Our Falkirk Moment 164


The largest battle of the Jacobite 45 was not Culloden and not Prestonpans but Falkirk. On 17 January 1746, amidst a howling winter storm, an 8,000 strong Jacobite army routed a similar sized Hanoverian force under Lieutenant General Hawley, which had been marching to the relief of Stirling Castle. By every conventional measure it was a Jacobite victory. They held the battlefield while the Hanoverians retreated pell-mell to Edinburgh, they captured the Hanoverian artillery and baggage, Hanoverian casualties were higher by about four to one. Yet the history books tend to call it a draw.

The Hanoverian force broken at Falkirk formed 80% of the victorious force at Culloden a few months later. Falkirk was decisive because, had the Jacobites chased Hawley’s force as it retreated to Edinburgh in great disorder and with shattered morale, it could have been destroyed. This did not happen, for a variety of reasons. The most important was that Charles Stuart thought it prudent to get all his ducks in the row by capturing Stirling Castle first. The second was that Charles had failed to appoint an overall commander or a commander of the left wing, and spent the actual battle with his senior staff indoors around a fire staying out of the storm, while George Murray, fighting on foot, led the right wing of MacDonalds and Athollmen to victory.

You will gather that the research for my biography of George Murray continues. But unless you are particularly slow today, you will gather that I see a lesson here for the Yes Movement.

This is our Falkirk moment. Both the Tories and Labour are riven by internal dissent over Brexit. The UK is in palpable political chaos, and the prospect of remaining tied to Westminster has never been less appealing. It is not the job of the SNP to “save the UK from a bad Brexit”. It is the job of the SNP to win Scottish Independence, after which Scotland can decide itself on whether it wants to be in the EU or not (and the fact is that when last asked it very much did).

I fumed when the SNP fought the last Westminster election on a “don’t mention Independence” platform, and deservedly lost MPs as a result. I fumed still more when I was not allowed to hold a fringe meeting on Indyref2 at the SNP conference, and the subject was rigorously excluded from the motions before the Conference itself. Now that Nicola Sturgeon is daily putting further and further excuses forward for not moving on Independence, I am inclined to fear that the comfortable fire around which Charles Stuart warmed himself during the Battle of Falkirk, is an apt analogy for the position of the SNP Establishment, who are doing very nicely, thank you, out of their position within the UK, and show no inclination whatsoever to stop warming their toes at the Establishment hearth and move out into the storm and bullets.

I have no more claim to be a strategic genius than the next man. But when I see my sworn opponents, disoriented, in disarray, and fighting fiercely amongst themselves, I cannot help but feel that now is the time to attack them.


164 thoughts on “Our Falkirk Moment

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  • Kangaroo

    Whilst you may be correct, Falkirk requires the battle to have been joined and to have been won, the mistake was in not quashing the opposing forces she the opportunity arose.

    Contrast this with the Battle of Dunbar
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Dunbar_(1650)

    We had Cromwell beaten without having engaged them. They were starving and needing to head home, at which point they would have been slaughtered. Stupidly our commander left his strategic location and went into a valley. They were routed and many slaves were taken and lots of Scots died on the long March to Durham jail.

    We must not make the same mistake again. Our Falkirk moment will appear from the mist, but firstly let the enemy tear himself apart on the various rocks that he is sailing towards. A call for an indyref now would be the enemies call to arms, the enemy would regroup and assail us with everything they had. Just like Dunbar.

  • Martin

    Fixed terms for politicians, 8 years max then back to life in the real world. Same for political civil servants. The longer one is in a position the more corrupt they become it is humsn nature.
    Once politicians are elected all they think about is keeping their seat, the number one priority should be the electorate, not them
    You must have a family to be a party leader, but not like Obamas plastic creation. How divorced from real life are Sturgeon, May, Macron, Merkel etc etc they haven’t had to buy nappies, do a school run or educate any kids.

    • Sharp Ears

      That’s harsh and sexist too. Suppose the woman had experienced infertility, iscarriage or stillbirth. It reminded me of Leadsom’s bitchy remark that she was better qualified for the job than May as she had children and May didn’t. They were both standing for election as leader.

      Does your qualification for leadership apply to men generally or only to Macron?

  • Jannie

    Independent of England only to kiss the signet ring of Brussels/Frankfurt? Some independence!
    But it always amuses me to hear Scots wailing about their “colonized” status when they have been among the leading empire-builders and colonists!

    • Iain MacEchern

      Your conflating two completely different things, luckily the majority of people can understand the difference between the two unions. May I suggest that you sit down and do some research that will make you aware of these differences. Then you might just understand why the U.K. is toxic for Scotland, while the EU is a force for peace and economic prosperity.

  • Muscleguy

    The National reports that Sturgeon has told a Women for Independence meeting that if May declines another Section 30 request all we can get is another perfectly ignorable mandate at the next Holyrood election.

