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Political and Protest Songs

Scotland's complex history means it has never been short of political and protest songs in the Scots tongue.

One of the most iconic is of course Robert Burns' song of equality and brotherhood, A Man's A Man For Aa That, sung by Sheena Wellington at the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The final verse, with MSPs in chorus, is at Sheena's website

Never shy of a political statement or two, here's Burns' condemnation of the Parcel o Rogues who consented to the Union of the Parliaments in 1707:

In 1950, the removal of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950 was put into song by Johnny McEvoy, sung here by Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor, with a cast of renowned Glasgow songsters:

Complaints about the naming of the new monarch as "Elizabeth II" in 1952, (when Scotland has never had an "Elizabeth I"), were voiced by Morris Blythman in his song The Scottish Breakaway, at the Kist o Riches website. The controversy resulted in all new postboxes in Scotland being absent of the "EIIR" royal cipher.

The CND movement in Scotland was strongly led by songs and singers during the anti-Polaris demonstrations in the 1960s, with new songs written by the Glasgow Song Guild, released on the recording Ding Dong Dollar. Owing to some of the protesters' mode of transport - canoes alongside the  arriving warships - they were dismissed by a US Navy captain as "goddam Eskimos", whereupon they swiftly renamed the singers group, The Glesca Eskimos  

Left-wing politics also gets a regular look-in, with Hamish Henderson's celebration of Red Clydesider John MacLean, sung here by the late Alistair Hulett:

As well as Burns' A Man's A Man, a sense of equality and social justice also comes through in Willie Kemp's rendition of the Joseph Roy (b. 1841) song, We're Aa John Tamson's Bairns, on an archive 78rpm recording, from the website:

We're Aa John Tamson's Bairns


There'll nivver be peace in the warld again
Till we learn tae sing wi micht and wi main,
We're aa John Tamson's bairns.

The sentiment resonates with Hamish Henderson's song written originally for the Glasgow Peace Marchers in 1960, often suggested as an alternative national anthem for Scotland. The Freedom Come All Ye: