Please contact us for trips to Northern Ireland and Scotland – We will be running regular trips over the coming months.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wants another referendum on Scots independence. Join veteran Scots journalist Brian Taylor on this fascinating tour.


The Northern Ireland and Scotland Tours can be booked back to back.

DATESSunday, 27 June – Saturday 3 July 2021
DESTINATION

Scotland

DURATION6 nights (3 in Glasgow, 3 in Edinburgh)
INCLUDED
All AccommodationSome Meals
Local TransportationExpert Guide
COSTCost: £3370.00
Single supplement: £420

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Meeting politicians, analysts, academics, journalists, community leaders, and ordinary people – from all sides and communities – we ask what’s next for Scotland? The UK leaving the EU poses new questions for Scottish Independence.  The tour takes place in the wake of Scotland’s Parliamentary elections and starts in Glasgow, weaves through Stirling and Bannockburn, before ending in Edinburgh.

Join us to meet the people involved, ask your own questions and make up your own mind.

Cost: £3370.00

Single supplement: £420

As with all of our expert-led tours, we ensure that our groups remain small and intimate, and will not exceed 14 people.

Note – We also run bespoke group tours for families and groups of friends, tailoring them to your dates and time available and focusing on any special interest. Please contact us for more information.

Watch our recent webinars about the region

Disunited Kingdom?


The UK’s four home nations have all had differing approaches to the pandemic. Boris Johnson pushed for a more liberal approach, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been more cautious. Magnus Llewellin, the editor of Scottish edition of The Times, argues that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the differences between the four nations, and is a taste of things to come. There is, however, a different case to be made, one in which devolved power goes hand-in-hand with co-operation in a united and C21st kingdom. Joined by Melanie McDonagh, formerly a leader-writer on the Evening Standard.

Brexit – the final gambit


At midnight on 31 December 2020, the UK left the EU’s single market and customs union, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Alex Pigman, a journalist with Agence France-Presse, has followed the UK-EU negotiations from the outset, and here takes a broad look at relations between the two sides, and how they might develop from January 1 under the terms of the trade deal struck on Christmas Eve. David Gavaghan, meanwhile, who is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known businessmen, joins us from Belfast to offer an Irish perspective on the situation.

Brexit & the Union


Brexit’s done and dusted and we can all move on. Think again. It’s far from clear what role Britain seeks for itself having left the EU and there is a looming constitutional crisis as Scotland pushes for independence. Northern Ireland too may follow. Professor Jennings, head of Political Theory, Social Science and Public Policy at King’s London is joined by Scottish Parliament Member, Murdo Fraser, and constitutional expert David Torrance for a discussion on where the UK goes next.

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Scotland & Independence

Britain is arguably on the verge of the most significant change in 200 years. Repeated polls show Scottish voters want their country to leave the UK and become a separate state. Our Scotland Tour traces how this turn of events has come about and notably the impact of Brexit. We look at the rise of the SNP, the impact of devolution on Scotland and the UK as a whole, and look at what kind of state Scotland might become.

The tour takes place in the wake of Scotland’s Parliamentary elections and starts in Glasgow, weaves through Stirling and Bannockburn, before ending in Edinburgh.

Like all our tours the trip is designed like a news documentary – with access to real people and real life situations. All of this is combined with some great analysis and interviews with key political leaders on both sides.

Day 1

Glasgow

The tour starts in the evening with a discussion – “Scotland and independence?” – the state of the debate for and against.

Overnight Glasgow

Day 2

Glasgow Turns Yellow

A century ago Glasgow was at the heart of the British Empire and Scottish identity was a very different thing. We briefly trace the shifts in politics and history from the end of the Victorian era to the eve of devolution. As the shipyards and factories that traded with the world went into decline Glasgow emerged as a Labour heartland. But since then Glasgow has seen a major political shift. A leading political analyst takes us through the city. We meet former Labour supporters at a working men’s club and see how the SNP took a foothold as traditional industry declined. Clydeside and The Gorbals – lunch at the ubiquitous chip shop. Meetings with local journalists and Scots writers.

Overnight Glasgow

Day 3

Sectarianism, Religion & Politics

In the morning we visit Scotland’s best selling broadsheet for their take on the city. We look at the role of religion in politics. Sectarianism exists but has waned and Protestants are no longer as wedded to the Union as they once were. Football itself tells a story (Ibrox Stadium). We also examine how the SNP has courted ethnic minorities including Glasgow’s thriving Asian community (Pollokshields). Talk with a leading Scots writer.