    This is utterly dismaying timidity. We have the perfect right to hold consultative referenda under the Scotland Act. One could be arranged fairly quickly and a new, absolutely explicit, mandate to hold an IndyRef obtained. Polls show a large majority want another one. The differences are over when.

    You have laid out a number of perfectly normal, feasible and established methods to reach Independence other than a referendum. And it seems you are being roundly and totally ignored.

    I am now utterly disheartened and am concluding that the SNP or perhaps the SNP headed by the timid Sturgeon cannot be the vehicle we need to carry us to Independence. The question is what do we do about it? The Greens under Patrick Harvie are much more gung ho but they don’t have the monies or the membership to run enough candidates. Lobby enough SNP MSPs, MPS and MEPs to try and defenestrate Sturgeon for someone with a demonstrable spine?

  • Sharp Ears

    Theresa May is losing her rag. She has been shouting at the top of her voice at Jeremy Corbyn in PMQs.

    I am sick to the teeth of the sound of her voice.

    ‘I WILL ACT IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST’ she has just exclaimed, in staccato mode.

  • Sharp Ears

    O/T but back to Syria. Vanessa Beeley is speaking in London on 6th December.

    Keep Talking: THURSDAY 6 December 2018: The making of a shadow state: The billionaire complex behind the Syrian ‘regime change’ war

    We are still at our new venue at St Gabriel’s. The acoustics are good, and there is a kitchen with a lobby for drinking coffee and chatting. So if people arrive from 7pm onwards for chatting, whilst we set up, then that’s fine.

    Topic: The making of a shadow state: The billionaire complex behind the Syrian ‘regime change’ war
    Speaker: Vanessa Beeley
    Date: Thursday, 6 December 2018
    Time: 7:00 – 10:00 pm (coffee etc 7:00 – 7:30; talks etc 7:30 +)
    Location: St Gabriel’s Halls, Room: Boys’ Club or Men’s Club
    Entry: £5

    Vanessa Beeley writes: “I will try to discuss the British intelligence role in the attempted destabilisation of Syria and the region – using White Helmets as example and expanding into the billionaire complex behind the Jo Cox Fund and the NGO complex driving the ‘humanitarian’ intervention operations.”

    Wikispooks writes:
    Vanessa Beeley is a British investigative journalist focused on the Middle East. On her return from Syria in September 2016, she reported how 600,000 people moved from East to West Aleppo to take refuge when the NATO-backed rebels attacked the city in 2012.

    Vanessa Beeley is clear that Syria’s White Helmets, lauded in the West as a group of volunteer first-responders, funded by the US, Britain and others to the tune of million and nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, are nothing but terrorists. She accuses the White Helmets of stealing ambulances and fire engines, and even killing Syria’s real Civil Defence officials.

    On 25 July 2018, Vanessa Beeley was interviewed on 21st Century Wire’s “Taylor Report” about a large number of White Helmets exiting Syria via the Golan Heights with the assistance of Israel.
    Links: https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Vanessa_Beeley

    @ Address: St Gabriel’s Halls, Glasgow Terrace, Churchill Gardens, Pimlico, London, SW1V 3AA
    Website: https://www.stgabrielshalls.org.uk/

  • BabsP

    The climate change protests currently making their voice heard in London will be in Edinburgh on Saturday. Climate change may already be terminal for the human species – and don’t expect the 0.1% in charge of the world to act here. This really may be our “We are many , they are few” opportunity.

    https://rebellion.earth/events/

  • Chris Barclay

    You are asking a good question. The answer, however, may be that Sturgeon is wary of encouraging the EU to use Scotland and the break-up of the UK as leverage in the BREXIT negotiations. Behind that lies the issue of the terms, on which Scotland would rejoin the EU.

    Sturgeon may feel that Scotland would be better off negotiating after BREXIT has been resolved. I guess that you would argue that she is wrong and I would agree. Sturgeon should be getting whatever commitments she can out of the EU at the time when the EU needs Scotland.

    The biggest flaw in the Independence campaign in 2014 was the currency. The campaign should either have committed itself to a Scottish currency or to adopting the Euro. The idea of continuing to use the currency of what would be a foreign country post-independence undermined the very idea of Scotland being independent. Has the issue of the currency been resolved? If it has not, that would help explain the reluctance of some people to call a new referendum.

  • Gary

    Political realities are often different from our wishes. We COULD go the Catalan route – and face the same outcome OR we could hold another referendum and win it – when ALLOWED to do so.

    In the meantime our government in Holyrood does actually have to govern and deal with the day to day realities of running a country, albeit with little power, constantly undermined by Westminster and with opposition parties who aren’t so much the opposition for the SNO Government as they are opposition for the governance of Scotland.

    It’s like watching a football match and shouting about how badly the centre forward is doing when, in fact, you don’t have any better idea than he does how to score a goal. It’s easy to carp, harder to find and actual solution that’ll work…

  • uncle tungsten

    Well said Craig. Now, is absolutely the time to test the will for independence. What is the logic for delay that seems to occupy their minds?

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