Supporting the steps towards an independent Scotland with the voters of Dunbar and East Linton

This page gives a summary of recent past events and activities of Yes Dunbar. See separate page for details of forthcoming events.

In the lead up to the UK General Election on 4 July 2014, Yes Dunbar organised speaker meetings with all three of the pro-independence candidates for the Lothian East constituency

We issued a leaflet on our streetstalls promoting all three meetings: a summary of each meeting appears below. 

Wed 26 June 2024 – Speaker meeting with George Kerevan (Alba Party): Scotland, Catalonia and the state of national struggles in Europe

George Kerevan (seated) speaks to Yes Dunbar

George Kerevan is a former MP for East Lothian and has been writing on national movements in Europe for many decades. He is a columnist for The National. He is the Alba Party candidate for Lothian East in the 2024 UK General Election.

He started with a clear statement: ‘The independence question is not going away’. In a passionate talk, he said that independence is ‘hard wired’ into European states, especially with the rise of national movements since 2007 as a result of austerity, but he described the UK as ‘an artificial state’.

He spoke about the independence movement in Catalonia (where he has had direct involvement). Following the ‘illegal’ Catalan independence referendum in 2017 he said the movement has become very split, and he could see similar risks in Scotland, but he saw a way forward in cross-party movements (like Yes Dunbar) bringing campaigners together. ‘The Catalan experience proves that if the national movement is united you can focus closer [towards independence] even with a Labour-type government.’

Postponed from Thu 13 June 2024 – Speaker meeting with Cllr Lyn Jardine (SNP): Independence for greater independence – a future for all demographics

Cllr Lyn Jardine was due to speak to Yes Dunbar on 13 June, but the meeting has been postponed until after the General Election as the speaker has an injury.

Lyn Jardine is the SNP candidate for Lothian East in the 2024 Westminster election. A housing professional with extensive health and social care experience over 25 years, Lyn has served communities as both professional and volunteer, across Scotland and at a national level. Her home has been in East Lothian for the last 15 years and she was elected for the first time in 2022 as Councillor for Dunbar & East Linton, was voted on as Group Leader for SNP which also meant becoming Leader of the Opposition to a minority administration. Lyn also manages the team supporting Paul McLennan MSP and has been a member of YES Dunbar for a few years, serving on the Committee prior to Covid.

Wed 29 May 2024 – Speaker meeting with Cllr Shona McIntosh (Scottish Greens): An Independent Scotland on a Liveable Planet

Shona McIntosh speaking to Yes Dunbar

Shona McIntosh is the only Scottish Green Party Councillor on East Lothian Council (elected in 2022) and is her party’s candidate for Lothian East in the UK General Election on 4 July 2024.  The meeting took place just a week after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had called the election, so she was able to speak about her vision and hopes in standing for election.

She said it “was important to imagine” our vision for the future of Scotland. She asked herself: “What do Greens want from an independent Scotland – why do we feel independence is needed?” Her answer focused on the central importance of social justice, which she felt could only be seriously addressed with independence. “Environmentalism without social justice is just gardening!” she said.  If Scotland was independent she said we could achieve:

  • much fairer use of resources
  • proper infrastructure for renewables to move away from extracting oil and gas
  • better resources for investing in public transport, storing land, establishing a universal basic income, removal of the DWP’s benefit sanctions regime
  • moving towards a 4-day week.

7 May 2024 – Yes Dunbar writes to new First Minister, John Swinney MSP

Yes Dunbar sent a letter to the new First Minister, John Swinney, within a few minutes of his election as FM by the Scottish Parliament on 7 May 2024, welcoming him to the role and calling on him to prioritise the path to independence.  The letter was signed by Yes Dunbar Co-Convenors Julie Watt and Diarmid Jamieson.

The letter was also copied to various media outlets. The National reported on the letter in full: it appears Yes Dunbar was the first “Yes” group to write to the new FM.  The article prompted positive comments from a number of National readers such as:

  • Well said YES Dunbar.
  • Yes Dunbar should be put in charge of the SNP
  • I would vote for “Yes, Dunbar” all day long. They have the right ideas, and clearly know how to put them across.

Wed 17 April 2024 Speaker meeting with Robin McAlpine: A coherent and achievable strategy for independence

Robin McAlpine speaking to Yes Dunbar - April 2024

Robin McAlpine is Head of Strategic Development at Common Weal, a Scottish think tank which campaigns for social and economic equality, participative democracy, environmental sustainability, wellbeing, quality of life, peace, justice and cooperation.

