When 31 of our AFFG activists met the SNP/Scottish Nationalist march on the Royal Mile on 6 October 2018 , one of our Directors, Alistair McConnachie, used the historic surroundings to speak about our shared British Inheritance and to make the vital point that our Political Union creates our Social Union. The following is developed from his notes.
The Lion and the Unicorn
We're standing here today in a very historic part of Edinburgh. If we look around, we see the extent to which our wider British history is represented.
For example, the 'Mercat Cross', in this 'Parliament Square' has been a public speaking platform...through the ages.
On the Mercat Cross, we see the central plaque. It's James VI's Coat of Arms. James VI was the Scottish King who united the Realms of England and Scotland and became King of Great Britain in 1603.
He created this Coat of Arms to represent the joining of Scotland and England within his Regal Union.
The English Lion represents strength and the Scottish Unicorn represents wisdom and imagination. Together these two powerful figures represent Scotland and England in harmonious Unity.
And it is the ideal of that harmonious Unity which we stand for and which we don't want to see broken.
There's also the English Coat of Arms - the 'Three Lions' - on the wall of the Mercat Cross, as well as an Irish Coat of Arms. It's a thoroughly British monument, reminding us not only of Scotland, but of our wider British heritage, and inheritance, throughout these Islands!
King James's Union Jack
It was also King James VI, who invented the Union Jack (in 1606) which we of A Force For Good are flying today, and which is also flying on the City Chambers across the road.
And it is important that we fly it today, because the SNP – including the MPs and MSPs – who are leading your march, are in the process of trying to eradicate it from Scotland.
They are taking it down, quite literally, from all the public buildings which they control.
They are doing this while we are still in the United Kingdom. Imagine what they would do if Scotland were separated.
They would outlaw it if they could! They would outlaw us, if they could! And so it is important for us to fly it and show that our Flag is not going away. It's here to stay!
We are reminding you that you may try your hardest to eradicate the idea of Britain and the British identity, but you will never succeed, because we British Scots ...are not going away! We are here to stay!
'Tender of Union', First Union Parliament Proclaimed at Mercat Cross
You know, we think of 1707 as the first political union between Scotland and England, but there was an earlier one, and it was proclaimed right where we are standing, at this Mercat Cross.
After Charles I was executed in 1649, the 'Tender of Union' was proclaimed here on 4 February 1652. Scotland's Parliament was disbanded and 30 members of the Scottish parliament took their seats at Westminster.
It could be said to be the first attempt (after James VI's attempt to convince the English Parliament in 1604) at an incorporated British political State when the representatives actually moved premises. (1)
Charles II, Scots Proclaim him 'King of Great Britain' at the Mercat Cross
We see some people in the crowd advocating a 'Scottish Republic'. Let me give you a history lesson. Scotland has never been a Republic – and it never will be!
Right here in Parliament Square, is a statue to Charles II. It's 333 years old. It is the oldest statue in Edinburgh. It was erected on his death in 1685.
Who was Charles II? On 30 January 1649, his father Charles I was cruelly executed.
Some people imagine that Britain was 'a republic' until 1660 when Charles II returned to London.
On 5 February 1649, 6 days after the execution, the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II, "King of Great Britain" – and they proclaimed him so, from the Mercat Cross, right here! (2)
That is to say, a body with the authority to do so, pronounced him King of all Great Britain!
Therefore, the idea that Great Britain was a republic between the execution of Charles I and the official restoration of Charles II on 29 May 1660 in London, is not correct.
It is not even correct to say that "England was a republic", since there was still a recognised King over the entire land, which included England (albeit a contested one – who, after he was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, had to flee the British Isles).
So the Charles II statue, right here in Edinburgh, demonstrates that Scotland, and Britain, has always been a Monarchy.
Adam Smith, Economist
And talking of statues, we're standing right next to the statue of the Great Economist Adam Smith, who also believed that the British Union was a good thing. He stated: "The Union was a measure from which infinite good has been derived to this country." (3)
James Braidwood, Fire Fighting Pioneer
There is also a statue here in Parliament Square to James Braidwood (1800-22 June 1861).
He was born in Edinburgh, and he was the Scotsman who founded the world's first municipal fire service in Edinburgh in 1824.
Furthermore, he established and was the first Director of the London Fire Brigade!
His statue in Parliament Square was unveiled on 5 September 2008 and the plaque states:
1800 - 1861
Father of the British Fire Service
He is another example of the extent to which the Scots – within the Union – have acquired opportunities and created benefits for all the people of the British Isles. (4)
English Impact Upon Scotland
And it is not just Scottish people having an impact on England and the rest of the British Isles. The process has also worked the other way.
For example, think of an iconic Scottish Monument – the statue of Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, which also appears on the Clydesdale Bank £20 notes. It was sculpted by the Englishman, Charles d'Orville Pilkington Jackson, from Cornwall.
Think of an iconic Scottish Song – the Skye Boat Song. It was written by an Englishman, Sir Harold Edwin Boulton, born in Charlton, Kent. It was this song, in particular, which had a huge effect in communicating and romanticising the Jacobites of the 1745 Rebellion, to everyone in the UK.
Think of an iconic Scottish Painting (if not the most well known of them all) – the Monarch of the Glen. It was painted by an Englishman Sir Edwin Landseer, from London – who also sculpted the Trafalgar Square Lions.
British Cultural Inter-Action and Integration
These are just some examples of how people from England have influenced (what might be thought of as) Scottish culture and vice versa, thereby creating an integrated British culture.
The political Union created this inter-action, and it continues to sustain it. It has been a huge benefit of the Union.
It's something to be proud of. Long may it continue, but it can only continue within the political Union, because if we were to go our separate ways, the shutters would come down.
This is because cultural inter-action is made possible by the social union which the political Union creates and maintains.
It is because of the political Union that all the people of the British Isles have been able to move smoothly around, and back and forward, taking full advantage of the wide social opportunities, and contributing to the best of their abilities, cultural and otherwise, for the good of all.
That's how it works. Political union gives rise to social union which gives rise to cultural union. Without political union, the social union starts to collapse, and with that, everything else. (5)
Political Union creates Social Union, and Social Solidarity depends upon Political Union
The Scottish Nationalists do not realise that – and if they do, then they don't care.
But us Unionists do realise it very well – and we care.
It is central to our belief in the importance of the United Kingdom. (6)
(1) This was a consequence of the English parliament having passed the declaration a few months earlier on 28 October 1651.
Two years later, on 12 April 1654, the "Ordinance for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England" was issued by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, and proclaimed in Scotland by the Governor of Scotland, General George Monck.
The Ordinance did not become an Act of Union until it was approved by the Second Protectorate Parliament on 26 June 1657. This Act like all the others passed during the Interregnum – the period between the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 and the arrival of his son Charles II in London on 29 May 1660 – was repealed by both Scottish and English parliaments upon the Restoration of Charles II.
(2) See Mercat Cross proclamation here:
Brown, K. M.; et al., eds. (2007–2017), "Proclamation: of King Charles II, 5 January 1649 (NAS. PA2/24, f.97r-97v.)", The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, University of St Andrews, at tinyurl.com/y9wsh3r7
(3) Glasgow, 2 April 1760. Quoted in CR Fay, Adam Smith and the Scotland of his Day, (Cambridge University Press, 1956) at 74. See https://books.google.co.uk
(4) Braidwood died in action on 22 June 1861 in the Tooley Street fire at Cotton's Wharf near London Bridge station when a falling wall crushed him. He is buried at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, London.