Kevin Williamson (writer)

Kevin Williamson (born 1961) is a writer, publisher, and activist originally from Caithness. He is a Scottish socialist and republican and was an activist for the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). He was also the architect of their radical drug policy, which included the legalisation of cannabis and the provision under the National Health Service of free synthetic heroin to addicts under medical supervision to combat the problems of drugs in working class communities.[1] He wrote a regular weekly column, "Rebel Ink", for the Scottish Socialist Voice.

Kevin Williamson at the Glencoe Rally.

Publishing careerEdit

In 1992 Williamson launched a literary magazine called Rebel Inc[2] and through its pages was one of the first publishers of such Scottish writers as Irvine Welsh, Laura Hird, Alan Warner, and Toni Davidson. He has also championed such major Scottish writers as James Kelman, Duncan McLean, Gordon Legge and Alasdair Gray.

In 1996 Williamson joined forces with Edinburgh-based Canongate Books to create the Rebel Inc imprint[3] which, in the following five years, published almost sixty titles, mixing Scottish fiction with the international counter-culture and the politics of dissent. Within the Rebel Inc imprint Williamson re-published a series of out of print titles under the heading of Rebel Inc Classics that included writers such as Richard Brautigan, Alexander Trocchi, Charles Bukowski, Nelson Algren, John Fante, Knut Hamsun, Jim Dodge, Robert Sabbag and Jack London.

Political activismEdit

He is a long-time campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis, and unsuccessfully tried to open a "hash cafe" in Edinburgh.[4][5][6] In 1997 Williamson went on a "National Change The Drug Laws" tour with former cannabis smuggler Howard Marks.

In 1999, Williamson stood as an SSP candidate in the first ever elections to the Scottish Parliament in the Edinburgh Central constituency. In 2001, he stood again for the SSP in Edinburgh Central in the Westminster General Election.

In 2003, Williamson became the first person to be physically ejected by the police from the Scottish Parliament when he made an anti-war protest wearing a George Bush mask.[7]

Williamson is strong supporter of Scottish independence and Independence First. However, in contrast to the civic nationalism of the Scottish National Party, his nationalism is inspired by what he sees as the unique qualities of the Scottish people, noting that "the English are a justice-loving people, according to charter and statute" whose legislature "accentuates stuffy tradition, law and order, rules and regulations, and keeping social order", whereas the Scots put "more emphasis on openness, accessibility and addressing social concerns". He also suggested that Unionism is an intrinsically "right wing" concern, compared to the "progressive" nature of Scots and Scottish nationalists.[8]

In August 2006, in the aftermath of Tommy Sheridan's libel case against the News of the World, Williamson parted company with the Scottish Socialist Party.

In November 2007, Williamson signalled a clear break with party politics and his previous Marxian background in an article entitled Scotland's Libertarian Left,[9] which was originally published by Bella Caledonia - a free newspaper Williamson currently co-edits (with Mike Small) aimed at stimulating discussion around left libertarian and Scottish republican ideas.


Since acrimoniously parting company with Canongate Books, Williamson has worked as a newspaper columnist and cultural commentator, regularly appearing in print and on television and radio. In 2002, his regular weekly column in The Herald was controversially axed because of his outspoken views on Israel.

His published work includes "A Visitor's Guide To Edinburgh" (co-written with Irvine Welsh in 1993), and "Drugs and the Party Line" (1997). His poetry has been published in anthologies and magazines. In 2005, he won the Robert Louis Stevenson Award for literature. His first collection of poetry, "In A Room Darkened", was published by Two Ravens Press in October 2007.[10][11][12][13][14]

Williamson was also a contributor to Pax Edina: The One O' Clock Gun Anthology (Edinburgh, 2010)[15] Since 2011, Williamson has been involved in Neu!Reekie![16][17]


  1. ^ "Socialists want cafes for cannabis". 19 May 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Rebel Inc - F**k The Mainstream", BBC Online, 27 January 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-06
  3. ^ "A Different Kind Of Classic", Joseph Ridgewell, The Guardian, 18 October 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-06
  4. ^ Khan, Stephen (25 November 2001). "Rebel publisher plans cannabis cafe". The Observer. London. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  5. ^ "No smoke without ire". The Scotsman. 20 July 2002. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  6. ^ "The day the law changed and it all went to pot". Edinburgh Evening News. 30 January 2004. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  7. ^ "MSPs decry US president's visit". BBC News. 20 November 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  8. ^ "Language and culture in a rediscovered Scotland" (PDF). Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  9. ^ "Scotland's Libertarian Left". Bella Caledonia#1. November 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  10. ^ Roddy Lumsden Interviews Kevin Williamson Archived 17 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Books From Scotland, November 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  11. ^ "I'm more extreme now I've got older", Edinburgh Evening News, 31 January 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  12. ^ In A Room Darkened - Reviewed by Laura Chalar Archived 30 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine,, Spring 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  13. ^ "Worth a million in prizes", Dogmatika magazine, Dec 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-06
  14. ^ "A sucker punch in a crowded room", 3:AM Magazine, Dec 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-06
  15. ^ [1] Archived 29 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Neu! Reekie! @ Leith Theatre, Edinburgh [17 August]". Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Neu! Reekie! - Edinburgh City of Literature". Retrieved 15 July 2018.

External linksEdit