Oliver Brown Award Lunch 29th June 2013

At the start of the Lunch, Denholm Christie, Acting Chairman of the Scots Independent newspaper, paid tribute to the late Jimmy Halliday, the former Chairman, who died on 3rd  January this year; a photo of Jimmy appeared on the screens as Denholm spoke.

After introducing the top table, SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP and his wife Lily, Una Ozga, daughter of the late Oliver Brown, Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP and Jim Lynch Scots Independent Editor, Denholm admitted that he himself usually preferred to remain anonymous.

Ian and decanter

SI Editor Jim Lynch presents the Oliver Brown Award to “Sean’s representative in Perth” – SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP, greatly amusing Acting Chairman Denholm Christie, Una Ozga, daughter of Oliver Brown, and Finance Secretary and MSP for Perth and North Perthshire John Swinney


Denholm said “You will have noted the absence from our top table of our beloved Chairman, friend and colleague- James Halliday.  Jimmy died in January this year after a very short illness.   I am pleased to welcome his wife Olive and his sons Gavin and David to today’s gathering and offer them our condolences.  Jimmy served the Scots Independent as Director and Chairman for 56 years, a remarkable record of devotion and achievement.

“We in the SI are struggling to accept that he is no longer here to guide us in our work.  Jimmy served as Scottish National Party Chairman from 1956 – 60. In 1957 he became one of the first Directors of the newly formed company together with Robert McIntyre and Tom Gibson;  in 1980 he was elected Chairman by the SI Board, Robert McIntyre having resigned as Chairman on becoming Editor.

“As a tribute to Jimmy Halliday I am pleased to announce that all the articles contributed by him to the SI since August 2004 – the year we became electronic- are to be re-published week by week on our website “The Flag in the Wind” www.scotsindependent.org.   The first one starts next week.

“Can I ask you then to raise your glasses to the memory of Jimmy Halliday, the description he himself preferred Democratic Scottish Nationalist..

“Every year the Scots Independent gives the Oliver Brown Award to some person or persons who have in some way encouraged Scots to find pride and confidence in the service of their country.

“Finally, you may also have noted that we have not, as yet, named the chosen recipient of this year’s award and under threat of banishment, or worse, I have been forbidden any such announcement!

“All will be revealed in due course – subject to Ian Hamilton an Jim Lynch mastering the electronic technology”

There then followed the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat
And some would eat but want it
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit.


Speech by John Swinney MSP to the Annual SI Oliver Brown Award on behalf of the Scottish National Party

In his 1973 book, Scotland Lives, the late Billy Wolfe commented that the Scottish National Party had an asset that was envied by other parties, the Scots Independent newspaper. In the years since, the SI has continued to provide firm and enthusiastic support for the cause of Scottish Independence.

At the heart of that work consistently since the 1950s was the late Jimmy Halliday, who would have presided over this annual event and whose presence is much missed today. Jimmy would have been the first to recognise that at times the relationship between the SI and the SNP was not always a bed of roses.  But from his long history of involvement in the Nationalist movement, Jimmy would have been able to observe today that relations between the newspaper and the Party are in a positive and healthy condition.

And why should that be the case? It is because as a result of our combined actions, our country stands on the brink of the, at times, almost unimaginable opportunity to decide whether we should be an Independent country.

The Scots Independent has played a crucial part in ensuring the media debate about Scotland’s future has been kept alive and has helped to shape that debate around the aspirations of our people. The paper has been sustained by the dedicated and impressive contribution of a number of committed volunteers who deserve our thanks and appreciation for their contribution.

We live on the threshold of the most exciting moments in Scotland’s journey. It is right and fitting that the Scots Independent continues to play a strong role in telling the story of our country.


Una Ozga, daughter of Oliver Brown gave her witty and humorous  comments on what  life was like as one of the daughters of Oliver Brown.


Sean Connery

“Lights, camera, action” was how Jim Lynch, Scots Independent Editor, started the presentation of the Oliver Award to Sir Sean Connery, and at the same time Sir Sean’s picture flashed up on the three screens at the Salutation Hotel in Perth on Saturday 29th June 2013. There was a slide show of Sir Sean in his various roles continually running throughout the presentation.

Jim Lynch said that the Scots Independent had kept the name of the recipient secret, because even the hint that Sir Sean might appear would have meant that we would have been inundated, and that many of our faithful attendees would not have been able to get a ticket to attend.

He said that Sean Connery was not a new name in the Independence cause; he had done a voiceover for one of Winnie’s broadcasts for Hamilton in 1967.  As a consequence of that in 1968 Peterhead Branch SNP had written to him in Hollywood and invited him to become our Honorary President.  The Branch was disappointed when he declined, and one of the members said , “ We didna expect him tae come tae a’ the meetings!”