Overnight Glasgow

Day 4

Banockburn, Stirling, Edinburgh

The battle of two nations – a local historian takes us through Anglo-Scot relations and looks at how it is being argued over today. Lunch in Stirling. Travel to Edinburgh. We visit the Scottish Parliament – A pollster traces the inexorably rise of the SNP and the impact of Brexit on recent polls.

Overnight Edinburgh

Day 5

Independence & A Constitutional Crisis

We focus on the arguments for an independent Scotland. Just how viable would it be, and how much do those arguments play in a possible referendum campaign. Scotland’s place in the European Economy. We also look at Westminster’s response to Scottish nationalism. What is the Unionist response? The future of the UK is also the hands of Scottish voters. A leading Scottish Unionist puts forward the case for the status quo. Legal and constitutional experts also look at the possible fall out for the rest of UK if Scotland were to break away.

Overnight Edinburgh

Day 6

Salmond vs Sturgeon – Plus Identity Politics

Just as the SNP’s case for independence seemed invincible an almighty battle between the party’s most powerful figures erupted into a fullblown constitutional crisis. We look at how the “Salmond Affair” evolved and how the former SNP’s new party Alba might affect the independence debate. Ultimately though Scotland’s, and indeed the UK’s, future may rest on how people see themselves; in other words, identity may be the biggest decider in the independence debate. Brian Taylor and others review the tour and look at how Scots identity has evolved in recent years. We review the tour over drinks on Friday evening.

Overnight Edinburgh

Day 7

Tour ends

Departures


If you would like to book a tour please click here to fill in our booking form. Or call us on 0843 289 2349 or email us at [email protected] to find out more.

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Dates: Sunday, 27 June – Saturday 3 July 2021

If you would like to book your Scotland & Independence Tour please click here to fill in our booking form. Or call us on 0843 289 2349 or email us at [email protected] to find out more

What’s Included

All of your accommodation and some meals with water are included, as well as local transport (except during your free time).

Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.

Following the news

Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.

COVID-19: We won’t go to a country unless it is safe to do so- we remain guided by the UK Foreign Office travel advice.  For this reason some dates may change depending on the situation on the ground. 

We follow local Covid-19 safety measures and guidelines.

This tour starts in Glasgow on a Sunday evening-  3 nights Glasgow.  The tour ends in Edinburgh on the Saturday morning- after 3 nights Edinburgh.

Group size

As on all our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 14 people. Frequently we travel with 10-12 people. Limited spaces are available.

Visa

UK passport holders do not need a visa. Other passport holders may require a visa. It is always good to check with the embassy in your country for latest advice regarding visa requirements.

 

Weather

The tour is mid-summer.  Days are long and can be warm but evenings are cooler.  Some rain is to be expected.

Sunblock and rain gear are essential.

 

What to Wear

Dress is generally relaxed and casual. We suggest taking layers as the weather is variable in summer in Scotland!  Rain showers are not uncommon too so please ensure you pack a rain jacket.  Most important is to have comfortable shoes for walking.

Men: Will need a jacket and tie for some of the meetings.

Women: You will need smarter dress for one or two meetings.

FCO Website

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.

 

Medical Requirements

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx

We suggest you visit your own doctor or local travel clinic who will have the most up-to-date travel advice, and be able to recommend any vaccinations prior to travel based on your medical history.

Currency

Great British Pounds.

 

Electricity

Plugs are 3 pin UK.

 

Internet access

Wifi is available in all hotels as well as many coffee shops and restaurants.

Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor is a former political editor for BBC Scotland and columnist for the Scottish broadsheet newspaper The Herald.

Brian covered politics on television beginning with the 1979 United Kingdom general election. He joined the BBC in 1985, co-presenting the BBC Scotland political programme Left, Right and Centre and presenting Good Morning Scotland. Following this, he was appointed political correspondent and then political editor in 1991. In 2009, he presented Holyrood and the Search for Scotland’s Soul, a documentary by BBC Scotland Investigates to mark the 10th anniversary of the devolved Scottish Parliament.

On 10 September 2020, it was announced that he would retire at the end of October. In February 2021 it was announced that Taylor had joined The Herald as a columnist.

Taylor has written two books on Scotland’s new Parliament: The Scottish Parliament (Polygon, Edinburgh University Press, 1999), an account of the road to devolution and its consequences; and Scotland’s Parliament: Triumph and Disaster (Edinburgh University Press, November 2002), analysing the early years of the new Parliament.