Robin spoke to around 18 Yes Dunbar members and guests about the themes in his recent Common Weal booklet: Direction: A Realistic Strategy for Achieving Scottish IndependenceIn a rapid talk without notes he discussed:

  • the definition of an ‘independent country’ – essentially he said we are independent if other countries recognise us as such, which is practice means joining the UN, which requires a recognition agreement with the state from which a new state has separated
  • but in practice this will only be achieved with more than 51% support for independence – he suggested 60% as the critical figure
  • we need to think scientifically about building that support, understanding how people’s brains work – and if people say they don’t want independence we need to understand their thinking – so, for example, we need to appreciate where people stand on the spectrum of fear/hope in relation to change
  • so we must build confidence and really answer their questions.

Fri 15 March 2024 – Knee Deep in Claret – with Billy Kay

Yes Dunbar was delighted to organise a major wine/food/cultural event hosted in the historic Council Chamber of Dunbar’s historic Town House. The Council Chamber dates back to the mid 1600s – well before the 1707 Act of Union with England.

The event which was fully booked with 36 guests plus the speaker was entitled: Knee deep in Claret with Billy Kay – a Celebration of Wine, France and Scotland. Billy Kay told the story of Scotland’s other national drink, the red wine of Bordeaux called claret, which once linked Scotland and France so closely it became known as “the bloodstream of the Auld Alliance”.

His talk was accompanied by three wines – a white Saumur from the Loire Valley, a red Bordeaux (claret) from the historic town of St Emilion (where Billy was made an honorary member of the ruling Jurade) and an LBV Port from the Douro Valley, Portugal.  These were served with cheeses sourced from The Cheese Lady in Haddington and bread from Dunbar Community Bakery and truffles from The Tipsy Truffle, Dunbar. At the end, participants had a chance to speak to Billy and his wife João and to buy copies of Billy’s books.

We were delighted to welcome a wide range of visitors from across the Edinburgh and Lothians region. (Picture credit: João Kay.)

Wed 21 February 2024 – Speaker meeting with author Douglas Watt: The Darien Disaster and the Loss of Scottish Independence

Douglas Watt is a locally-based historian and historical novelist (and a Yes Dunbar member). His talk focused on the relationship between the Company of Scotland’s attempt to establish a colony at Darien in Central America which is often said to have triggered the 1707 Union between Scotland and England.

Douglas is the author of the prize-winning ‘The Price of Scotland’, a revisionist history of the Darien Disaster, and his talk to Yes Dunbar was the launch of the second edition of the book!  Copied can be ordered from the publishers Luath Press.

Douglas has also authored a series of historical crime novels set in late 17th century Scotland. He also works as a financial writer.

17 January 2024 – Speaker Meeting with Iain Whyte: An independent Scotland for the generations ahead

Note: Since this meeting Iain Whyte has stepped down for health reasons from standing for election and the SNP Candidate for Lothian East in the 2024 UK General Election will be Cllr Lyn Jardine.

  • We were delighted to welcome Iain Whyte to Dunbar for a talk and discussion with around a dozen Yes Dunbar members at Dunbar Town House on 17 Jan 2024.
  • Iain (on the left in the picture) spoke about the history of his involvement in politics and his vision for the 2024 General Election in which he is standing for the SNP to become the new MP for Lothian East. He has lived in East Lothian all his life – currently in Prestonpans. The meeting was chaired by Diarmid Jamieson who has recently taken over as Co-Convenor of Yes Dunbar.
  • Iain’s talk focused the impact of independence for young people and generations to come. He also spoke about the disastrous consequences of Brexit and a whole range of Westminster policies imposed on Scotland. He then responded to a wide range of questions from members – mainly about the approach to campaigning in the General Election.

Wednesday 6 December 2023 – Members Social

  • Every two or three months we hold an informal social at a pub to enable members to meet up and chat in general terms about progress towards independence. On 6 December we met at the Royal Mac Hotel in Dunbar for a pre-Christmas gathering with around a dozen members present. Yes Dunbar Committee members Diarmid Jamieson and Brian led us in a fiendish quiz based on “Facts you never knew about Scotland”.

Saturday 14 October 2023 – Chain of Freedom

  • On 14 October 2023 Yes groups from across Scotland came together in an attempt to create a human chain right across Scotland, calling for Scotland to be independent. It took place between 12.00 and 14.00 that day, along the Forth & Clyde canal. It was a spectacular event. See the Chain of Freedom website for more information.
  • A group of around six Yes Dunbar members and their families led our former Co-Convenor Cath Jones made it on the day. By all accounts it was a spectacular occasion!

