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.
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, 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:
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, 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 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:
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.
Julia Laurie, convenor of Edinburgh & Lothians Pensioners4Indy group, writes:
At the beginning of 2021, I was running out of ideas for speakers. So at one of our weekly committee meetings, I asked for ideas. Caroline MacLeod suggested George Gunn as she had read a beautifully written article by George, published on the Bella Caledonia page in the Sunday National. Also of interest is this Alan Riech article on George Gunn.
George has been writer-in-residence for the Orkney Islands Council and the Scottish Poetry Library in Ullapool. He is well known as a playwright, with over 50 productions for stage and radio. From 1992 to 2010 he was Artistic Director of Grey Coast Theatre Company, which he co-founded. He has produced several series for BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 4.
A book about Caithness, The Province of the Cat, was published in 2015, and a novel The Great Edge, in 2017. This year, George will publish his 10th book of poems “Chronicles of the First Light” (Drunk Muse Press), and is the Caithness Makar at the Lyth Arts Centre. He is also a strong Independence Supporter!
In the meeting …
I don’t think George had participated in many meetings like ours, and was not sure where to start. So I asked to tell us about himself and thereafter we sat in our homes completely mesmerised. He talks about growing up in Dunnet, the northernmost village in Scotland and attending high school in Thurso. He told about the Dounreay nuclear establishment and the effect it had, and still has on the community. We heard about his family history. It was a pure joy to sit and listen to George talking about a life that most of us have never experienced, and learning what a tough life it can be at the north of the Scottish mainland.
We discussed land reform and education among many other subjects but I really don’t want to say any more. Please simply listen and enjoy as much as we did.
What a small world it is! Before the meeting started, one of our members told George that her poetry group is presently enjoying a book of poems called “Quines: Poems in Tribute to Women of Scotland” written by Gerda Stevenson. It turns out that George knows Gerda well, so they had a rare chat even before the meeting started.
By sheer coincidence, on the same day as our meeting, the National published an article about Mairi Mhor nan Oran (Great Mary of the Songs) who is celebrated in Gerda’s book.
I hope you enjoyed listening to George, a truly gifted, fascinating and quite unassuming man. Many of our members considered the meeting to be one of the best we had ever had.
In April …..
Our next speaker will be blogger Peter A Bell, a favourite of ours who last joined us in October 2020 for chat. And we agreed that he would return in the spring. By April the Brexit transition period will be over. Our election in May will be close. And the political landscape will be changing.
This is the time of Covid. It’s not the time to assume we’ll be able to vote at our local polling station 6th May. We know that any of us might have to self-isolate at short notice. So have a backup plan in place : register for a postal vote.
Is Postal Voting trustworthy?
Ah, but maybe you’ve got doubts about the safety of postal voting? Maybe you’ve heard scare stories about postal votes being interfered with? Or that get misplaced? Even that they get sent down south to be counted?
If you do have doubts and they are stopping you signing up for a postal vote, now is the time to find out if any of these and other concerns are valid. Perhaps they are valid but perhaps they are just myths perpetrated and circulating on social media.
Our discussion with Yes Stirling members, Greg and Gerry