The proposed Parliament building atthe lonnor Royal High School in Edinburgh
In the fortnight since the General Election, several non-party, non-aligned groups have sprung up as a response to what they see as the failure to bring democracy to the Scottish people. Three main organisations have come to the forefront: Scotland United, a group calling for a multi-option referendum and containing such well-known public ﬁgures as singers Pat Kane and Ricky Ross and Labour MP George Galloway; Democracy For Scotland, a spontaneously formed, non-party political network of individuals dedicated to a straight ‘yes or no’ referendum and currently holding a round-the-clock vigil outside the Parliament Building on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill; and Common Cause, a more intellectual pressure group campaigning for a single choice referendum, with trustees including author William Mcllvanney, COSLA president Jean McFadden and deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday Neal Ascherson. While retaining its
own individual identity, each is keen to work hand-in-hand with the others to bring about constitutional reform and, with it, Scottish Home Rule.
‘We are all different people with different ideas on how to go about things, but that diversity of opinion is something positive,’ commented Glasgow Hillhead MP George Galloway, climbing to the top of Edinburgh's Calton Hill on Easter Sunday for a rally organised by Democracy For Scotland. ‘Given the date’, he added, “this should be seen as a resurrection for Scottish democracy.‘ Many would argue, however, that something closer to a miracle would be needed to bring to an end the unconstructive bickering of certain individuals within the political parties. The SNP continues to dismiss any notion of involvement with the cross-party Constitutional Convention, and the decision earlier this week by union leaders not to invite Alex Salmond to the STUC conference (following STUC general secretary Campbell Christie’s informal invitation) will only fuel the fires of division between the Nationalists and Labour union leaders.
Meanwhile, eyes turn to newly appointed Scottish Office minister Lord Fraser to define the Conservative government’s plans for Scotland, ears prick up at Donald Dewar’s promise to press for a multi-option referendum, and feet are guided by the SNP towards the district council elections on 7 May. Nevertheless, one message has come loudly from all the public demonstrations held over the last fortnight: the election may have come and gone but the debate over constitutional reform is far from finished. That is not to say early. hot-headed calls for civil disobedience will be heeded. On the contrary, groups like Democracy For Scotland stress the peaceful and symbolic
nature of their protests, principally the vigil outside the Scottish Parliament building.
Equally important is the firm belief held by supporters of all three groups that this campaign should be seen as pro-Scottish, not anti-English. It is a point that should be brought home on Sunday 26 April in Glasgow’s George Square as part of Scotland United’s ‘Fly Your Flag For Scotland’ demonstration, as Deacon Blue singer and group co-founder Ricky Ross explains: ‘We want people to bring saltires, obviously, but we would also encourage people to bring ﬂags from every different country that makes up Scotland,
because, like any other Western democracy, Scotland is a very diverse country culturally. It would be good if people brought Chinese and Hong Kong ﬂags, Asian ﬂags, South American ﬂags and any other international ﬂags- American, even English.’ (Alan Morrison)
The Flag demo begins at 5pm in George Square, Glasgow, on Sun 26 April and will include live music and speakers. The vigil outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh is planned to continue until a Scottish parliament is achieved: supporters can sign up at the gates for a two hour stint or, alternatively, join in at any time and for any length of time.
Speakers lrom constitutional relorm groups and other individuals spoke to a crowd at around 600 on top oi
Edinburgh’s Calton Hill on Easter Sunday. Here is a selection of excerpts from their speeches:
Bill Hunter, Democracy for Scotland: ‘We’re not asking for constitutional change, we’re demanding it. All we want is government by consensus. All we seek is government of the people by the people for the people.’
Dennis Sullivan, Scotland United: ‘Unless we can keep having public, united demonstrations, the government will simply believe that it’s the usual voices complaining in the usual ways.’
