There’s quite a storm brewing up over the issue of Scotland’s future and a certain referendum. Fierce debate has broken out both north and south of the border, creating plenty of heated headlines and a field day for cartoonists. Whatever your stance is regarding the matter, it’s likely that everyone has an opinion. We’re certainly not about to wade in with a particular view on the current situation. But if the Sentinel had still been in circulation, it would no doubt have been ensuring that its readers knew all the facts.
The Sentinel carried many articles over the years about the importance of democracy and voting rights. Every year it highlighted local council candidates, giving them a platform to share their manifestos but also to ensure that local residents knew who was standing and what they stood for so that they could make informed choices. It carried out a similar process for general elections. Always, it encouraged people to engage with the process and to use their vote. So in 1997, when Scots were asked to vote on the issue of devolution, the Sentinel provided a range of information, both practical in explaining the process, but also trying to make sure people in Wester Hailes knew the issues so they could make an informed decision.
The Wester Hailes Representative Council and Community Education organised an informal workshop and discussion in the week of the referendum to enable people to hear the views of other local people and to hear from representatives of the various campaign groups. You can see the article by clicking here on Sentinel August 1997.
Meanwhile, the Sentinel carried an article explaining the different options available: who can forget yes,yes; no,no; yes, no! It also encouraged people to use their vote and perhaps lost a little neutrality at the end of the article which you can read by clicking here on Sentinel September 1997.
When the vote for devolution had been carried, the Sentinel continued to keep people informed of developments and in 1999 published information about the first candidates standing for election as MSPs for this area. You can see who those where by clicking here on Sentinel April 1999.
Now, of course, there is no community newspaper to keep Wester Hailes informed. Whilst the current furore over independence includes many viewpoints, most people are agreed that whenever the referendum takes place, it will be an extremely important decision, and one for which all the facts are needed. Perhaps an issue as important as this will galvanise efforts to produce a new community newspaper in one shape or another.