….. 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.
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.
The Greater Glasgow group invited Tony Grahame to speak about how the D’Hondt system is used to calculate who wins List MSPs in the Holyrood elections.
Tony took us through the Glasgow List vote from 2016 explaining how the List seats were allocated. He also compared overall Scottish list results from 2016 with those from 2011. And he showed how a small rise or fall in a party’s proportion of the list vote can result in large changes in number of seats gained or lost.
You can listen to the talk, followed by questions, here, and scroll down for the slides that Tony used in his talk:
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
Julia Laurie of Edinburgh & Lothians P4Indy writes:
Dr Kirsty Hughes is Director and founder of the Scottish Centre on European Relations. A researcher, writer and commentator on European politics and policy, she has worked at a number of leading European think tanks. She has published extensively, as well as contributing to a wide range of national and international media outlets. Her recent research focus includes: the UK, Scotland and Brexit. This is link to an article Kirsty published on Monday the 25th of January – England’s Scotland Panic – What is to be Done?
Kirsty talked to us on three different topics, firstly “the previous view of the EU towards the UK and their views now”, secondly, “the EU view of Scotland”, and thirdly “border issues”. I was going to write a little of what she said, but decided it will be so much more interesting for you to listen to the recording.
Our members had some very interesting questions :
Can you explain what article 16 is?
Travel and trade issues between Scotland and England when we are Independent.
Can Scotland work directly with the EU at the moment?
Do you think joining EFTA is a good idea, and would the current members agree to us joining?
Will Ireland reunite before Scotland becomes Independent?
Also, many questions about the requirement for policy papers, and a firm vision of an Independent Scotland from our SNP government.
There were many more questions, but I hope the above has given you a reasonable sample of how interesting the Q&A session was.
Our next Edinburgh & Lothians Group meeting:
At our next meeting on March the 9th, our speaker is George Gunn. George has been a deep-sea fisherman, a driller for oil in the North Sea, a journalist, playwright and poet.
I have one of his books, The Great Edge, a story that brings together lives -ancient and modern – on the northern plateau where Scotland stops and starts, where history and myth fuel everyday reality, and where nothing is as it seems It sounds like a fascinating read, and I hope to read it before George’s talk. I think it will be a very interesting and fascinating meeting.