Bob McCreadie, Common Cause: ‘Thc Scots should themselves see themselves as others in other countries see them - as one of the peoples of the world, who under the United Nations charter have the right to self-determination. That means the right to choose the form of political democracy you live in. It means the right to a representative government which reﬂects the majority will ofthc people who live in this country.’
David Campbell, storyteller and writer: ‘There isn’t a Scot, or one adopted to our land, who doesn’t make common cause to see our children educated with a knowledge of their history. with a pride in their tongue that they’ve been denied for centuries. We have common cause . . . There is no one who does not want to see labour rewarded, as it always has been in Scotland — ofcourse we have common cause . . . There is no one here who wishes to see what is seen as a knuckle-end ofthe land made into a dumping ground for the most dangerous substance the world has ever produced — we have common cause. What we now need, amongst all of us in little groups, are acts of political imagination.’
and city arts officer in Portsmouth.
motorways and major roads through
I Centre for the Contemporary Arts: Mayfest sees the welcome return to the Scottish arts scene of the Sauchiehall Street premises that formerly housed Glasgow’s Third Eye Centre. Earlier this year, the Scottish Arts Council began overseeing an interim programme in the building. including the New Moves dance season. and a full arts programme will now run until the end of September. A five-person Steering Group has submitted an application for grant-aid to Glasgow District Council which would allow the formation of a company to run the building on a more permanent basis as a centre for the contemporary performing and visual arts. Should the Steering Group’s application for funding (£145,000 to add to the SAC’s already agreed commitment of £318,000) and for a lease to the premises prove successful, a company will be formed to take over the running of the Centre from 1 October 1992.
I Chris Carrell: Former director of the Third Eye Centre, Chris Carrell is about to begin as festival director
4 The List 24 April — 7 May l992
Carrell plans to maintain his links with New Beginnings, the company which brought acclaimed East European and Soviet seasons to Glasgow, and which plans a Czechoslovakian project for autumn 1993.
I Festival Times: Festival Times, the long-running independent publication devoted to covering all aspects of the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, has folded after eighteen years. The newspaper’s demise and the closure of Edinburgh University Students Publication Board are a direct result of the massive cut in grant from Edinburgh University to the Students Association. The university’s policy of passing on the effects of its own financial mismanagement also poses a threat to other student services in the coming months.
I Glasgow Transport Plans: Friends of the Earth (Glasgow) has published its response to Strathclyde Regional Council’s consultation document ‘Travelling in Strathclyde’, outlined in The List 168. The group argues that the document’s proposals for new
the heart of Glasgow are ‘about 30 years out ofdate’ and that more roads would generate more traffic, thereby escalating the city’s air pollution problem. FoE (Glasgow) also points out that certain areas. such as cycling and freight transport. have been omitted from the council’s plans.
I AIDS Church Service: ‘The Passion of Easter, the Passion of HIV/AIDS’, a service for all those concerned in any way about HIV/AIDS, will be held at 6pm on Sun 26 April in Gorbals Parish Church, Glasgow. The service is being coordinated by Strathclyde Interchurch AIDS Project.
I Red Cross Duskers: Between 3-9 May, the British public will be revealing all sorts of hidden talents as part ofthe British Red Cross’s Busk Around. Amateur singers, musicians, jugglers and entertainers can become part of the organisation’s major annual fund-raising drive by contacting their local Red Cross Branch (various numbers in the phone book) for an official pass and collection box. All money raised will be used locally to provide services for those in need.
‘Manuiacturer’s Advice: Cigarettes are addictive and debilitating. it you don’t smoke, don’t start. It you smoke, cut.’ And it that doesn’t make you think, maybe the skull and crossbones grinning from the iunereal black soft-pack will. DEATH cigarettes have hit Scotland, and are available from Tower Records in Glasgow. No advertising campaigns that link smoking to macho lilestyles, here: this brand uses the byline ‘Let us be the nail in your collin’, while promising that ten per cent at all proiits will go to non-vivlsectlon cancer research. Sounds like they want to have their lag and smoke it. 4