SNP_smearI stumbled across this image while idly wandering through the murkier quarters of Facebook.

As a keen amateur historian, with a particular interest in Scotland I was intrigued, and decided to investigate the truth of these claims. In the course of this, I satisfied myself fairly quickly that they have very little foundation.

However, in the course of trying to explain my findings to the people intent on spreading this version of events, it became apparent that they had no interest in the truth of the matter, but were intent on continuing to smear these men.

 Lets have a closer look at the evidence for the prosecution, one man at a time:

Billy-Wolfe-at-the-SNPBilly Wolfe 1924 – 2010

The man to the left is Billy Wolfe, leader of the SNP from 1969-1974. His obituary in the Guardian describes him as “A gentle and quiet chartered accountant, also a politician with a passion for Scottish history and culture.” During the Second World War, Billy served in the Scottish Horse Regiment. He joined the Royal Artillery in 1942 , seeing active service in Normandy, the Low Countries and Germany before piloting air observation posts in Indonesia and Malaya. He was Demobilised in 1947.

So, this one looks like straight-up mistaken identity. I prefer the picture sans swastika I think.

arthur_donaldsonArthur Donaldson 1902 – 1993

Leader of the SNP from 1960 to 1969. His obituary in The Herald describes him as “A superb and inspirational orator.” He was indeed arrested and detained under Defence Regulation 18B in 1941. However, he was released without charge after six weeks, after the intervention of the Secretary of State for Scotland, Tom Johnston.

The incident is pretty well investigated here  The statement from Johnston exonerating Donaldson is here.

Andrew Dewar Gibb 1888–1974

ugsp00232_mDuring the First World War he served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, seeing active service in France and reaching the rank of major. As a law lecturer at the University of Glasgow, he was instrumental in a program which brought Polish, Czech and Free French students to the University to complete their legal studies. Regarding Von Tevenar, “Nazi emissary to Scotland” according to the “historian” Gavin Bowd, he was in fact an unfortunate fantasist who wasn’t working for anyone, and was arrested and tortured to death by the Gestapo in 1943.

Hugh MacDiarmid 1892 – 1978

This one is pretty much self-defeating; “He was a supporter of fascist Mussolini until he went right-wing”. Uh-huh. There’s almost a glimmer of historical awareness there. Prior to getting a taste for power, Mussolini was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, editor of ‘Avanti’, and to all appearances was a committed socialist.

The evidence that MacDiarmid supported a Nazi invasion is pretty flimsy. Chiefly a letter from 1941:

“On balance I regard the Axis powers, tho’ more violently evil for the time being, less dangerous than our own government in the long run and indistinguishable in purpose.”

Personally, I think that sounds more like hyperbole than an expression of intent. MacDiarmid famously stated that the purpose of a poet was “To erupt like a volcano emitting not only flame but a lot of rubbish.” Despite his conscious objections, he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Salonika and France during World War One and in a Clyde shipyard during World War Two.