What happened in 1990

Self Determination Power Event Common Sense and Freedom


hamish henderson

We will focus on what has happened, changed, made better, made worse in the 25 years since this event and maybe to, as well as examine, to celebrate the achievements of social struggle over this period.


“When a seventy year old Hamish Henderson sang Freedom Come All Ye at the Pearce Institute in Govan, Glasgow in January 1990 , it was the ultimate folk-song cabaret. Here, after all, was the man who’s co-founding of the School of Scottish Studies in 1951 had kick-started the Scottish folk revival, and here was singing the song he’d penned that many believe to be Scotland’s real national anthem (with a small n, for Henderson was nothing if not internationalist in outlook). Henderson sang it too in his own slightly cracked tones not as part of some officially sanctioned flagship event for Glasgow’s status as European City of Culture that year, but for a low-level grassroots initiative that brought together art and activism in an event that would prove to be of huge trickle-down significance.

The Self-Determination and Power event was organised by a loose alliance of the Free University of Glasgow, the Edinburgh Review, then under the editorship of James Kelman advocate Peter Kravitz, and Scottish Child magazine, edited by Rosemary Milne. Also involved were Variant, then a glossy magazine containing provocations from Stewart Home, Pete Horobin’s Dundee-based Data Attic and others; West Coast literary magazine, Here and Now magazine, the radical-based Clydeside Press, and the Scotia bar, then a hub for free-thinking dissent down by the river just across from the Gorbals.

Self-Determination and Power had been set up in part as a reaction to Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture, which was seen by many as a cynical attempt to put gloss on what already existed. All the bodies behind it were key thinkers in radical thought that had little truck with political parties and was more to do with a spirit of punk and hippy-inspired DIY. Edinburgh Review had become a major platform for this, as, too a lesser extent, had Scottish Child. The crossovers with the Free University, however, were crucial.” line magazine full article

Year of Culture

Different perspectives of the time:

“1990 has been a year of fun,
entertainment and enjoyment for the people of Glasgow and that’s what we wanted it to be.” (Pat Lally, former leader, Glasgow District Council)

“1990 was a year when an intellectually bankrupt and brutally
undemocratic administration projected its mediocre image on to the city and ordered us to adore it.” (Michel Donelly, one- time assistant museum curator. Peoples Palace, Glasgow)


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