By a Newsnet reporter
 
A bid to honour the man who helped found both the Scottish Labour party and the Scottish National Party is to be launched by MSP Rob Gibson. 
 
The cross party bid will seek to honour Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, the charismatic Scottish socialist, writer and adventurer.

‘Don Roberto’ as he came to be known after adventures that saw him ride with the Gauchos of South America, left Labour after becoming disillusioned by their failure to pursue home rule for Scotland and helped create the National Party of Scotland, the forerunner of today’s SNP.

Cunninghame Graham was the first ever socialist MP and also the first MP to be suspended from the Westminster Parliament for swearing – uttering the word ‘damn’ in the chamber.

A firm supporter of Scottish independence, and first class orator, he fought for the under privileged, civil liberties and free speech.  Badly beaten up by police in London after attending a protest in 1887, Cunninghame Graham was sent to jail for six weeks.

He died in 1936 whilst on a visit to Argentina and such was the respect he was held in, he lay in state in the Casa del Teatro, a street was also named after the Scotsman.

SNP MSP Rob Gibson will call for the Scottish politician, writer and adventurer to be honoured by having one of his quotes etched on the wall of the Scottish Parliament.

In his member’s debate, supported by senior Labour politician Hugh Henry, Mr Gibson will say the noted parliamentarian should be recognised with celebrations of his life and works on the 160th anniversary of his birth.

Mr Gibson, SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said:

“Robert Cunninghame Graham’s impact on life in Scotland today is not widely recognised, which is why I am pleased my member’s debate has received cross-party support.

“His life is an inspiration for us – as noted on a memorial he was a famous author, traveller and horseman, patriotic Scot and citizen of the world.

“He played a pivotal role in founding the Scottish Labour Party with Keir Hardie in 1888 and the National Party of Scotland in 1928.

“Before that he spent time cattle and horse trading, while absorbing the atmosphere and nature of frontier in the young republics of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil – hence the sobriquet Don Roberto.

“He sympathised with the marginalised, the down-trodden and victims of progress and became their political champion.

“But it was the death of his father in 1883 that brought him back to the UK and sent him into active politics.

“His wit, campaigns and outspoken style in Westminster championed the miners, the dock workers and the chain makers of Cradley Heath.

“He was also a writer and his trenchant and humane writings inspired many in his wide circle of literary friends.

“These are only a handful of reasons why we should recognise Don Roberto and I hope we can do this by etching one of his quotes on the wall outside.

“This year is the 160th anniversary of his birth so there is no better time than now to recognise the life and works of Don Roberto.”

Comments  

 
# Marga B 2012-06-20 17:34
A timely reminder to the Labour Party that they're currently turning their back on half their history.
 
 
# clootie 2012-06-20 18:30
Cross party support - Labour agreeing with a SNP proposal!!!!!

Perhaps they will even return to their Home rule policy and gain even greater alignment.
 
 
# oldnat 2012-06-20 19:45
MORI poll

"To what extent do you agree or disagree that those who want to stay in the UK should campaign for more powers for the Scottish Parliament within the UK as an alternative to independence?"

Agree - 66% : Disagree 17%
 
 
# GrassyKnollington 2012-06-22 08:13
"How many of you would like a 2012 Audi Q7 and a 32" waist?

would probably get a pretty high rate of agreement but won't appear on the ballot paper either.

I think the "huge swathe" of Scots who would like more powers within the union need a reality check as the talking heads like Gerry Hassan, Lesley Riddoch etc are feting them like great sages whose voices are unheard when surely they're just people who don't understand the hard facts yet?

Westminster will not be putting a second question on the ballot paper offering more powers within the union. If that's what these people are holding out for they just don't know what's going on.

Why we are continually entreated by Riddoch and Hassan to "listen" to these folk who either haven't confronted and understood that situation or worse are completely ignorant of it is quite beyond me.

I worry that if their level of engagement continues at this pace until 2014 they'll vote for "jam tomorrow", deliver us the status quo and allow Westminster to make future referendums difficult or impossible.

