HAMISH MacPherson’s article (How the Saltire came to be our National Symbol) in Tuesday’s National, ought to be the spark demanding that St Andrew’s Day become a recognised national holiday in Scotland.

Saint Patrick’s Day is recognised the world over as a fun day symbolising Irish identity and pride for all of Irish descent, religions and none, not just as a holy icon. Perhaps Hamish would research the claim that St Paddy was a Scot, or Brett, born in Old Kilpatrick (Church of Patrick), Dumbartonshire. There is a St Patrick’s well and a local St Patrick Masonic Lodge there too.

Tradition has it that Patrick, Peter, or Patrus, a Shepherd boy, was taken from Strathclutha, or Strathclyde by the Scotti (the Roman name for raider, or pirate) from Ulster. The Romanised Bretons were under attack by the Cruithne, known by the Roman name of Picts and the Norse Celts from Shetlands, Orkneys and Hebrides to Dublin before the Castle of the Fort of the Bretons fell to them.

Today, if you look at the cannons on Dumbarton Castle you will notice that they were not facing out to sea for the Napoleonic Wars, but inwards on the local people on the rising of the United Scotsmen, 1797, which Hamish also needs to research, and the radical 1820 insurgents.

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The United Scotsmen got as far as Clan Menzies Castle in Aberfeldy, before dispersing. Ironically Menzies, the distributor, was taken over by an English conglomerate and refused to co-operate fully in bringing the national newspaper to our newsagents shelves and supermarkets, alongside the bulk of the North British papers to be pulped at the end of the day.

The 1820 Rising is dismissed by Brit Nat academics as “Waterloo on horseback” and of being led by agent provocateurs. Nevertheless, over 60,000 radicals struck and took up arms, declaring for a republic.

Last year saw a fine film and the much-publicised anniversary of Peterloo, in which the local militia fired on a peaceful demonstration in St Peters in the Field, Manchester. Sympathetic demonstrations were held all over Scotland at the time, but nothing much is heard on the armed rising here a year later.

St Andrew’s Day also happens to be the anniversary of the death of Scotland’s persecuted favourite socialist “saint” at the time, the great John MacLean, aged 43, November 30, 1923, broken in health but not in spirit. He died of pneumonia, after suffering hard labour in Peterhead Prison, force-feeding and poverty through being sacked from his teaching job. It was typical of the man that he gave his only overcoat to a black Jamaican comrade in his final winter days.

MacLean was to give up his Presbyterian education to embrace and teach Marxian economics to mass gatherings. He supported Edinburgh-born James Connolly, who also learned his Marxism in Scotland and his stand against British Imperialism in 1916. His stance against the First World War led to him being appointed Soviet Consul by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. His consul in South Portland St Glasgow was not recognised by the authorities who refused to allow mail to be delivered there.

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He was also persecuted by the Great British left for forming his Scottish Workers Republican Party, which survived till the late 1930s or early 40s. The GB left also supported Sir Basil Thomson, head of security on Scotland, who ordered his agents to spread the word that MacLean, and Sylvia Pankhurst, who supported his Scottish Workers Republic, was paranoid and insane for complaining about being hounded 24/7 by the British state.

MacLean supported independence some 21 years before the SNP was formed. His annual commemoration saw thousands march from Eglinton Toll to his graveside in Eastwood Cemetery up till the 1950s. It was organised by the cross-party Scottish Republican Socialist Movement since 1973, marching from his grave to his Cairn at Shawbridge Square. This year it will be supported by the AUOB, with no march or Scoriach. Speeches and music will be provided at the cairn, for a socially distanced gathering instead.

Donald Anderson