Alex Salmond's White Paper on Independence and Scotland's Writers   

Phil Welsh

16 July 2013

So Alex Salmond is to commission a White Paper in regard to an independent Scotland.


A white paper he claims will be, “one of the most important documents in Scottish history, arguably the most significant since the Declaration of Arbroath." 

This contemporary piece will contain the literary expertise of some of Scotland’s most influential authors and poets.

William McIlvanney, the playwright David Greig and of course Scotland’s Makar Liz Lochhead are just some of the prolific names linked with Salmond’s project.

Literary giants indeed and, I’m sure, the finished article will be well worth a read.

However, the question which must be asked is why?

Why, or indeed what does Alex hope to achieve by commissioning such an ambitious concern?

Scotland’s literary credentials are world renowned.

The oral tradition of pastoral Allan Ramsay, the street poetry of Robert Fergusson and the satirical observations of Burns, juxtaposed with Scott’s Romanticism, the aesthetic of Stevenson’s Fin de siècle novels and of course the plot driven page turning genius created by the grandmaster of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would ensure any lover of literature is kept engrossed for many, many years.

However, the reader of these and other Scottish classics will be fully aware that what they are enjoying is indeed fiction, perhaps historical in its theme and context but fiction never the less.

Salmond and the SNP perceive that contemporary culturally driven Scottish artists who support the union are pretty thin on the ground, whereas independence would appear to be very much in vogue amidst creative types.

However, as Alan Bissett in his article in last Sunday’s Observer argues, these artists “whom he (Salmond) courts will be the same ones asking serious questions of the SNP (should) independence (be achieved). Writers of the calibre involved are not guns for hire, and they will know when they are being fooled.”

According to Salmond the proposed White Paper will set out the details in regard to Scotland’s defence, pensions and the economy post-independence.

However, it would appear that the SNP is once again focusing (with the help of these literary greats) on the romantic rather than the realistic.

I do not doubt for one moment that the collaborative finished white paper will indeed prove to be a fantastic piece, filled with pathetic fallacy, metaphor and stacks and stacks of hyperbole, but, do we as a nation really require an explanation of the SNP’s `vision` for an independent Scotland written by poets and authors whose skill lies in elaboration?

Salmond in his usual predictable blinkered romantic manner would appear to be determined to create a rejuvenation in Kail-yard fiction, a genre which avoided the real pertinent issues and focused on the sentimentality of Scottish life.  


Fir Eck

O Alex as yi sit there on yir throne o’ stane,

think lang and hard o the fouk at hame,

Wha can see right through yir spin.

Yir romantic bash speeled through a grin.

The folk o Scotland irnay daft 

Can your drivel and yir tosh,

We’ll mak our mind up sain enough.

And send yi reeling far up north.

Tae lick yir wounds.

Your rhetoric of `our free land`

is wearing thin, becoming bland.

Your constant diatribe maks mae blood bile 

Hammering on aboot Scotland’s oil.

The black blood which lies beneath oor seas

He thinks will pave oor streets, we gold.

A this is based on ain report 

By McCrone, penned in times of old.

He promised much but little wiz given

Teachers, doctors and health care wimmin

But what he really means tae dae 

is divide this nation, unfairly.

His indifference tae our southerly cousins 

Becomes apparent in oor Commons

When he spouts his nationalistic try 

`Freedom for Scotland` is his cry.

We need this union more than ever 

To mak this Tory farce deliver.

There’s folk oot there losing their joabs, 

their pensions, hooses, wir being robbed. 

So Alex let the nation speak

Let the voters mak their mark

So this pipedream can be bedded,

and we get on we what is needed.

United we should face this farce,

no divided, no apart.


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