06 April 2010


UK General Election

Today Gordon Brown is predicted to call the general election.

Here's a few more predictions

In 2006 I said an uninspired Labour would feed into the hands of the SNP in Scotland and the Tories in England. Within a year, the SNP was in government in Scotland and in 2010 the Tories are leading in the polls UK wide.

In 2007 I predicted the resignation of Tony Blair, the SNP winning the Scottish elections and the Tories winning the UK elections in 2010.

In 2008, I predicted on the BBC website that 2010 would see Labour lose and Gordon Brown off to a well paid job in the City and the SNP a good 10 points in front.

In 2010, we see the SNP a good 10 points in front, and of course the Tories in the lead UK wide.

The polls have been wrong before - hopefully the number crunchers will have taken 1992 into account - but the predictions are looking good so far. I'm not much of a fan of the Tories, including the lack of help in sorting out the red tape I got from my then MP Alistair Darling, but anything has to be better than another 5 years of Labour.


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03 October 2009


Gaelic events in London in October

Please see the attached PDF

London Gaelic what's on Guide - October 09

many thanks to Eoghann for putting together this excellent newsletter.

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12 June 2009


Scottish events in London, music & song

See the attached PDF for details: LondonGaelicJune09.pdf

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08 June 2009


Scotland is the place

My recent interview with Scotland is the Place, Scottish government website.

Hope you like it, the space was a bit limited. There's so much more I'd like to say.


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01 May 2009


Jammin' at the voodoo

Just back from an outstanding blues gig in Edinburgh, free. Tonight included Sandy from the legendary Blues'n'trouble that I was asking about back in 1993 and who have toured and guested with the likes of BB King and Robert Cray. To give you an idea of the superb standard of tonight's gig, BB King called B'n'T the "best white blues band in the world", read their reviews on amazon.co.uk.

Unbelievable for a free gig with such talent that there was such a small audience. Those that could hear the gig from the street outside were surprised by the unexpected treat. Watch the facebook group or myspace for details of the next jam! Many thanks to Ash Gupta for the event and an excellent performance himself!


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06 April 2009


Tartan Day 2009

It's Tartan Day 2009 today.

For more information see Scotland's tartan day or Tartan Day USA.

Yesterday was apparently wear a kilt day, not forgetting 2nd April which was wear a kilt to work day. Make a note for next year!

For more information on Tartan Day, see the soc.culture.scottish FAQ, the first online guide to Scotland.


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03 March 2009


Gaelic events in Edinburgh: March/April 2009

Info from Com-pàirteachas Gàidhlig Dhùn Èideann (Edinburgh Gaelic Partnership)

Sunday 01.03.09 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place. Mr John A. Macmillan. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 03.03.09 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Wednesday 04.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 664 2228)

Thursday 05.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. (Cont: 664 2228)

Saturday 07.03.08 – 11.15am Family Gaelic Club, TollX Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 07729 307487)

Friday 06.03.09 – 8.30pm “Bothan” at new venue - GRV, 37 Guthrie Street, Edinburgh with Mary Macmillan. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Saturday 07.03.09 – 7.30pm Comunn Tir nam Beann Ceilidh, St. John’s Church Hall, Princes St. with Gaelic singers Kirsteen Grant, Ian Maclean, Dougie Gillespie, Rena Gertz, Martin Gourlay & instrumentalist Robbie Greig. Piper - Neil McClure. MC – Dougie Gillespie. (Cont: 334 7005)

Sunday 08.03.09 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place. Mr Neil Martin. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 10.03.09 – 1.00pm Gaelic Lunch Club, Mount Royal Hotel, Princes St. Speaker: Dolina Maclennan. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Tuesday 10.03.09 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Wednesday 11.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 664 2228)

Thursday 12.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. (Cont: 664 2228)

Saturday 14.03.08 – 11.15am Family Gaelic Club, TollX Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 07729 307487)

Sunday 15.03.09 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place. Mr Alasdair Macleod. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 17.03.09 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Wednesday 18.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 664 2228)

Thursday 19.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. (Cont: 664 2228)

Saturday 21.03.09 – 11.15am Family Gaelic Club, TollX Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 07729 307487)

Saturday 21.03.09 – 1pm – 6pm Edinburgh Saltire Gaelic Choir – Gaelic singing workshop for phrasing, vocal techniques, harmony, Gaelic pronunciation etc. Duddingston Kirk Hall, Duddingston Rd.W. £10.00.

(Cont: http://www.edinburghsaltiregaelicchoir.org.uk )

Sunday 22.03.09 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place. Mr Neil Martin. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 24.03.09 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Wednesday 25.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 664 2228)

Thursday 26.03.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. (Cont: 664 2228)

Friday 27.03.09 – 8.00pm “‘S math sin” Ceilidh/Dance for Edinburgh Gaelic Community – Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Singers/musicians and Black Rose Ceilidh Band. Tickets from Ceilidh Culture Box Office (228 1155) or tickets@gaelic-edinburgh.net

Saturday 28.03.08 – 11.15am Family Gaelic Club, TollX Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 07729 307487)

Sunday 29.03.09 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place. Rev. Angus Smith. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 31.03.09 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Wednesday 01.04.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 664 2228)

Thursday 02.04.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. (Cont: 664 2228)

Thursday 02.04.09 – 7.30pm Lothian Gaelic Choir - Gaelic Singing Workshop with Kenna Campbell, Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Tce. (Cont: 07818 067524 or http://www.lothiangaelicchoir.org.uk

Saturday 04.04.09 – 7.30pm Comunn Tir nam Beann Ceilidh, St. John’s Church Hall, Princes St. with 2008 Silver Pendant winner Lynn Phipps; Norrman Mackinnon (Gold Medallist), Ceitidh Smith, Angus Montgomery (accordionist), Scots singer Scott Gardiner, Highland Dancers & piper Neil McClure. MC – Angus Montgomery. (Cont: 334 7005)

Sunday 05.04.09 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 07.04.09 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)
Wednesday 08.04.09 – 7.15pm Ulpan tuition class, Tollcross Community Centre, Fountainbridge. (Cont: 664 2228)

Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh mu ghnothaichean Gàidhlig an Dùn Èideann, cur fios gu Iain Macleòid, Oifigear Coimhearsnachd air 07906 318561 no post-d gu john@andarach.com.

For information on Gaelic activities in Edinburgh & to add your contact details to the circulation list, contact John Macleod, Gaelic Community Officer on 07906 318561 or john@andarach.com Weekly updates on Gaelic activities in Edinburgh now featured in the Stornoway Gazette (paper & website). See also http://www.duneideann.net

“’Is fheàrr a bhith lag, seòlta na bhith làidir, aineolach!”
(‘Better to be frail and perceptive than to be robust and ignorant!)

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25 January 2009


Robert Burns, 250th Anniversary

Today marks 250 years since the birth of Robert Burns, the world's best known poet.

