The 1990s: leading to the Scottish parliament in 1999
The branch started to rebuild in the early 1990s when Labour Party defector Joe Taylor became convenor. Joe was a fiery debater, very strong on Scottish history and he organised a joint meeting with the Brussels branch to the historic Netherlands town of Veere, which had been the ‘staple port’ for Scotland from the 16th-18th centuries. Winnie Ewing was guest of honour and spoke at the gathering.
Among the prominent branch activists in this period was Bob Purdie, a London SNP stalwart for many years and branch convenor in the mid-1990s. Bob was a lecturer at Ruskin College Oxford, an author and a highly respected historian. His book on Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Black, Green, Red and Tartan’, is said by many to be the definitive book on MacDiarmid’s political life.
After Bob’s term we had our first female convenor, Lesley Backhouse, ably supported by Morag Kerr.
A highlight of this decade was when Alex Salmond proposed the immortal memory at our annual Burns Supper. Morag gave the response for the lassies, in reply to Bob Waugh’s toast to the lassies. The branch had truly arrived and been recognised.