Thursday 28 September 2023 – Yes Dunbar AGM and Speaker Meeting with Jamie Hepurn MSP, Minister for Independence

Jamie Hpeburn MSP speaks to Yes Dunbar

  • Around 24 Yes Dunbar members and guests met at Dunbar Town House for the AGM of Yes Dunbar, followed by a talk plus Q&A from Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Independence in the SNP/Green Scottish Government.
  • Updates on a huge range of activities by Yes Dunbar over the year 2022/23 were presented and new Committee members (Campaign Team) were elected – see the Organisation page for the new team.
  • Following the AGM Jamie Hepburn spoke on “An Independent Scotland: Constitution and Citizenship” – referring to the latest Scottish Government papers on independence.
  • He then responded to some 15 questions from those present and various aspects of the campaign and steps towards independence.

Saturday 2 September 2023 – YesforEU/Believe in Scotland Pro-Independence March in Edinburgh

Yes Dunbar members behind "Yes Dunbar" banner at march 2/9/23
  • Around eight Yes Dunbar members (and their families and friends) were in Edinburgh on 2 September 2023 for one of the largest pro-independence events in recent years. See picture with our Yes Dunbar banner. There were also Yes Dunbar members in the Soar Alba Pipe band that led the march and in the Independence Choir!
  • The march went from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood, with a rally at the end. Speakers included First Minister Humza Yousaf, Green Co-Leader Lorna Slater, Writer Lesley Riddoch, Entertainer Iona Fyfe, and Europe for Scotland’s Claude Detrez on his first visit to Scotland.
  • The focus was specifically on the case for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. Supporters were carrying Saltires and EU flags. The event was organised by Yes for EU who campaign for independence specifically because it is the only way Scotland can regain our place in the EU and by Believe in Scotland who produce a huge range of independence campaigning materials (Yes Dunbar uses many of their materials).

A Brief History of Yes Dunbar

Yes Dunbar came into existence as an informal grouping of Yes supporters in the Dunbar area in the lead up to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum (indyref1).

It then went dormant for a few years, but following growth in Yes support following the 2016 EU Referendum (where Scotland voted 62% to Remain in the EU, but the UK as a whole voted to leave) a suggestion to re-estalblish Yes Dunbar was made in 2017.

A planning group for the revived Yes Dunbar met for the first time on 10 June 2018 at the Royal Mackintosh Hotel in Dunbar and our first speaker meeting took place on 13 August 2018 with the writer Lesley Riddoch. Through generous donations, we acquired a banner for external events and a blue canopy for running Yes streetstalls in Dunbar.

It took a little while to agree a formal constitution and open a bank account – the account was opened in spring 2019 and we received a very helpful startup grant from the Scottish Independence Foundation. The first official Yes Dunbar Constitution was formally approved by the founder members in January 2020 (subsequently amended in 2022) – see the Organisation page for details.

Since then we have continued to run regular Yes Dunbar streetstalls (often with a survey board to get people’s opinion on current issues) as well as speaker meetings and door to door surveys. During the Covid pandemic our speaker meetings took place online, and we welcomed participants from well beyond Dunbar.

Other speakers at Yes Dunbar events include Heather Anderson MEP (just before Brexit took effect), Laurie Moodie (Scottish Greens), Robin McAlpine (Common Weal), Kenny Macaskill MP, Michael Gray, George Kerevan, Colette Walker (Independence for Scotland Party), Jonathan Shaffey, Bill Kidd MSP.

We also participate in a range of external events organised by others in the independence movement, such as the Edinburgh march on 2 September 2023 (see above). Yes Dunbar members were also at the event outside the Scottish Parliament on 23 November 2022 when the judgment of the UK Supreme Court was announced that under the Scotland Act 1998 the Scottish Parliament could not itself legislate for indyref2 (we were pictured on BBC TV and images were seen around the world).

The membership of Yes Dunbar includes a wide range of inviduals living in Dunbar and East Linton who support our aims – some are also members of political parties but we have many members who support Scottish independence but not affiliated to any party.

Since becoming formally reconstituted our membership has grown rapidly – as at September 2023 our formal membership stands at over 200 (we also have supporters who live outside the Dunbar area but wish to keep in touch). To register as a member or supporter see the Join page.

Yes Dunbar members hold a range of views on the economics of an independent Scotland, the constitutional framework, defence, international relations and much more. But we are united in believing that Scotland needs to be able to move away from Westminster control and become an independent country.