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Scotland & Independence 2013

A most enlightening and exciting journey.  I so enjoyed the quality and quantity of scheduled speakers we heard from, propounding their differing views around their specific areas of expertise.  But I got so much pleasure when you also managed to spontaneously include a total stranger in our discussions – in the Courts, in the pub, outside public housing, in private homes  – as this gave me a feeling of having covered all of Scotland in a nutshell in the 8 days.  AL

Thanks to Jamie, Nick, and David, for helping to make the summer of 2013 one of the greatest travel experiences of my life.  AL

Scotland & Independence 2014

Great tour. Everyone back here in Australia is so interested to hear what is going on in Scotland, I have been attempting to explain it all.  JS

Fascinating ……… thank you!  WA

Northern Ireland

The impact of this tour was immense. We all were immersed in the culture and politics of Northern Ireland completely. The complexity of the political and social situation was palpable. At the same time, we felt the depth of the kindness and openness of the people of Northern Ireland in all of our interactions. It has built a permanent and life changing connection to Northern Ireland in all of us.  Bespoke group tour 2019
Our group felt that we had VIP access to the people and places of Northern Ireland, especially due to our incredible guide, Billy.  At every turn, we were exposed to amazing aspects of the culture and politics that we had not anticipated and would not have had without Political Tours.  CZ

“I learned a lot – from the places we visited, from the fascinating group of people we met – and, not least, from Seamus.  I couldn’t have asked for a more varied programme in a whirlwind tour.  I now need some time to digest what I have heard and seen, and will do so in the coming weeks. Everyone promised on the programme showed up;  and everyone, without exception, was fascinating.  Some of what I heard reinforced my thinking, some of what I heard challenged my beliefs, and some things were completely new or left field.”
HG

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Further Reading

Our Scotland Tour Expert, Brian Taylor, has written the following books:

The Scottish Parliament (Polygon, Edinburgh University Press, 1999), an account of the road to devolution and its consequences.

 Scotland’s Parliament: Triumph and Disaster (Edinburgh University Press, November 2002), analysing the early years of the new Parliament.

The Battle for Scotland‘ (Penguin, most recent edition 1995) is to my mind the best primer on Scottish politics, particularly the post-war period. It’s out of print (and very out of date) but easily obtained on Amazon’s ‘used and new’ section.

www.amazon.co.uk/The-Battle-Scotland-Andrew-Marr

My Biography of Alex Salmond (Birlinn, paperback edition 2011) is the only book on the SNP leader and First Minister, so worth a read.

www.amazon.co.uk/Salmond-Against-Odds-David-Torrance

For a study of why the Conservatives declined as a political force in Scotland, it’s also worth checking out another of my books, ‘We in Scotland – Thatcherism in a Cold Climate‘ (Birlinn, 2009).

www.amazon.co.uk/We-Scotland-Thatcherism-Cold-Climate

Gerry Hassan’s recent book, ‘The Strange Death of Labour Scotland‘ (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) offers a good overview of post-war Labour history in Scotland.

www.amazon.co.uk/Strange-Death-Labour-Scotland-Hassan/

Another book edited by Gerry, ‘The Modern SNP – From Protest to Power‘ (EUP, 2009) gives a relatively recent overview of the Scottish National Party’s current thinking and strategy.

www.amazon.co.uk/The-Modern-SNP-Protest-Power/

Scotland’s Future‘ (Dundee University Press, 2013) gives a good, academic overview of many issues – notably economic – in the independence debate.

www.amazon.co.uk/Scotlands-Future-Prof-Andrew-Goudie/

And next month another book called ‘Scotland’s Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards‘ (EUP, 2013) will offer the most up to date survey of the current debate.

www.amazon.co.uk/Scotlands-Choices-Referendum-Happens-Afterwards/

And Scotland on Sunday has just published this, a collection of essayists arguing for and against independence:

www.scotsman.com/news/scotland-decides-eight-essays-on-independence

For a cultural perspective, also worth looking at ‘Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence‘ (Word Power Books, 2012)

www.amazon.co.uk/Unstated-Scottish-Independence-Scott-Hames/

For erudite blogging from a Nationalist perspective, it’s worth looking at:

www.lallandspeatworrier.blogspot.co.uk

www.burdzeyeview.wordpress..com

While from a more Unionist perspective, look at:

www.ianssmart.blogspot.co.uk

www.thinkscotland.org/columnists/articles.html (blogs by me, Alex Massie and Euan McColm)

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