Host: John Drummond, Sunday National Columnist & host of Independence Live’s TNT Shows.
Subject: Jenny Eeles, creator of the Random Scottish History archive (RSH.scot).
00:11 John: Hello. Good evening and welcome to the TNT Show. The Nation Talks. I’m John Drummond and I’m your host for the next 60 minutes. Thanks to you and the folks behind the scenes who produce this show, we’re closing in on 89, that’s 89 shows. I think that’s pretty good. This success, as I say every week, but it’s worth repeating, is down to the huge efforts of the IndyLive team, behind the scenes. Now, they need your support. The crowdfunder, which is presently available, you can go to it, hopefully, after you’ve seen the show tonight, and it’s scarcely 60% funded. This has huge consequences for this show and for all the other shows IndyLive is supporting. So, I would appreciate, very much, when we’re all through tonight, if you’d go there and however much or however little you, please, help the crowdfunder. Thanks, I appreciate that.
01:12: You know, it’s been another great day for British democracy. In terms of the huge number of parties and the blackmail suggestions that took place and what we must now call Downing 10 Street. Boris Johnson’s explanations are fascinating. First of all, he said, “The parties did not happen. If they did happen, he knew nothing about it.” Later, he said, “Yes, he did know about it, but it wasn’t technically a party, because there wasn’t any cake.” Then, OK, a cake is discovered, now “it is a party, or was a party, but he wasn’t told that parties were against the law, at that time.” Well, heavens, that sounds convincing to me. I don’t know about you.
02:03: Thanks for joining us this evening. Tonight, we’re talking to Jenny Eeles. Why? Well, because Jenny is an enthusiast for Scottish history. She has compiled the most fascinating information and material about Scottish history, generally, but round about the Acts of Union, in particular, and at other times. You’ll be absolutely fascinated. Do stick with us because you will really find this really, as well as entertaining, educational, and, along the way, you’ll hear about Jenny’s journey from being a No-voting Tory to Yes. So, Jenny is here for a full hour and she’s taking your questions, live. So, there’s still time to submit a question, if you like, you can go to the WhatsOn Guide at WhatsOn.scot and put your question there and we’ll try and take as many as we can. So, The Nation Talks is very much your show. We’re live and we’re free. So, no license, no problem.
03:01: Now, to our guest tonight, the nation talks to Jenny Eeles. Thanks for joining us, Jenny. How are you?
03:06 Jenny: Hiya, I’m great, how are you?
03:09 John: Very good. Very good. So, you’ll be talking about history tonight, but, first of all, tell us, your journey from a Tory-voting, a Tory-supporting, No-voter, to Yes, how did that happen?
03:24: Jenny: Em, I think I was a No-voting Tory for the same reason as the majority, kinda still are, like, those that have that tendency, that inclination. I was brought up that way. I was told from a very young age, that if Scotland was to go it alone, then it would fail, rapidly. We would devolve into little more than a third-world country. We’d not be able to do for ourselves. So, because you’re told by people in authority, parents, and what have you, you grow up believing it. So, you don’t know that there’s another route. You don’t know the facts if you’re not prepared to look them up. So, when the referendum was called, and it was pending, I think I knew that I was going to vote No, because of my beliefs at the time, not my knowledge at the time, I had no knowledge at the time. It was my beliefs that were gonna drive me that way. But, at the same time, I had always been really into history; Victorian London, ancient Greece, Rome, &c., and I thought, “Well, maybe I should get to know Scotland before I make this decision, in 2014.” I’d done an OU [Open University] course, Arts and Humanities, and I’d learned through that, that you could obtain primary source material at a very low cost. So, I started to obtain pre-20th century Scottish history books, folklore, art, ‘cause I wanted to know about Scotland. I wanted to know what people had thought of their own country, prior to the world wars. I feel like the world wars gave quite a lot of propaganda, centralising propaganda, where Scotland was part of England, basically, we were all one people, one nation, we all had the same goals and aspirations, and it’s not correct. But that was the propaganda all the way through the world wars. So, I thought, I’ll aim before that, to get a, kind of, unvarnished view of what Scots thought of Scotland. And just learning our history changed my mind. So that I voted Yes in 2014. Just from reading the history books. Just getting to know Scotland. Realising that we could do it. There was nothing stopping us. There was nothing to suggest that we would devolve into a third-world nation. That there was no reason for that, there was no reason we couldn’t go it alone. So, that’s how Random Scottish History started. I didn’t want to give people my opinions. I don’t feel like anyone’s opinion is able to change the minds of anyone else. I think people should only have their minds changed by the facts of a thing. So, I just put out the books as I got them. The information as I receive it. In the hopes that, just through learning about their country, maybe other No-voters will also realise, “Actually, Scotland is a pretty good wee place and there’s no reason why independence wouldn’t suit us right down to the ground.” You know.
06:51 John: So, which books and publications have you produced, so far, and how can people get a hold of those?
06:59 Jenny: Well, they’re all published through Amazon. Publishers don’t want to touch what I do because I don’t tell stories. I’m not an author. I don’t write opinion pieces. You don’t get my views on a thing. What I’m publishing is first-hand source material. Tends to be newspaper articles that I go to because a lot of people write into the newspapers with exactly how they’re feeling on a certain issue, and in collecting all of those, it gives a really nice round picture of the sentiment at the time and why people did and thought the way they did. So, you can obtain them all via Amazon, I guess, they’re all published through Kindle; on Kindle, paperback, there’s a couple of hardback versions of the ‘Treaty of Union Articles,’ and our newest, ‘Square Mile Murders,’ compilation, which is all a bit morbid, but, aye, some folk are into that.