For details of what's on to mark this occasion, please visit Homecoming Scotland.

This year's Burns night marks the 15th year of publication of the first online guide to Scotland, available at The soc.culture.scottish FAQ pages where of course you can read all about Robert Burns. See also the comprehensive information on Wikipedia regarding Robert Burns as well as the complete works of Robert Burns on Burns Country. A particular favourite of mine is the song is there for honest poverty (for a' that).




29 November 2008


Gaelic events in London

For more information, please contact eoghannp@hotmail.com

(29mh Samhain 2008 gu crìoch na bliadhna)

(29th November 2008 until end of the year)


Uill, a-réir coltais, mar a’s duirche is a’s fhuaire a dh’fhàsas e, ’s ann a’s beothaile a dh’fhàsas e ... a thaobh saoghal nan Gàidheal an Lunnainn co-dhiùbh! Ged a tha e fliuch is fuar taobh a-muigh, tha mìos làn ghnìomhachasan romhainn eadar seo is àm na Nollaige (faicibh gu h-ìseal). Fileantach, neach-ionnsachaidh no ‘caraid do’n chànan’ – chan eil gu diofar: bithibh ’nur pàirt dheth – is mealaibh e!

Well, as it would seem, the colder and darker it gets, the livelier it gets ... at least as regards the Gaelic scene in London! Though it may be cold and wet outside, we have a month full of activities to look forward to between now and Christmas (see below). Native-speaker, learner or ‘friend of the language’ – it doesn’t matter: be part of it – and enjoy!

Tìoraidh an-dràsd’!


Eòghann P.

PS/ Ma bhios sibh a’ cur air dòigh thachartasan a tha comh-cheangailte ri Gàidhlig no ris a’ chultur Ghàidhealach an Lunnainn no an Ceann Ear-dheas Shasainn ’san àm ri teachd, cuiribh fios chugam mu’n deidhinn! – If you are organising future events relating to Gaelic or to Highland culture in London or the South-East of England, let me know about them!

PPS/ ’S e Là Féill Anndra am-màireach! – St. Andrew’s Day tomorrow!


Di-Sathairne, 29mh Samhain 2008, bho 7:30f

Comunn na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean an Lunnainn (HISL), Taigh Cecil Sharpe, NW1 (Fon-talamh: Camden Town)

Òrain Ghàidhlig bho Chaitlin Ghreumach (Eilean Sgitheanach), is ceòl bho Frank Reid is a chòmhlan-dannsa Albannach

Inntreas: £20 / £15 (buill HISL is ‘lùghdachaidhean’)

Làrach-lìn: http://www.hisl.org

Post-d: info@hisl.org


Saturday, 29th November 2008, from 7:30pm

Highlands and Islands Society of London (HISL), Cecil Sharpe House, NW1 (Underground: Camden Town)

Gaelic songs from Kathleen Graham (Isle of Skye), and music from Frank Reid and his Scottish dance band

Admission: £20 / £15 (HISL members and ‘concessions’)

Website: http://www.hisl.org

E-mail: info@hisl.org


Di-Dòmhnaich, 30mh Samhain 2008, 12:00 meadhon-latha gu 5:00f

Blasad ‘Gaeilge’ (no ‘Gaedhilge’ – ’s fheàrr leinn an seann litreachadh!) ann an Ionad Culturail nan Éireannach, oisinn Black’s Road is King Street, Hammersmith, W6 (Fon-talamh: Hammersmith).

Le òraidich, bùithtean-obrach is filmichean ùra ann an Gàidhlig na h-Éireann. Còmhla ri Coláiste na nGael.

Inntreas: £13 (no £40 air 4 tiocaidean), le biadh

Làrach-lìn: http://www.irishculturalcentre.co.uk


Sunday, 30th November 2008, 12:00 noon to 5:00pm

A taster of ‘Gaeilge’ (or ‘Gaedhilge’ – we prefer the old spelling!) at the Irish Cultural Centre, corner of Black’s Road and King Street, Hammersmith, W6 (Underground: Hammersmith).

With guest speakers, workshops and new films in Irish Gaelic. In association with Coláiste na nGael.

Admission: £13 (or £40 for 4 tickets), with lunch

Website: http://www.irishculturalcentre.co.uk


Di-Dòmhnaich, 7mh Dùdlachd 2008

Seirbhis eadar-eaglaiseil an Gàidhlig is ’sa Bheurla, leis an Urr. Athair Calum MacGill-Fhaolain (Eirisgeigh) is Còisir Lunnainn.

Eaglais Aonaichte Ath-Leasaichte, Tavistock Place (oisinn Regent Square), WC1

Greim-neòin bho 12:30f; seirbhis bho 2.00f

Làrach-lìn: www.regentsquare.urc.org.uk


Sunday, 7th December 2008

Inter-denominational service in Gaelic and English with Rev. Father Calum MacLellan (Eriskay) and the London Gaelic Choir (Còisir Lunnainn).

United Reformed Church, Tavistock Place (corner of Regent Square), WC1

Buffet lunch from 12:30pm; service from 2.00pm

Làrach-lìn: www.regentsquare.urc.org.uk


Di-Sathairne, 13mh Dùdlachd 2008, bho 7:30f

Comunn Gàidhlig Lunnainn, talla Eaglais Cùirt a’ Chrùin, Covent Garden, WC2 (Fon-talamh: Covent Garden no Charing Cross)

Òrain Ghàidhlig bho Linn Phipps (a bhuannaich ‘Aigeallan-Airgid’ nam Ban aig a’ Mhòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail, 2008)

Inntreas: £20

Làrach-lìn: www.comunnlunnainn.co.uk


Saturday, 13th December 2008 from 7:30pm

Gaelic Society of London, hall of Crown Court Church, Covent Garden, WC2 (Underground: Covent Garden or Charing Cross)

Gaelic songs from Linn Phipps (winner of the Ladies’ ‘Silver Pendant’ at the Royal National Mòd, 2008)

Admission: £20

Website: www.comunnlunnainn.co.uk


Di-Dòmhnaich, 14mh Dùdlachd 2008 aig 3:30f

Seirbhis an Gàidhlig ann an Eaglais Cùirt a’ Chrùin, Covent Garden, WC2, leis an Urr. Murchadh MacLeòid (Eaglais Rathad Chrow, Glaschu) (Fon-talamh: Covent Garden no Charing Cross)

Le srùbaig ann an talla na h-eaglaise an deaghaidh làimh (an t-srùbag a’s fheàrr a th’ann an Lunnainn!).


Sunday, 14th December 2008 at 3:30pm

Service in Gaelic at Crown Court Church, Covent Garden, WC2, with Rev. Murdo MacLeod (Crow Road Church, Glasgow) (Underground: Covent Garden or Charing Cross)

With a ‘stroupach’ (cup of tea) in the church hall afterwards (London’s best ‘stroupach’!).

