The Father of European Federalism

Christopher Harvie brings into the light a little-known pioneer of European federalism

In what was otherwise a dull election campaign, two issues became salient which threatened to accelerate the Collapse of the United Kingdom as a state. One was 'Europe', the other, the future of Scotland. The first divided the Conservative Party as disastrously as Free Trade had done before the debacle in 1906. The second wiped it out North of Berwick. In 1992 John Major's 'soap-box' defence of the British constitution had helped his unexpected success; but an attempt in 1994-97 by his young Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth, to play cultural nationalism against political nationalism – notably by shipping the Stone of Scone back North – only provoked the home rulers. Opinion polls showed the Scots to be more pro- European, and indeed more republican, than any other part of the United Kingdom. Forsyth, going for broke, preached the teaching of Scottish history in the schools. Garlic against the European vampire? But the more the Scots remembered their history – and not necessarily the Braveheart bit of it – the less British they felt.

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