A very welcome late addition to the Book Festival has been Andrew Marr, who this morning gave his first live public appearance since his stroke. He was warmly welcomed by the capacity audience, and in a lively debate chaired by Gavin Hewitt talked about the events leading up to next yearâ€™s Scottish independence vote, at the same time drawing our attention to the revised edition of his book â€œThe Battle for Scotlandâ€. First published in 1992, it tells of the rise of the Scottish national movement and now has a substantial new introduction to bring the arguments fully up to date. Described by Marr as â€œcheap, readable and shortâ€ the length of the signing queue after his event showed that many people are keen to learn as much as possible about this subject, and to be well informed before next yearâ€™s crucial vote.
Marr himself was in remarkably fine fettle, as incisive and articulate as ever. Slower in gait but not in speech or thought, he answered questions with insights and humour, probably re-kindling in many an interest in next yearâ€™s referendum that was starting to flag. He thinks we ainâ€™t heard nothing yet from Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling – the Wee Eck and Paw Broon of Scottish politics, as he called them. There will be an onslaught once the bandwaggon starts rolling next year and the campaign is seriously under way. That Marr is looking forward to this with relish there can be no doubt. â€œThe Battle for Scotlandâ€ is an important source of background knowledge and history to arm us for the debate.
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