Agus na ‘regulars’: na dìochuimhnichibh gu’m bi na tachartasan seo a’ ruith
fad na bliadhna!

And the ‘regulars’: don’t forget that these events run throughout the year!


A’ chòisir Ghàidhlig an Lunnainn; coinneamh gach Di-Màirt ann an talla Eaglais Cùirt a’ Chrùin, Covent Garden, WC2 aig 7.00f (Fon-talamh: Covent Garden no Charing Cross)

Coinneamh dheireannach na bliadhna: Di-Màirt, 16mh Dùdlachd 2008 (CBC)

Làrach-lìn: www.coisirlunnainn.org.uk

Post-d: coisirlunnainn@fmail.co.uk


The Gaelic choir in London; meets every Tuesday in the hall of Crown Court Church, Covent Garden, WC2 at 7.00pm (Underground: Covent Garden or Charing Cross)

Last meeting of the year: Tuesday, 16th December 2008 (AGM)

Website: www.coisirlunnainn.org.uk

E-mail: coisirlunnainn@fmail.co.uk


Anns a’ CityLit, Sràid Keeley, Lunnainn WC2 (Fon-talamh: Holborn)

Ìre 1: gach Di-Ciadaoin aig 6.00f

Ìre 2: gach Di-Ciadaoin aig 7:30f

Làrach-lìn: www.citylit.ac.uk


In the CityLit, Keeley Street, London WC2 (Underground: Holborn)

Level 1: every Wednesday at 6:00pm

Level 2: every Wednesday at 7:30pm

Website: www.citylit.ac.uk

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21 August 2008


Scottish handmade silver jewellery

My wife Joscelin is looking to expand her trade in handmade Scottish jewellery. This includes earrings, rings, necklaces, chokers etc in copper wire, hallmarked silver, beadwork etc. Unusual one offs from £30-£300+, free repairs, resizing and cleaning. Stock available on sale or return to retail outlets. Currently items are available in the secret room, WL Morrison, Linlithgow. You can also view some of her silver jewelry on flickr. Time to start thinking about unique romantic Christmas presents?

You'd likely pay a lot more for similar products in Harrods, Jenners or Harvey Nicols ....

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11 August 2008


Gaelic events at the Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Information follows about the Gaelic Partnership’s programme of Gaelic events at The Colmcille Centre this year during the Edinburgh Fringe. Please let your friends and colleagues know about them so that we can ensure reasonable attendances each night. Please note that Sunrise not Secular are appearing on the Monday night and Bannal on the Tuesday night – not as was previously circulated. poster and smaller flyers are available from the Gaelic Community Office in Dundee Street if you are able to circulate some. Look forward to seeing you there.

Fiosrachadh an cois seo mu thachartasan Gaidhlig a bhios againn aig Iomall Feis Dhun Eideann am-bliadhna. Feuch an toir sibh iomradh orra dhar cairdean is luchd-eolais gus am faigh sinn aireamhan math de dhaoine gan frithealadh. Thoiribh an aire gur e Sunrise not Secular a tha againn Diluain agus Bannal Dimairt – chan e an taobh eile mar a chaidh a chuairteachadh roimhe. Tha postair agus tha bileagan beaga rim faighinn san Oifis Choimhearsnachd mas urrainn dhuibh gin a chuairteachadh. Moran taing.

Please prefix numbers with 0131 when dialling from outside Edinburgh/from a mobile:

Tuesday 05.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Saturday 09.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
highly-acclaimed Gaelic singer and recording artiste Margaret Stewart, with
Ingrid & Allan Henderson, Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont:
07906 318561)

Sunday 10.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Monday 11.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
‘Sunrise not Secular’ Lewis-based Celtic Rock group – David ‘The Davinator’
Nicolson, Brian Macleod, Ryan ’Ranjad’ Smith, and Michael ‘The Haggis’
Macdonald, plus local artistes, story-teller/bard, Colmcille Centre, 2
Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Tuesday 12.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
‘Bannal’ Luaidh group featuring Kenna Campbell, Chrissie Macinnes, Sineag
MacIntyre, Wilma Kennedy, Margaret Callan, Margaret Anne Campbell, Christine
Grant, Tilly Macmillan & Morag Law & local musicians, story-teller/bard,
Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Tuesday 12.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Tuesday 12.08.08 – 12.45pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – music from Skerryvore. Free event.
(Cont: 225 7534).

Wednesday 13.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week – BBC Radio nan
Gaidheal recording of “Mo Roghainn Fhèin” with special guests Dolina
Maclennan & Allan Turner in conversation with Mark Wringe about their
favourite Gaelic poems. Plus local singers/musicians. Free admission. Doors
open 7pm. Recording 7.30pm. Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont:
07906 318561)

Thursday 14.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week – National Mod
2008 concert led by Mod Gold Medallist James Graham, with Kenna Campbell,
Arthur Cormack, Mairi Macmillan, Lyle Kennedy, Deans sisters, Cumbernauld
Gaelic Choir, Falkirk Jnr Gaelic Choir & local instrumentalists &
storyteller/bard. Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906

Friday 15.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert
with ‘Daimh’ featuring Calum A Macmillan, with ‘phenomenal instrumental
arsenal’ of Ross Martin, Angus Mackenzie, Gabe McVarish, Col O’Rua & Seumas
Bremner, along with local entertainers & storytellers/bard. Colmcille
Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Saturday 16.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
Internationally-acclaimed piper ‘Fred Morrison along with Matheu Watson,
local musicians, story-teller & bard, Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace.
(Cont: 07906 318561)

Sunday 17.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 19.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Tuesday 19.08.08 – 12.45pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – songs & music from Mary Ann Kennedy.
Free event. (Cont: 225 7534).

Wednesday 20.08.08 – 7.30pm Comann na Clarsaich Festival Ceilidh at
St. Andrew & St. George’s Church, George Street, with na Clarsairean, Isobel
Mieras & Jim Ferguson & Lothian Gaelic Choir. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Thursday 21.08.08 – 12.45pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – clarsach music from Ailie Robertson.
Free event. (Cont: 225 7534).

Sunday 24.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Sunday 24.08.08 – 2.00pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – final ceilidh with ceilidh band. Free
event. (Cont: 225 7534).

Sunday 24.08.08 – 8.30pm Edinburgh International Book
Festival, Peppers Theatre, Charlotte Sq. Gdns. Gaelic book launches with
Martin McIntyre & Ian Finlay Macleod. (Cont: 0845 373 5888)

Tuesday 26.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Sunday 31.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 02.09.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP
Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Sunday 07.09.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 09.09.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP
Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Tuesday 16.09.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP
Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Saturday 20.09.08 – 7.30pm Argyll Association ceilidh, St
John’s Church Hall, Princes Street (Cont: 453 5766)

Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh mu ghnothaichean Gàidhlig ann an Dùn Èideann,
cur fios gu Iain Macleòid, Oifigear Leasachaidh Coimhearsnachd air 07906
318561 no air post-d gu john@andarach.com

For further information on Gaelic activities in Edinburgh, please contact John Macleod, Gaelic Community Development Officer on 07906 318561 or john@andarach.com If you want your contact details added to the community e-mail circulation list, please send a brief message to the above e-mail address. If you know of other Gaelic events/courses etc that could be added
to this list, please let John know.

