The Scottish Genocide


Suggest that our Scotland, the place we share as our common home, is a colony and its people colonised and all holy hell breaks out. On Twitter your compatriots will decry you as a tinfoil hat wearing bampot, and every word you utter as silly. We’re not colonised they’ll say, and they’ll laugh you off with comparisons of Africa and India. “We’ve nothing in common with Africa or Indian.” That’s a sore pity, I sometimes think, we could do with the weather.

They’re right. The colonisation of Scotland and the ethnic cleansing and genocide that it produced was nothing like that perpetrated against the peoples of Africa and India. It was also completely unlike the colonisation and brutalisation of Ireland, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and many other places around the world. What England’s power did to Scotland was unique to its relationship with Scotland, much the same as what happened elsewhere was unique in each context.

Right now I can see many reading this getting uncomfortable, some even angry. That’s not the purpose of this article. We weren’t taught this in school. It runs against the grain of the story we were fed of poppies and heroes, and an empire of pith helmets and dapper redcoats over which the sun never set. That version of events is sacred to a great many people, and – oddly for me – I’m not taking any great pleasure in the thought of stripping this particular altar bare. Know the truth, someone said, and the truth will set you free. So let’s not rage about the past. Let’s not wallow in shame either. We are the inheritors of this awful story and the products of it, but we don’t bear its guilt.

In India alone it is estimated that the British Empire was responsible for the deaths of 29 million human beings, and between 1783 and 1997 Britain’s global imperial adventures had cost the lives of over 150 million people. That’s some body count. At school, for many reading this, genocide – while ignoring Armenia for political reasons and Rwanda as it was unfolding – was all about Hitler’s Germany and the extermination of the Jews of Europe. It was never about the rape, torture, and murder of Kenyans by British soldiers during the Mau Mau Uprising of the 1950s, the wholesale slaughter of peaceful protesters by British colonial troops at Amritsar in 1919, the death of 28,000 Boer women and children in British concentration camps, or indeed the enforced export of grain from Ireland while upward of a million people starved to death during the Great Famine.

All of this was papered over with tales of juniper and gin in Bombay, and the great sacrifices of British manhood on the Somme, at Ypres, and at Passchendaele, and nothing – not a whisper – was told to us of the systematic and programmatic clearing and murder of inferior Gaels during the colonisation of Scotland. Nothing was said “because we weren’t colonised.”

It is interesting that those who at least accept the historical factuality of “Africa and India” concede, at least in their words, the guilt of empire and colonisation. It did happen, and it is interesting too that they make no attempt to deny it. Some, though they are rare, will yet point to the glories of what we achieved together as an argument for the British union. Nowhere, however, is there a denial or an attempt to bury the evidence.

This is the conspirator’s wink, the attempt to implicate us all into a bond of shared criminality. We have to stick together because we did this together. We all have blood on our hands. Such a position is taken up by many more who argue that Scotland and the people of Scotland were not colonised, but equal partners with England in the atrocities of our imperialism. On the face of it this is a wonderfully convincing argument, it’s true; there were – and still are – bagpipes and kilts in the Khyber Pass. Scotland profited from the theft, and Scots found themselves highly favoured in every sphere of industry, commerce, and government built atop the bones.

We couldn’t be colonised, not only because we were different from Africans and Indians (we were “great white men”), but because we were in on it – up to our necks in it. This is a convincing argument, but it is false. Bribed and blackmailed, the Lords of Scotland treatied with a foreign nation with which our law in the Declaration of Arbroath already foreswore any union or submission. This law was guaranteed in 1320 by the only sovereign of Scotland – the people, the Scots themselves.

In 1707 the Act of Union was without the consent of the Scots, enacted by Lords who had neither claim nor right to the sovereignty of our nation. It was illegal, wholly without legal reality – as it remains still. Efforts in King Edward’s Palace (Westminster itself) could never revoke the union for lack of meaningful Scots representation, and legitimate rebellion was crushed with the same barbaric cruelty England’s empire meted out against other inferior folk.

No sooner than rebellion and sedition were silenced, and rightful monarchs sent packing, than the genocide and ethnic cleansing began. We were not as white as the Anglo-Saxons, alas, and The Scotsman – long the Uncle Tom of Scotland’s conquered opinions – wrote of the Highland Gael’s expulsion: “Collective emigration is, therefore, the removal of a diseased and damaged part of our population. It is a relief to the rest of the population to be rid of this part (The Scotsman, 26 July 1851).” Diseased and damaged were the less than “British” Scots, and fodder for distant plantations and hunger.

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“Last of the Clan,” by Thomas Faed. c.1865 (Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow)

Lord Trevelyan himself, the Somerset Baronet who starved the Gaelic Irish, was happy to add, “A national effort would now be necessary in order to rid the land of the surviving Irish and Scotch Celts. The exodus would then allow for the settlement of a racially superior people of Teutonic stock.” It begins to sound a lot more like Africa and India now, even like the language of certain Teutonic stock in the Germany of the 1930s. The Clearances were not just about economic progress; they were about British racial progress.

So the claim, “we’re not a colony,” sounds more pallid now. And yet we have not touched upon the economy – the resource and industrial purpose – of colonisation. Our Gàidhlig tongue torn out, and our rebels and patriots, our daughters and sons, abroad or frozen or starved to death, the Wade roads were laid for our gold and silver then to move south, and now our brightest and best, our gas and our oil, and everything of value we make and ever have made. A colony we were, a colony we are, and the screams of denial are the shrill rale of the thoroughly colonised mind.


