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.

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!

End Pensioner Poverty. Glagow March for Independence

Let’s End Pensioner Poverty

End Pensioner Poverty was the theme of Saturday’s march and rally in Glasgow.

End Pensioner Poverty. Glagow March for Independence


Pensioners for Indy partnered with Believe in Scotland to put on this event. it was a big jog and we have been involved with the planning of it over the past six months. Members from our Fife, Glasgow, Selkirk and Ayr groups were in the steering group, along with some of the Believe in Scotland team.


Marlene Halliday, who is Treasurer of our National Coordinating Group as well as a member of the Glasgow Group,was one of the speakers at the rally.

There are two suggestions for action in Marlene’s talk. One is about addressing pensioner poverty by creating a Scottish Pensioners Payment similar to the Scottish Child Payment. The second is about addressing the two thirds of older voters who are still not convinced about independence. She intends writing her speech up for the National and if possible talking to Young Scots for Independence at their conference next month.

Here is her speech:


Mary McCabe, Co-Convenor of our National Group as well as a member our Greater Glasgow group, has written some more about the day:

Saturday was a glorious day in all senses. Even the sun turned out for the first pro-indy march of 2024. 

This was the first time Pensioners for Indy has been involved at the organisational level of a major demonstration (in partnership with Believe in Scotland) and members from our branches in Edinburgh & Lothians, Selkirk, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife and of course Greater Glasgow all brought their banners to march behind the big horizontal banner we’d commissioned for the occasion. Alan Logue, our National CoConvener, brought his Indy-Trailer to park beside our stall. Thanks also to Sheena Stephen and Neil Querns-Anderson who stayed in George Square looking after the stall while the rest of us were away on the march. 

Speakers included First Minister Humza Yousaf, Iona Soper, James Robertson, Jane McAllister, Pat Kane. Other celebrities who turned out included Martin Compston. Marlene Halliday, our esteemed National Treasurer, made a rousing and informative speech on behalf of Pensioners for Indy. She also got to walk along next to Martin Compston at the head of the March!

End Pensioner Poverty. Pensioners for Indy

We were joined by pro-Gaza marchers who chanted “Freedom for Palestine; Freedom for Scotland; Freedom for Everyone.” 

Our flags and T-shirts and Morag Simpson’s delicious fruit cakes flew off the Glasgow Pensioners for Indy stall. I sold a copy of my novel “Two Closes and a Referendum” and with donations we made £188.60.

Onward and Upward. There are at least a dozen more pro-indy marches planned for 2024 with the first (under the auspices of All Under One Banner) being again in Glasgow in a fortnight’s time, on May 4th.

Unfortunately the recording didn’t pick up Mary’s vote of thanks but it did get her very final words of the day. Let’s not forget them.

If you’d like to know more about how the thinking behind putting on this rally and what its aims are, have a look at our blog post Pensioners on the March!

Turns out Robert Littler of our Glasgow Group videoed all of Mary’s vote of thanks at the end of the Rally. Thank you, Robert!

Chain of Freedom Pensioners for Independence

Chain of Freedom – We Did It!

Mary McCabe, of our Greater Glasgow group, organised our section on the Forth & Clyde Canal for the Chain of Freedom Event on 14th October. Here is her report back:

Mary writes:


The Chain of Freedom on October 14th was more successful than we had dared to hope. And Pensioners for Indy played our part in it!

At the time I left the house to go to our allotted section 3E at Bishopbriggs, I had exactly 40 on my list. I was thinking well I don’t expect all 40 will actually turn up. If we get 25 that’ll be a good showing. In fact 54 turned up for our section! Not my figures: the count was carried out by Christian the official appointed steward for our section.

The weather was glorious and we looked and sounded cheery and lovely with our flags and banners strung along the bank of the gleaming canal.


Rumours Are Spreading : Did Unionists try to sabotage the event?

Apparently there were  a few blank sections where nobody appeared. Mary heard that this was because Unionists (either human or bots) had registered by the hundred and filled up some of the sections thus stopping genuine activists from getting in. Next time – and there will be a next time of some kind – the organisers will be wise to the possibility of underhand tactics.

Thanks, Mary, to you and all your companions on Section 3E. Meanwhile on Section 2A at Knightswood and Clydebank in Glasgow more of our members were enjoying themselves. You’ll maybe recognise some of them in this clip.



Our friends, Marlene and Fiona of the IndyPodcaster Team (they’re also members of Pensioners for Indy) have made this longer souvenir video of the event. It’s got more footage from Knightswood, some from near the Falkirk Wheel, from Bonnybridge, and from Kelvinhead, a drone’s eye view, and the Silent Clansman in his canoe!


See you all next year! Because we’re sure the Chain of Freedom team are thinking about a possible follow-up event….