Hamish MacQueen. Mary McCabe. Pensioners for Independence

Hamish MacQueen 1927-2024

Our Co-Convenor Mary McCabe reminisces on her long-standing friendship with Hamish MacQueen who died this week aged 96.

Mary took this photo of Hamish MacQueen in 2007 on a hike at Ardentinny.

A very long-standing SNP member

Hamish MacQueen joined the SNP in 1947. From then on well into his 90s he produced, printed and delivered millions of pro-indy leaflets and posters, both during election campaigns and in what
he called “peacetime”. If the SNP needed a candidate for a hopeless council seat to boost the
overall vote, Hamish was your man. Unlike most “paper” candidates he would work hard to run
a proper campaign, safe in the knowledge that Labour would win as usual.

Hamish’s CV included an eclectic range of paid jobs from driving instructor through insurance
agent to grave-digger (in his 80s he sold Betterware products door-to-door). However he
mostly worked with the publisher Bill McLellan, whose books on Scottish culture Hamish
painstakingly hawked round bookshops which were focussed on the London scene.

Hamish’s extended family was well-to-do and he inherited occasional legacies. Within a year or
two the money would be all gone, spent on political projects such as hardware for SNP offices.
After one legacy from a centenarian aunt Hamish set up a “Scottish Trades Association”. He
bought sample goods from Scottish companies and peddled them round supermarkets, urging
them to support Scottish produce. Occasionally he ran his STA stall at SNP conferences (until
the price the party charged for a stall soared). His business sank when he could no longer afford
fresh samples and customers noticed that his Duncan’s chocolate was well past its sell-by!
Meanwhile Hamish himself lived hand-to-mouth, sometimes in shared accommodation.

An Activist Legend

His pro-indy activities outside the SNP were countless. Throughout the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s he
was an active member of every pro-indy group going.

The first time I ever met Hamish was in 1972. I was part of a student activist group, all jeans and
long hair. Hamish was middle-aged, short-back-and- sides, crumpled suit and tie. He was
standing at his window, peering from behind his curtain out into the street like a character from
a film noir, watching for the TV detector vans. He gave us buckets of paste and some shocking-
pink posters featuring an oil-rig and “England expects….Scotland’s Oil”. He sent us out to poster
Sauchiehall Street in the middle of the afternoon because “There’ll be fewer police around than
at night”. Needless to say we all ended up in court.

Hamish himself once did time. When a fellow-activist was upset at having to miss his vote (in
those days you only got a postal or proxy vote if you were abroad for work purposes) Hamish
volunteered to impersonate him. Unfortunately the polling clerk turned out to be Hamish’s
neighbour. Lacking any money for bail Hamish spent a few weeks in the Bar-L until a friend
came home on leave from the Merchant Navy. When Hamish told his cell-mate what his crime
was the man was incredulous: “You could have had my vote!”

Radio Free Scotland

His political activities featured a silent disregard for laws seen as counterproductive to the indy
movement. During the years when the BBC refused to broadcast SNP Party Political Broadcasts
Hamish helped run “Radio Free Scotland” (a mixture of Scottish music and political information
suppressed by the mainstream media). The equipment had to be shifted from location to
location to avoid the detector vans. Hamish’s flat was popular for its good reception, being at
the top of a tenement on top of Hill Street in Glasgow.

Eilean Mòr McCormick

In the 1990s Hamish was one of the regulars who physically constructed the Visitors’ Centre on
the SNP-owned island Eilean Mor McCormick. The island and the nearby jetty had been left in a
legacy to the SNP. Unwisely the SNP sold off the mainland jetty which ended up with a
proprieter who rarely visited Scotland but was possessive enough to try to stop anyone else
using the jetty. He slung a rope across part of the sea to prevent access. This caused problems
for local farmers who wanted to graze sheep on Eilean Mor. However Hamish and his group
always brought along a pair of shears to cut the rope and sailed on through.

A Well-Kent and Well Praised Man


Hamish was retiring by nature. When approached for the President’s Award at SNP Conference
he vehemently refused. When in 1997 Glasgow SNP named one of their new rooms after him
and threw a surprise party for him to mark his 50 years in the SNP he sat hunched in the corner
all evening as speaker after speaker sang his praises. Afterwards he swore he wasn’t going to
have anything to do with the party for the next six months. Last year Maryhill Burgh Hall staged
an exhibition of Hamish’s political memorabilia. Hamish didn’t attend.

Hamish MacQueen’s funeral is to be at the Maryhill Crematorium at 2.15 on Friday 26 th July. Bob Doris MSP will do the eulogy and John Mason MSP will do the prayer. All welcome.

Dissolving the Union

Dissolving the Union

Dissolving the Union with Graeme McCormick

Why did Graeme McCormick decide to stand in the SNP leadership contest and why did he then withdraw his candidacy to allow John Swinney to be elected unopposed? 

