If you were at the ‘Indy’ debate in Dunoon Burgh Hall tonight, …

..18th December. Tell us about it, using Comments below.

We set off to get there in plenty of time, hit a ramp hard at Dunderave, south of Cairndow – and remembered: Transport Scotland are resurfacing this section of the road at nights this week – and it closes at 21.00.

With the debate starting at 19.30, we’d never have got back to Dunderave by 21.00 and going round by Crianlarich and Tyndrum just wouldn’t have stacked up.

We understood that Colin Cameron, editor of the event’s host, the Dunoon Observer who was to chair the session, was ill and was replaced at the last minute by the new headmaster of Dunoon Grammar School.

Now there’s a brave man – although he’s from Dunoon, which might have given him a head start on the opposition – and if you’re in the chair in an event like this, everyone present is the opposition.

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  • A busy night in the Burgh Hall, second choice chair was also unable to make it so the Observer had to bring in third choice chair, Max Barr – member of Dunoon Community Council and also a member of Dunoon Speakers Club.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

    Gus MacKay March 19, 2014 12:18 am Reply
  • Newsie, sorry to hear you couldn’t make it and of your troubles on the road.
    The debate was very well attended indeed, a full house upstairs in the main hall. You are correct about Colin taking ill however the Grammar School head too called off last minute about 4pm so a brave last minute stand in took the chair, a Mr Barr (never quite caught his background)
    Before the debate kicked off the chair took a show of hands on voting intentions, genuinely quite well split at a glance with only approximately 10 or so undecideds.
    The panel after their 3 minute presentation coped reasonably well with the full night’s questions thrown at them. My personal view was that had it been chaired by someone who was used to doing so as Mr Barr possibly hadn’t then questions and points directed to the panel may have resulted in all four representatives giving views on each question rather than one reply from the only person who felt confident enough to respond.
    Sadly, microphone trouble marred the debate, many unable to hear points and questions raised but we all got by reasonably coherently and on the whole respectfully.
    To be fair, most on the panel looked out of their depth but must be applauded for putting themselves in the firing line all the same. Although a YES voter, I particularly had the utmost respect for the Grammar School head boy Alasdair, one of two NO reps who managed fine. His sidekick appeared to dodge a few uncomfortable questions early on looking at his fellow much younger NO rep in hope that he would lead with an answer, I was disappointed to see that.
    Particular points and questions raised included EU membership, currency, media bias, oil in the Clyde, the white paper etc.
    At the end of what may have been a reasonably productive debate we were all asked to fill in a mock ballot paper selecting our voting intention. The results will be available if you fork out 80p on Friday.
    (The Dunoon Observer organised this as we know)

    Now I’m away to watch BBC2 iplayer’s referendum special. Their question time format a much better model.

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    JnrTick March 19, 2014 12:25 am Reply
  • An entertaining evening but the vote result should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. Firstly, at the end, lots of people left without voting and secondly, it’s only a poll of those that were in the hall. More YES or NO voters could have formed the basis of the hall on the night. It’s only a representation of those in the hall and nothing else.

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    Neilfie March 19, 2014 10:45 am Reply
  • Fascinating evening.
    Lively discussion and debate, maybe a few more YES questioners than No.
    Marred by a couple of things, though.
    A woman at the front became quite hysterical, shouting at the manager of the local YES shop. She became purple in the face and incoherent. Nobody knows what she was angry about, but maybe medical attention should have been sought.
    There also seemed to be a few ‘ringers’. A few of the questions were not from Cowal folk, and were remarkably lucid – almost as if they were rehearsed.
    The speakers mostly did well. Sarah Collins (?) stood out as a passionate supporter of a new and fairer way of doing things.
    The business for Scotland fellow had a remarkable memory for facts and figures.
    The adult Better together rep had to bow to the Business for Scotland speakers superior grasp of facts at least twice.
    Rob Shorthouse seemed on occasion to not entirely believe what he was saying. Maybe he was having an off-form night.
    The grammar school boy was very brave to answer so many questions, but was slightly out of his depth.
    On the whole it was chaired fairly. The chair made a couple of errors, but as both sides were disadvantaged the effect was neutral.
    Really well attended event, and well done to the Dunoon Observer for hosting a political event with no professional politicians on the platform.
    The audience microphone’s premature death was annoying, but didn’t mar the proceedings too much.
    Maybe the Burgh Hall should save up for a new one.