Lets work to inform them in the next two years that they can choose independence or the status quo instead of feting and encouraging their failure to understand the situation.
 
 
# Clydebuilt 2012-06-20 19:12
I wonder how much support will come from Labour. They've almost disowned Keir Hardie over his support for Scottish independence.
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-06-20 19:21
Has anyone checked this with Willie Bain ?
 
 
# Marga B 2012-06-20 19:24
OT, but meanwhile a different calibre of man, Donald Trump has been gloating about the state of that "great country Spain" that's giving away land for nothing, and that it's a great opportunity to take advantage of its weakness.

Look out for him pulling out of the Scottish venture to go for easier pickings elsewhere.
 
 
# naemairleesplease 2012-06-20 23:32
Oh, does he have a Spanish Grandfather/mother that told him bedside stories of the old country?
The With As That! (He is)
 
 
# Macart 2012-06-20 20:01
Helped found two parties (for all the right reasons) thumbed his nose at Westminster and travelled through South America having adventures, became an author and an MP. Now that chap had a work ethic.

What a life. The aspiration to home rule and the emancipation of the working classes of Scotland. Not a bad legacy is it?
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2012-06-20 21:51
R.B.C.G packed many lives into one,equestrian, swordsman, gaucho but above all, writer. He also championed the plight of the Apache's when every mans hand was against them.
The unbelievable short-sightedness of the teachers union rejecting the teaching of Scottish literature to kids when they could be reading Cunninghame Graham beggars belief. His North American Sketches are still in print and his Scottish Short Stories.
His statue would be a much more fitting occupant of the plinth in Buchanan Street now occupied by Donald Dewar.
 
 
# Frankly 2012-06-20 22:57
A rather splendid photo of Don Roberto from the Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham Centenary Event programme of the Young Scots National League in 1952:

tinyurl.com/buu6zlq

A rather splendid quotation from his maiden speech in the House of Commons on February 1st 1887:

"The homes destroyed in Glenbeigh were, no doubt, as dear to the poor peasant, in his lonely village on the stony mountainside in the far west, as was the shoddy mansion in South Kensington to the capitalist, as was Haddon Hall to its owner, or as was Buckingham Palace to the absentee owner of that dreadful building. Who could say that the affairs
of this handful of obscure tenants in a wind-swept and rain-bedewed stony corner of Ireland might not prove to have given the first blow to that society in which one man worked and another enjoyed the fruit - that society in which capital and luxury made a heaven for 30,000 and a hell for 30,000,000 - that society whose crowning achievement was this dreary waste of mud and stucco - with its misery, its want and destitution, its degradation, its prostitution, and its glaring social inequalities - the society which we call London - that society which, by a refinement of irony, had placed the mainspring of human action, almost the power of life and death, and the absolute power to pay labour and to reward honour, behind the grey tweed veil which enshrouded the greasy pocket-book of the capitalist."
 
 
# Louperdowg 2012-06-21 05:08
We've not heard from you for a while, Frankly, but I always enjoy your contributions and this is no exception!

Its actually very sad when you think how the Labour Party is supporting the Tories in Westminster and cheerleading for nuclear weapons.

Its even sadder when you think that people still vote for them.
 
 
# Frankly 2012-06-21 10:50
I still enjoy looking in on Newsnet from time to time.

I'm here, by the way:

rueclementmarot.blogspot.co.uk/
 
 
# Gartmore 2012-06-21 09:15
I'm delighted that there is cross-party support to finally recognise Don Roberto. There is a plaque to him on a chair in the Scottish Story Telling Centre, but a quote in the Scottish Parliament which he so desired to see, is most fitting.

One of my favourite of his quotes is:

“I regret,as a Scotsman, because we have always had a good name for business, that those Judases who sold our country, got so little for themselves. £26,000 was all they received for their assent to the Bill of Union. £26,000! Why, their patron saint, Judas, got almost as much, taking into account the greater purchasing power of money when he did the deal.”
 
