Called to book

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I AM delighted to see the return of William McIlvanney to public life. His appearance before a packed house at the Book Festival was a great event.

Ruth Wishart was in the chair and, after he had spoken and gave a short reading from his work, she introduced a fan who would offer another reading –First Minister Alex Salmond.

She then invited questions from the audience, suggesting “helpfully” that we should say whether we sought comment from the First Minister or from Mr McIlvanney. We had a succession of questions about the 2014 independence referendum. We heard that the author was fed up with the British governing parties and that he would try independence to see if that produced a socialist government.

At last someone in the audience managed to say she wanted to hear from Mr McIlvanney about his writing. Then we enjoyed a superb reading from him about dogs. So the session ended. The abiding impression I have is that the SNP took over the event for its own purposes. So what about Ruth Wishart’s role in this? She was part of a hijack. It was clear that the audience was mostly of that view. If we pay to see a great author, we want to see and hear him, not a posturing politico.

Hugh Mackay

Blacket Place

Edinburgh