I DON’T know how anyone familiar with Robert Burns’s life and work can argue he would vote No in the referendum so I suppose it is a tribute to his continuing potency that they even try.
There can be no doubt Burns was a man exercised by injustice and oppression as well as a love of his country. As an internationalist, he engaged fully in the world around him. So Scotland’s current dilemma, where our social democratic values are repeatedly thwarted by governments we did not elect, would undoubtedly have compelled him to put pen to paper.
He reminds us in his poem A parcel of rogues in a nation why the 1707 Act of Union was signed – to bail out a financial elite who had squandered the nation’s assets on reckless and greedy misadventure.
Enraged at the “treachery” of the Act and furious, not with “the English”, but with the emergent merchantile classes in Scotland who drew up its provisions he condemned them as “…a coward few… hireling traitors… bought and sold for English gold”.
There can be no doubt Robert Burns supported the Scottish independence cause and as an activist in his own time no doubt he would also be a prominent participant in the Yes campaign today.
Colin Fox is the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party and sits on the Yes Scotland advisory board