Regular weekly updates on Gaelic activities in Edinburgh are now also featured in the Stornoway Gazette (newspaper & website).

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28 July 2008


Homecoming Scotland

Please visit homecomingscotland2009.com for details of a major programme of events throughout 2009 to celebrate Scottish culture and to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.


18 July 2008


The demise of the Scottish entrepreneur

Two days ago I posted that Scotland's answer to Dragons Den had ceased trading.

I came across this note I posted to the First Tuesday Scotland network on 9th June 2003, over 5 years ago.

It seems not much has changed in that time to support the Scottish Entrepreneur, indeed with this week's announcement things are only getting worse. Sorry to sound so pessimistic but I tell it as it is.

In message <BPEDJNPNLJEFMFCOBAMOIEDDDOAA.gordon@firsttuesday
scotland.com>, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp <gordon@firsttuesdayscotland.com>wrote:
>For about 6 years I have disagreed with the direction of Scottish Enterprise
>as a whole and that is why I left the organisation to set up this network.
>Economies are driven by confidence and positivity, demand and the
>availability of disposable income. Regardless of the expertise of the man at
>the top and the people throughout the organisation SE can only do the
>bidding of the Scottish Parliament and this is where it goes wrong - it suffers
>from public sector thinking - good people hamstrung by red tape and politics.
I replied:

The public sector mentality is about as far removed as you can get from the
rapidly moving and flexible environment of being an entrepreneur.

Scottish Enterprise may be headed by a competent individual, but this is little
better than having a competent train driver. If the network operator can't work
the points, you end up permanently on a slow line or a dead end siding.

There needs to be a total change of mindset in the executive and at UK level
before anything serious begins to change.

How about assessing businesses on the quality of the idea, the opportunity it
addresses and the likelihood of success rather than engaging in little more
than a box ticking exercise, or claiming to provide a service for info which can
be easily obtained on line, or assessing businesses based on the number of
birthdays the founder has had?

Scotland is famous for its inventors - people who have changed the world and
been huge successes. What support is there for these people from Scottish
Enterprise? What help in filing for a patent would there be for today's John
Logie Bairds or Alexander Graham Bells or more widely James Dyson or
Trevor Bayliss both of whom had huge obstacles in getting products to

What help would there be in helping the lone entrepreneur with a brilliant idea
if they have little or no resources of their own to do it? Such people would of
course be precluded from the "Proof of concept" funding because this is tied
to working in a research establishment.

Furthermore there is a huge contradiction when it comes down to help for the
entrepreneur. Businesses are supposed to be flexible, geared up for parents
with flexible working needs, geared up for people wanting to work part time,
geared up for distance working etc with all these directives and laws being
passed. So you tick all the boxes for things the executive is saying they want
to promote: "I'm wanting to start up, what help is there for time-poor, cash-
poor parents wanting to work part time in the business while they get going
and keep down a day job and I want to work from home to save money". What
help is there specifically for parents or anyone in these categories? None. The
"Who wants to be an entrepreneur" competition has become "Who wonders
where it went" and The John Logie Baird awards have vanished like the dot in
the middle of the inventor's TV screen. Meantime in the real world where
businesses in 2006 will be prosecuted for ageism in recruitment, we have the
exact opposite going on in the world of the entrepreneur where you can't get
certain awards (e.g. PSYBT) based on whether your partner has had more
than 30 birthdays (even though the main applicant qualifies). Are these to be
made illegal post 2006?

Why does the very nature of how SE lends its funding and help and what help
there is, go almost 100% against what businesses themselves are expected
to do when they employ people? Does no-one do joined up thinking anymore?


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16 July 2008


Connect Scotland ceases trading

THE Scottish networking firm that ran Dragons' Den-style events for technology entrepreneurs has been forced to close after struggling with mounting debts.

In what will be seen as a significant blow to the Scottish technology sector, Connect Scotland has ceased trading and has had to lay off all seven staff.

read the full article.

Ironic that the company set up to assist Scots companies find finance has itself run out of money. If the people running Connect, some of the leading lights of Scottish IT can't find money for that venture, it certainly doesn't bode well for budding entrepreneurs trying to find startup cash.

However, down south the Angels Den continues to do well.

Something like that is certainly needed in Scotland.


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Obsolete visitscotland.com panned by Scottish parliament

A six-month inquiry into Scottish tourism has concluded that VisitScotland's "current business model is patently flawed and obsolete" and consumer website requires an entirely new focus.

The Scottish Parliament's 'Economy, Energy and Tourism Report' took as its starting point the issue of whether Scotland can deliver its previously announced target of increasing tourism revenues by 50% by 2015, using 2005 as the base.

"Tourism is increasingly about technology," the report said. 'It is the booking medium and the favoured information channel. It is immediate, comparative and unforgiving."

Specifically, the committee felt that visitscotland.com would operate more effectively as an information portal.

"We want to see a move towards a top-quality, national, web-based portal that provides all the necessary information and advice on Scotland.

"This website should then contain a full listing of quality-assured businesses with a link to a means of contact (electronic if possible).

read the full article covering this. If you want to see the full report it is available on the Scottish parliament website.

You could see this coming when the site was panned in 2007

You can read my own comments on the site here.

In the beginning, there was a non-internet database system which STB used and was abandoned.

Then there was the website hosted by EC1

Then there was the website built by Realise

not to mention the 1996 implementation which in 1996 was ahead of Ossian in 2000.

Then there was the website hosted by Scotland On Line

Then there was the "IT Project", subsequently called Ossian. Technically advanced it offered facilities in 2001 that were peer reviewed at JavaOne in California in 2000 to critical acclaim. It was the technology platform that could have formed the basis of a software product to sell worldwide (Like the Tiscover one which VisitScotland eventually bought!) In 2001, flexible pricing was built but legal issues due to PPP prevented it from being deployed as it was something none of the PPP partners had available as an off the shelf product.

Then in 2002 came PPP, which you can read about here. Despite emerging from an exhaustive open tendering process, the underlying technology which was chosen was supplied by Touchvision. Their software was woefully underperformant, resulting in major performance problems via all the booking channels during the summer.

Then in 2006 we got version 8 of the VisitScotland project, this time supplied by Tiscover. This being the version panned by the Scottish Parliament in the report above and on the Scotsman site.

