by Rodger Moffatt (reprinted from www.clans2014.com)
Strange forces seem to work on the internet, last year only hours after we had launched this site (www.clans2014.com) the news broke that the Stirling gathering was on the rocks. Yesterday a matter of minutes after I published the last blog entry that criticised the 2014 plans I had an email from Malcolm MacGregor warning me that ‘the sh*t was about to hit the fan’. Apparently a rather angry letter he sent to Murdo Fraser at the Scottish Parliament had been leaked to the press. True enough this morning’s Times has run with the story. I shall hand you over to Hamish MacDonell:
Clan chief joins battle over grand gathering set for Bannockburn
Plans for a big gathering of expatriate Scots in 2014 have been badly thought out, poorly organised and are unlikely to attract enough visitors, the head of the country’s clan chiefs warned yesterday.
Organisers of the Bannockburn gathering have already come in for intense criticism over preparations for the 2014 event. But yesterday they suffered their most damaging setback so far when one of the members of the steering group for the event itself and the representative of Scotland’s clan chiefs went on the attack.
Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, said he was concerned about the way the event had been planned, handled and organised.
Writing to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, Sir Malcolm warned that the Bannockburn event was unlikely to attract many expatriate Scots.
He also claimed the get-together was still weighed down by unresolved financial issues from the 2009 gathering and that it was not being promoted properly overseas.
Sir Malcolm said that the idea of a reenactment 0f the Battle of Bannockburn on the 700th anniversary in June – a centrepiece of the plans – had “not been well received” by American clan associations. “Feedback indicated that a reenactment with a clan village will not be enough to bring the diaspora to Scotland”, he said.
Sir Malcolm said that a minimum of two years preparation time was needed to make sure events of this sort were successful. “We are now well within the two year period and we don’t know what is really going to happen at Bannockburn apart from the reenactment,” he said.
In overall terms the 2009 gathering in Edinburgh had been a success, at least in terms on money spent in Scotland, he said. but added that companies were still chasing money they were owed from that event, which placed a cloud over preparations for the 2014 event. Sir Malcolm said that no plans appeared to have been made for regional clan gatherings to operate alongside the main event and that no one appeared to be in overall charge.
He followed this by warning that unless someone was sent to the United States with the specific job of publicising the 2014 gathering it would not be able to attract the numbers it needed.
Murdo Fraser the Conservative MSP and convener of the Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee which has been looking into the 2014 Bannockburn Gathering said that Sir Malcolm’s comments had to be looked into.
However a spokesmen for Homecoming Scotland 2014 insisted that the initiative was still “on track to be a highly successful programme of events …We will announce the full programme for next year in the spring and the clans will have a strong focus in the programme.”