This podcast was recorded on 5 June. So it predates the general election on 4 July. But the conversation is very relevant given the results of that election.

Dissolving the Union. Graeme Mccormick. Scottish Independence Podcasts

He took his ideas on the route to Independence to the SNP’s independence strategy conference last autumn. But his amendment to the main motion was not carried. Then after Humza Yousaf resigned as FM and leader of the SNP, Graeme announced his intention to stand in the leadership contest against John Swinney.  In the event, John Swinney was elected unopposed. Graeme withdrew.

Why did Graeme withdraw his candidacy?  Where does he think the independence campaign needs to go next? Is dissolving the union any closer?

This is a podcast  version of an episode of the TNT show on Independence Live’s Youtube channel.  As a live broadcast, their episode was plagued with technical issues which has been edited out. 

Graeme McCormick has been a guest on Scottish Independence Podcasts several times. Last autumn he talk about his ideas on ‘Routes to Independence’. In the video version of that podcast, Graeme illustrates his ideas with slides. Or you can listen to the audio version.

Horse Trotting Track Development Proposed Adjacent to Bannockburn Memorial Site

Horse Trotting Track proposed next to Battle of Bannockburn Memorial site.

A planning application has been made to Stirling Council for the formation of Horse Trotting Track (Class 11 Assembly and leisure) on land adjacent to the Bannockburn Memorial site. The proposal includes associated drainage and erection of amenity facility for the provision of toilets and including a licensed bar and hot food and drink, and also the formation of competitor and spectator vehicular/footway accesses and parking areas | Land West Of New Line Road And South Of Fairhill Road, Whins Of Milton. Reference Stirling Council

The National Trust for Scotland has responded:

The National Trust for Scotland wishes to strongly object to this planning application due to the adverse effect it would have on a heritage site of national and international importance: the nationally designated Battlefield of Bannockburn, along with the A-listed monuments on the site, and the visitor experience of the site.

Their full letter to Stirling Council
National Trust for Scotland

Mary McCabe, Pensioners for Indy National Co-convenor, is also on the Case.

Whilst at Bannockburn last Saturday, Mary organised a petition against the proposal. She got 140 signatures (as word got around there was a big queue to sign our petition). And she is in contact with Stirling Council and with her own MSP. If you would like to add your name, please contact us using the Contact Us drop down menu at the top of this page. Leave your contact details and Mary will get in touch. Or you can download the petition sheet, collect names, and send it to Stirling Council.

Horse Trotting Racer
Trotting racer

A Directive has been issued by Scottish Government giving them power to intervene in the decision-making process.

We are very pleased to hear about this directive. It means that should Stirling Council be minded to grant permission for this to go ahead, they have to notify the Scottish Government. ScotGov can then call in the proposal to further consider its impact. And they have the powers to stop the development going ahead.

Bannockburn march & Rally. Pensioners for Independence. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Bannockburn March & Rally

Bannockburn for the March!

Some of us were at Stirling for the March & Rally last Saturday. It wasn’t a big march. AUOB reckoned maybe 1500. It was a very friendly get together with plenty of chat and plenty of stalls. The team from our Greater Glasgow Group were on the march with their new large banner. And others from the group had gone straight to the ground to get the stall ready.

Here’s a video of the marchers entering the grounds. You’ll maybe see yourself! thanks to the IndyPodcasters for the video!

Manifesto Madness. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Manifesto Madness

Election Countdown: Manifesto Madness

As the party manifestos started to appear, Indypodcasters – and members of Pensioners4Indy -Fiona and Marlene were joined by guest Marion Robertson in Manifesto Pic ’n’ Mix where they highlight some of the manifesto policies being promoted by Alba, ISP, Greens and SSP. Then in the second half – Manifesto Madness – Marlene and Fiona look at the SNP manifesto and at Labour’s Six First Steps for Scotland. Which, by the way, are different from his six first steps for England and Wales!

(The first half of this Election Countdown episode was recorded before the official launches of the Scottish Greens and Alba manifestos, links to both are included below.)

Main themes are:

  • 00:30   ISP (Independence for Scotland Party)
  • 01:37   Scottish Greens
  • 07:53    Alba party
  • 15:37    SSP (Scottish Socialist Party)
  • 20:29    Tory & Reform
  • 23:26    Campaign Checkpoint
  • 27:38    SNP
  • 35:03    Labour’s response
  • 48:00    Starmer – first steps and two faces
  • 51:49    GB Energy
  • 62:24    The Union’s Last Gasp
Manifesto Madness. Election Countdown.

Manifesto Madness Downloads Available Here:

Check out their previous Election Countdown podcasts. And they are available as videos on their YouTube IndyPod Extra Channel. And we have some of those here: On the Campaign Trail

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