Scotsman Nationhood Debate
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AFTER two months, eight debates and 21 road trips in the Scotsman van, our Scotland 300 nationhood tour finally came to an end in Edinburgh on Thursday night.
OUR seventh and penultimate nationhood debate saw a lively crowd at the Volunteer Hall in Galashiels getting to grips with the thorny issues of cultural identity, independence, Trident and economics.
EVEN before The Scotsman stall had been assembled in front of the Burgh Hall in Peebles, passers-by stopped to welcome us to the town. The natives, known as "gutterbluids", possess a strong sense of their own identity and history - but also a marked willingness to welcome strangers, or "stooriefits", into their midst.
"QUITE honestly, there are no major problems in Biggar, it's a small town with all the usual small town issues."
THE Scotsman nationhood road tour makes its penultimate stop in Biggar, South Lanarkshire, today. Our reporters will set up shop in front of the Corn Exchange between 11:30am and 2:30pm to ask townsfolk what they think of Scotland in 2007.
"IT SHOULD be Scotland's third town," says one Cumbernauld resident - "but it isn't."
THE Scotsman's nationhood tour continues today as our reporters arrive in Cumbernauld. The controversial new town in North Lanarkshire has won numerous awards - most often for being the ugliest town centre in Scotland - but what do its residents think about living there?
ON A quiet Monday morning in John Street, Penicuik, 72-year-old Marion Brown is talking about how this Midlothian town of 25,000 people has changed. "It used to be that people worked in Penicuik and lived here too," she says. "Now they just sleep here."
SO MANY words have been written around the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union; so few have focused on the principal consequence of this momentous event: the creation of the British state. It is salutary to examine the performance of this new state, particularly in the early years. For the most part, that performance was inglorious and dire.
THE sixth in our series of nationhood debates saw some feisty exchanges at North Berwick High School in East Lothian. Former Labour minister Iain Gray, bidding to return to Holyrood in the East Lothian seat, clashed on a range of issues with the SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill, independent MSP Margo MacDonald, Judy Hayman, the East Lothian candidate for the Lib Dems, and Bill Stevenson, the Tory candidate. This is a flavour of the debate:
DUNFERMLINE, birthplace of kings and captains of industry and once the royal seat of Scotland, today finds itself dealing with more common Scottish issues - joblessness, traffic and the dwindling prosperity of the town centre.
A WELL-INFORMED audience of almost 150 played a big part in another successful nationhood debate in Cupar, Fife. In a wide-ranging discussion, chaired in feisty fashion by Lesley Riddoch, Scotland's former first minister Henry McLeish outlined a vision of an evolving Union, as an alternative to the status quo or independence.
LEANNE Chidwick walked out of the Boots shop in Alloa's almost deserted High Street yesterday and summed up the town's woes eloquently.
IN HIS Saltire sweatshirt, it is not difficult to tell the allegiance of Douglas Allan. The 36-year-old labourer makes sure to wear his national flag everyday, whether Saltire socks or cufflinks (or even boxer shorts, according to his wife). His children, aged five and nine, wear Scotland baseball caps with pride and his wife has thistle-themed jewellery.
THE Scotsman 300 Nationhood Debate continues its high-mileage tour around Scotland this week, with stop-offs in Angus, Clackmannanshire and Fife.
ON FRIDAY I met businesspeople in Glasgow.
ONCE renowned throughout the world for jute, jam and journalism, Dundee is in the throes of a major transformation.
EVER since oil began pumping out of the North Sea in 1969, Aberdeen has been regarded as the engine room of the Scottish economy, if not the UK's.