Wide of the mark

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Carole Ford (Letters, 18 July) is quite mistaken in her apparent belief that Keir Hardie, the principal founding father of the original Scottish Labour Party in 1888, was hostile to the cause of Scottish Home Rule.

Nothing could be further from the truth. By the time of the 1888 Mid-Lanark by-election – which Hardie unsuccessfully contested as an independent Labour candidate – he was already vice-president of the Scottish Home Rule Association, founded in 1886.

In his election address he made the following unequivocal statement: “I am strongly in favour of home rule for Scotland, being convinced that until we have a parliament of our own we cannot obtain the many and great reforms on which I believe the people of Scotland have set their hearts.”

Even after he became the Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil in 1900, he maintained a strong interest in Scottish affairs.

In a private letter to an old Scottish Home Rule Association and independent Labour comrade, Morrison Davidson, he maintained that he was “one of these old-fashioned people who place considerable value on national life, customs and language”, even going on to claim that “no better means for retaining all that is best in the life of a nation has yet been devised than that of a National Parliament through which national sentiment finds embodiment in the laws of the land.”

He further warned his friend of the consequences of a situation in which “the men elected to make laws are alien in thought and feeling to the people … and form but a small section of some far-off legislative assembly … [so that] all healthy national feeling languishes and finally dies out”, a process which he could already discern in Scotland. He remained as he had always been “from the beginning a hearty advocate of Home Rule”.

IAN O BAYNE

Clarence Drive

Glasgow

Carole Ford quotes Robert Burns’ A Man’s a Man For A’ That in her attempt to argue against independence for Scotland.

If this argument were taken to its logical conclusion there would be no nations at all.

As the fourth most unequal country in the developed world, the UK hardly displays the 
values espoused in this great song.

A Burns quotation more relevant to the independence debate is contained in a letter to Mrs Dunlop: “Alas have I often said to myself, what are the boasted advantages which my country reaps from a certain Union, that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence and even her very name.”

Note the use of country as opposed to region.

Magnus Bell

Westagate North

Crail