13th October 1961

Death of SNP founder John MacCormick

John MacCormick chaired the Scottish Covenant Association. Born in Glasgow in 1904, he studied at the city’s university and, in his early 20s, founded its Scottish Nationalist Association with the aim of promoting Scottish self-government – although not necessarily full independence at that time.

The Glasgow Herald of 14 October 1961 recounted how “MacCormick and two others founded a university Scottish Nationalist Association in 1927. The next year the student association played a part in bringing together several Home Rule groups to form the National Party of Scotland. MacCormick was its first chairman and later its secretary.”

Scottish National Party founded

Thus, the Scottish Nationalist Association became the National Party of Scotland, which merged with the Scottish Party to form the Scottish National Party in 1934. However, he resigned from the party eight years later, when he was unable to support full independence in preference to devolution.

The Glasgow Herald, again of 14 October 1961, outlined in its obituary that “although he was a Liberal and believed in the survival of the United Kingdom (though in a different form with a Scottish rather than a British focus for loyalty) he was in some ways narrower in outlook than men who are or were more extreme nationalists [and he lacked the] capacity to put Scottish Nationalism against a background of European culture and ideas.”

Scottish Convention founded

He formed the Scottish Convention as a vehicle for continuing his campaign for cross-party support for devolution, joined the Liberal Party, and later formed the Scottish Covenant Association, which worked towards the formation of a devolved assembly. Although the Association was unsuccessful in achieving devolution, it gained significant public attention when four of its members removed the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950. The story of the stone’s removal was made into a film, called Stone of Destiny, in which MacCormick was played by Robert Carlyle.

Election campaigns

MacCormick stood for election to the Westminster Parliament several times, on each occasion unsuccessfully, on a platform of bringing greater recognition to Scotland’s individual needs as part of the wider country.

The Scotsman of 4 June 1937 reproduced his election address, in which he explained that “Every vote cast for me is a clear and unmistakable demand for a Scottish Parliament to deal with Scottish affairs. My policy is not one of antagonism towards England. It is rather a policy which will result in greater respect and co-operation between the two nations. ‘England’ and ‘English’ are fine words when properly applied. They are an insult to us when they are used to imply that Scotland is a mere forgotten province. They are worse than insult, for they imply an attitude of mind which means neglect of our affairs and ignorance of our problems. That neglect and ignorance will continue as long as you accept it lying down. You can end it all by voting now for Scotland.”

He died, aged 56, on 13 October 1961.



Other events that occured in October

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