Jimmy Halliday

22nd February 2013 at 00:00
The SNP veteran and former history lecturer at Dundee College of Education has died, aged 85

Jimmy Halliday, who died last month at the age of 85, was "witty, amusing, occasionally acerbic, and with an uncanny and somewhat disconcerting ability to see through the pretensions of fellow countrymen", according to Gordon Wilson, former leader of the SNP.

Born in Wemyss Bay on 27 February, 1927, the son of an estate gardener, Jimmy was educated at Skelmorlie Primary and Greenock Academy before attending the University of Glasgow in 1944.

A Nationalist from early days, in Yours for Scotland, published in 2011, he wrote: "I cannot remember a time when I was not a Nationalist, even as a child. It was something automatic to me, like growing older and learning more. You just were a Scot and Scots ruled their own country."

He joined the Scottish National Party in 1943 as soon as he was eligible. He believed the continuing war was a just one and registered for service with the Navy, but having done well in the university bursary examination, he had an automatic deferment of one year.

As soon as he had commenced his studies in October 1944, he joined Glasgow University Nationalist Association and was immediately propelled into speaking at the legendary university debates. His speaking career and studies came to an abrupt end four months later when he contracted tuberculosis of the spine and it was not until more than two years later, in 1947, that he was able to stand up again.

He graduated in 1952 with an honours degree in history and afterwards taught at Ardeer, and then at Coatbridge, Uddingston and Dunfermline High.

From Dunfermline he moved to Dundee College of Education as a lecturer in history in 1967, becoming principal lecturer in 1979 and head of department by his retirement in 1988. He specialised in modern history and was particularly interested in the history, politics and constitution of the United States, writing World in Transformation - America.

He was also the author of Scotland the Separate, Scotland - A Concise History BC to 1990, The 1820 Uprising - The Radical War, and co-author of Story of Scotland.

In 1954, although the timing was not ideal for him, he stood as SNP candidate in the Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth constituency - but was unsuccessful.

He became chairman in 1956 at the age of 28. Over the next few years, he was to bring stability to the party and is credited with having created an effective platform for recovery.

In the growth years of the 1970s, having handed over the chairmanship, he became responsible for interviewing, training and selecting candidates; he also became the second and longest-running director and chairman of the Scots Independent, Scotland's oldest surviving political newspaper.

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