08:05 John: Good, well we’re streaming the website details right now, as we speak.
08:08 Jenny: All of the information is free on the website. You do not have to pay for our publications for the information. I don’t believe in paying for information, I think it should be free. So, all of the information I collect, is available on the site. If you buy our books, what you’re really paying for is Alex’s art because there’s art throughout, that doesn’t exist on the website, that he’s done specifically for the publications. So, you don’t have to buy our books to get the information. You know.
08:38 John: I’d like to encourage people to buy your books. I know …
08:41 Jenny: I just want to encourage people to read!
08:46 John: So, I mean, so, in some senses it’s a bit like this show, a bit like IndyLive, there’s no charge for watching this show tonight. We exist on people’s goodwill. So, we’re not like the BBC. There’s not some, sort of, poll-tax. That provides Kevin and I and the rest of the gang with some luxurious lifestyle in Barbadoes. You know, I just, I’m sorry guys, that’s not the way it happens here, we subsist, we subsist and we exist on your goodwill. So, please, go, you see the details on the website. Go there and check it out for yourself.
09:24: Now, you mentioned two things. You mentioned the ‘Square Mile Murders,’ perhaps we’ll come back to that. Tell us a little about, a bit about, what you discovered about the Acts of Union in 1707.
09:34 Jenny: The most interesting thing that I discovered, from researching the ‘Treaty of Union Articles,’ was the difference in viewpoint from today’s pro-unionists, which, they’re British nationalists, the pro-unionists of today. They see Britain as one entity that cannot be divided into its component parts. The pro-unionists of the, prior to the 20th century, they were pro-unionist Scottish nationalists and they were very proud of being Scottish nationalists. They saw all of the issues with the union. They weren’t blind to the fact that it was such an unequal deal that we’d managed to acquire for ourselves. They saw that we were under-represented, over-taxed, under-funded. These were very blatant evils throughout the union, along with centralisation, which had a lot to answer for. But they could also see the benefits of the union, they could see that, should it be equal, should we get what we were owed from it, then Scotland could benefit from the union. But Westminster have never allowed it to be that way. Westminster have always wanted Westminster to benefit from the union, and that was the problem. So, the pro-unionists of, prior to the 20th century, wanted Home Rule for Scotland. They wanted what Scots had always wanted, they wanted a federal union, in which, local legislation could be achieved. They understood local legislation was the way forward. Rather than, legislation coming from, what was effectively, a foreign parliament, hundreds of miles away. Because they didn’t know Scotland or its people. So, yeah, it’s a very different change now. They could promote the union, with its benefits to Scotland, while still seeing the negatives. Today’s unionists refuse to see the negatives of the union. They’re blind to the negatives and they actually make it so the only argument they have, for the union, are negatives about Scotland. “Scotland can’t do it alone,” that “we’re too wee, too poor,” &c., we’ve all heard the rhetoric. So, the very fact that they no longer have a positive case for the union, tells us they’re failing and makes me wonder how they have anybody voting for them any more.
12:09 John: Yeah, would it be fair to say, Jenny, that the old unionists that you’re talking about were Conservatives first, with a capital “C,” unionists with a small “u”? Whereas the present, I’m going to have to call them Tories, are Unionists with a capital “U,” and conservatives with a small “c”?
12:30 Jenny: Yeah.
12:31 John: Or, do you see that’s on the cusp of a change because we know that the Tories in Scotland are very divided. There’s a civil war going on. Slightly underneath the surface but sometimes it pops above the surface.
12:47 Jenny: Well, the pro-unionists, prior to the 20th century, weren’t just conservatives, they covered all of the political parties. Scotland has always been more liberal-minded than the English population, when it comes to politics. It wasn’t just the Tories, the Tory Scots, who were voting that way and who were pro-union. The majority were pro-union but they were also pro-Scotland, which is the difference between those now to them before, you know.
13:19 John: Yep. Of course, to be pro-Scotland now, with a Scottish parliament, you would have to put forward progressive policies, in the Scottish parliament and that’s harder to do than just standing up saying, “You’re all rubbish and the country’s rubbish and you’re part of it being rubbish.” You know, &c.
13:37: I want to take a couple of questions, if I may. Stephen Kelly is saying, he’s asking, “What you’d like to see taught in schools about Scottish history, that, perhaps, isn’t taught right now.”
13:49 Jenny: Well, we were all taught about the Tudors, and the Wars of the Roses, and we’re all taught about Henry VIII and his wives, and we’re all taught about Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada, but we’re not taught the Scottish context of these events. We’re not taught who was on the throne of Scotland at these points, and what they were up to, and what they were doing. We’re not taught that while Elizabeth was coming up against the Spanish, the Spanish were seeking Scotland’s help against her, and that we were considering it. How would Elizabeth have fared against the Spanish Armada on one side and Scotland on the other? There’s a Scottish context that’s been eliminated from our histories. But you had, even back in the 19th century, you had true patriots, like the Rev. David Macrae, he went up to the Dundee school board and he remonstrated, very strongly, against the Scottish publishers, that were publishing Scottish history textbooks, for Scottish schools, where the words “Britain” and “British” were made “England” and “English,” throughout. Which made for very strange reading in some of the quotes that he was reading out. Where England has managed to do all this stuff alone without the help of Scotland and the nations to which she had created unions with. England was really making itself the… This is what I mean when I’m talking about centralisation. So, our history books were tainted from the get-go. They made that happen very quickly. The whole British/Britain, England/English thing. So, our history should be taught with a Scottish context and from a Scottish perspective purely because it’s being taught in Scotland and our children should know their history. You know?
