John MacLean Internet Archive                                                    From the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement

The Highland land seizures

by John Maclean

First Published: The Vanguard, September 1920
Transcription\HTML Markup: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement Archive in 2002 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

The crofters’ agitations for land have been for two generations met in the usual way the granting of inoperative Acts. Of course, when the government required strong and fearless Highlanders to die for English landlords like the Duke of Northumberland or capitalists like Lord Leverhulme, promises of land were made to the fisher-crofters, as an earthly paradise was promised the empire’s wage-slaves, and a measure of self- government to Ireland and India.

Not one promise has been kept. India has got an “ Amritsar”, Ireland an “army of anarchy”, and Lewis a “Sunlight Soap dictator”.

In the Highlands the Board of Agriculture’s failure to keep its land promises to what I think were misguided patriots led to the seizures of farms by the desperate ex-service crofters. More of these seizures are likely to take place unless “my friend”, Mr Robert Munro (the Highland traitor who got me a three years’ sentence for resisting the Conscription Act of the Germans of England) smartens up a bit, or clears out like the other Celtic traitor, Ian MacPherson, the late dictator over the Irish Celts on behalf of the Sassenachs.

The chief farms seized have been Kirkton Farm, Portskerra, Sutherlandshire; the home farm, Raasay Island; and Coll and Gress farms, Lewis.

As the Lewis raids were the most important from a Scottish independence and a world political point of view, it was agreed that Sandy Ross and Peter Marshall proceed to Stornoway during the Glasgow Fair holidays. Sandy alone was able to go, but he managed to see the crofters who had seized Gress Farm.

In the circumstances, I thought it also advisable to go; so off I went on 2 August on my return from Dublin, which city I visited to establish an entente between the Celts of Scotland and the Celts of Ireland, and to further my efforts to prevent Scottish boys being used by England to murder Irish boys.

I found that Lord Leverhulme had succeeded in embittering Stornoway wage-slaves, working out his schemes, against the “raiders” at Coll and Gress by stopping work on roads at the proposed harbour extension from the existing harbour round to Goat Island. The town workers hold the raiders responsible for the loss of wages, for at my meeting in Stornoway on Wednesday, 4 August, apart from drunks who interjected under the protection of the police and an inciting speech made at the close by an important and able personage who obviously was acting “under control” since he guaranteed me protection against violence, I deliberately drew out the feelings of some of the older men, who dared me even to mention the sacred name of Lord Sunlight Soap. I must say, however, that younger men are more inclined to hold Leverhulme in contempt, especially those who have lived abroad or in the rebellious atmosphere of Clyde valley.

I visited the Coll raiders, of whom there are thirty (none at Gress). I was only able to meet four, as the others were off at the fishing. The spirit and independence of these men is eloquently indicated in the appended letter signed by two leaders, both of whom I met. … Munro had me carefully watched (and protected) especially going North. Well might he, for this Lewis situation is of world import.

He refused to settle the question, and on request he refused to visit the island, hoping that secret bribery or threats, or social pressure from the suspended wage-slaves of Stornoway, would make the raiders yield. People on the island are afraid to speak their minds fully in private lest “economic pinch” follow. …

The stubborn attitude of the raiders and my visit has spurred him; aye, and the Duke of Sutherland and Marquis of Graham as well since both robbers have been forced to send letters to the press. The biggest part of the discussion on the Scottish estimates in the Commons on 4 August was taken up with the question of the raids, and Munro had to promise to visit Lewis. …

Leverhulme has insisted that he requires Coll and Gress Farms as part of his scheme for dairy farming purposes to supply milk to Stornoway. This excuse is a joke, for I saw on MacBrayne’s boats milk cans that had brought milk from Aberdeenshire. If milk is now being brought in, it can surely be brought in afterwards when the population of Lewis has been shepherded into Stornoway as his “lordship’s” wage-slaves.

I am convinced that my first impression is correct, that Leverhulme is preparing Lewis and Harris for the navy in case of war with America. The “MacLine” of trawlers (now transferred to Fleetwood) were to sail from Stornoway right north to Iceland and perhaps Greenland, and most of the catches were to be canned at Stornoway. A breed of fishermen would thus be fostered who would know the waters and be handy in case of war. Remember that Britain has forced Denmark to give Iceland independence, and by the use of methods now well known to Leverhulme the inhabitants of Iceland will be induced to take the side of Britain against America. Britain controls Greenland; so that by this chain she would have a continuous sweep right across the north of the Atlantic to Canada. That America is alive to the situation is seen in her offer to establish a Lewis colony in the United States, to which country the landless and the raiders threaten to go unless Bitter Bobby Munro bucks up.

That other Celtic traitor, Lloyd George, confirmed my suggestion in his reply to Northumberland and Carson when he asserted that the free ports of Ireland could never be placed at the disposal of any enemy power. Only one “enemy power” has a navy near enough and big enough to menace our Sassenach masters -the United States.

My advice to the Lewis men and to other Highland raiders is -hold fast. Do not bend before Bobby’s bounce or beseechings. Do not bow down before Baal (soap-bubbles), and do not jazz to America. Play the game of neither English imperialism nor American imperialism. Scottish land must belong to the Scottish race whilst races last, and those who use the land must pay no rent to any man. Scottish independence means economic as well as political independence, and that can only be assured by the co-operation of all under communism.

I am pleased to state in conclusion that the Clyde workers are prepared to subscribe to help the families of the raiders if the bitter little bounder puts them into prison.