Declaration of Arbroath and 1820 Uprising anniversaries should have been marked more despite lockdown – Kenny MacAskill

Ireland’s President was able to lay a wreath for the Easter Rising, so why did Scotland do so little on anniversaries of Declaration of Arbroath and 1820 Uprising, asks Kenny MacAskill

The Declaration of Arbroath is one of Scotland's most important historical documents

Londonderry being replaced by Derry was wounding for Loyalists and liberating for Republicans. Likewise, the first ever SNP administration changing ‘Scottish Executive’ to ‘Government’ enthused nationalists and triggered a message to London. If anyone thinks it’s a one-way street, let them reflect on blue passports or Union Jacks on driving licences by the Tories.

For symbolism matters in politics, enthusing your core support and sending a message to a far wider audience. It’s been ever thus throughout history.

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Part of that is also in recalling your history, that too triggers a message as we’ve seen with numerous centenaries, war or otherwise.

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700th anniversary of Declaration of Arbroath to be marked

It’s also been a core part of the SNP from days long before it became the modern political machine – the annual Bannockburn Rally remaining a fixture for many even if it’s never been for me.

Coronavirus has overshadowed everything, but some events have been known for years.

The 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath and the bicentenary of the 1820 Rising haven’t exactly sneaked up on us.

Public events couldn’t be held though it was noticeable that President Michael Higgins of Ireland still laid a wreath to commemorate the Easter Rising. Nothing less would be expected even for a routine anniversary.

I mischievously asked the Westminster Tories how they planned to commemorate the Rising, but I never expected that the inactivity would be replicated north of the Border.

That’s really quite extraordinary and an explanation is needed from senior figures.

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