over these pages one wonders if the author, himself a Presbyterian minister, realised that the "Faith" he purposed to " illumine" was the Faith of the Catholic Church, to whose soul, if not to the external body, he certainly belonged.
Scottish literature is the poorer for the death of the writer last year, and one regrets that this is his final contribution towards strengthening the Faith of Highland G aeldom.
Scotland's Dilemma For those who wish to obtain a clear idea of what are the aims and objects of the Scottish Nationalist movement I strongly recommend Mr. John Torrance's shilling pamphlet, Scotland's Dilemma, just published by Oliver and Boyd. He manages to condense a vast amount of information in some forty pages, and expresses his case with a restraint and reasonableness which are not always found in such manifestos. It should be read in conjunction with Mr. MacLehose's book already mentioned.