For Schools
Intermediate 1 / 2
The Rise of Political Nationalism


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The following sources tell us something about Churchill's attitudes towards Scotland and the devolution debate that is once again in the news.


Source A is taken from the Liverpool Daily Courier of September 16, 1912.
It illustrates Churchill's interest in a federal system of government in the UK.



(Churchill Papers, CHAR 2/58/8)


Source B is taken from a speech by Churchill in Dundee in October 1913 as reported in the Times.

You will remember how, last year, I addressed a meeting in Dundee on this subject…I spoke of the establishment of a federal system in the United Kingdom, in which Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and, if necessary, parts of England could have separate legislative and Parliamentary institutions…you will remember that this announcement raised quite a commotion.

…I will run the risk of prophecy and tell you that the day will most certainly come - many of you will live to see it - when a federal system will be established in these Islands which will give Wales and Scotland the control within proper limits of their own Welsh and Scottish affairs.

Extract from speech by Churchill in Dundee, 9 October 1913 (Churchill Papers, CHAR 9/47). Reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Ltd and the University of Southampton. Copyright Winston S. Churchill 1999


Source C is taken from a letter to Churchill from Robert Boothby in May, 1940.
The Englishman who Boothby complains about had been MP for Leith since 1927.

I hesitate to write to you at this moment. …I cannot conceal from you the deep distress I feel at the series of "sabotaging" political appointments that have been made today. I met my Unionist* colleagues in Scotland at the Carlton club this evening, and their indignation* at the appointment of an Englishman as Secretary of State [for Scotland] - for the first, and it is to be hoped the last, time in history -knows no bounds.
They take the view, unanimously, that it is nothing short of a public insult to Scotland at the most critical moment in her proud history.

*Unionist - Conservative
*indignation - annoyance

Extract from letter by Robert Boothby MP to Churchill, 14 May 1940 (Churchill Papers, CHAR 20/4a)


Source D is from a speech made in Aberdeen in April, 1946.

Scotland played a worthy and distinguished part in the war and at no moment was there the slightest weakening of her national purpose or energy. The Clyde was …an invaluable outlet to our ocean lifelines. Scapa [Flow], the Clyde, Rosyth were the bases of the Home Fleet. Scottish fishermen fed us faithfully…. Thousands of Scotsmen joined the Minesweepers and the Royal Air Force. The Merchant Fleets never daunted in their grim task of braving the U-boats…Scores of thousands of Scotsmen served in famous British regiments.

Extract from speech given by Churchill in Aberdeen, 27 April 1946 (Churchill Papers, CHUR 5/4). Reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Ltd and the University of Southampton. Copyright Winston S. Churchill 1999


Source E is from a letter sent by The National Covenant Committee, Glasgow, to Churchill in August 1950.

It will be most satisfactory to my Committee to learn that the greatest living Englishman has associated himself with the statement that "if the people of Scotland were ultimately to decide in favour of a Scottish Parliament no one could gainsay* them". …I think you will agree that a method should be devised to enable the Scottish people to record such a decision beyond the possibility of any doubt. It has seemed to my Committee that a plebiscite would be the best and fairest method…

*gainsay - go against or deny

Extract from letter by J M MacCormick of the National Covenant Committee to Churchill, 7 August 1950 (Reference: Churchill Papers, CHUR 2/93)


Source based activities linked to HigherStill Outcomes for Intermediate 1/2:

    Outcome 1

  1. Describe how Churchill wanted to change the government system in Britain in the early 20th century.

  2. For what reasons did Churchill praise Scotland in source D?

  3. Use source C to describe how Boothby felt about Churchill's choice for Secretary of State for Scotland in 1940?

    Outcome 2

  4. Use source B to explain the reasons why Churchill supported a federal system of government.

  5. Why was Robert Boothby angry with Churchill in source C?

  6. Using sources B and E explain in what ways Churchill supported some form of Scottish devolution throughout his life.

    Outcome 3

  7. How useful is source E as evidence that there was a growing campaign for Scottish devolution by 1950 ?

  8. How useful is source A as evidence of Churchill's thought about changing the government of the United Kingdom?

  9. How useful is source D as evidence of Scotland's contribution to winning World War Two?

  10. To what extent does source B agree with source E about Churchill's attitude towards the government of Scotland?