FORMER MSP Tommy Sheridan has used his newly launched weekly column on a Russian propaganda outlet to question why he was never taught about Scottish freedom fighters William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in schools.

The firebrand politician used to again defend his decision to broadcast the Oscar-winning movie Braveheart in Glasgow’s George Square, ahead of Saturday's pro-independence rally, saying that many Scots had never heard of William Wallace before the Mel Gibson Holywood blockbuster in 1995.

He says he was never taught about Wallace, began to "resent my formal school education" and adds: " "It didn't matter a jot to me that Braveheart was not completely historically accurate".

HeraldScotland: Hope Over Fear rally 1

The big screen showing of Braveheart based on the story of the legendary Scots freedom warrior received criticism in some quarters in advance of the Hope Over Fear rally.

The movie told the story of how Wallace led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England in 1296.

But some historians decried the film for being little more than a heavily fictionalised romp.

At least two Twitter polls attracting over 2000 votes found the majority were showing a wave of opinion against its big screen airing.

The ex-Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity leader had said he hoped to offer “an informed opinion, inspire reactions and provoke debate” in his articles for Sputnik, which has been described as a ‘propaganda outlet’ for the Putin regime.

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He says in his latest column: "Many in Scotland had hardly heard of him [William Wallace] before the film [Braveheart], including me.

"He wasn't in my history or modern studies lessons. In fact, despite being quite inquisitive at school and associating myself with left-wing views from an early age I hadn't heard about William Wallace very much at all," he says.

"The William Wallace I was familiar with was the Glasgow Celtic forward who achieved immortality as a Lisbon Lion playing in the first British team to ever win the European Cup in 1967," he said.

"As a politics and economics student, I learned about Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Guevara, Castro, Mandela, Connolly and the great John MacLean.

"All freedom fighters and revolutionaries in their own lifetimes. But not William Wallace or Robert the Bruce.


"That was particularly ironic as I attended the beautiful Stirling University in Central Scotland from 1981/85 and didn't know that every area of my country hosted the most significant battles in the life of Wallace and Bruce.

"I used to drive past Bannockburn on my way to the university without knowledge of its significance in Scotland's history as the site of the historic 1314 battle when heavily outnumbered Scottish warriors under the command of Robert the Bruce routed the invading English army and sent them homeward to think again.

"Thankfully there is now a Heritage Centre near to the battle site which was opened in 2014, 700 years after the Battle of Bannockburn."

Mr Sheridan's comments came before his the Hope Over Fear rally, which he had predicted would attract thousands to George Square, renamed Freedom Square, but numbers were no more than 500 at its peak.


Before the event, SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter one of the dissenters said: "People will be put off voting Yes by seeing folk cheering Braveheart and then cheering Tommy Sheridan. That will absolutely put soft Nos off."

Mr Sheridan was jailed for perjury in 2011 in connection with his successful defamation case against the News of the World.

Sputnik has been widely accused of spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Last year, it was banned from advertising on Twitter amid fears it attempted to interfere in the 2016 US election.

Intelligence officials have condemned it as “a platform for Kremlin messaging”.

HeraldScotland: Alex Salmond during the launch of his RT chat show The Alex Salmond Show, at Millbank Tower in London.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has been heavily criticised for hosting a chat show on Russian television channel RT.

In his Sputnik article, Tommy Sheridan again stresses that Braveheart was not meant to be a documentary.

"What it conveyed was a story of rebellion against the tyrannical occupation of your homeland. Courage in the face of formidable foes. Betrayals from within your own side," he wrote.

"To read some of the bitter and pompous comments from unionists and apparent supporters of independence in opposition to the screening of this film in Freedom Square you would question whether William Wallace actually existed.

"Believe it or not we know the film is not a true account of Wallace's life. We know it is embellished but it remains a brilliant story and, in my humble opinion, a fine film."

Controversy around the movie was heightened when a sculpture of William Wallace was put up in Stirling. The 13-foot statue was in the guise of Mel Gibson as the Scottish hero.

He added: "As I got older and learned about the true nature of class society and the power of the state during the titanic Miner's Strike of 1984/85 I began to resent my formal school education.

"I couldn't believe I'd never heard of a guy called John MacLean who was born only a couple of miles away from me in Glasgow in 1879 but who led incredible battles against participation in the First World War and for worker's rights and the independent Scottish Republic.

"This guy was imprisoned five times in his life for taking on the British state and in 1918 was appointed Bolshevik Counsel to the First Soviet Workers Republic by Vladimir Lenin himself. A wee guy from Glasgow, a school teacher, was recognized by the leaders of the 1917 Russian revolution despite being thousands of miles away.

"No faxes, mobiles or internet in those days. Why the hell wasn't I taught about him at school? In 1979 the Soviet Union honoured the centenary of his birth in Scotland by issuing a four kopek commemorative postage stamp."