David Rollo (politician)

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David Rollo (July 1919 – 18 September 2006) was a Scottish nationalist political activist.

Born in Lenzie,[1] Rollo studied at Lenzie Academy[2] and played for Lenzie Rugby Club.[1] During World War II, he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and rose to become a sergeant, completing more than fifty parachute jumps. In 1943, he gained admittance to the University of Glasgow to study electrical engineering and, although his time was interrupted by a year recuperating from tuberculosis, he qualified and spent the remainder of his career in the industry.[1]

Rollo joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) and was elected as its treasurer in 1953, serving until 1965.[3] This was a difficult time for the party's finances, and he often used his personal funds to pay the office secretary.[4]

Believing that the BBC was biased against Scottish nationalism,[5] Rollo used his electrical engineering experience worked with Alvaro Rossi to build a radio transmitter which broadcast sound on the BBC Television frequency. In 1956, they used this to launch "Radio Free Scotland", based in Rollo's home town of Kirkintilloch. It broadcast a mix of political comedy and patriotic music after the BBC finished at 11pm.[6] Rollo stood for the party at the 1959 general election in Hamilton, by which time he was head of the SNP's broadcasting committee.[2] After the SNP was not given the opportunity to make an election broadcast, he used the radio station to make party political broadcasts to Hamilton,[5] He stood but his campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, taking only 6.2% of the vote.[2] The radio was considered a success, and he built a similar transmitter for Plaid Cymru to use for "Radio Free Wales".[1]

Rollo stood again for the SNP in Glasgow Woodside at the 1970 general election, taking 8.4% of the vote,[7] then in Paisley at the February, October 1974 general elections, achieving 21% and then 33% of the vote, although he was not elected.[8] He stood a final time in 1979, but his vote share fell to 15.7%.[9]

Rollo remained active in the SNP, and in 2004 published Lockerbie: a bum rap?, exploring questions around the Lockerbie disaster.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d "David Rollo - the quiet patriot", Scots Independent, November 2006
  2. ^ a b c The Times House of Commons 1959, p.209
  3. ^ "History of the SNP", Aberdeen SNP
  4. ^ Gordon Wilson, SNP: The Turbulent Years, 1960-1990 : a History of the Scottish National Party, p.2
  5. ^ a b Kenneth Roy, The Invisible Spirit: A Life of Post-War Scotland 1945-75
  6. ^ "Kirkintilloch ‘pirate’ was a pioneer for independence on the airwaves", Kirkintilloch Herald, 14 July 2012
  7. ^ "UK General Election results 1970", Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources
  8. ^ "David Rollo: as his local activists knew him", Scots Independent, 6 October 2006
  9. ^ "UK General Election results May 1979", Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources
  10. ^ "Lockerbie: a bum rap?", Airways: A Global Review of Commercial Flight, Vol. 9, pp.12, 67
Party political offices
Preceded by
Treasurer of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Harry Rankin