15:44 John: Yeah. By the way, the reason that Jenny is doing this is her camera’s autofocus. It’s no reflection on you, the viewer or listener.
15:52 Jenny: I’m not trying to get your attention or nothing.
15:54 John: Just in case you were wondering about this ghostly hand suddenly appearing on the screen. There is a technical reason for what she’s doing. The focus is gonna vary a bit, perhaps. Now it’s really sharp.
16:08: Is it the case that the Act of Union, a number of, a majority, perhaps, all Scottish MPs, shortly after the Act of Union, voted for its repeal?
16:18 Jenny: Yeah. 1713, that was the Earl of Findlater, I believe, headed that one because Westminster had already started encroaching on some of the Acts. I think it was the grain taxation, I think it was to do with alcohol and grain taxation. The Earl of Findlater, I think, he saw the writing on the wall. He could see that if they were already trying to make changes, so shortly after the union had been concluded, that they would probably want to nip that in the bud and let’s just, you know, escape this because we’ve obviously left ourselves too open to these changes. So, he tried to repeal it, and I think he only lost by 5 votes, or something, in the House of Lords. So, he came very close to repealing the Act of Union in 1713.
17:18 John: Now, you see, that’s something that ought to be in the history books.
17:20 Jenny: It’s in our [RSH] history books.
17:23 John: Yeah, but it’s, I mean, I doubt if there’s one single person outside of, outwith Scotland, who has the slightest information about that. That the Act of Union was almost repealed 6 years after its creation. Fascinating.
17:40 Jenny: We’ve summarised all of this into our ‘Scotland in the Union’ pamphlet, that we’ve just brought out. So, the ‘Treaty of Union Articles,’ there’s a synopsis pamphlet that you can obtain, for as cheap as Amazon will let us sell it and it’s called ‘Scotland in the Union.’ It contains all of these wee, relevant tidbits.
18:01 John: Well, there you are folks, everybody watching tonight, who is interested in Scottish history, particularly round about the Acts of Union we had a discussion on the show, last week, about what can be done and if the Act of Union can somehow be used in another, to change the constitution, who knows, we can maybe come back to that.
18:23: Alistair Bryant is suggesting that this unionist slant continues now in our institutions. He’s talking about museums and galleries, he reckons they’re all run by, you know, London-centric custodians and with a unionist slant. Would you agree with Alistair?
18:43 Jenny: Yes. I think that centralisation has permeated more of our culture and society than you would expect. I think if we were to suddenly remove the British perspective, out of Scotland, you would notice immediately the huge change. It’s because it’s so insidious that you don’t really notice it so much. But I was talking to Eddi Reader about centralisation on Twitter. She’d mentioned something, and I was like, that’s a prime example of centralisation, then, right after, Rees Mogg did that whole world war propaganda speech he did in Westminster just recently, where he’s talking about “one nation, one people, &c.,” and I shared it, I was like, Eddi, this is exactly what we were talking about, with the centralisation. They just want us to forget that we have our own traditions and culture and history outwith our union with England. We have a history that belongs to us alone, that it doesn’t include them.
19:51 John: It raises an interesting point, though, because you’ve just said a couple of things tonight that I was unaware of till I read your material. About the Act of Union, that it was almost repealed. So, you have to ask yourself, since education in Scotland is entirely under the aegis of the Scottish government, why does this persist?
20:13 Jenny: Because it’s so insidious. Honestly, like, to remove it, would be like removing the needles from the haystack. I think they have a big job on their hands to subvert centralisation ‘cause it is everywhere, including, obviously, the education. I don’t know, I think if parents could get onboard with the education of their children. If parents could make sure that their children know this information and know their history, even if they’re not being taught it in schools. Maybe bedtime stories could involve Scottish stories from history? I mean, really, I think it could be a grassroots thing, the spread of information, rather than relying on the Scottish government to completely change the textbooks and the literature that pupils have access to. Maybe, people could do it for themselves? ‘Cause I mean, that’s why I want to make all the information as accessible as possible and put it out on as many formats platforms as possible. People that don’t enjoy reading a thing, I’ve done readings on YouTube of our publications. So, you don’t even have to read a thing you can just listen to it. You know. I figure, if we can get the information out there on as many platforms as possible then people can just find this stuff out for themselves and not rely on the educational institutions to do that for them.
21:54 John: I think that’s a key point. I mean, you know, formal education has always been important and I suspect neither you nor I would say otherwise, but it seems to me, because of centralisation, because of the pressures that come, the media no longer addresses issues, you know, it’s all about “if it bleeds it leads,” it’s not about informing, it’s about, sometimes manipulation. So, it’s down to the individual, I think I agree with you, to go out there and they’ve got the huge advantage now that people like you have provided a different database. So, to compliment that work it seems to me, the individual should go out there, seek out that information, and utilise it themselves and make sure other people get to know about it. So, I would encourage everyone tonight to go to the site, get a hold of Jenny’s books, they’re absolutely fascinating material. You wouldn’t believe what you don’t know. Honestly. Honestly. It’s a bit like the matrix. Once you take the red pill it’s got you, you don’t believe the same nonsense any more.
