A fitting way to mark a legendary Inverness anniversary

by Colin Campbell

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has said he will consider bringing the Cabinet to Inverness next year to mark the centenary of a historic summit in the Highland capital.

Crowds gathered in Inverness for the Town House meeting of the Cabinet a century ago.

The trip would celebrate the 100th anniversary of David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Stanley Baldwin and their ministerial colleagues attending Inverness Town House in 1921 for the first-ever Cabinet meeting outside London or Chequers.

That’s a long way off but I imagine the prospect of the Boris squad arriving in a fleet of limos would be a rather significant talking point for months ahead.

On Thursday, Highland MP Jamie Stone urged the Conservative leader to make plans to mark the 100th anniversary.

The Liberal Democrat representative for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said: “May I suggest to the prime minister that the UK Cabinet meets again in the Inverness Town House on September 7 next year?

“This would be to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1921 meeting, and it would also enable the prime minister and the Cabinet to review the defence of the UK by visiting sites such as RAF Lossiemouth.

“And perhaps also to learn about the great role that our armed forces have played, and play right now, in beating the Covid pandemic.”

Mr Johnson said: “What I can say is I will bear his invitation very closely in mind to come Inverness for a Cabinet next year. We will study that with interest.”

He added: “The honourable gentlemen makes an incredibly important point about the role of the armed services in beating the Covid pandemic.

“It was wonderful to see how the UK armed services have helped during this pandemic.”

All credit to Jamie Stone, the best MP in the Highlands and Islands (albeit there’s a dearth of competition) for making a proposal that risks him being branded a “fake Scot” or a “fake Scots traitor” in some quarters.

By next September, after the PM has rejected out of hand Nicola Sturgeon’s latest demand for a section 30 order for another independence referendum, it’s quite likely a significant number of nationalists will be engaged in some sort of Plan B response, possibly involving civil disobedience or disorder.

A horde of protesters converging from all over Scotland could stretch from Inverness halfway to Nairn to greet Cabinet members.

Their anger and bitterness could make it a volatile occasion. At the same time, it’s equally possible that very many people not engaged in making a ruckuss would feel an awful lot better than they’re feeling now.

A full vaccination programme for all those who want it would have been completed and things would have returned to near normal. The vaccine supplies in their millions will have been commandeered and paid for thanks to the foresight of the UK Government, which was ahead of most other European countries in placing orders early with a range of chemical firms at the forefront of the rush to develop one.

And we will have been spared the prospect of another hugely divisive and stressful referendum so soon after the coronavirus ordeal.

So Jamie Stone’s suggestion that the Prime Minister should visit Inverness would find favour with many people, ignoring all the predictable sound and fury from others.

It would be an entirely fitting way to mark a legendary Inverness and Highland anniversary.

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