In the same week that Robert the Bruce star Angus MaFadyen threw his support behind AFI we now welcome Andy as well.
Andy is a huge supporter of Scottish independence and many will know him from travelling around Scotland pre-pandemic, running free courses teaching people about basic economics while specialising in the area of currency. These courses are now being run online and remain free to all participants.
So what else can we tell you about Andy? Well read on because there is lots to tell. Andy was born in the Townhead slum area of Glasgow in December 1938. He attended school first in Glasgow and then in Dunfermline.
Andy is very much a man of the people and has a rich work history which includes; his first job at Blairhall colliery December 1953. He later joined the Cameron Highlanders in 1953 (Piper in Pipe-Band). In 1959 he left the Army and went back to mining at the Tilmanstone Colliery in Kent where he also got married that same year.
In 1965 Andy became Branch Secretary of the National union of Mineworkers (NUM) at Tilmanstone. Later he attended Ruskin College Oxford with a Miners Union Scholarship in 1968. In 1970 he got a Diploma in Social Studies from Oxford University and also a State Scholarship to study for PP&E at New College Oxford. He graduated from Oxford in 1972 with a PPE degree and took up employment with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE). He was later promoted by NUPE to a senior post in Scotland responsible for the NHS, Ambulance and Water industry membership.
Andy represented NHS staff at national negotiations in London. Ran NUPE’s Glasgow Office, with 7 full-time officers and 10 staff members. In 1990 he took early retirement from NUPE when UNISON was being created and moved to Skye where a new battle was awaiting him.
In 1995 Andy got actively involved in Skye Bridge tolls campaign. What is not known by many outside of the Skye bridge toll campaign is that Andy played a huge part in it from the very start until the last battle and the bridge toll was abolished, followed by the abolition of bridge tolls all across Scotland. This was the Skye, and Kyle Against Tolls campaign, (SKAT) Andy was part of the leadership of the campaign from the very start. His first role was as Secretary of the political committee. In which he organised meetings with MPs, with the press, with parliamentary Select Committees, and indeed organised a meeting in the House of Commons and helped with the establishment of a special Westminster committee of MPs. At a later stage of the campaign, due to the SKAT leadership getting concerned about the amount the organisation was spending on legal matters, he was asked to stand as treasurer of SKAT which he accepted and brought the spending under control.
Andy was also the first of the campaigners to face criminal charges and this meant that he had to take the lead in the criminal court. It also turned out that he was the first and only campaigner to be sent to prison in 1997 for refusing to pay the Skye Bridge toll.
After some internal wrangling between members, Andy was then elected as Secretary while Dr Julian Toms, a local GP became Convener and both worked hard to put the organisation back together again. They did that successfully and won the battle. Finally, when it was over he wrote the only full history of the campaign, 'The Skye Bridge Story' which is a bi-lingual publication in the languages of the people involved in the struggle, English, and Gaelic. Andy has written and co-written several books now on currency and is the head of the Campaign for a Clean Scottish Currency.
You can find out more about Andy on his blog site and about his books. Apart from the Skye bridge story, we would highly recommend the book “Moving On” which he co-wrote with Chartered Accountant Ronnie Morrison.