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    Patsy March 19, 2014 1:54 pm Reply
  • Having allowed 24hrs to reflect on last nights meeting can I now add my own comments,- partly in answer to JnrTick and Patsy.
    Firstly I would also like to say I am sorry Newsroom did not make it due to roadworks issues. It would have been good to have the event reported on by someone other than the Observer.
    From where I was sitting the split from the show of hands was more like 2.1 in favour of Yes and 10-15 undecided. The three minute presentation at the beginning from each panel member was too long, one minute would have been enough. It’s their views through answers to questions people want to hear.
    I agree with JnrTick, microphone trouble marred the debate, not for the first time at this venue and also previously at the Queens Hall. Those who lambaste other venues should consider this in future.
    To say ‘most of the panel looked out of their depth but must be applauded for putting themselves in the firing line all the same’, is a bit of a contradiction.
    D.G.S Head Boy Alasdhair McBride was understandably nervous, but at no time did Robert Shorthouse ‘his sidekick’,’ appear to dodge uncomfortable questions early on looking for his fellow much younger No rep in hope that he would lead with an answer’. If you were disappointed to see that, it was because it never happened.
    There are many words I could use to describe the evening – fascinating would not be one of them.
    I would agree there were more Yes questioners than No.
    You say -‘marred by a couple of things, though’.
    You describe a woman at the front, I was in the second front row and did not notice this person. Could you be a little more accurate i.e left side/right side?, how far away from her were you? If you thought medical attention should have been sought (I assume you are qualified)why did you not bring this to the notice of the chair or event host?
    I’m glad you also noticed the ‘ringers’,just a pity the chair was not so observant and put a stop to these ‘almost as if they were rehearsed’ questions.
    The only reason Gordon Kemp had so many facts and figures was because he had a stack of briefing papers in front of him, some only published yesterday.
    Robert Shorthouse’s remit is not to speak on policies of the three main political parties in Better Together, he is The Communications Director of Better Together leading the campaign.
    Sarah Collins spoke well, lost count of the number of time she said she did not support the Snp, this did not appear to go down well with the Snp members sitting at the front.
    Alasdhair McBride was in a no win situation, I sensed some of the audience noticed and seized the moment.
    You are being kind to the chair, yes he stepped in at short notice, but he was third choice and therefore third rate.
    The microphone problem was embarrassing and as I have already said did mar the proceedings.

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    Gus MacKay March 19, 2014 9:44 pm Reply
  • Gus, I am puzzled at your contradiction accusation. Just to reiterate, most of those on the panel imo struggled, so I question their purpose, their knowledge of the topics discussed. What I do not question is their courage, I fully respect them for facing what can be an intimidating environment. The same applies to the Chair, who although managing to keep order was let down by refusing of a panel member to respond to a member of the crowd’s questions, otherwise he coped with a difficult job. It really does highlight the importance of this role, a good or bad Chair can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful night’s debate.
    Neilfie above is quite right about the mock vote. Unless proper numbers were taken at the start re voting intentions then the count at finishing time means hee haw. The measure of a successful productive night could and should have been done by counting how many had been swayed as a result of the night’s debate.
    Also, Gordon Kemp obviously took the debate, the magnitude of what he was representing seriously which may have explained his coherent well delivered responses, his homework and experience in these situations paying off. Others had every opportunity to prepare.
    The biggest plus on the night was seeing so many attend and participate. This referendum for the people of Scotland and will be decided by the people of Scotland.