Sean had spent three years in the Royal Navy until he was invalided out with ulcers;  I read somewhere that he had two tattoos, “Scotland Forever” and “Mum and Dad”.  The latter is always safe, but the former shows he was always for Scotland.

He set up the Scottish International Education Trust for students from poor backgrounds, and put a lot of money into that.

Sir Sean was not typecast as Bond, but had a much wider career as a film star; “The Longest Day”, “The Untouchables” (for which he got an Oscar), “The Hunt for Red October”, “The man who would be King” and “The Name of the Rose”, to name but a few.

In 1997 he was asked by Donald Dewar to take part in the Referendum Campaign, which he did enthusiastically.  It was agreed that Sean would get a knighthood, but the recommendation was blocked by Donald Dewar!  People tried to label Dewar “The Father of the Nation” erroneously; he was more “The father of the double cross”.

Sir Sean Connery is a superstar, and a long time supporter of the SNP, and also a long time supporter of and subscriber to the Scots Independent.

The engraved decanter was accepted on his behalf by SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP;  as the Editor put it, “Many of us are familiar with phrase “God’s representative on Earth – Ian is happy to be “Sean’s representative in Perth”.


John Swinney then read out the following message from Sir Sean:


Dear friends -first of all, I wish I could be with you today to collect this splendid award in person and share your warm company. I urge you, though, not to let my absence restrain your thirst!


Oliver Brown said many remarkable  things. One of them was that he had never heard a speech which would not have gained in force had it been condensed into five minutes. So here goes.


I’m hugely honoured to receive this year’s Oliver Award. It has a special resonance for me. In fact, I’dsay an Oliver is as good as an Oscar!


Previous recipients of this award include some of the most respected and dedicated supporters ofScottish independence. Some have been brilliant; others eccentric; many both. All, though, have had apassionate belief in the potential of their country, and how it can be unlocked by independence.


This belief was at the heart of everything Oliver did, and he shared and nurtured it in others. I oftenhear it said that our modern and confident national movement stands on the shoulders of giants -giants whose belief in a better Scotland helped bring us to where we are today. Oliver Brown was oneof those giants, and I’m sure he would be overwhelmed and delighted to see just how far support forindependence  has come.


It’s been quite a journey for me, too. I’m old enough to remember the transformative effect Winnie Ewing’s famous victory in Hamilton back in 1967 had on Scottish politics. I was involved in thesuccessful referendum campaign for a Scottish Parliament in the nineties, and was a guest at theopening of the Scottish Parliament building in 2005, so I’ve been lucky enough to be a first handobserver of some of the most exciting events in Scotland’s recent history. That has been a hugeprivilege. The Scots Independent  has been there, too, throughout this unfolding history of modernScotland, and has played its part in being a strong voice for Scotland’s progress – and one I’m thankfulfor. They have marked the journey and helped create a record – one that helps us remember where we’ve been and also be prepared for where we need to go.


And now we stand on the threshold of the biggest prize of all. I’ve always believed I’ll see anindependent  Scotland in my lifetime – now we are on the cusp of it. Next year’s referendum offers thepeople of Scotland a chance to do more than just change history.


It’s an open invitation for them to vote Yes and so change their country for the better -to unlock itspotential; to create a fairer, wealthier, more tolerant and more equal society; to have its voice heard,and to play its part in building a better world.


Who could fail to be enthused by that? Well, there are some. Faced with the winds of change, thereare those who choose not to ride the thermal currents, but try to stand still and say – simply- “no” to thefuture. Those of us who support independence will have to work hard to make sure that this isultimately an open and positive debate about where the country can go.


The First Minister recently said that the first phase in this referendum is over. The time of greatesteffort and hardest work for Scotland’s future is starting. Martin Luther King spoke famously of the’fierce urgency of now’. That is where we are. To quote another man for the ages- Robert Burns- “now’sthe day and now’s the hour.”


We then had a recorded phone message from Sean to close the event.



  1. The Oliver Brown Award was founded in 1983, and Sir Sean was the 30th recipient; the first recipient was Tom Weir; Winnie Ewing and Jimmy Reid also received it.


  1. The technical wizardry was under the control of Scots Independent Business Manager, Ian Hamilton  and his wife Margaret, with other family members behind the scenes.


Business as usual for the scaremongers

On the day this is published, which will actually be the Thursday, we gleefully anticipate the Better Together sending congratulatory telegrams to the White House in Washington saying “Best wishes on Separation Day”.  We only say this because they cannot spell the word “Independence” – it sticks in their throats.

Oh what a fluttering in the doocots this week; Vince Cable, one time Labour cooncillor in Glasgow now a Liberal Cabinet Minister in a Tory Liberal cabal ( no contradictions there), came up to Scotland to tell us of the great risks of independence to business.    Perhaps he has not given much thought to a few things; as 26% of Scottish electricity is exported to England and they fear the lights going out down there, does he worry about that?   Of course, after independence they will have to pay for it, which could explain his attitude.