 
# Ananurhing 2012-06-21 10:09
Don Roberto was a phenomenal man. I believe his portrait hangs in the Argentinian Presidents office. If we're to see one of his many clever quotes etched in stone at Holyrood, may I suggest,

"The enemies of Scottish Nationalism are not the English, for they were ever a great and generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born without imagination.”
 
 
# Gartmore 2012-06-21 13:05
Quoting Ananurhing:
Don Roberto was a phenomenal man. I believe his portrait hangs in the Argentinian Presidents office. [quote name="Ananurhing"]Don Roberto was a phenomenal man. I believe his portrait hangs in the Argentinian Presidents office.”


For many years, the equestrian portrait of Don Roberto on Pampa by Lavery, hung just outside the presidential office in Casa Rosada, as Don Roberto's niece, Jean Lady Polwarth, saw during a visit to Buenos Aires.

However, by the time I visited in 2006 it had been returned to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires who have it in storage.
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2012-06-21 20:35
A nice wee story about himself & Conrad being caught by the Polis one night in George Square trying to chuck stones into the bronze top hat held by the statue of Oswald. I tried this one night in his memory.
 
 
# Clydebuilt 2012-06-21 22:03
cokynutjoe

Brilliant....
 
 
# lumilumi 2012-06-21 20:50
"... left Labour after becoming disillusioned by their failure to pursue home rule for Scotland and helped create the National Party of Scotland, the forerunner of today’s SNP."

Hugh Henry MSP (Lab) backed this motion, but then he's "old" Labour. Maybe he hasn't heard of the Bain Principle?

Most new, newer, whatever Labour (Scottish=)UK politicians would dearly like to forget where they started from. And have their voters forget it as well. It's a travesty, how the working peoples' party has become an inclusive little coterie of self-serving cronies.

I really love this quote:
Quote:
"The enemies of Scottish Nationalism are not the English, for they were ever a great and generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born without imagination.”


Right now, Labour have "no imagination", or a vision for a better Scotland. They're too steeped in the Westminster yaa-boo politics. Shame, shame, shame.

Oh, and I don't think that quote will be carved on the wall in Holyrood, however apt it is. Maybe a bit too confrontational to Scots seeking consensus amongst themselves?
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2012-06-22 06:51
Another wee Don Roberto vignette. He arrived in Glasgow one day and eyeing up the horseflesh he was astonished to see a beast pulling a tramcar which had the brand of his former ranch in Argentina, (wee palm tree thing?) he jumped aboard ascertaining that it was heading for the depot. On arrival he spoke to the manager and purchased the horse on the spot, riding this unexpected purchase home bareback to Gartmore.
 
 
# Gartmore 2012-06-23 11:44
Quoting cokynutjoe:
Another wee Don Roberto vignette. He arrived in Glasgow one day and eyeing up the horseflesh he was astonished to see a beast pulling a tramcar which had the brand of his former ranch in Argentina, (wee palm tree thing?) he jumped aboard ascertaining that it was heading for the depot. On arrival he spoke to the manager and purchased the horse on the spot, riding this unexpected purchase home bareback to Gartmore.


A minor correction. The brand was not from his estancia, but from one that he recognised. The horse, which Don Roberto called Pampa, was his faithful steed for almost 20 years, and features in the portrait by Sir John Lavery that is in Buenos Aires.

If you visit Gartmore Village you can see the newly renovated Cunninghame Graham memorial under which one of Pampa's hooves is buried. From there it is but a short hop to the Island of Inchmahome where you can visit his grave.
 
 
# Ewan G Kennedy 2012-06-23 05:37
I'm glad he's getting recognition. There's a sample of his writing on my blog here:- .../scottish-gem-from-don-roberto.html
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2012-06-24 14:36
Thanks for that Gartmore, I visited the grave on a school trip millions of years ago, I believe he rowed out to the island at night with the minister and dug his wife's grave by lantern light.

Ewan, like the blog & Scaramanga, will go through it at leisure.
 

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