Professor Trevor-Roper and the Scottish Revolution
In April, 1976 Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, now Lord Dacre of Glanton, lent the authority of the Regius Chair of Modern History at Oxford to the remarkable statement that the Scottish political system before the Act of Union of 1707 was simply 'political banditry'. He then proceeded, in the same article in The Times , to the even more extraordinary assertion that this tradition was not yet dead, as 'we have seen it at work in the Scotch province of Ulster from 1922 till it had to be suspended there, too, in 1972'. Trevor-Roper's article was written as a contribution to the debate on Devolution, and he was trying to show that any attempt to undo the Union of 1707 would lead to disaster for the Scots, as history had proved that they were utterly incapable of governing themselves competently.
From this context one might conclude that these statements should be ignored by historians on the grounds that they were wild and ill-considered assertions made in the heat of the moment during a passionate political controversy. But in fact they are more than this, being perhaps the most extreme of many arguments and assertions made over many years by Trevor-Roper, which appear to be based on a commitment to the 1707 Union which is so strong that nothing interesting or creditable can be admitted to have come from Scotland before that date.
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