The Big Debate

3pm Sunday 30th March 2014

The Blue Lamp, Gallowgate, Aberdeen

Entry free. All welcome!

Come along and ask your questions on Scottish independence to 6 panellists from across the country.

If you fancy a bite to eat beforehand there is a buffet from 2pm, £3 per person.

If you wish to attend the buffet, please tell us using the contact form at the bottom of the page so we can ensure there is enough food!


Prof Michael Keating

(Professor of Politics, University of Aberdeen and Director of the ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change)


John Finnie

(Independent MSP for Highlands and Islands)

Ciaran McRae

(Yes Aberdeen Co-ordinator)

Ben Wray

(Jimmy Reid Foundation & Common Weal Project Policy Co-ordinator)


Sandra MacDonald

(United for Labour)

Raymond Mennie

(Communist Party of Britain, Dundee Organiser)

Kathryn Russell

(Better Together Aberdeen)



Prof Michael Keating, Professor of Politics, University of Aberdeen and Director of the ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change

Michael Keating is Professor of Politics at the University of Aberdeen and Director or the ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change, a consortium of five universities. He is an MA of the University of Oxford and PhD of Glasgow College of Technology (now Glasgow Caledonian University), and a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of the Social Sciences.

Michael Keating has published widely on politics and constitutional issues in Scotland and other stateless nations. Among his recent books are The Independence of Scotland (Oxford University Press, 2009) and Rescaling the European State (Oxford University Press, 2013). His book (with Malcolm Harvey), Small Nations in a Big World. What Scotland Can Learn, will be published by Luath Press in May.

Pro-Independence Panellists

 John Finnie, Independent MSP for Highlands and Islands

John was elected SNP Councillor for Inverness Ness-side Ward in 2007 and became leader of the 17 SNP Councillors who formed Highland Council’s first ever political administration.

Elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2011 as a Regional Member for the Highlands and Islands, John serves on the Justice, Equal Opportunities and Police Committees and is Convener of the Cross Party Group on Human Rights and Co-convener of the Cross Party Group on Drugs and Alcohol.

When the 2012 SNP Conference voted to overturn its long-standing opposition to membership of NATO John, a life-long opponent of nuclear weapons, resigned and now sits as an ‘Independent’.

Ciaran McRae, Yes Aberdeen Co-ordinator

Ciaran is an explosives and radiation controller for an oil and gas service company.

Ciaran has been involved in the Yes campaign for 18 months where he is the Aberdeen coordinator.

His role is to create teams of volunteers and organises local events such as leafleting, stall holding and debates/Q&A sessions.

Ben Wray, Jimmy Reid Foundation and Common Weal Project Policy Co-ordinator

The Jimmy Reid Foundation is a left-of-centre think-tank and advocacy group in Scotland. Ben co-ordinates the Reid Foundation’s research and policy work on the Common Weal Project, which is attempting to build a comprehensive vision for a better Scotland. They are producing work on everything from football to banking to energy storage.

Ben is also an activist in the Southside of Glasgow and, whilst the Reid Foundation is neutral on independence, he is personally for a yes vote and is involved in the Radical Independence Campaign.

Pro-Union Panellists

Sandra MacDonald, United for Labour

Born in Africa, brought up in Aberdeen, Sandra Macdonald speaks for United with Labour, the Labour and trade union campaign which backs the sharing union between Scotland and the rest of Britain.

She works as a data analyst in the oil industry, and is married with two daughters. A life-long campaigner for women’s and workers’ rights, and member of the Labour Party, Co-operative Party and Unite the Union, Sandra is also chair of Langstane, a leading North East social housing provider; chair of Aberdeen Women’s Alliance; treasurer of Hazlehead Academy Parent Council; and on the board of transport partnership NESTRANS.

Raymond Mennie, Communist Party of Britain Dundee Organiser

Raymond is a political, trade union and community activist in Dundee.

He is currently Dundee Trades Union Council’s minute secretary.

In the past Raymond has held the following political and trade union posts: AEUW Shop Steward, Timex Milton of Craigie plant, AEUW Branch Chair and Dundee District Committee Delegate, Chairman Dundee Trades Council and STUC Delegate, Tayside Regional Council member for the Whitfield, Dundee ward, Tayside Regional Council Roads and Transport Committee Convener, COSLA Roads and Transportation Committee Vice-Convener and Parliamentary Candidate.

Kathryn Russell, Better Together

Kathryn Russell is a Labour Party activist and works for Labour MP and welfare rights campaigner, Dame Anne Begg.

Although an active member United with Labour, she will be speaking in the Big Debate on behalf of Better Together, a cross party group campaigning for Scotland to remain within the UK.

As a campaigner for women’s rights, she is also Chair of RAS (Rape and Abuse Support), which provides a vital service for survivors of rape as well as challenging attitudes towards sexual violence, and a member of Aberdeen Women’s Alliance.

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