Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You can't kill the spirit

As events have progressed, I have found that my Greengalloway blog site - which has turned out to be mainly a 'continuing story of the radical counterculture' - is also having to cope with my postings on subjects of more local/ Scottish interest like the Galloway Levellers. So I have decided to create a new blog 'The Last of the Westland Whigs'. Here will be found my local historical research and also musings on more contemporary themes.

For example - what on earth are Scottish Enterprise up to? I heard the news oday on BBC Radio Solway that Dumfries and Gallwoay are to be bundled in with a new Scottish Enterprise 'west metropolitian area' focused on Glasgow. How is this going to work? The nearest and most influential metropolis for the west of Dumfries and Galloway is Belfast, not Glasgow. In the east, the city of Carlisle in England has a stronger economic pull. And for Dumfries itself in the centre, Edinburgh is no less important than Glasgow.

There is also an issue which is now personal. I am about to start a 'Master of Letters' course at Glasgow Univeristy's Crichton Campus in Dumfries on Scottish Cultural Heritage, which has a focus on Dumfries and Galloway. Funding for the Crichton Campus is only a fraction of what the University of the Highlands and Islands has recieved. [ Very roughly £100 million against £3 million]. Why?

It seems that whilst my local MSPs/ MPs/ Councillors etc etc have made little impact on the Scottish Executive re. funding, Highland MSPs/ MPs etc have been bombarding the Scottish Executive with pleas for more money. Their big stick is 'The Highland Clearances' which they allege are still having a negative impact 200 years on.

But this is rubbish. From no less a person than Professor Tom Devine (Scotland's most emminent, or at least high profile historian) I have been advised that more 'peasants' - i.e. cottars - were cleared from the land in the Lowlands than in the Highlands. My own research into population figures for West/ East Galloway between 1680 and 1850 support this claim.

Nor were the Covenanters - Westland Whigs- treated any less harshly when the Jacobites (Stuarts) were in power. Possession of a Bible alone was sufficient to lead to summary execution in the 'Killing Times' of the 1680s. A situation only changed by the 'Glorious Revlolution' of 1688 and the Scottish 'Revolution Settelment' of 1689.

But that is enough for now.


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