IT’S been a lot of fun being the propaganda rag of the independence movement for nearly a century now, the “Tartan Pravda” of the SNP Politburo since, well, before the SNP was born.

The Scots Independent, or SI as it has been commonly referred to within the independence movement, was the first and only continuously published newspaper in support of the national movement.

First published in 1926 as a newsletter of the Scottish National League, it evolved into being the Scottish National Party’s newspaper, with the editor elected at annual conference each year.

The first issue declared that its mission was “to fill a vacancy, long felt, for a newspaper with a purely Scottish outlook”, and that is what it remained for another 90 years. Despite its lonely existence, it was a valuable tool for the national movement through the long, hard slog to parliamentary presence in Edinburgh.

It attracted writers of celebrated renown such as Sir Compton Mackenzie, Neil Gunn, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Hugh MacDiarmid and Don Roberto (RB Cunninghame Graham), the first socialist MP.

Topics in the early issues – land reform, social justice, international relations, sustainable economics – are as relevant today as they were then.

Scotland had not long come out of the Great War with disproportionate scars. The General Strike had just passed and the Great Depression was not far off. The sense of disaffection with London rule was growing even if it had manifested itself into electoral success.

By the 1950s, James Halliday made the newspaper an independent entity with its own board and an editor appointed to ensure consistency in its support for independence.

In the heydays of the “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign, the SI was distributing more than 40,000 newspapers a week from its wee office in Stirling.

Many people remember how they were an SI paper boy or girl, delivering door-to-door in communities across the country through the SNP branch network. However, that relationship came to an abrupt halt in the late 1980s.

The SI board and editorial team had remained loyal to Gordon Wilson’s leadership through the 79 Group split and as with any change of guard, the new regime cut the lifeblood to the newspaper by refusing distribution through the party’s branch network.

Despite this setback, the newspaper continued with distribution through the wholesaler John Menzies and a dedicated band of party stalwarts who traipsed from branch meeting to meeting and, for some, spent a Saturday night round the pubs when cash was flowing as much as the liquor!

The SI marched onwards, providing a platform for aspiring candidates and established leaders alike.

For many, it was a testing ground for new ideas. For others it was an opportunity to hone their thoughts and articulation of ideas. Donny Stewart, the SNP’s first MP to be elected at a General Election (Western Isles in 1970), declared that the SI was an essential component of his political education, along with the other left-leaning organs such as the newsletter of the Independent Labour Party.

Regular contributors to the printed monthly and online editions included Alison Thewliss (now the SNP’s shadow Treasury spokesperson), Pete Wishart, Christine Grahame, Douglas Chapman, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and our current depute editor is none other than Gordon MP Richard Thomson. Our new recruits include Kaukab Stewart (who first stood against Donald Dewar in 1999 and convenes Glasgow Kelvin constituency), Councillor Junaid Ashraf and Scott Taylor covering economics.

THIS list is not exhaustive and we are always looking for fresh ideas and new voices to promote.

One thing that hasn’t changed throughout our history is that we are committed to Scottish independence and broadly support the Scottish National Party in its strategy for government and self-determination.

If there is one lesson we have learned over the years, it is that there is no shortage of critics of the SNP and independence in the media. We will not be joining them. That is not to say we are uncritical of policies. Our independence from the party enables us to construct meaningful debate.

Long before recent demands for another independence party on the regional lists were in full play, we had published our analysis in 2018. Interestingly, some of the detractors of our analysis have changed tack; just as we reserve the right to do in our editorial positions.

The SI wishes to take this opportunity to thank its many readers, subscribers and fellows, without whom we would not be here. If you would like to subscribe, visit our website – – for more details.

This column is brought to you by the Scottish Independence Foundation