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    JnrTick March 20, 2014 9:12 pm Reply
  • There was an audience of over 220 at the event. Had I gone there as a Better Together supporter I would have left thoroughly dispirited. Had I been a Better Together activist I would have left enraged at the quite frankly inadequate service of my cause by the Better Together team.
    Putting the young man from the Grammar School up was a serious unkindness as he showed no sign of any political understanding whatsoever but the audience was kind to him. Robert Shorthouse, highly paid Director of Communications for Better Together sounded as if he didn’t believe a word he was saying. He made a number of very questionable assertions, some met with derision and others with noisy anger and finished with the jaw dropping observation the independence debate was “paying my mortgage and I don’t want to say much more about it”
    Both the YES contributors were very impressive.
    The four ladies I was talking in a nearby hostelry after the event had gone in as two hesitant yessers and two don’t knows but came out as four confirmed yessers
    I am not privy to the result of the after debate vote but I suspect it will show healthy win for the YES vote

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    Willie McEwan March 20, 2014 9:21 pm Reply
  • JnrTick, – You said MOST of the panel looked out of their depth, now you say SOME of the panel in your opinion struggled, but question their purpose, their knowledge of the topics discussed. What are you really trying to say?

    You are correct a good or bad Chair can make the difference, I sincerely hope you are not expecting people to believe he had a good night.

    Agree the mock vote was a total waste of time(unless the Observer are looking for a front page headline for tomorrow).

    Patsy (don’t no who’s Patsy he/she is) had said Gordon Kemp had a remarkable memory for facts and figures, I was merely pointing out he had the paper information in front of him and referred to it all night.

    We are Better Together and you better believe it will be decided by the people of Scotland.

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    Gus MacKay March 20, 2014 10:53 pm Reply
    • “You are correct a good or bad Chair can make the difference, I sincerely hope you are not expecting people to believe he had a good night.”

      I’ve watched many debates online now from all over Scotland and when a Chair loses control of these sorts of events in places like town halls they can be viewed as nothing more than car crashes appealing to tribalist factions only.
      Dunoon’s event, although not overly enlightening, was not in that category.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

      JnrTick March 21, 2014 1:10 pm Reply
      • Were you at the Oban session where M. Russell behaved like the guest of honour until a member of the public pointed out that the chairman should chair the debate, not mike!

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        sokay March 21, 2014 1:33 pm Reply
        • Hi Sokay, I wasn’t at this debate.

          I see by your comment you are still undecided so Oban’s debate couldn’t have been persuasive either way.

          Rather than nit picking and looking to score petty points, what about a nice wee round up of the Oban meeting, how did it go?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

          JnrTick March 21, 2014 2:15 pm Reply
          • Have bumped posts from the time

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            sokay March 21, 2014 4:34 pm
  • For me the most encouraging thing about the meeting was the number of people I had never come across before in a political context who were at the meeting. (I am the manager of the YES shop that was being shouted at, as Patsy points out)
    As far Gordon MacInytre-Kemp goes the notes he was looking at that Gus McKay seems to find remarkable were some points he had scribbled down sitting having a snack in the 51st State before the meeting. Two of the other panelists also had notes which is normal and sensible at meetings. It might have helped Rob Shorthouse if he had had notes!
    I assume the couple of us sitting at the front were the SNP members Gus was referring to. As we are working every day in YES with Green Party members, Labour party members, LibDem members, SSP members, even some Tory members and people who are in no party at all we were not the slightest bit put out by Sarah Collins stating that she was not a member of the SNP.

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    Dave McEwan Hill March 21, 2014 1:05 am Reply
  • Still no answer to my questions regarding the woman at the front?
    ‘Patsy’ used the word remarkable, I questioned it!

    Delude yourself by thinking the numbers attending a meeting make a difference if you want.

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    Gus MacKay March 21, 2014 1:35 am Reply
  • By the way, are you the same Dave Hill who would not be posting on FA again ?

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    Gus MacKay March 21, 2014 1:38 am Reply
  • When people resort to silly ad hominem attacks we know they have lost any argument

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    Dave McEwan Hill March 21, 2014 9:35 am Reply
  • I have no problem with local debates like these – in some ways they are far more revealing than the TV ones because the answers are not so polished and the people involved are less professionally indoctrinated to regurgitate the party line.