22:58: Here’s a quick question, “How many times do you reckon the Act of Union has been broken?”
23:07 Jenny: It technically hasn’t been broken, it’s been amended, to suit Westminster. I was discussing this earlier. So, you need to have a look at the Act of Union. So, the wording of the varying articles often say that, “This thing is the way it is at the moment, but, should Westminster feel that Scotland would be better governed with this change, that there could be better administration through this change, or…” then they’re able to make amendments to the articles. On the basis that it’s for the benefit of the people of Scotland. But, then, we’re relying on Westminster doing it for that reason and not just saying they’re doing it for that reason. So, it’s really a gentleman’s code we’re relying on in terms of maintaining the Treaty of Union and it’s the subversion of the articles that led to the 1713 attempt at repeal by Findlater. But it’s also what led to the constant protests up until the 20th century against centralisation and for a more equal union. That protest never stops. The people of Scotland never stopped pursuing a more equal union from Westminster, and the hope was that when Ireland started their case for Home Rule, that Scotland would be carried along with that and also gain Home Rule for itself. The Scots came out very strongly against it being granted to Ireland first because then they wouldn’t have the Irish representation to then back Scotland’s bid for the same, because Scotland fully backed Ireland’s bid for Home Rule. Ireland was given Home Rule and, I think it was the Palmerston government, he seemed like he was kind of onboard with giving Scotland Home Rule, but it never happened for us because we were so under-represented that we couldn’t make it happen for ourselves.
25:29 John: Tell us about the Monster Petition, what was the Monster Petition?
25:40: Jenny: That was in 1897, I think, Scots, hundreds of thousands of Scots, from all walks of life, all political viewpoints, signed a petition to stop Westminster and people in authority from using the terms “England” and “English,” in place of “Britain” and “British.” The words “Britain” and “British” were inclusive, they incorporated all of the countries of the union. “England” is one of the countries in the union and it does not denote the whole. It in no way refers to the whole. It refers to England always. So, what they had, what the people of the time had come to realise, was that there are certain international treaties between Westminster and other foreign powers where the treaty is between England and those powers because they had used the word “England” instead of “Britain.” So, there were actually a whole bunch of treaties that Scotland had no part in, purely because of their chosen wording and the centralising tactics of that wording. It’s for the same reasons that Americans still have a tendency to call Britain, England, meaning all of us. You know. So, they sent this huge petition, they called it the Monster Petition, and they didn’t do it, they didn’t describe it in terms of how many signatures, it was in length, it was in terms of “ yards long,” and it was sent down to Lord Balfour, as the intermediary to then get it to Queen Victoria just shortly before her death. What came of that? Well, we had the world wars, and the centralising propaganda that basically made the population of Scotland super apathetic until the 60s. It knocked every pro-Scotland, Scottish nationalist, thought out of everyone’s heads, for about 40 years, and then people started realising in the 60s, I think, “Oh, hang on a minute, we still don’t have a decent deal in this union, and we’re still getting screwed by Westminster, and we’re still being over-taxed..” You know, and Scottish nationalism started to get going again.
27:58 John: Isn’t one of the, I was going to say, issues, one of the problems, it seems to me, inasmuch as Scottish education, perhaps hasn’t, encompassed as much as they ought to have done, in the way you’ve just described. Education in England is even further along the spectrum of misuse of the terms. I mean, I lived in Berkshire for 20 years. I never had anyone describe the country they lived in as Britain. Not once. Everyone said they lived in England and, even when that was out of context, i.e., they actually meant Britain, these people were not malicious, not one single person who used the word wrongly was ever malicious. They actually thought that the two terms were synonymous. There was no malice. It was, that was what I got taught at school. I mean, why would I want to use a clumsy word like Britain when the actual name of the country is England? Makes no sense.
29:11 Jenny: When you’ve got people in authority calling it that, then… It’s just, yeah, I mean, it’s your experience, if that’s what you’ve grown up believing and hearing, then that’s how you continue the thing. So…
[Why do we not just call the whole Scotland, then, if it makes no difference?]
29:25 John: I think it led to people like P. J. Woodhouse, and his little aphorism, he said, “it’s always, you’re always able to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and a Scotsman with a grievance,” because so many of the Scots immersed in that culture, as I was, and you say, “Look, let me rectify what you’ve just said,” it sounds like a grievance. It sounds like, “What’s your problem? Why are you making this odd distinction?”
29:59 Jenny: I think the best people that have ever answered that, to my mind and from my researches, are the Rev. David Macrae, that I’ve already mentioned as having gone to the school board, &c., he wrote to the papers, he held lectures, and he hosted rallies, pro-Scottish nationalist rallies, anti-centralisation rallies, but also William Burns, who was another Scottish patriot that was completely against centralisation, and they would retort to newspaper columnists, who would use the terms “England” instead of “Britain,” &c., but they would answer it really nicely just as to how it’s not a grievance, you’re denying us our history and our culture. You’re denying us inclusion. When you speak of Britain, as England, you’re denying Scotland a share in that. You’re denying us our place in the union. You’re denying our efforts towards Britain’s colonies at the time, &c., and industrialisation which was, in a huge part, happened in Scotland. Glasgow was the capital city of industrialisation at one point. But they were making use of all of that, while denying us our rightful inclusion by not using the word Britain.
31:25 John: I have to say, though, to southern ears, it still sounds like pedantry. It does. Because, unless you’ve got some background, like you and I have, it does sound, you know, like you’re trying to split hairs, I mean, why are you getting all upset about this, it’s worth mentioning, I can see from your point of view you feel strongly about it but I can’t think why anyone else should feel strongly about it. I certainly don’t.
