Commemoration a ploy? Yes or No - You Decide

World War One...reader asks Robin McAlpine and Professor Adam Tomkins if the commemoration of the Great War was in fact a ploy to detract from Scotland's year
World War One...reader asks Robin McAlpine and Professor Adam Tomkins if the commemoration of the Great War was in fact a ploy to detract from Scotland's year
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THE third question from the Carluke and Lanark Gazette’s Independence Debate will be answered by Robin McAlpine and Professor Adam Tomkins.

Robin and Adam kindly agreed to debate the case for Yes and No at the Gazette’s Independence Debate in Lanark Memorial Hall on May 26.

They were only too happy to answers questions posed by our readers that we couldn’t quite get through on the night, thanks to a heated meeting which 420 people attended!

So, just a matter of hours before Carluke and Lanark Gazette readers go to the polls to decide on independence, we’re bringing you their responses.

Each hour on the hour, between 8am and 10pm today, we’ll post one of the answers to a question posed by a Gazette reader.

For each question posed, we will give one opinion from the Yes camp and one from the No camp.

The third question, with answers from Robin and Adam, asks whether this year’s World War One commemorations were a ploy.

Question: My father died at age 44 as a result of war service in WW2. My maternal grandfather died of wounds sustained on the border between Greece and Bulgaria and is buried in Plot 8 of the British Military Cemetery in the city of Thesalonika. He left a widow and a three year old girl – my mother. I do not think that I am dishonouring their memory by asking if the commemoration of the start of WW1 is a typically cynical effort by the UK government to detract, each in a subtle and differing way, from Scotland’s year – of referendum for independence; of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, generally accepted as marking the birth of the Scottish Nation, and of our hosting of the Commonwealth Games? I can recall no such commemoration for the start of any other conflict. Furthermore, the accepted fact Scotland’s casualties in WW1 were very disproportionate adds to my feelings of affront over this matter.

Robin McAlpine, Yes campaign: Britain is a much more nationalist country than Scotland. Royal Wedding, Jubilee, Olympics, World War One – no year goes by now when a reason isn’t found to shove flags in our faces. It is a fine old tradition that whenever the people who rule a country make a mess of things (for example, a disastrous war, followed by politicians caught with their hand in the till, followed by a financial crisis) they distract people by flying flags and hoping they’ll put patriotism ahead of their anger. This isn’t just about Scotland – it began well before the referendum was announced. But they seem very happy to use whatever opportunity they have to drill loyalty and obedience into us. The First World War was one of the most horrific and barbarous events of modern history. The only appropriate response is shame and sorrow.

Professor Adam Tomkins, No campaign: I do not consider that the centenary of WWI, the 700th Bannockburn or the 2014 Commonwealth Games have anything at all to do with the question we must answer in the referendum on September 18. I would not seek to make any connection between these various events. I think that Bannockburn should be remembered and that it is its 700th right to mark its centenary. I think that WWI should be remembered too. I enjoyed the Commonwealth Games and supporting great athletes and sportsmen and women from across the whole of the United Kingdom.