THE lack of BAME candidates for the independence side in the forthcoming Holyrood elections has angered more than a few people in the Yes movement.

Paddy Farringdon, former convener of Yes Marchmont and Morningside in Edinburgh, wrote to the Yes DIY page to say: “It’s clear that the Yes movement in general, and the SNP and Greens in particular, have work to do before we can claim to be truly inclusive. So here’s an idea which other Yes activists or groups could take up, which can easily be done in lockdown.”

Farringdon suggests that Yes groups could research the links to slavery in their areas, and says that the memories of slavery inscribed in our surroundings are pervasive: “They help to emphasise just how globalised a system slavery was. The street names in our neighbourhood connect the comfortable drawing rooms of Edinburgh to the daily violence on the tobacco and sugar plantations of Virginia and the Caribbean.

“They implicate Scotland’s elites in the repression of slave uprisings in Haiti and Jamaica. They chart the appeasement of slavery in the name of preserving the sanctity of property.

“In this sorry tale, some light nevertheless shines through, owing to the actions of remarkable individuals who opposed slavery without reserve. These figures include John Millar, Elizabeth Pease Nichol, Jane Smeal Wigham, Eliza Wigham, and Frederick Douglass, born into slavery, but who became the 19th century’s most famous black man, whose stay in Edinburgh is commemorated by an arresting mural in Gilmore Place.

One major slavery connection is Balcarres Street.

Farringdon explained: “Alexander, 6th Earl of Balcarres, was Governor of Jamaica in 1794-1801. While Governor, he entered into an arrangement with the partnership that became Atkinson & Hozier, under which he retained an apparently undisclosed one-third interest in the hire of enslaved people to the British army as ‘pioneers’ in Jamaica.

“During the course of Jamaica’s Second Maroon War (the maroons being escaped slaves living as fugitives), the 6th Earl was instrumental in deporting the Trelawny Maroons to Nova Scotia in 1796, thus breaking the agreement they had entered into in good faith. The 7th Earl claimed successfully one-third of the compensation for groups of enslaved people employed by the British army under arrangements put in place by his father the 6th Earl when Governor of Jamaica.”

On the plus side, Frederick Douglass stayed at 33 Gilmore Place, in Bruntsfield, during the months he spent touring and speaking in Scotland in 1846. He was a towering figure of the movement for the abolition of slavery in the USA.