Edinburgh Business Labour Forum

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A lunch forum which invited prominent political speakers. It appears to have been most active or most noticed around 2001-2. It has not appeared in the press since 2004. It was used by lobbyists as a means of networking and its secretary was Robbie MacDuff, a former employee of disgraced lobby firm Ian Greer Associates.

European Craigmillar

A EURO-ZONE is already operating in Scotland, the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum found out at its debate over whether the British euro is dead or merely comatose. As David Martin, MEP, and Nigel Smith, of the "No to the Euro" campaign, pored over the problem, Paul Nolan informed everybody that the euro was alive and well and licking, if not kicking, in Craigmillar. Recently returned from exporting Irn-Bru chews to Poland, he was handing over some loose change to Shannon, his eight-year-old granddaughter. As he was about to explain what the coins were, Shannon chirped:
"Oh great, euros."
"How do you know about euros?"
"The ice-cream van takes them," Shannon grinned. "One of them buys you a euro -cone." And with that she was out the door.[1]

Whispers from the hotel...

In once of the first references to the Forum in 1996, Michael Fry wrote:

I happily accepted the invitation from a friend to come as his guest to a lunch of the Edinburgh Business and Labour Forum, which was to be addressed by the Lord Provost, Eric Milligan. He is not, to be sure, Tony Blair, and so much the better for him. He is a man of downright honesty rather than slick cynicism, of homespun eloquence rather than windy rant. You may guess that we are old political sparring partners but otherwise maintain perfectly cordial relations.[2]
A funny thing happened on the way to the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum lunch. Wallace Mercer was there, holding forth on road tolls. Labour is indeed a broad church when we espy the bold Wallace in its ranks. Not so much New Labour as Nouveau Labour. ut as a broad church, it was almost like hearing a Mass in Latin when they announced their February forum: "The Winter of Discontent", with speaker Bill Spiers. Does Bob Thomson, a union man at the helm of EBLF, know something Tony Blair doesn't?[3]
WHEN Mike Watson addressed the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum at the Roxburghe Hotel the other day he knew he was halfway there already in winning over the hearts, if not their minds. Wallace of Midlothian, Mr Mercer himself was beaming at him among the guests. But whether the Culture and Tourism minister won over Wallace's mind is unlikely as the Tories approached Wallace in days of yore regards standing as their parliamentary candidate in Edinburgh Central. It never came to pass but momentarily put the wind up Alistair Darling. Meanwhile Watson wistfully paid homage to Old Labour . "If I can't say Avanti Popolo at least I can say Avanti Turismo."[4]
EDINBURGH Business Labour Forum are twittering over two "coups" for their monthly lunchtime talker series. Virtually the Parly's biggest guns. Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs Jack McConnell will address the troops on April 20 at the Roxburghe Hotel, his topic Classrooms, Partnerships and the Knowledge Economy (we'll need something to wash that lot down). And the First Minister himself, Henry McLeish, is the speaker on June 1 at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel. Henry's subject: The Scottish Parliament Two Years On. That'll be over before they've finished their soup.[5]
Scots Finance Minister, Jack McConnell, praised the group on Friday at the influential Edinburgh Business Labour Forum. He told the gathering: "Standard Life is a company which contributes well to Scotland and to Edinburgh. And they are a company which we should be proud of." Such is the political sensitivity over Standard Life's status that McConnell's office later gave assurances to Scotland on Sunday that the Finance Minister's remarks were not intended to influence the vote on demutualisation.[6]
LORD Provost Eric Milligan is to join forces with his former Glasgow counterpart Pat Lally to address a business audience in the Capital. They will speak to the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum at the Holyrood Hotel on Friday on "Edinburgh and Glasgow - Competition or Co-operation?"[7]
THE gloves won't be on because they're big mates. Our Lord Provost Eric Milligan and Glasgow's former LP Pat Lally are the speakers at the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum's dinner at the Holyrood Hotel on May 5. They'll debate their respective cities on a "competition or co-operation" theme. Doubtful whether Glasgow can ever live with us. Meantime, the Forum at the same venue this Friday lunchtime will find Edinburgh's convener of transport Mark Lazarowicz airing his vision for the Capital and south-east Scotland.[8]
LRT chairman and Labour supporter Pilmar Smith was once the vice-chairman of Hearts and according to his Hibee friends, sees everything through maroon-tinted glasses. But when he is not cheering on his team at Tynecastle, Pilmar is busy drumming up business for the Labour Party as treasurer of the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum. "We expect audiences for the forum, which always meets on a Friday in the Carlton Highland, to pick up significantly now that we have the parliament on our doorstep," he says. "In the past the forum has had to get our speakers from Westminster - Alistair Darling and Helen Liddell to name but two - but now we hope to have a queue of MSPs desperate to take part." This Friday sees the start of the forum's autumn programme with Transport Minister Sarah Boyack and Malcolm Chisholm on the menu. Pilmar was not enamoured with the Diary's suggestion that he might invite David McLetchie along to his next luncheon - even though the Tory leader is a fellow Jambo. "You have to draw the line somewhere," he said.[9]
I'D have wiped the smile from our Home Affairs Minister Henry McLeish had I been in the Carlton Highland Hotel last Friday to hear him talking to the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum. Bearing in mind that he was a left back with East Fife and that he was born in Methilhill, Henry got off lightly. His speech, upbeat of course, centred on the new Parliament and he "allayed some of the fears" of local businessmen.[10]
THE Edinburgh Business Labour Forum's monthly meetings during winter and spring have been enlightening . You lunch and learn. Topic for the finale for the season was football. To be specific, the Premier League. Scottish Professional Footballers' Association secretary Tony Higgins was in the chair and speeches from Stenhousemuir boss Terry Christie and former Hearts director Jim Clydesdale were as heart-felt as they were constructive.[11]
"Eighteen years in opposition was a debilitating time," George Foulkes recalled. The Minister for International Development, on familiar territory for he was a Lothian Regional councillor, was addressing the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum in the Carlton Highland Hotel. From his sparkling discourse, punctuated with remarks about his passion for Hearts, he has recovered well from his wilderness years. Surveying the hotel's Quills restaurant, he reckoned ::"even the Lord Chancellor would feel at home in such surroundings. Even Ian Hoy is here. I remember when he was a good Labour man."
Snapped Hoy: "I remember when YOU were a good Labour man."[12]
SCOTTISH business has nothing to fear and everything to gain from a new Parliament in Edinburgh, Scottish Office devolution minister Henry McLeish said yesterday. He told the Edinburgh Business Labour Forum the dialogue with various business interests would have an influence on the White Paper on devolution. Mr McLeish said there was a new, open outlook at the Scottish Office and the Parliament would be able to involve business and industry in framing new legislation. Asked if he had fears about potential cuts to the current Scottish block grant allocation through the review of the Barnett-Goschen formula, he replied: "This has been in place for 19 years and I am very relaxed about it." Mr McLeish held meetings yesterday with the Scottish Constitutional Convention, Scotland Forward, and Scottish Financial Enterprise.[13]



