George Washington Mt Rushmore Square

Why Humza Yousaf is no George Washington

Hamish Gobson’s diary: the view from across the Uisge

          Friday 23 June 2023

MY HOPES for Hexit—the decoupling of the Hebrides from “a modern Scotland”—received a dramatic boost this week due to a leak from the Uddingston Secret Service HQ about a new phenomenon which has been dubbed “The Tweed Revolution”. Apparently, the “Tweedniks” have two main slogans: “No Legislation without Representation” and “When will Yousaf get a job?” My interest was aroused when I realised the two points were connected.

         The first refers to the way the Holyrood Assembly imposes farcical, alien types of regulation on the Scottish people without democratic legitimacy. The deposit return scheme is the most recent example of this, but the principle applies equally to “Bryson’s Law” and a host of other measures of which I will mention only the Hyper-Protected Marine Areas since that concerns us here on Great Todday directly.

         All of them are attacks on the whole Scottish people by a political party, the Greens, which few voted for. It has a lower rate of approval in the country today than Lord North had in the Boston party community after passage of the Tea Act in 1773. More of that in a moment.

         The second point in the Tweed campaign, “When will Yousaf get a job?”, refers to the fact that the current First Minister has never been in full-time, permanent employment outside politics. Most Scots are aware that a summer job in a call-centre while he was at university is the closest he comes in his CV to the world of commerce. That is no recipe for the successful administration of a Western country whose business, as Calvin Coolidge once said, is business – as it should be for any country whose economy is in tatters.

         From what Yousaf has said on a variety of subjects, I detect a scepticism about Western values. He-man Humza’s autocratic response to those within the SNP who would like to see the expulsion of Mrs L-driver Murrell from the Party illustrates that. Now that she has been interviewed by the police in a criminal investigation, her presence in parliament is a flagrant attempt to obstruct the settled will of most Scots who are not on the government payroll. That is far from the only example of his tin-eared arrogance. Does anyone remember the Hate Crime Act? (see film about it here)

         This year’s First Minister apparently seems to think an imperious tone suits his high position under heaven. In eighteenth century terms, he is closer in spirit to the first Mughal rulers of pre-British India than to the First Gentleman Farmer in pre-independence America. But it was that determined farmer who brought into being the country which defends the West today from modern imitators of the Mughals, whether it be muggers like President Putin, or pillaging imperialists like communist China and their running dogs in the Global Green Party.

         I mention this because the reason why George Washington was so much better at state building than the grasping apparatchiki in the SNP is because he was a businessman. That subject is addressed in this splendid book: First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His – and the Nation’s – Prosperity. The author, Edward Lengel, is professor of military history at the University of Virginia, and what is impressive about his book—and important for the Tweed Revolution—is that he concentrates not on the military achievements of the Continental Army, but on the commercial activities of its leader, the First President.

         All commercial societies depend ultimately on a general trust in the sanctity of contract, as enforced by law, whereas Mughal rule in the Indian sub-continent was as authoritarian as Mongol rule in Russia. That should not be surprising since they were both descended from the same ancestral scrotum, that of Genghis Khan. The founder of the Mughal Empire, Babur, was directly related to the great conqueror’s family on his mother’s side. Perhaps that is what resonates with Continuity Humza. He knows so many people within the SNP who have mothers that look as if they too were descended from Genghis Khan.

         The Mughal emperors, like their counterparts in China, never recognised contractual obligations towards those who paid tribute to them. They expected gifts that would please them but would never acknowledge the gift, much less express thanks. All tribute-payers were slaves and all foreigners trying to establish a relationship of commercial equality were “barbarians”. There was, in other words, no accountability. Money disappeared without trace, yet everyone around the throne got rich. I gather that in terms of status the Indian elephant was to the sixteenth century sub-continent much as the German motorhome is to “a modern Scotland”.

         Washington, by contrast, based his ideas on the rule of “contract”, which means freedom (nobody has to sign if they don’t like the terms) and equality. As every law student knows, no contract is valid if force, fraud or the Green Party is involved. There is no space here to cover even a fraction of Washington’s commercial enterprises, from his land deals west of the Appalachians when he was a young surveyor to his success as an experimental farmer at home. I will mention only his decision, towards the end of his life, to start a distillery on his estate at Mount Vernon, near present-day Washington DC. This was very much a “Scottish” enterprise.