Having worked for visitscotland and visitscotland.com I know there are talented people there. I delivered e-commerce for VisitScotland in 2001 and left in 2006. My next job was project managing a rather more successful site, tesco.com. There are talented web design companies not only in Edinburgh but throughout Scotland. Amazon, with a research and development base in Scotland has the world's leading e-commerce platform and powers Marks and Spencer's site.

With so much technical and design talent within an hour's drive of visitscotland, why does it take 8 iterations of a website, millions of pounds and development going overseas only to end up with a national website that has been panned by the parliament?

Sure you expect software to evolve over time, but at no time in the history of the project has it ever had a CTO or CIO that actually understood search technology well enough to build a world leading platform that could meet the needs of Scottish tourism (and by the way maybe sell it to other tourist boards as well).

I had the laughable experience of using the latest iteration last weekend when I was looking for self catering accommodation on a Saturday night to start the following morning. Despite typing in Sunday as the start date of the booking, the site kept advising me to contact the contact centre even though the contact centre didn't open until the day after my booking started.

As someone who typically spends 200 nights a year in hotels, I use Tripadvisor and Priceline to handle my bookings, they may have their problems but they are simpler and easier to use. Another travel company (based 10 mins from VisitScotland's HQ) is Skyscanner, they can give me pricing info on flights around the dates I want to fly thereby allowing me to choose the cheapest days to fly on. A small startup with a few employees offering a search that 8 iterations, millions of pounds and decades of man years later, VisitScotland still can't offer.

One day you might even get an accommodation search engine for Scotland that lets you search and book online for a family including children. Still some way off for the "patently flawed" visitscotland.com.


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26 June 2008


Internet top level domain for Scotland

Following the news today that Internet overhaul wins approval, perhaps now is the time to move ahead with a campaign for a top level domain for Scotland.

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11 June 2008


BBC's Scottish reports criticised

A BBC news review shows the corporation has been failing to satisfactorily report Scottish issues, according to the Scottish Broadcasting Commission.

A report by the BBC Trust said the BBC was failing to meet its core purpose of helping inform democracy.

Research found that 45% of people in Scotland believed BBC news reports were often not relevant to where they lived.

How is this news? I told you the same info in 1996 and again in 2000

Dear BBC, please pay attention.

Here's the article from 2000, too good to not republish here!

Is a bolt from the blue our only hope?
By Colin Campbell in the January 2000 "Scots Independent"

Just suppose that a millennium meteorite landed on the Greenwich dome and caused and electronic storm so powerful that London, as a centre of communications, was completely paralysed.

And just suppose that the BBC decided it was best to move lock, stock and barrel to Scotland to reorganise its operations under a new Scottish based regime. What would our UK audiences make of having their schedules turned on their heads?

In Scotland, there would be a massive increase in all forms of broadcasting activity and connected industries; and Scottish viewers and listeners would be spoilt for choice with four or five indigenous television and radio stations with which to choose their fare.

In England, the story would be very different. Audiences there would have to get accustomed to merely nominal English output; and to news, analysis and current affairs programmes, being dubbed with the tag "BBC England" when broadcast south of the border. But the real draught would be felt on the radio scene. England's "home service" - Radio Four, would be lost to Scotland - together with their own light, classical and pop channels. In their place they would have one single "national regional" Radio England (probably produced from Manchester when London was disabled). Worse is to come.

Radio England would be set to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the cultural spread. Its morning flagship would be hosted by a comedian and interspersed with reports of England's national weather and national traffic problems. There would be lengthy sports bulletins every half-hour and sport would completely take over the station at week-ends under the slogan "We are the only people who dare to broadcast sport all day long up to the limit that the law allows". The evenings would be dominated by an eclectic mix of pop, rock, funk and jazz music with a strong North American influence. Those listeners not courageous to have switched to the other five Scottish based channels would be greeted with such programmes as the "English Connection" and on Saturday nights "Anglo Saxon connections" with musical contributions from equatorial Africa, the Red Army choir and the Amazon basin. On Sundays they will be spared any religious observance. At every pause between programmes there will be banal and repetitive programme trailers. Their impact will be enhanced by an in house sense of humour redolent of a Primary One pantomime skit. Meantime, back on the tellies, sports reporting will carry detailed Scottish results first followed by a brief "round up" of English ones. Whole selections may be altered to cover shinty cup finals.

The English would soon learn that to complain, with any persistence, to the BBC about any of the contents of their national regional TV or Radio England would result in their being placed on a black list of those deemed unworthy of further communication.

There would be one concession for English viewers. A select panel, chosen by the broadcasters themselves would form the "Broadcasting Council for England". This would at least lend the appearance of some form of consultation with the public over what they require; but, of course, it would have no executive remit - and it would be subject to being over-ruled in such fundamental areas as news provision and political coverage.

It was the English who put up the stiffest fight against Margaret Thatcher's fatal poll tax, although Scotland had tholed it for a full year first. Perhaps if our southern neighbours were to be given a dose of Scotland's broadcasting regime, they might show us how best to dispose of that too. But do we really have to wait for a bolt from the blue to obtain broadcasting in Scotland fit for embarking on the third millennium?

[article ends]

(You missed off a few points - CC)

1. England would be told about going back to work on January 3, the Scottish return to work even though England goes back a day early. On the Scottish August holiday, England would receive children's programmes even though their children are not on holiday. During the summer, the schedules would observe the Scottish summer holiday and articles about "back to school" would be broadcast before English schools have even broken up.

2. Any article about England, particularly ones about high technology would be prefixed with a tired old cliché, an attempt at a joke and some faint Anglo Saxon tune drifting through the mist with battle cries in the background before opening the article with "You wouldn't think that this remote part of England could be hi-tech, but ..."

3. Any article about London would be prefixed with "And now from our England correspondent down in London, what's the weather like down there".

4. In celebration of England's main cultural icons a combined national event would be instigated on St George's day (also the day Shakespeare was born on and died on). To reflect the cultural significance which England has had worldwide, this event will be covered worldwide with English descendants around the globe joining in the fun. This event would be broadcast from Edinburgh with particular emphasis on a new building by the shore in Leith. The main events would of course all take place in Edinburgh as it is the capital (naturally enough). We would go "around the regions" to see how English people in Scotland were commemorating this event and during this regional interlude would receive token input from London, Manchester, Birmingham and in the bard's birthplace there would be traditional morris dancing to anglo-saxon instruments in a small back room.

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21 May 2008


Independent Scotland: £4Bn budget surplus

SOARING oil prices would give an independent Scotland a £4.4 billion budget surplus, making it one of Europe's richest countries, according to a new study.

The surplus would allow Alex Salmond to maintain existing levels of public spending, while cutting corporation tax from 28% to 12.5%, reducing income tax by 5p in the pound and still having £2 billion every year to invest in a Norwegian-style oil fund to safeguard Scotland against a future decline in North Sea oil revenue.

