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Local Politicians Mark 200 Year Baird and Hardie Anniversary


Categories: Culture and Tourism, Local History

Local politicians have joined the Stirling community in marking the 200th anniversary of the 1820 execution of John Baird and Andrew Hardie in Stirling.

Baird and Hardie were leaders in the 1820 Radical War, a series of strikes and demonstrations across central Scotland fighting for improved worker rights, increased Scottish control over domestic political affairs and expanded voting rights.

Both were found guilty of treason by the British Government, publicly executed by hanging, and beheaded.

Councillor Alasdair MacPherson said:

“It is vital that was commemorate this momentous anniversary.  The Radical War was caused by high unemployment and food prices, poor working conditions and an uncaring government. All the people involved wanted was electoral reform leading to better government. They were met with an extreme response, quashed by the British Army and the leaders of protests were put on trial for their defiance to the state. 

“To me and many of my constituents, this message resonates today. Under the Tories, we have an unresponsive government that Scotland didn’t elect who arrogantly think they should choose Scotland’s future, instead of the people who live here. By refusing to extend the furlough scheme, its highly likely we face high unemployment like we’ve never seen before, and there is widespread concern that the pandemic, coupled with a Brexit, will lead to high food prices and the dismantling of works rights.

“It’s no wonder that many are marking today by drawing parallels between the situation faced in 1820 and that we could face now in 2020.

“Baird and Hardie were passionate advocates of home rule and I have no doubt whatsoever that they would be campaigning for independence if they were alive today.

“Another one of the radicals who was executed, weaver James Wilson carried a banner which bore the famous words: Scotland Free or a desert. Those words have never been more pertinent.” 

Stirling MP Alyn Smith added:

“Unfortunately I am unable to make it to the commemoration as I’m in the Commons, debating the UK governments Internal Market strategy for post-Brexit, which is not too dissimilar from some of the issues over trade, democracy, and the food market faced by those persecuted by the State in 1820.

“Baird and Hardie, along with many others, put their reputations, and ultimately their lives, on the line, not just for themselves, but for all of their fellow Scots. They were faced with a situation that wasn’t working and wanted to make it better for the generations that would come after them.

“Their story is a crucial part of Scotland’s history, but also the cultural identity of the Stirling area too. It’s important that we remember this history and hold onto it, the lessons from the past help to shape the decisions of the future.”