  1. The Scotsman April 6, 2004, Tuesday SIMON PIA'S DIARY: THE EURO IS LICKING GOOD BYLINE: Simon Pia SECTION: Pg. 18
  2. The Herald (Glasgow) December 4, 1996 Many bad hats, so louche, so farouche BYLINE: Michael Fry SECTION: Pg. 17
  3. The Scotsman November 19, 2002, Tuesday SIMON PIA'S DIARY: OH, REALLY, MR STEVENSON? BYLINE: Simon Pia SECTION: Pg. 14
  4. The Scotsman February 16, 2002, Saturday DIARY: PURDIE'S LAW RULES AT HEARTS BYLINE: Alasdair Monteith SECTION: Pg. 8
  5. Evening News (Edinburgh) April 12, 2001, Thursday GIBSON: A BRIEF ENCOUNTER WITH JIMMY NAIL BYLINE: By John Gibson SECTION: Pg. 29
  6. Scotland on Sunday June 4, 2000, Sunday POLITICIANS STIR UP STANDARD LIFE ROW BYLINE: By Doug Morrison, Murdo Macleod And Mark Williamson SECTION: Business; Pg. 1
  7. Evening News (Edinburgh) May 1, 2000, Monday PROVOST'S TALK MEANS BUSINESS SECTION: Pg. 7
  8. Evening News (Edinburgh) April 4, 2000, Tuesday GIBSON: EDINBURGH'S BEST KNOWN COLUMNIST BYLINE: John Gibson SECTION: Pg. 12
  9. Evening News (Edinburgh) August 17, 1999, Tuesday EDINBURGH DIARY SECTION: Pg. 11
  10. Evening News (Edinburgh) March 19, 1999, Friday METHILHILL BOY STILL ON THE BALL BYLINE: By John Gibson SECTION: Pg. 8
  11. Evening News (Edinburgh) May 22, 1998, Friday A FEAST FULL OF FOOTBALL BYLINE: John Gibson SECTION: Pg. 33
  12. Evening News (Edinburgh) April 7, 1998, Tuesday GEORGE'S HEARTS IN RIGHT PLACE BYLINE: John Gibson SECTION: Pg. 16
  13. The Herald (Glasgow) June 14, 1997 McLeish in home rule pledge to business BYLINE: By Chris Holme SECTION: Pg. 6