The study, based on Treasury oil revenue forecasts and official spending figures, has calculated that, without money from the taxation of oil and gas, an independent Scotland would have an underlying deficit of £7.8billion. But when £12.2billion of oil and gas revenues are included, Scotland would have a surplus of more than £4billion.

See the link for more info

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10 May 2008


Bring it on

In three unprepared words in a throwaway phrase, Labour has removed the biggest obstacle to democratic choice in Scotland: Whether the Scots should be allowed to decided whether or not to remain part of the UK

With those three words, the political process to make the biggest change to the UK for 300+ years really begins in earnest. A process which could see a large portion of the Scottish cabinet lose their seats post 2011, if the Tories haven't done the job first in 2010.

Bring it on indeed.

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25 April 2008


Scottish IT consultation with Enterprise minister

At an industry consultation earlier this week, ScotlandIS Members, including myself, met with the Enterprise Minister, Jim Mather. Issues raised included the increasing difficulty in accessing public sector contracts, the contribution the industry can make in helping to grow the economy, and the skills challenges the industry faces.

For more details including the White Paper prepared for the Industry Consultation see the page on the ScotlandIS site.


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11 February 2008


Scotland's bridges are all toll free

The BBC reports that as of just over an hour ago Scotland no longer has any bridge tolls

It took a Labour government to sit on this suggestion for nearly 10 years and an SNP government less than 10 months to make it a reality. See my proposal for banning bridge tolls as they simply penalised the communities they serve.

This suggestion was made to the Labour government in November 1997. SNP, time for change. If only all governments were this effective.

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27 January 2008


BarCamp Scotland 2008

BarCamp Scotland is on 1-2 Feb 2008. See the barcamp2008 page for more info or view the event on upcoming.org.

Incidentally, if you are less technically inclined and fancy some music and culture instead, there is the monthly Bothan at the Scottish Storytelling centre at 8:30pm on Friday 1st Feb. £3.

Bothan meets again this Friday (1st February 2008) at 8.30pm in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, High Street, Edinburgh, when popular singer Mary Macmillan (Uist) who won the Traditional Gold Medal at the Lochaber Mod last year, along with various Bothan instrumentalists, will entertain the company. Please come along and enjoy the music, songs and crack and catch up with news from the Gaelic world. The evening’s entertainment will only cost £3 – a real bargain at today’s prices!

I expect I must be about the only person in Scotland for whom both the above represents a potential diary clash :-)

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20 January 2008


Why Silicon Glen isn't Silicon Valley

I came across this interesting report from 2004 covering the Scottish investment scene and it goes a long way to explain why Scotland isn't home to as many successful startups as it deserves. Not much has changed in 4 years and to put some figures on it, we are apparently we are only working at 20% of our economy's potential:

A 1993 MORI poll in Scotland estimated that there were over 90,000 latent, or would-be, entrepreneurs and business owners in Scotland, who were frustrated in their ability to act on their aspirations by a range of factors, including the absence of role models, difficulties (actual and perceived) in accessing resources, particularly finance, and lack of knowledge about the process of business formation. Based on figures from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring (GEM) research programme around 5% of the Scottish adult population is actively engaged in business ownership or in activities being undertaken with a view to entering business ownership. This is around one half of the level experienced in the US and around one-third the level in other small open dynamic economies such as New Zealand.
Actually achieving this increased level of entrepreneurial activity will require a quantum shift in culture and attitudes in Scotland, which may only be achievable over a generation: as the experience of the business birth rate strategy in Scotland has demonstrated, this is not a ‘quick fix’ option. Specifically, access to finance is consistently cited as the prime obstacle to entrepreneurial activity in the GEM reports, and also in our research and contact with potential entrepreneurs. As it is, at present Scotland is working at perhaps 20% of its entrepreneurial potential.

Next time I have a decent idea, I'm off down to London. We have some of the brightest ideas in Scotland, some of the best graduates and even some of the world's largest banks. Yet we struggle at 20% of our potential. Why should I as an entrepreneur waste my time with a funding sector that isn't fit for purpose?
Our view is that the 90,000 “frustrated entrepreneurs” identified by a 1993 MORI poll (a figure consistent with the GEM data for Scotland a decade later) do not become active entrepreneurs largely because the funding landscape is not only too empty, but is also perceived as empty by those looking to enter it. While market participants respond (with some accuracy) that it is in fact not empty, and that sensible ideas well advised can usually find a funder, this accurate opinion is not helpful to an individual who is in full-time employment during normal working hours, has few or no contacts with the market, has little understanding of how it works, has little spare time to find out, and has a perception that entrepreneurial success relies on unique and specific skills that they may not have and may not be able to acquire.
A Darwinian approach to entrepreneurship would demand that these 90,000 aspiring entrepreneurs be left to live or die on their merits – let the fit survive and the rest remain in employment. Such Darwinism is, however, founded on the false premise (a) that this process will ‘weed out’ weak ideas and businesses, which is economically efficient, and (b) that entrepreneurship ought by definition to be hard and difficult, not least because today’s successful entrepreneurs and investors did indeed have to face harsh and difficult environments, and associate success with difficulty.
This Darwinian approach to the creation of an entrepreneurial economy is flawed, as can be seen from the failure of the Scottish economy to significantly raise the level of new business starts and the rate of formation and growth of high-potential companies over the past decade. A funding landscape that was visibly and obviously rich in sources of risk capital for businesses of every kind would remove a major constraint (real and perceived) on the formation of new entrepreneurial ventures. As such, it would provide an environment for the successful transformation of the culture of the Scottish economy into one in which entrepreneurial activity is seen as a legitimate career option and economic role.

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30 November 2007


St Andrew's day

The BBC reports that Scotland is to mark St Andrew's day. For more information see scotland.org or scotland.gov.uk. You can read about St Andrew on the gateway to Scotland site or on the soc.culture.scottish FAQ, the first online guide to Scotland and hosted on this site.



27 November 2007


Welcome to Scotland

The Scottish Government has just spent £100,000 apparently to come up with a new slogan for Scotland to replace "The best small country in the world". The new slogan is to be "Welcome to Scotland" with the Gaelic translation of "Failte gu Alba" as you can see from the picture in the BBC article.

100K pah, I could have done it for a fraction of that figure. Oh, I already did.

See the comment dated 9:11pm 27 Aug 2006.

The comment was obviously far too ahead of its time and didn't take full account of inflation either.

Aye, right


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05 August 2007


Traditional Gaelic events at the Edinburgh Fringe

For 2008 events please see the 2008 event listings.

2007 programme of events
Com-pàirteachas Gàidhlig Dhùn Èideann (Edinburgh Gaelic Partnership)welcomes you to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with:

"Cèilidh in the City"
Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh

Ceòl (music)
Òrain (songs)
Sgeulachdan (storytelling)

Monday 20th August (7.30pm – 9.30pm)
Alasdair Codona (vocal & guitar) & Mairead Callan (vocal) with Martin Macintyre (storyteller) plus supporting local instrumentalists & singers.