[David Macrae & William Burns’ chapters sent to John Drummond in order to answer this last statement of his.]
31:53: Here’s a question that’s come in. Charles Smith is asking, “Is it correct that, under the Act of Union, 1707, that both parliaments were to be closed and then a different body constituted that would serve the entire island?” Or is that not the case?
32:14 Jenny: Yes. That was supposed to, I mean, it’s certainly worded that way but, as everyone knows, the English parliament just became the parliament of Britain. It was the English parliament that, there was no change, there was no, there was nothing given by the English, they didn’t give up anything. We had to give up our parliament, we had to give up the people with money in the country, they all went down to London to take part in politics and they took all their money with them. You know. So, England didn’t have to concede anything, really, for the union. They didn’t concede numbers in their parliament, they didn’t concede lords, I mean, they did make it so no more Scottish lords were to be created, they, I think we were to get only 45 MPs representing us at the start. That goes back to another thing someone else said about the Acts having changed by Westminster, yes, things have changed, but had it not changed then we would still be stuck with the 45 ministers representing us at Westminster, so, in effect, we’ve had to change that to get more representation. You know.
33:32 John: You know, Jenny, listening to what you’re saying. It, sort of, puts this whole discussion about DevoMax into context because, for DevoMax to be in any way secure, i.e., in being sustainable, it would require (a) there to be a federal country, (b) that Scotland’s place within that federation could not be changed or modified, i.e., it was secure, and it would need a constitution to which the Scots could appeal, should they be concerned about the way that the entire unitary process, the federation, was being operated. If you’ve got a group of people from 1700 who are not even prepared to set up the institutions required of them in the Act, they’re never going to agree to a federation of any kind, because they never wanted it, and I’m not blaming them for this, by the way, I mean, if I was a London politician in 1707, the Act of Union is exactly the act I would have fought for (Jenny: Yep) because it gives me everything and it gives the other lot nothing (Jenny: Yep), except as I am prepared to tolerate (Jenny: Yeah). It leaves me in complete control and what does it cost me? Zip. Just about and I take away a major problem. (Jenny: Yeah, it was a terrible deal for us.) I mean, you couldn’t imagine the same, that same mentality, if it still exists, agree to any sort of constitution or federation or anything else.
35:20 Jenny: You’re talking about DevoMax. Right now DevoMax is just a snappy sounding term. DevoMax, to want DevoMax, or to entertain it, is to want an, as yet, unknown deal, carrying unknown conditions and benefits, granted by an, as yet, unknown party at Westminster, that the majority of Scots is unlikely to have voted for, and I don’t know why anyone would want all of those uncertainties. Home Rule gives the federalist option that Scots wanted from the get-go. Home Rule carries set conditions and benefits that can’t be amended, that it’s already an established thing. DevoMax is just a snappy sounding term for a whole bunch of uncertainties and I’m not even entirely sure why people are talking about it. Were we not supposed to be riding high on DevoMax after a No vote in 2014? Are we not, at present, riding high on the laurels of DevoMax? No?
36:31 John: To me DevoMax is a nonsense on stilts, (Jenny: It is nonsense.) because apart from anything else, if you don’t have a written constitution and you’re completely reliant upon a piece of legislation out of Westminster, knowing as you look at that legislation that no successor parliament, no parliament can bind its successor, so that you end up with a piece of paper which is worthless, absolutely worthless, because the next parliament says, “You know something, these guys, and it’s mostly guys, who were there before, made a terrible mistake in Scotland. So, we’re just gonna junk it and we’ll have a new federation, which will take a very different form.” You know. But, and you could do all of these things because you don’t have a constitution. In other words, as we discussed earlier, the British constitution is whatever the government of the day, with a working majority, says it is, and that’s why we’ve got Boris Johnson behaving badly, and continuing to behave badly, because he has no repercussions. Unless the Tory MPs decide to vote against him, which is not a constitutional, it’s a protocol, it’s just a, you know, protocols can be added, amended, discarded, you know, in circumstances. I don’t understand why the whole DevoMax enthusiasm, which is, to me, so deeply flawed, I mean, fundamentally flawed. Anyway… (Jenny: I don’t get it.)
37:57: I don’t want to spend too much time on that. I would like to talk more about, just for a second, about the, you mentioned the open door process in one of your recent Facebook postings, and I’ve had a number of people say to me, “I had no idea!” Could you tell us a little bit more about what the open door process is?
38:24 Jenny: Well that’s someone else’s project, but, yeah, every so often cities hold open doors days where you can get into buildings you normally wouldn’t get into, as a private citizen. Places like underneath Central Station and the City Chambers, and things, you can be taken on tours from people who’ve worked there and it just give you a bit of an insight into the city, I think it’s a yearly thing, I’m not sure how it’s been going the last couple of years just because of Covid, the pandemic, I think what I’d shared was a video showing you the insides of these places, purely because people weren’t able to get out and about and get into these spaces, just because of the pandemic. But, no, it’s a fantastic idea and it is a yearly thing. You can Google, search just, “Open Days,” “Glasgow Open Doors Days,” and it brings you up the schedule, when they happen, and what places are open on which days, &c., and you can book places to get taken on tours.