    However I am fascinated by the idea that people, over the course of a short debate in a local hall, will change their mind over how they would vote in a referendum on independence.

    On here you get screeds and screeds of opinion from people on both sides of the camp. Some from ‘YES’ campaigners who are so hell bent on independence that they will support anything and everything the YES campaign says, some so hell bent on the SNP that they can do no wrong even when it is obvious they are (i.e. the Salmond EU legal advice claim). Equally there are ‘Better Together’ campaigners who will leap on, and promulgate, ridiculous claims about mobile phone charges, border patrols, loss of dual nationality etc.

    However somewhere in the middle of all that you do get rational debate and, over time, that helps inform those who are looking for a bit of light in the murkiness.

    As things currently stand my personal observation (obviously not based on statistical polling!) is that the YES campaign is having more influence than the Better Together one. I know of a number of people who have swung from undecided to YES, and a couple who have swung from NO to YES. So far (well apart from Newsroom) I am yet to meet someone who has gone the other way. In all these cases their swing has been a gradual process based on a cumulative effect and gathering material and opinions (and let’s be honest a lot of this is opinions, there are very few guarantees) over months and months.

    A local debate such as the Dunoon one can help with that information gathering process but I find it baffling that someone will actually change their mind on the basis of one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    Integrity? March 21, 2014 9:40 am Reply
    • Integrity, I agree in part with what you have to say here. Strange that people would decide or change their minds one way or the other by attending one of these meetings.
      What we must also consider is that many of the electorate not as immersed in the referendum debate as others, are getting their information from a predominantly NO leaning main stream media via TV and newspapers. Only those who don’t buy newspapers or who don’t watch much referendum related news can honestly be of the opinion that our media are not being even handed in their reporting of what how the referendum debate is developing.
      These same people who rely on our MSM must be wondering by polls are showing a slow but gradual definite move towards YES, yet almost everything they are reading and viewing on telly should be sending these stats well and truly the other way. In attending these events they are then exposed to impartiality in as much as they will be confronted with both sides of the argument, something they would not encounter as much through their usual sources. Couple with that a partisan, vociferous, well clued up audience, coherent arguments, an obvious majority backing in meeting such as this one and one vote all of a sudden becomes more appealing, the power of influence and positivism drawing people in like a magnet.
      So, although maybe not the best way to recruit or to make one’s mind up these events can be fruitful, if gradual as Willie McEwan above has just demonstrated.
      Softly softly catchy monkey.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

      JnrTick March 21, 2014 11:46 am Reply
  • Gus
    My name is Patsy Morrison. I’m a wee wummin who lives quietly near Dunoon and works in a hospital across the water.
    I am not a political activist and never will be.
    I can’t identify the angry woman as I don’t know her. She was sitting at the front next to a man with a video camera.
    Just in front of a man who kept shouting aggressively at the chair.
    I was sitting about six rows behind.
    two years ago I had no interest in politics. I voted labour because my parents did.
    I wanted three options on the referendum and was looking forward to voting for devo max.
    Then I asked myself why labour, tory and liberaldemocrats didn’t want people to have that option.
    Then I looked at what the labour party are saying, and realised that their ideas are all for the people of London and the south. My friend at work says they are tories with red ties and I think she is right. The Scottish labour ones are just embarrassing.
    I have no time for the SNP either. I wish they had the courage to sort out our ferries by running fast passenger boats from Hunters Quay to the railway station, and a free bus between the town centre and Western. Use the boat subsidy to pay for the bus and Westerns berthing money.
    I think a separate Scotland will be better able to let me live in a fairer society, along the principles of the labour party I grew up with.
    Fiscal this and currency that really don’t matter, unless you’re trying to frighten people.
    Even Cameron and Darling say Scotland could be successful on its own.
    It’s about the ability to look after the vulnerable and reward hard work, not make the rich richer and the poor poorer as newlabour and tory want to do.
    As I say I am not political. I just want a better way.
    A lot of consideration and thought led to my becoming a yes voter, and this was confirmed at the Dunoon meeting.
    The chair wasn’t that bad some of the rude audience members were that bad and the chair did well to cope with them.
    The yes speakers were both very good and the no speakers were poor, but brave. The chair could not fix that.
    It’s time for a new way of doing things.
    Its time to let the political dinosaurs slip away quietly.

