Marr-land

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Andrew Marr’s book The Battle for Scotland was let down by the hiatus of the 1992 election. Does his new “introduction” (your report, 17 August) close the 21-year gap?

It’s good to see him back, and he wisely regards Marr-London as quite different from Marr-England, but his update is troubled by facts.

Labour’s rise in 1960s Scotland is “in reaction to Thatcher”, then unknown.

The referenda of 1979 and 1997 are about “Parliaments”. The first was about a rather weak Assembly, the second came from a Liberal-Labour Convention, introducing proportional representation (which, intriguingly, saved the Tories as a UK party). This is not mentioned.

Marr sees Donald Dewar as “aggressively anti-nationalist”, but attributes to Alex Salmond his Parnell-like “Journey without End” speech opening the 1999 Edinburgh Parliament.

This he describes as a “British Monarchy” fest, yet it climaxed with the new MSPs belting out For a’ That! by republican Burns – thanks to Lady Judy Steel, wife to Sir David and now in the “Independence” ranks.

Marr says First Minister Salmond thrived by “opposing Blair-Brown” after May 2007. Blair went in June. He says that the new 16-18 voters are more Nationalist. Polls show the “social media” kids are less Nat… whatever .

“You’ve been away too long, son” (Margo MacDonald to Andrew Neil in 1987) still holds good. Though Marr’s full text may improve, his publisher Penguin is now (like all UK majors) foreign-owned. “Best-seller” has evicted scholarship.

Elsewhere Marr has vividly compared the Union to a pizza, with a slice being slowly removed until “connected only by strands of molten cheese”.

Does this now apply to Penguin, and to London itself?

Christopher Harvie PhD

Professor of Regional Studies

Universitaet Tuebingen

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