The No lot have also boobed on mobile phone charges;  they made great play of England charging Scottish phone users as we would be a foreign country; the fact that the European Union is stopping the process next year has only belatedly been noted.  It could be that this No lot are so used to uttering rubbish that they have become even more careless, and it is only a click away from the Scottish electorate saying, collectively, “If you are feeding us with this sort of misinformation, what other statements should we be taking a fresh look at?”

Driving licences and MOT services would cost more, not entirely sure if they think all MOTs are done in England, and not in Scotland, and lorries could have to pay an extra £1000 a year to drive in England, as French and German vehicles are charged a levy of that amount to come here.  One can only presume that a lorry on the Continent passing through France or Belgium, or wherever, is already charged a premium going through each country?  We could always ask for a discount since it was our oil money that paid for the Channel Tunnel.

There will be a scare story for every matter, defence, airports, health, granny in Southport, season ticket for Old Trafford, lifeboats  (do not know how they will control the seas), crime, military intelligence, often considered an oxymoron, we’ll have a scare story about that – what kind of animal is it anyway, and see yon penguins or pandas, we’ll make them illegal!

It is all about oil, remember how they, and it is they, not we, invaded Iraq.


Jimmy Halliday’s contributions to the Cause

To put matters into context, in 1955 the SNP contested only two Parliamentary seats in Scotland;  Dr Robert McIntyre fought Perth and East Perthshire, and Jimmy Halliday fought Stirling and Falkirk Burghs.   Jimmy then became the youngest ever SNP Chairman and served 1956 – 60;  in 1956 the entire SNP Conference delegates were photographed on the steps of the Allan Water Hotel, Bridge of Allan.
We are 15 months from a Referendum on Scottish Independence, which was unthinkable in 1955;  Jimmy died on 3rd January 2013 at the age of 85.  We intend to publish all Jimmy’s articles in the Scots Independent from August 2004 up to 2011, all the ones we have electronic input for.  It is anticipated we will publish a book on Jimmy’s contributions over many years, but this will have to wait until after the Referendum.


‘Last Word” August 2004

Fault lines of Independence

IT took devolution and a sort of proportional voting system to reveal the extent of support that our party could command. It was clear that we had come far in the 50 years or so of our effective existence, but we were still a long way from our objective.

Four years later, by any electoral yardstick, our strength had diminished.

Could we have come further than we have? Sooner? And, if we could, then why had we not done so?

Questions like these give rise to fault-finding and exchange of blame.

Frustrated people find imperfections in colleagues and in leaders who somehow have let the side down. “Bumbling old fearties”, as one of The Proclaimers charged, had failed to grasp the opportunities that must surely have existed.

As one of those probably in the mind of Craig (Charlie?) I would go some way with his criticism.

Failures and errors are not hard to detect over the years but a fair judgement requires us to give due weight to the difficulties under which we have all laboured.

In any conflict the result is determined partly by the defects of one side but also by the power and strength of the other.

In our long years of struggle we faced no Walls of Jericho, ready to fall at the toot of a challenging trumpet.

In our highly industrialised and urbanised society we faced social fortresses manned by forces encouraged by journalists, by clerics of both major denominations, and by teachers loyal to old party traditions.

We should accept that these forces, these foot-soldiers in Labour and Conservative armies, are not conscripts but volunteers.

They are perfectly happy to campaign as their parties direct.

They do not see us as liberators or emancipators, and they are more ready to repel than to receive our advances.

They have done their best to compel us to concede that there is in Scotland no genuine deep desire for independence.

We have been perseveringly guilty of assuming, or purporting to believe, that those who remain outwith our ranks share our feelings.

On the contrary, they feel no such desperate yearning to see Scotland identified, recognised and free, as should inspire all of us.

I say “should inspire” rather than “inspires”. Our party’s name (though no section of the media in 70 years has noticed) is “National” party, not “Nationalist”.

The choice was deliberate. I used to believe and to argue that it was a wise choice.

Then,  probably. Now, I am not so sure.

The name can allow colleagues, and in some cases prominent office-bearers, to make obvious their scorn, distaste and embarrassment in viewing the realities which the world calls “Nationalism”.

In a continent, and a world, full of recently liberated nations, it is hard to see why an independence party should be so verbally prissy.

We, the Scottish people, have a recognised habitation and have been present there for centuries.

We have a collective memory, properly documented and recorded, and a cultural inheritance to which birth within our community gives access.

We know all this, and we must surely sense its power, but we have not used that power.

Nor will we, while embarrassed, afraid of ridicule, all too ready to placate opponents and curry their favour.

In our anxiety to avoid being caught with our hearts on our sleeves we divert attention, ours and others’, away from the foundations of our case and move directly to causes which, while worthy enough, are merely symptomatic of our constitutional position. That is our own fault and from it other faults arise.