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    Patsy March 21, 2014 10:02 am Reply
    • Patsy, your sentiments probably echoed and shared by many who have now become disillusioned and let down with Labour party, it’s right of centre shadowing of Tory policy, it’s grandstanding and platform sharing with their opposition simply to preserve their party’s interests than benefit the folks of Scotland. The union is their priority because without it they as a UK party stand to lose much much more than any of the others.
      We in Scotland of course care about what happens in the rest of the UK, many parts of Wales, England and N.Ireland suffer just as they do in Scotland, however, no matter how we vote in general elections, it has proved to have made clearly no difference to these people’s lives.
      We have a chance,a real opportunity to at least make a difference to some right here in Scotland when our votes will finally have some clout enabling us to work towards transformation of this land in time.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

      JnrTick March 21, 2014 2:04 pm Reply
  • By the way Gus
    This site asked for peoples observations on the meeting. I did that.
    Who are you to question my observations and even my gender?
    What is your agenda here?
    Are people not allowed opinions different to yours?
    You are a poor advert for whatever you stand for.

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    Patsy March 21, 2014 10:27 am Reply
  • Mr MacKay is nitpicking.
    The Yes panelists came well-prepared as any panelist should and put their points over with confidence.
    The young man from DGS deserves much credit for his valiant attempt to bolster the Better Together argument.
    These three were severely let down by the cack-handed performance of the “communications director” of the Better Together campaign.
    Some of us thought we had misheard the two sentences which were the entire contribution of his summing-up.
    The Dunoon Observer confirms, however: “Robert Shorthouse surprised many with his frankness by saying ‘The independence campaign pays my mortgage. That’s all I want to say.'”
    That is all he did say!
    The communications director may have been stuck for words.
    No words express my dismay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

    Gerry Burke March 21, 2014 3:15 pm Reply
  • ……..”True confessions time.
    I had personally meant to go but when it came to it, I discovered that I was resistant to the thought of it and couldn’t drag myself to the car.
    These gladiatorial occasions add virtually nothing to one’s knowledge, are pretty tedious and tend to be experiences where what one remembers most are the unpleasantnesses.
    They are little more than a ritual rehearsing of tired old dog whistle tunes in public – and my attention span for such things is getting shorter by the day.
    I doubt if they change any minds. Where they’re not gladiatorial combats they’re rallies for the converted on both sides. And I find rallies of any kind disturbing affairs.
    On experience of such sessions to date, people behave badly and evince the sort of increasingly stalinist tendencies I find depressing and worrying.
    Some days, I just don’t have the stomach voluntarily to expose myself to more of this.
    I would have had two and a half hours of driving to be there – nothing when the motivation is there – but on Friday it wasn’t, so I stayed home and tried to catch up with an endemic backlog of work.
    I may well have dodged my duty but there you are.
    Lynda……”
    Lynda, what changed your view on such debates since the quoted above? You made the decision to not attend the Oban unpleasantness, but did attempt to get to the Dunoon one. Do your quoted observations above not apply to Dunoon?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    sokay March 21, 2014 4:50 pm Reply
  • The level of debate at the grassroots is better than the national debates as anyone who saw the Lamont v Sturgeon debate on STV can testify. We need the National Debate to be more rational it is a pity that the Lib Dems replaced the reasonable Michael Moore as Scottish Secretary with the blustering Alastair Carmichael. Likewise there is no doubt that Labour made a mistake in picking battler Lamont instead of reasoned debater Ken MacKintosh as their leader. As for Argyll & Bute how much better would these debates have been if the cerebal and reasonable Jim Mather was still our MSP and on the panel?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    Ivan Arden March 22, 2014 11:30 am Reply

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