39:28 John: You know something, I would implore everyone in the audience tonight, to go and check that out because it is truly fascinating. You’d be amazed at the extraordinary places you walk past, every day, in our city centres, that it would make your head spin. Honestly. Really…
39:53 Jenny: The amount of incredible architecture that people miss. It gives people a chance just to get in about the history and there’s no better place to do that than in the buildings where certain events took place. You know.
40:06 John: Well, history is conveyed in different ways, one of them is through buildings, and architecture, &c., and it’s not just Glasgow, is it? They’re elsewhere, too, Edinburgh, perhaps?
40:18 Jenny: Yep, other cities will hold open days, too. Yeah, just Google the city that you’re in or the city that interests you, if you’re set on travelling. I think they tend to do it on a yearly basis. It tends to be a week out of a year that’s set aside to open up these places.
40:36 John: Yep. You mentioned, when we were chatting before the show, that, about the book by pro-unionists for pro-unionists.
40:45 Jenny: That’s the ‘Treaty of Union Articles,’ yeah.
40:47 John: I mean, I just find that just a fascinating concept.
40:52 Jenny: Well, it was borne out of an idea from author, David Taylor. He had asked me if I had a way of sourcing correspondence from pro-unionists who weren’t afraid to air their grievances with the union and out where they felt it was failing, and I told him I could absolutely do that because, well, you just go to the papers. That’s all newspapers are is compiled correspondence, you know, and opinions, and people writing in letters, with their views. So, that’s how that project started and that’s why it’s 99.9% written by pro-unionists telling you how the union is failing Scotland.
41:33 John: Well, there you are folks.
41:36 Jenny: Yeah, it’s an incredible read, to be honest, it really is.
41:39 John: I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to send a copy, (Jenny: It’s a pure eye-opener.) I’m going to send a copy to the BBC.
41:46 Jenny: You’ll need to drop me your address, I’ll send you a hardback copy out.
41:49 John: I’d love that, ‘cause it would allow me to send it on to that. Now, you mentioned earlier the ‘Square Mile Murders.’
41:58 Jenny: Yeah.
41:59 John: What’s that about?
42:00 Jenny: Well, author Jack House, in the 60s, lumped 4 of Glasgow’s murders together and called them the ‘Square Mile of Murder.’ So, it was 4 murders that took place up in, towards the west end of Glasgow. The first starting in 1857. That was Madeleine Smith, who killed a Monsieur L’Angelier, apparently killed Monsieur L’Angelier, because she was found not guilty, well, actually it was not proven, that special Scottish verdict, of not proven. So, she didn’t entirely get away with it. She was actually buried in a very nondescript grave that gave just her new name of Lena Sheehy, and just her date of death, and I think it’s because she didn’t want people, even after her death, being able to look her up. You know.
43:00 John: But you have to tell us who this mysterious gentleman was. Who,
43:03 Jenny: Monsieur L’Angelier?
43:04 John: Yeah. What a name!
43:05 Jenny: He was her lover, Emile L’Angelier, and she had illicit trysts with him. Which was very unseemly for a woman in society, brought up in society, to have a connection with a man who wasn’t. He was just a warehouseman and, yeah, so, she was offered a better deal, a better marriage, with a Mr Minnoch and she wanted to go for that because it was a better deal and, to that end, she offed her previous amour. But her letters really say it all. They out just how far that relationship went and they were read out in court and it’s just, it’s horrible. When doing the readings of these I had to, like, act for the letters, oh, it was cringe-worthy, it was so horrible reading them. They were just the worst of Mills and Boon letters. Just awful.
44:07: The next murder in 1862 is actually my favourite, it’s Jessie McLachlan. She was found guilty of murdering her best friend, a Jessie McPherson. She didn’t kill her best friend. Her, Jessie McPherson’s employer, James Fleming, who was in his eighties at the time, murdered her because he had made advances and had been rejected, and he actually murdered her in front of Jessie McLachlan, her best friend, and then roped her into it and incriminated her and, so she actually was given the death penalty, which was later commuted, based on a letter that came out afterwards from her lawyers, &c., with a bit of an explanation.
44:53: Then in 1865, Dr Edward William Pritchard, who murdered his wife and mother-in-law, literally within a month of each other. He’d been having a dalliance with one of the servant girls and had been caught in a, kind of, compromising situation by his wife, so he offed his wife and his mother-in-law. He was actually the last person to be publicly hanged in Glasgow and, ‘cause shortly after they made it so people were hanged within the prisons.
45:26: And then, the final case is quite a wee bit later, it’s 1908 and it’s Oscar Slater for the death of Marion Gilchrist. She was killed in a home invasion. Her servant had left for a mere 10/15 minutes to obtain a newspaper and in that space of time a man made entry into the house, killed Marion Gilchrist, who lived alone as a wealthy old lady, just living by her own means. He stole almost nothing, though, which was the surprising thing. A crescent diamond brooch was the only thing said to be missing. And the servant girl came back, one of the downstairs neighbours had come up as well because he’d heard banging on the floor, and, so they’re both at the door, the servant girl enters, and the man, who had made entry and had killed her, actually comes out past them, and, the moment he’s passed them, he runs down the stairs, the neighbour goes after him, and fails to catch up with him. So, the police ended up actually going out over to America to arrest Oscar Slater, in New York. He was arrested on his landing off the ship, I think it was the Lusitania he went over on. He was arrested on disembarking at New York. Purely, just because he had a bit of a twisted nose and that’s what they got him on. He also, he had pawned a crescent diamond brooch, but it had been his brooch, it was, it was found to have been his. So, there was no connection to him and the murder, ultimately, but he was condemned to hang for it. That was later commuted, mostly by the efforts of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he managed to Oscar Slater commuted to just a penal servitude. So, he spent almost 20 years in Peterhead prison doing hard manual labour.
