Scotland in Union (SIU) held a supporters’ event in Aberdeen on the evening of Wednesday 20th January. This event was held at Aberdeenshire Cricket Club and was very well organised and well attended too; with around 35 local supporters from across the political spectrum.
The event itself was hosted and organised by Allan Sutherland, along with Dennis Grattan, Clare Carden, Ian Lakin and Keith Shortreed, who also helped on the organisational side.
The host Allan Sutherland started the event off by welcoming everyone and thanking them for attending. Before Allan introduced the speakers he outlined a scale showing some of the different ways individuals could be more politically involved. From just voting, to writing letters or attending meetings, volunteering to help on stalls or give out leaflets, all the way to joining a political party and choosing to stand for elections. He outlined how “beneficial it would be if we all stepped up a level or two on the political involvement scale” and did more.
Speaking at the event was the highly regarded Professor, Hugh Pennington; and the high profile Pro UK blogger and local oil industry worker, Fraser Whyte. Also speaking at the event was Scotland in Union’s Campaign manager Andrew Skinner.
An introduction to SIU was made by Andrew Skinner, who outlined a brief history of the campaign and reiterated SIU’s intentions and goals going forward. He mentioned how the campaign is expanding daily and reaching more and more people. He told the audience how earlier that day in Aberdeen he had held an SIU street stall in the city centre with volunteers.
He told the room how the street stall itself was very well received by the general public, and how the public had a lot of interest in our message of ‘moving on’ together, rather than “continuing this divisiveness we have seen in recent years, before and since the referendum”.
He mentioned how the “continuous constitutional wrangling and distractions aren’t solving any problems that people in Scotland face – it’s only prolonging them”.
He also told the surprised audience how three SNP voters had signed up at the street stall along with over 25 other individuals from across the political divide - showing how our message can appeal to everyone.
The second speaker, Professor Hugh Pennington, spoke about Patriotism and Nationalism and how different they actually are, especially in the context of Scotland and the UK.
He also shared his thoughts on how the Medical Research Council (MRC) was not_only_the jewel in the crown of UK medical research, but the world’s too, and this benefits Scotland immensely in terms of funding; whilst the current SNP administration give Science no priority whatsoever: “Stronger the Union, more secure the funds” was one of the Professor’s key messages.
Fraser Whyte spoke about how we have to challenge the “misleading rhetoric of the SNP”, and how easily it is for them to get away with it unless challenged by others. He outlined that we can do that ourselves by being “positive and fair, and not spinning the data” because our ‘side’ doesn’t have to.
He spoke in detail about the many influential pro UK bloggers and online sources that need to be highlighted more and used by SIU and everyone else to inform and educate others on all sides of the debate.
After the speakers had finished, it gave the audience a chance to participate, ask questions and share their views with everyone. A number of people in the room felt that “if there were a second referendum then Scotland in Union is a natural successor to Better together” said one individual, and that we would be in a “far stronger position to defend the union with many additional advantages” added another. There was agreement that as long as the threat to the Union continues, then SIU has a vital role to play.
There was clear agreement from everyone that the focus should be on providing more information and original research, particularly regarding promoting the UK in Scotland, rather than attempting to encourage people to vote tactically at future elections which can only have a very limited impact. Also there was consensus in the room that SIU can play a leading role in helping to educate the electorate on the different responsibilities that the UK and Scottish governments have (what’s reserved and what’s devolved).
When the event itself was finishing there was great anticipation for another meeting and for more events in Aberdeen, and also further talk of an Aberdeen branch of Scotland in Union being set up. So all in all, we can say that the Aberdeen event, and street stall that day, were yet another success in the growth and expansion of Scotland in Union.