         For long, Washington had corresponded with Sir John Sinclair MP, who owned a large estate in Caithness which “served as a model for advanced methods of agriculture and livestock (especially sheep) breeding.” (p. 198) He also was in touch with John Anderson, the Professor of Natural Philosophy (i.e. science) at the University of Glasgow, who had eccentric but progressive ideas not only on crop-raising but also on the uses of gunpowder in war. These were not the only ones.

         Prof. Lengel comments: “Knowing as he did so many prominent Scottish agriculturalists, Washington favoured the settlement of large numbers of Scots – especially Highlanders – in the United States, calling them ‘a hardy industrious people, well calculated to form new settlements’.” (p. 201) Washington shared the qualities and ideals of many of his Scottish and “Scots-Irish” (i.e. Ulster) neighbours in Virginia. He admired their thrift, and once said to a farm manager of his: “There is one golden rule – and a golden one it is – that nothing should be bought than can be made, or done without.” (p. 238)

         That sort of thinking was anathema to the imperialistic, tribute-seeking mentality of the Mughals, just as it was to the Chinese Emperors or the Russian tsars. Our problem now is that their disdain for economy at the high noon of their empires is reflected today in the attitude of the Cabinet Secretary for Wheelie Bins, Old Drink Cans and the Circular Coinage at a time when Scotland is on life-support from the British Treasury.

         George Washington was cut from more responsible cloth. His distillery was a purely commercial venture. He drank little himself, and loathed alcoholism with a passion, which shows his open-mindedness impressively. So no nannyish Minimum Alcohol Pricing schemes for the sober President!

         The idea for the distillery was suggested to him by another Scot, James Anderson, whom he hired as farm manager in 1796, three years before his death. Anderson built the still and ran the enterprise under Washington’s close supervision. The scheme was a great success, and highly profitable. In 1799, “the distillery produced an impressive eleven thousand gallons of whiskey that profited Washington $7,500.” (p. 240)

         Implied in Prof. Lengel’s narrative is the idea that it was because Washington was such a successful businessman that he had the right fundamental values and personal standards necessary for re-organising a large, disparate, pleasantly primitive country that was rife with potential profit and actual alcoholics. All successful government is ultimately a form of public contract between those who make the rules and those who obey them. But that implies trust on both sides. The presence of the Green Party in the corridors of power in Scotland today is a standing rebuke to principle of government by consent.

         That is where Scotland, with its gerrymandered political system, has gone off the few rails it has left. It tolerates unpopular fanatics, like the Greens, who are in parliament largely because of the backstairs intrigues of unaccountable party managers – just ask Andy Wightman! And they are in government due to the SNP’s lust for power at any cost in order to retain control of the plain envelope trade – i.e. patronage, which is a polite form of corruption.

         Mr Yousaf seems to be as blind to the claims of contractual government as any bejewelled Mughal emperor who might have parked a left-hand-drive elephant outside his grandmother’s house for the rainy season. When you have a country in crisis, as “a modern Scotland” undoubtedly is, you want a successful distillery owner in charge more than you do a temporary call-centre operator – or, for that matter, a failed solicitor who is still learning to drive.

         Let the Tweed Revolution roll! No Legislation without Representation!

         BTW – anyone know the Scots word for “guillotine”?


Hamish Gobson lives on the Hebridean isle of Great Todday (Todaidh Mór) and features in Nicola Sturgeon: the Years of Ascent (1970-2007) – A Citizen’s Biography of a Driven Woman in a Drifting Parliament (Ian Mitchell, 2022) – available on Amazon and also reviewed here by Tom Gallagher.

Also written by Ian Mitchell is The Justice Factory (second edition): Can the Rule of Law Survive in Twenty-First Century Scotland? which considers the future of liberal democracy, taking Scotland as an example.

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Photo by Wing-Chi Poon – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,


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