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Brian Taylor's Big Debate - Part Two

A Yes Lochaber volunteer's experience of being part of Brian Taylor's Big Debate in Caol Community Centre

It is not often that the BBC comes to Lochaber, particularly not for political programmes. So, it was interesting for some of our Yes Lochaber volunteers to get a taste of Brian Taylor's Big Debate from BBC Radio Scotland. The debate was broadcast live from Caol Community Centre, near Fort William, on Friday September 13th 2013.

This is the second part of our article on the Big Debate, you can read the first part here.

This second account is provided by John Gillespie.



When I heard that they were going to record this radio programme from Caol, I thought that might be interesting. I'll go along, see how it's done and as it will be quite busy, just watch. The best laid plans and all that!

When I arrived about 40 minutes before the show and took my place at the back I thought that the seats in front were bound to fill up. It was a good job a group from Lochaber High School came in or there would only have been about 20 people in the audience. I would just like to take this chance to say how nice it was to see them there and also to commend them on their behaviour. They were a credit to their school and their community. However, so much for my thoughts on anonymity!

When Brian Taylor arrived with the panel he was the only one I recognised. Not sure if that says more about me or the panel. It turned out they were Christian Allard (SNP MSP), Christine Jardine (Lib Dem commentator), Rhoda Grant (Labour MSP) and Iain Blackford (businessman from Skye - Pro Indy).

Brian Taylor close-up
Brian Taylor close-up

The debate itself was quite fast and the hour went by very quickly. There were questions on the Royal Mail privatisation - Christine Jardine was trying to tell everyone how it would be fine and all services would be enshrined in law which led to much shaking of heads (I think we had heard it all before). Then a question about the right to anonymity for people involved in court cases after the Michael Le Vell case, and one on the problems with having posts filled in the NHS for cardiologists, which was widened out into the NHS in Scotland as a whole. At this point it became clear that Christian Allard was making a point of referring to Lib Dems as the Tories "friends" in government. Don't think this went down well with the person beside him!

At this point I thought I would just put out a question about Social Care now being funded through the NHS and if this was affecting things. It did not go very far but at least I had spoken. Then the last question was on the bedroom tax! Now, this is a policy which I feel very strongly about and when the Lib Dem person tried to defend it by speaking about Welfare reform I just had to put my hand up! I asked her how she could sit there and defend a policy which targets the vulnerable and the poor! She tried, but given the chance to reply I told her the tax was immoral (get me!) and that her party had allowed it while at the same time cutting the higher rate of tax for millionaires. She came back with that old Lib Dem favourite of raising the lower band and taking two million people out of paying tax. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to come back at her on this point on the day but the following day sent her my thoughts on how this has not made a blind bit of difference as people are still worse off in real terms (Twitter is a wonderful thing!).

And then it was over! It was nice to speak afterwards with some others in the room who were pro-Indy. And also nice that Christian Allard came and spoke to us to thank us for our points we had brought up (thanks Christian for the badges).

So, what did I learn? That not as many people will appear at radio programmes as you think, and that I proved again what my wife always says "Why can't you just sit at the back and behave".

2013-09-18 20:00
Douglas Watt
Douglas Watt says:
2013-09-29 10:02
his probably demonstrates that 12 noon on a Friday is not a very good time to attract real working people in semi - rural communities to join in public meetings - however interesting and important!
Iain Mac Donald
Iain Mac Donald says:
2013-09-29 11:19
I agree, Douglas. Radio 4 have a similar programme, Any Questions, which is broadcast live at 8pm on a Friday and repeated just after 1pm on Saturday. Radio Scotland doesn't consider their political output to be that important. It is just as well there are no important political events happening in the next 12 months.
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