Tuesday 21st August (7.30pm – 9.30pm)
Gillian Mackenzie (vocal) with Gaelic musicians and singers from Edinburgh Schools combine with Lothian Gaelic Choir for an evening of traditional entertainment for all generations.

Wednesday 22nd August (7.30pm – 9.30pm) "A taste of the Mod" with Medallists, Kirsteen Macdonald (vocal), Calum A. Macmillan (vocal), Màiri Macleod (clàrsach), Falkirk Junior Gaelic Choir, young musicians from Lochaber, & others.

Thursday 23rd August (7.30pm – 9.30pm)
A night with "Am Bothan" & guests – Roddy Campbell (vocal & instrumentals) & Don Mackenzie (guitar) with local artistes.

Friday 24th August (7.30pm – 9.30pm)
Top pipers Iain & Allan Macdonald & Griogair Lawrie with Margaret Stewart (vocal), Martin Macintyre (storyteller) and local musicians.

Saturday 25th August (7.30pm – 9.30pm)
Ever popular Kathleen Macinnes (vocal) & Griogair Lawrie (vocal & pipes) with Martin Macintyre (storyteller) & local musicians.

Nach tig sibh a chèilidh oirnn gach oidhche!

Tickets £8/£6 available 9.00am to 9.00pm
Fringe Box Office (0131 226 0000) or at the door.

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10 June 2007


Bannockburn day 2007

With the event this year being attended by government ministers, perhaps it will grow in importance in the Scottish events calendar?

- original message -

Subject: Bannockburn update
From: "Ian McCann" <ian.mccann@snp.org>
Date: 08/06/2007 19:03

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write on behalf of the Young Scots for Independence and the Federation of Student Nationalists to give you more details regarding the Bannockburn Rally as promised. Please forward this onto as many of your members as possible.

It has been hard work and we've come across a lot of obstacles but we've made it! Bannockburn day for the SNP will be Saturday the 16th of June.

As in previous years we will assemble at 13:30 at Lower Bridge Street with the march kicking off at 14:00. The route will be the same as last year. We will be lead by the Edinburgh Postal Pipe Band.

After the march Nicola Sturgeon MSP will lay the wreath at the rotunda on behalf on the SNP. Nicola and Bruce Crawford MSP will speak to us about this important time in our history. For entertainment we will have some music - Eva Christie and Five Park Drive. Eva Christie is a member of the YSI and sings Gaelic songs as well as more traditional Scottish tunes. Five Park Drive is an up and coming indie rock band from Falkirk/Stirling.

his year Professor Christopher Harvie MSP will deliver the Allan Macartney Lecture. If you would like to come along the Lecture will take place at the King Robert Hotel, beside the Bannockburn field, at 16:30.

If you would like any more details or have any questions please contact us at contact@bannockburnday.com. Alternatively go to www.bannockburnday.com for more details.

Hope to see you there!

Gail Lythgoe


31 May 2007


New Labour, stoneage huff

Report by the BBC on how Tony Blair and Gordon Brown appear to be having a royal huff between them over the new SNP led Scottish Government.

Well not really a Royal huff, even The Queen came up especially to say hello.

Tony Blair apparently thinks rubbing shoulders with Colonel Qaddafi is more relevant than picking up the phone to the new leader in the biggest devolved region in the UK.

Hopefully the working relationship between the governments in Edinburgh and London will improve on what has been a disappointing start and that things will improve when Gordon Brown takes over.


30 May 2007


Scotland the Brand

Scotland: a proud nation with an international reputation. You would be hard pressed to find a country with such a wide spectrum of achievement globally and such a strong identity for a country of only 5 million people. Besides the global traditional appeal of tartan, The Highlands, bagpipes, the kilt and many other unique selling features, we have a proud record in education, the Scottish enlightenment, economics, inventions, medicine, engineering and right up to the modern day the quality of Scottish graduates and talent is just one reason why Amazon.com chose Scotland as its first engineering centre outside the US. We have a parliament that most people accept should have more powers, a renewed national pride and talk of sportsmen and women competing under a Scottish flag for the first time in the Olympics. On many fronts, Scotland has achieved much and still achieves much. Scotland the brand is strong and growing.

Having now covered the sales pitch, can anyone with half an ounce of common sense in PR explain to me why major international companies think it is trendy to ditch the word "Scotland" from their name.

We had the rather excellently named "Scottish Telecom" rebrand itself as "Thus" (snigger)
We had the very descriptive "Bank of Scotland" partially rebrand itself as "HBOS".
and to cap it all the biggest success story of recent years, The Royal Bank of Scotland is now the non descript "RBS". Yes, one of the world's biggest banks with not only "Royal" in its title but also the nation of its founding and headquarters now looks like an abbreviation of "ROBS".

In May 2005 I received a new bank card from them which had "The Royal Bank of Scotland" on it.
In August 2006 my other account had a new card and on it was RBS (big letters) and in minuscule font was "The Royal Bank of Scotland".
and in May 2007 the anonymisation was complete with the replacement of the first card and nothing more than just "RBS" on it. No mention of the valued Royal title, no mention of the country where it has its origins and headquarters.

I see no movement from the Bank of England to rebrand itself as TBOE or BOE nor Bank of America to rebrand as BOA. With the notable exception of BA who thought it was trendy to ditch the British flag for a while from their planes (a PR disaster) most other national airlines have their country's name on them - they are proud to fly the flag and promote their country abroad rather than be an anonymous 2 or 3 letter acronym (TLA for the few who like them).

When as a country we spend millions of pounds each year promoting Scotland the brand and how proud we are of what the last executive called "The best small country in the world" should we not be making more of our nation's name in major brands and companies rather than silently subsuming it within letter combinations that mean so much less.

One of the most famous Scots of all time, and once the world's richest man, Andrew Carnegie also became known as a great philanthropist founding 2,800 libraries around the world and giving away much of his vast fortune. These days the Carnegie brand is still strong. Nearly 100 years after his death, his name is still used because it means so much to so many people and is such a respected brand.

If only the same could be said about how some companies treat the name of our country.

Yours For Scotland,



24 May 2007


Scottish Executive News Online - Latest

Scottish Government News. Point your news reader / browser at the link to get a feed of the latest stories from the historic new Scottish government.


17 May 2007


BBC political bias revisited

I have blogged in the past about a strange political bias in BBC reporting. Yesterday, the BBC reported that political history was made when they covered Alex Salmond's victory speech to MSPs.

Why was this history?

1. The outcome of the Scottish General Election was finalised. Yet, this final outcome plays as a sideshow to the Labour party electing a new leader, even though there is no real news to report on that story most of the time.

