Scotland & Ireland: A Constitutional Moment for Change?

Our Speaker

Dr Paul Gillespie, Univ College Dublin

Last month, our Greater Glasgow group asked Dr Paul Gillespie to join them. He talked about Scotland and Ireland, comparing and contrasting our two nations : constitutionally, economically, politically and historically. That’s a pretty extensive remit for an hour or so’s meeting but they made a good start!

Paul Gillespie is a former foreign affairs editor for the Irish Times. Now he focuses on research as a political analyst working in the field of Irish, Scottish and UK issues. For example:

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Back Out On the Streets Campaigning

From Jean of our Edinburgh and Lothian Group:

We were very happy to get back out on the streets in Edinburgh after so long away. We had a fine day near the farmer’s market beneath the Castle. With our banners and posters tied to the railings and staying socially distanced, showing our flag to many passers-by.

We had leaflets available but rather than approach people we kept the leaflets a transparent bag also hung on the railings.

I don’t think we got any converts, but I had three long very interesting conversations with supporters, including a couple of visitors from Worcester, England.

We also got our first Donations!

And from Mary of the Greater Glasgow Group:

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Security & Defence in an Independent Scotland

Isobel Lindsay

….. is a well-known peace activist. She was a founding member of the cross-party Campaign for a Scottish Assembly in the early ’80s paving the way for the Constitutional Convention and, ultimately, the Scottish Parliament itself.

These days she is a member of the Scottish Independence Convention and has written a paper on Security for their set of Transition Papers. Isobel met (online) with Glasgow Pensioners4Indy to speak about that paper. She laid out the main Security issues which will need clarified before independence. And with that clarification in place, we’ll be able to achieve a smooth transition and over a shorter time-scale after independence.

You can listen to Isobel here:

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George Kerevan: Alba Party’s Economic Plans

Julia Laurie, co-convenor of Edinburgh and Lothians Pensioners for Indy group writes:

The following podcast took place on Tuesday the 27th April, only 9 days before the Scottish Elections, and I knew this could not be edited and posted before then. I therefore decided to complete it after the election when we knew the results. You will now know that Alba Party did not achieve any MSP seats, but have no intention of disappearing, and are in fact pressing ahead with the party structure and planning their first conference. This podcast may therefore still be of interest to some of our members.

George Kerevan

George Kerevan, an economist and a member of Alba, came to speak to our group on Alba’s economic plans for an Independent Scotland. George has spoken to us on a number of occasions, and has become a friend of our group.

Alba’s Economic Plan

Alec Neil and George wrote Alba’s economic policy. It focuses on building the economy through a massive house building programme. To achieve this a new land tax will be brought in, land will be compulsorily purchased, and crash training courses will be provided to create the labour to build, therefore creating jobs and boosting the economy. The Alba Party plan to build environmentally friendly housing, not in huge estates, but in pockets of houses to help population growth throughout Scotland. Their aim is 30,000 houses per year.

George also spoke about pensions partly funded by a sovereign renewables energy fund. He outlined how a Scottish currency could be run in parallel with the sterling for a few years. Like many, I am extremely interested in the economic policies, so for me, this was a very exciting presentation. We had excellent questions from our members, these are a few examples: 

  • Would private/company pension funds be able to invest in a Scottish currency?
  • How do you see Now Scotland interacting going forward with Alba, SNP & Greens?
  • Do you subscribe to the SNP promise  to increase the state pension to the EU average?

You can listen here:

George Kerevan: The Alba Party’s Economic Plans

I hope you enjoyed listening to George, I found his talk and answers to be clear and interesting. We had loads of good comments so I think our Edinburgh & Lothians members were definitely engaged

Our Next Meeting:

Our next meeting is being held on Tuesday the 18th of May. We are hoping for a good turnout. It will be a chat meeting among our members to take stock of the current political situation and to decide how the group will progress from here. At present, we have no further speakers organised, but all suggestions are gratefully accepted!

Kenny MacAskill: the Alba Party

Kenny MacAskill, MP is standing for the Alba Party on the Lothian List, in the Holyrood Election on 6th May.

Julia Laurie, co-convenor of Edinburgh & Lothians Pensioners4Indy group, writes:

With the forthcoming Scottish Elections, and the Alba Party having burst onto the scene at the last moment, I decided to try to engage a representative from the party to help our members make an informed decision on who to vote for on the list.

Our guest speaker

Kenny MacAskill

Kenny MacAskill is well known to most of us having been involved in Scottish politics for many years, but I was not sure how our members would feel as he was voted in as an SNP MP, and is now standing for Alba as an MSP, however, I need not have worried, and we had a good turnout. As an MSP for Lothian Region he was best known for his role as Cabinet Secretary for Justice from 25/5/11 – 25/11/14. Also an author, he has been involved writing seven books from Building a Nation in 2004 to Radical Scotland 2020.

Kenny talked about all aspects of Alba, why he joined, starting a new party so close to an election, their policies, people, ambitions, and plans for the future. And we had many varied questions: 

  • what legal action do you think we can take to gain Independence with reference to Ciaran Martin’s lecture?
  • can we factor food poverty into our arguments in support of independence?
  • what’s Alba Party view on currency?
  • can primacy for constitutional matters be transferred to the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish people in an election?
  • what is Alba’s position on a written Constitution?
  • if he is elected as MSP will he resign as MP?
  • What do you think about the First Minister saying she will not work with Alba?
  • how high on the Alba Party agenda is land tax, & green energy?
  • how can we best deal with the Border after independence?

You can listen to the talk here:

Kenny MacAskill MP talks about the Alba Party and why he left SNP to join it.

Next meetings:

I hope you enjoyed hearing what Kenny MacAskill had to say. The only question he passed on was economics, suggesting we asked Dr Jim Walker, or George Kerevan to speak to us. I am delighted to say that George will be joining us for a second meeting on Alba on the 27th of April, just 7 days hence.

Having two meetings on the Alba Party, will give us a good idea of what their ambitions are. Following the election on the 6th of May, our next meeting will be on Tuesday the 18th May, to discuss the results, and future plans for our group.