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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.”

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