2. For the first time in the Scottish Parliament's 8 year history, there is a change of government.

3. For the first time in 50 years, Labour is no longer the dominant party in Scotland

4. For the first time in the SNP's 73 year history, it is in power in government.

5. For the first time in over 300 years, Scotland has a government that is advocating independence.

Pretty momentous events, and ones that have wide ranging effects not only across Scotland's 5 million population but the future of the UK including devolution in Northern Ireland and Wales.

Yet, what was the BBC's lead story on the evening news? Prince Harry (the 'spare' in the 'heir and the spare') is disappointed that he is no longer going to be sent to fight in the illegal Iraq war. A war that the SNP has consistently argued against. In what way does Prince Harry's next assignment merit top billing over the constitutional future of the UK? Does "celebrity news" somehow qualify as more important now?

What Scotland needs is a Scottish News service that covers Scottish and International news and brings in stories from the rest of the UK as appropriate. To reciprocate, the rest of the UK deserves heavyweight news and not celebrity dumbing down.



Royal Bank of Scotland closing branches

The Royal Bank of Scotland (I loathe their silly new name RBS) makes big claims about "at a time when some organisations are closing branches" to make us think they are not, check out the Google search results for royal bank "closing branches".

OK, enough of the spin. This is what happened to me.

In 1984 I lived on Heriot Row in Edinburgh's New Town and moved my branch from Dunblane to Edinburgh to make it more convenient to pay in money. The most convenient branch based on the route I walked most often was at 83 Princes Street, Edinburgh. That branch closed a few years later and my account automatically transferred to the George Street International Office. Separately to this, I also opened an account at the branch physically closest to where I was living and this was the Castle Street Branch. That branch is also now closed. My account was at the George Street International Office before it too was closed and became the dome. By 1993 when I returned to live in Scotland my account had been automatically moved again to the next nearest branch, the bank's headquarters and the former Dundas Mansion, a building they had owned since 1825. That branch is now going to be a hotel. So that's Castle Street shut, Princes Street shut, George Street office shut and St Andrews Square office shut.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, "at a time when some organisations are closing branches", including yourselves then?


16 May 2007


Labour and the Lib Dems have lost the plot in Scotland

Iain MacWhirter writes an excellent article in The Guardian about Labour and the Lib Dems have lost the plot in Scotland. Perhaps the SNP will call another general election in 2 years and consign the squabbling Labour party and the LibDems in a huff even more to the political wilderness. The infighting over Jack McConnell's successor has already started.

Regardless of mere party politics, one paragraph written in this London based newspaper stood out.

After Wednesday, Alex Salmond First Minister "..will be off to see the Queen to inform Her Majesty that the United Kingdom has changed forever".

At Westminster, Tony Blair has to ask for permission to dissolve Parliament. In Scotland, we just go down to London and tell the Queen how it's going to be.

No longer New Labour, New Britain but New Democracy, New Scotland.

Welcome to "A new time" for Scotland, the day that the UK has its first Nationalist leading a UK country.

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04 May 2007


Scottish General Election: SNP has won

SNP wins Scottish General Election. "Scotland has changed for good and forever".

The SNP have won the Scottish General Election, the result was posted at 17:30 on 4th May, thus ending 300 years of the dominant Scottish party wanting to be part of the UK.

The final results are

SNP 47 seats (up 20 from 2003)
Labour 46 seats (down 4)
Conservative 17 seats (down 1)
Liberal Democrat 16 seats (down 1)
Others 3 (down 14)

The others comprise 2 Green candidates (Glasgow list and Lothians List) plus the independent Margo MacDonald (Lothians List).

The total MSPs for independence is 50.


22 April 2007


SNP pulls 7% clear of Labour

SNP pulls 7% clear of Labour-News-Politics-TimesOnline: "THE Scottish National party is on course for a decisive victory in the Holyrood election, according to the most comprehensive survey of public opinion since the campaign began."

Which is great news for the SNP, but lousy news for the BBC. So lousy, they don't cover it.

The main story on the BBC Scotland election site is "Labour attacks SNP". Well so what, they do that every day. Is that news?

Meanwhile, the most comprehensive poll since the start of the campaign gets no mention whatsoever.



19 April 2007


The month that changed the UK

30th April: Northern Ireland gets smoking ban. The island of Ireland is smoke free and England remains the last part of the UK without a smoking ban in place, highlighting the democratic deficit in England.

2nd May: the 10th anniversary of Labour coming to power. This will intentionally be a low key affair given their unpopularity in the polls.

3rd May: Scotland goes to the polls. The SNP are widely tipped to win and significant steps towards Scotland becoming an independent country, ending 300 years of union will ensue. Like Wales, the SNP are proposing abolishing prescription charges. How long will England remain socially and politically behind the rest of the former UK?

Labour are expected to lose control of the Scottish and Welsh parliaments and do badly in the English council elections, all on 3rd May with their support approaching a 20 year low.

Tony Blair is expected to resign shortly after the polls, realising that the disastrous showing of Labour UK wide and the loss of devolved control in Scotland and Wales is largely down to continued resentment over Iraq, cash for honours sleaze and it is time for a fresh start. Sources indicate 31st May as the favoured date, but in practice a poor showing in the polls would bring this forward significantly.

Prime minister in waiting Gordon Brown has his own problems to deal with though. On 10th May, the Bank of England raises interest rates again. Normally set on the first
Thursday of the month, the Bank of England which was allegedly set free from political control is curiously meeting on the 10th, rather than the day most of the UK goes to the polls. Higher than expected inflation and a strong pound will hit the manufacturing sector and the balance of payments. The economic joy ride that Gordon Brown has enjoyed is coming to an end and the Tories are riding high in the English polls. Whilst the Dow Jones is now at an all time high, the FTSE100 is still some way off the level reached in 1999.

8th May: The devolution picture completes. With the Scottish and Welsh results in a few days ago, today see the Northern Ireland assembly assumes full powers and a nationalist party, Sinn Fein, sharing power. A struggling Labour government has at most three years to recover from a disastrous showing in the polls. Behind the scenes the Labour government has to discourage prominent Labour MPs from Scotland for seeking election to English constituencies as the SNP seeks to hold an independence poll in 2010 and remove Scottish MPs from Westminster. The UK looks to be on course for a SNP government in Scotland confronting a Conservative government in Westminster from 2010 elected almost entirely from English constituencies.
Such a prospect not only favours the SNP but also sees Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein increase in popularity.

The UK, heading for part of one island (England and Wales) and part of another island (Northern Ireland) needs a clear rethink of its structure as the nationalist movements in Northern Ireland and Wales look to Scotland and the previous negative arguments levelled at Scottish independence fail to hold much ground as Scotland heads towards being a sovereign nation.

From the end of April to the end of May, it will be an interesting month with reprocussions for years to come.

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