Notes on the Scottish Genocide

Notes on the Colonisation of Scotland


The Butterfly Rebellion
Jason Michael
Ayrshire, Scotland

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18 thoughts on “The Scottish Genocide

  1. Yes I agree to a point. Where I would disagree is that while the colonisation of the British Empire which you talk about was carried out (at least initially) by immigrants in Scotland the colonisation ad the brutality and all the things that went with the Clearances both highland and lowland were people with some Scottish Connection. I put it that way as by the 19th Century the Scottish nobility had intermarried with the nobility of the rest of the UK.
    It is this action of Scot on Scot (whether it was at the behest of leadership from else where) which I find distorts the Scottish understanding. (I say this as an immigrant from the immigrants from Scotland to Ireland who knew all about mistreating the natives). I would like you to address the idea that it isn’t colonisation because our own folk did it to us, and the lies are still taught about Clans and the like. Even the Jacobite stories the clans were called out on behalf of their Lairds and even after the defeat were in effect paying blackmail to them (that was what Alan Breck was there to collect)

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    • Then BigIrishman, we don’t disagree at all. What you have said is precisely how colonialism works. The conqueror or conquered model you assume to be colonisation is in fact simply ‘invasion’ and ‘occupation.’ The process of colonisation involves the creation of a dominated native ‘ruling’ class and a further dominated native ‘ruled’ class. This was the same in Ireland with the Hiberno-Normans and then the Ascendancy against the rural Irish. It was the same in India and all over Africa. Scotland followed the exact same pattern. So of course it was dominated Scots over further dominated Scots. This colonialism is then internalised in a hierarchy or class system and is reproduced through the hegemony of the colonised society.

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  2. of course it is a colony, apologise to no c**t. The unfortunate thing is that many many people in this land are quite content with the country being in that situation

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  3. Pingback: The Scottish Genocide | sideshowtog

  4. The Scottish rebellion is far from finished. In fact it’s bearly just begun ! The only way we’re not going to achieve independence is if we all give up. I personally can’t see that happening- can you ?

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  5. Many people including myself have emigrated to another continent only because we believe we were living in an occupied country in Scotland, it saddened my heart when Scotland finally had an opportunity to become a free nation the threats of the English government to cut funding etc! changed the minds of the Scots and again they surrendered their freedom and their dignity and still remain as an occupied nation.

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  6. The same in Canada, my friend. Three centuries of continuous ethnic cleansing against whoever was here before the anglos ; the Natives (all still in concentration camps today), the Métis, the Acadiens and the Canadiens ( the real ones, French speaking).

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    • After the birth of the nation state, empire – a form of hyper nationalism – was not conceivable without genocide. It is the hallmark of empire. This was catastrophic for the First Peoples of Canada, under the French and the British.

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  7. This is our real history. Tells it like it is. As Voltaire said: “it is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere” Let us hope that Real education and the truth will convert the fools.

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  8. Did I not read more on Facebook? About the potatoes being sold to the Irish and Scots being purposefully diseased to actually CAUSE the famines that precipitated the clearances and ethnic cleansing of the Gael? As well as the bed linen sent by the gifted tons to India? Infected with Smallpox?

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    • You may have read on Facebook the problem is that you can read anything. Yes the potatoes imported from America were infected with Phytophthora infestans but no one knew, it was not policy for it was an unknown disease. Given that the clearances began long before the Potato Famine what you are saying is simply historically illiterate. I seem to remember that it i alleged that it was clothing given to the Native Americans which was infected with Smallpox, or some other disease against which they had no actual immunity. If you have a source I would be very interested in it.

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  9. Ten oppressions in Canada, including some that have been recognized as genocides, during two centuries of common history!!!

    Not surprising, Chuck Guitté, the federal spokesperson, during the Gomery Commission in 2004, concerning federal wrongdoings, expressed the truth and the Ottawa perception: “We were at war!”

    Ottawa and Anglos were always at war against the French nation!

    A few notorious examples…

    1. In 1970, October crisis (sic) , Trudeau sends the army in Québec’s streets to terrorize people;

    2. In 1940, the Conscription crisis, Camillien Houde, mayor of Montreal, is interned in a concentration camp in Ontario;

    3. In 1917, the Conscription crisis. April 1, 1918 in Quebec City, the Canadian army opened fire on citizens and killed four people wounded more than 70;

    4. In 1900-1920, elimination of the rights of the French-speaking people in Ontario, in Manitoba, in New Brunswick, etc….

    5. Between 1870 and 1930, the exile of millions Quebecers to the United States (13 million in 1980);

    6. In 1885, Manitoba, the massacre of the franco Metis and the hanging of their leader Louis Riel;

    7. In 1837-38, oppression and execution of the Patriots;

    8. In 1759-1800, military occupation;

    9. In 1759, following the take-over of Quebec city, Wolfe killed more than 30% from the population, including Natives, and also the rapes and plundering;

    10. In 1755-1763, execution, oppression and deportation of the Acadian population.

    “Je me souviens.”

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  10. Canada starved aboriginal people into submission: Goar
    Prairie historian discovers that Sir John A. Macdonald ordered policies that systematically starved aboriginal people to clear the West

    His conclusion: “The uncomfortable truth is that modern Canada is founded upon ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

    Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday (Jan. 11, 2015) will be celebrated in fine style.
    June 19, 2014
    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/06/10/canada_starved_aboriginal_people_into_submission_goar.html?utm_
    James Daschuk, a professor of kinesiology and health studies at the University of Regina.
    Clearing the Plains
    Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life
    http://www.uofrpress.ca/publications/Clearing-The-Plains

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