Peo­ple flock to Lochaber to dis­cuss fu­ture of Scot­land

The Oban Times - - News -

MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­times.co.uk ‘SU­PER ma­jori­ties’ and ‘grass­roots re­spon­si­bil­ity’ were some of the hot top­ics dis­cussed at a con­fer­ence about Scot­land’s fu­ture.

Aye2Aye Lochaber pre­sented ‘a bet­ter Scot­land’ at the Kil­mallie Com­mu­nity Cen­tre last Satur­day.

Robin McAlpine, di­rec­tor of the Com­mon Weal, ‘Wee gin­ger dug’ with help from blog­ger Paul Ka­vanagh, and Cat Boyd, the co-founder of Rad­i­cal In­de­pen­dence Cam­paign and Scot­tish Left Project, were billed as the main speak­ers at the all- day event.

John Hutchi­son from East Lag­gan and Lochaber Com­mu­nity Trust also shared some insight on how the trust is pro­gress­ing ahead of its ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing sched­uled for later this month.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Lochaber Com­mon Weal and Re­Act Lochaber made pre­sen­ta­tions in the morn­ing, and Donna Darn­bor­ough spoke on be­half of Lochaber School Bank and Carol Anne Camp­bell, Lochaber Women For In­de­pen­dence, in the af­ter­noon.

The event co­in­cided with The Na­tional road­show com­ing to Fort Wil­liam. More than 30 cars ar­rived by con­voy on Fri­day as part of the pro-in­de­pen­dence pa­per’s sec­ond an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions.

Some 75 peo­ple at­tended an evening with Paul Ka­vanagh on Fri­day night put on by The Na­tional and for Aye2Aye’s event on Satur­day, the room was packed.

The ma­jor­ity of the con­ver­sa­tion was in sup­port of a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence vote in Scot­land, high­light­ing what mis­takes were made dur­ing and since the pre­vi­ous cam­paign, how to avoid mak­ing them again and what progress has been made since 2014.

Cat Boyd told the Lochaber Times it is cru­cial peo­ple re­alise that when the next ref­er­en­dum hap­pens, the en­vi­ron­ment is en­tirely dif­fer­ent from 2014. But also it is vi­tal from peo­ple go out and have a con­ver­sa­tion with oth­ers who are un­de­cided or would lean to­wards the No side as, es­sen­tially, there is no point in preach­ing to the con- verted. Cat said she is striv­ing for ‘su­per ma­jori­ties’.

She added: ‘We don’t want just 51 per cent or for it to come down to the last few thou­sand votes. This time we want there to be ab­so­lutely no doubt that this is what the peo­ple of Scot­land have voted for.’

Robin McAlpine was keen to stress that the vote in 2014 was seen by many as a choice be­tween sta­tus quo or change and change scared peo­ple but, be­cause of the ac­tions by West­min­ster, a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum ‘is ours to lose’.

He also ad­mit­ted there was a great deal of heartache regarding the pre­vi­ous vote but fo­cus­ing on that as­pect was as use­ful as com­plain­ing about the rain.

‘There is no point talk­ing about it, he said. ‘ We shouldn’t be where we are, but we are where we are. Let’s just get on with it.’

Robin also stressed the im­por­tance of strong white pa­pers and cre­at­ing a Scot­land that works for ev­ery­one.

He said: ‘We need to make sure the day af­ter the yes vote we have a road map. The sub­stance of the con­tent is much more im­por­tant than the process. If we start talk­ing about the process, about be­ing treated un­fairly then we have al­ready lost.’

Paul Ka­vanagh said for Scot­land to be­come in­de­pen­dent, peo­ple’s mind­set is as im­por­tant as any­thing.

He said: ‘ We need to be­lieve that Scot­land is equally as ca­pa­ble of be­ing an in­de­pen­dent na­tion and act as if we are. In­de­pen­dence is self- de­ter­mined, it be­gins within you. If you can think in­de­pen­dently, you can be in­de­pen­dent.’

Pic­ture: Iain Ferguson

Speak­ers, left to right, were John Hutchi­son, ELCCT; Ed­die Mor­gan, Aye2Aye Lochaber; Cat Boyd; Gor­don Cuth­bert­son, Lochaber Com­mon Weal; Robin McAlpine; Paul Ka­vanagh; Lor­raine Whee­lan, Re-act Lochaber; and Donna Darn­brough, Lochaber School Bank.

Mem­bers of the the ‘free­dom con­voy’ out­side the Kil­mallie hall.

Mem­bers of the ELLCT, left to right, are John Hutchi­son, Pa­tri­cia Jor­dan and Chris­tine Hutchi­son, ex­plain the con­cept to 11-yearold Con­nor Pee­bles. Pic­ture: Iain Ferguson

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