47:16 John: So, all of this is available where?
47:18 Jenny: Well it’s all available for free on the site, the readings are free from our YouTube channel, just Random Scottish History on YouTube and they’re, all the books are available on Amazon to buy, if you really like just having a hard copy of a thing. Plus, the hard copies have Alex’s artwork throughout. Which makes them kind of special, like, he’s an excellent artist.
47:44 John: Yeah. So, the material that’s online does not have the illustrations but the stuff, the hardback that you buy does?
47:50 Jenny: Yep, the readings for the ‘Square Mile Murders’ on YouTube have Alex’s artwork, (John: OK.) throughout, as well, but for the website, just at RSH.scot, it’s really just the information you’ve got. We don’t have much of the illustrations.
48:05 John: Now, what do you see as the future for RSH.scot? What would you like to be doing?
48:12 Jenny: I go where the wind blows me, man. Like, honestly, the ‘Treaty of Union Articles’ was borne out of a suggestion by David Taylor, for correspondence from unionists that had a grievance with the union. We also did the ‘Scottish Railway Incidents’ which is going to take people from 1900 to 1915 in a series of four books, volume 1 is out already, and volume 2 is just about ready to go, and that was actually borne of a patron who had come up to collect their copy of the ‘Treaty of Union Articles’ and had asked if I could a wee bit of research to find out about the death of one of his ancestors on the railway line down at Cambuslang. So, in trying to find that one incident, I came across so many, and I though people are going to be really interested in this. The complete lack of health and safety is crazy! and Alex and me have also readings for the first year, 1900. They’re also available on YouTube. But those are not for the faint of heart. I’m going to put that out there. There’s some really awful things and terrible descriptions of injuries, and what have you. So, the railway incidents, it’s a niche topic. And the ‘Glasgow’s Square Mile Murders’ it was a topic I just picked because I thought it would be a good one for Hallowe’en last year. I didn’t even expect it to become a publication but I ended up with so much information that I was like, ach, I’ll just get it out there in a book, so… Honestly, I just go where the, that’s why it’s “Random” Scottish History. I don’t even know the next book I’ll pull out to upload to the site.
49:40 John: Well, here’s a thought, for what it’s worth, I’m sure you’ll get better suggestions than this, but I read a great book about the Radical Uprising in 1820, with the weavers, (Jenny: Yep.) who put together, and were betrayed by their, by some erstwhile colleagues who grassed on them and then they were all deported to Australia, I guess. (Jenny: Yeah, transported.) and, if you haven’t already covered that, I think that might be interesting to people, too. (Jenny: Yeah.) Because it, I found it insightful that a lot of these genuine efforts to address genuine problems, were frustrated by fifth columnists or spies. (Jenny: Yeah) You know. We’re accustomed to thinking of that in modern terms. We expect that. I didn’t quite understand that this was spies who’re active in 1820 and I should have done, because one of the spies who was involved in the Acts of Union, was Daniel Defoe.
50:54 Jenny: There’s always going to be bad actors, like, no matter what group you’re in or what your goal is, there’s always going to be bad actors. Especially if it’s a particularly populous movement. I think the Chartists of the 19th century had the same kind of issues as you’re describing there, with people trying to subvert the movements and we had that ourselves with Lord [Duke of] Hamilton, at the Treaty of Union, he made out like he was onside, that he wanted the best for Scotland, &c., that he would absolutely take the lead and he would get us the best deal and then on the day, he claimed toothache! and refused to turn up, so he was dragged there, literally made to turn up, at which point he just went, “Right, OK, so, who’s taking the lead on this?” It’s like, “You said you would! What are you talking about?” and he completely just, he really helped to screw Scotland. (John: Yeah.) But there’s bad actors in every movement. You just have to rise beyond them. The moment you realise a person isn’t acting the interest they say they are, out that person and just keep on going. You know.
52:05 John: I think that’s the key. Maybe there’s a lesson there in all, you know, from that information, looking at the present day, you’ve got a whole raft of different groups who are in favour of independence, and maybe the lesson we learn from the past, from history, ‘cause history always teaches you, if you care to listen, is that you can have your disagreements, and there’s nothing unhealthy about that, but there comes time, when it comes time for action, you pretty much need to act united, otherwise you’re effectively scoring open goals all over the place.
52:42 Jenny: Yeah, there needs to be a group that takes the lead. When people make it a cult of personality with one person that’s, that’s in control of everything, it’s far easier to fail than if a group is in control of whatever movement. (John: Yeah, yeah.) Because then, if there’s bad actors, that guy can be ousted but it’s not detrimental because there are other people of the same mind that have already carried (John: Yeah, yeah.) whatever movement forward. You know.
53:09 John: Well, we were talking earlier about the United States, and the birth of the United States, and how the major players there, the major actors there, were all, sort of, fighting amongst themselves, even though they’d just gone through a war of independence. (Jenny: Yep.) As soon as it was over. I mean, Alexander Hamilton, you know, ended up being shot in a duel, by the vice-president. I mean, for gods’ sake, what’s going on guys? You know. I mean. Can’t even…
53:41 Jenny: The moral of that story is just, “people are never gonna be happy.”
53:47 John: Exactly!
53:48 Jenny: If you get what you want, there’s going to be another thing to want. You know.
53:51 John: I want to share with you a couple of comments or three that have come in. Donald Macdonald said, “I just bought your book, ‘Scotland in the Union,’ Jenny. So looking forward to reading it.”
54:03 Jenny: Thank you so much!
54:05 John: Derek Kerr says, “Very insightful stuff tonight.” Heather Saxton says, “A wee thank you to youze, OK.” I mean it’s just, people are engaged with what you’ve been saying, Jenny, so, you know, it’s a further underline that what you’re doing is actually helping people and, you know, that’s the best we can do in life. You say to people, you know, “Here I am. I’m doing this, all this heavy lifting, all I want from you is some appreciation. It’s time. You know. Good, decent feedback, essentially.
54:43 Jenny: If one person wants to read a thing I’ve put out then it’s been worth it. (John: Yep.) It’s a simple as that. Like, if there’s at least one person reading what I put out there, then it’s worth it, for that one person. You know.
54:57 John: Yep. So, in terms of, we talked about the radical rising, is there anything else that you feel that people have mentioned to you, you’re thinking maybe a wee bit seriously about spending some time on? Not yet, I haven’t decided on the next big project, yet.
55:17 John: Oh, there you are folks. What better opportunity have you had, right, if you’ve found this, as Derek has said, “insightful,” if you’ve found it to be helpful, as Donald has said, and also as Heather has said, here’s your opportunity, you know. This is a very rare…
55:37 Jenny: You can contact me through the site, ‘cause people are free to contact me and I answer all of the queries, and comments that I get sent, from RSH.scot, (John: Yep, there you are folks.) and I’m very contactable on Twitter, too.
55:52 John: Well, that can be a double-edged sword, I suppose, but, no, but seriously, seriously, the key message here, it seems to me, is here is somebody doing some stuff that I suspect many of you tonight are thinking, gracious, I wish I had some information in this regard. Here is somebody who’s done this heavy lifting for you. The material’s available for you. It may not cost you a great deal, or nothing at all, and Jenny is receptive to your input. I mean, compare that with the BBC, if you tried to (Jenny: I’m not the BBC.) get any of this material on the BBC, do you know how far you would get? (John: blows raspberry) Nowhere. Nowhere, and she’s not got a budget of £300m a year, by the way.
56:40 Jenny: Nae budget.
56:41 John: And neither, there you are, no budget at all, and neither do we. So, if you genuinely feel that this is important to you, here’s an opportunity for you to exercise, to act, it’s open to you. You can disregard my thoughts and comments as you wish. But I would strongly commend what Jenny has been saying tonight because it’s helpful. You, it’s from history we learn. If, what’s the old cliche? “If you don’t learn from history, you’re condemned to relive it,” and in a way you’ve demonstrated that tonight, you shown the number of ways (Jenny: Just going round in circles.) that we’re reliving it, because somewhere along the line, someone didn’t take the appropriate action.
57:22 Jenny: What is funny, though, is that it’s the arguments, the arguments that we use today, for independence, to promote independence, are the arguments that the pro-unionist Scottish nationalists were already using, in the 18th and 19th centuries. (John: Oh, fantastic.) We’re just using the same arguments again, in the understanding that, well, our grievances haven’t been redressed, the equal, the union still isn’t equal, we’re still, you know, the underdog, so to speak. So, it’s time just to end it now. So, we’re using the same arguments now to end the union that were formerly used for Home Rule argument.
58:01 John: Wouldn’t that be truly ironic, folks, if the arguments that you started using, for independence, are actually based on pro-union material.
58:11 Jenny: It’s a fact. It’s a fact. Honestly. You’ll notice it through the ‘Treaty of Union Articles.’ It’s totally eye-opening. It’s crazy that we’re just doing the same thing again. Just from a slightly different perspective. You know.
58:24 John: Well, we’re almost through. I just need a couple of housekeeping things I need to do, Jenny, but if you could stay with us for a little bit, (Jenny: Sure.) that would be much appreciated. First of all I need to tell you that, there’s a show coming on right after our show, which is the Scotonomics Show, not to be missed, and they’ll be talking about banking, affordable banking as a prerequisite for a modern society but why are so many people so poorly served by the banks. Heavens! If that doesn’t strike a chord, nothing will. I can’t, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been abused by the banks. Terrific. Let me just say, in conclusion, if I may, a big thank you to all of you and, of course, to Jenny, for being, as our commenters said tonight, “insightful.” A big thank you for joining us. As ever, we’ve got a formidable list of guests lined up and the TNT Show will be back at the same time, next week, 7 o’clock. Don’t miss it, why? because we have Alyn Smith M.P., on the show, and I look forward to, and I’m sure he will, too, to getting your questions. Now’s the time to be thinking about the questions you’d like to put to Alyn next week. Also, it’s a constant reminder, but look out for the column in the ‘Sunday National,’ this week. It’s been written by (Dr.) Elliot Bulmer, and you’ll find it in the ‘Seven Days’ Supplement.’ Thanks again. Thank you very much for joining us. Do join us next Wednesday and remember it’s been another great day for British democracy, Boris Johnson, who by all accounts, is under threat, and, indeed, may not be the Prime Minister soon, has criticised Ian Blackford’s weight. The country’s falling apart and he’s worried about somebody’s weight? (God.) To all of you, thanks for joining us. Stay safe. Please take care. Oh, and by the way, support the crowdfunder. Please. So we can keep on doing what we’re doing tonight. Thank you. Goodnight.
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