I have devoted myself to the cause of the people. It is a good cause. It shall ultimately prevail. It shall finally triumph. – Thomas Muir’s speech from the dock, Edinburgh, August 1793

The Thomas Muir Lecture celebrates the legacy of Thomas Muir through a commitment to the ideals of democracy, liberty and human rights, it takes place annually of Thomas Muir’s birthday – August 24th.

Thomas Muir led the first popular movement in Scotland for parliamentary reform and universal suffrage in 1792 and was punished with arrest and conviction for sedition and sentenced to transportation to the newly-established penal colony in New South Wales. Although historically overlooked Thomas Muir is increasingly recognized as the father of Scottish democracy and was Australia’s first political prisoner.
 

The Thomas Muir lecture is a celebration, with music, a reading by Muir biographer Murray Armstrong, an emminent keynote speaker and wine reception. Past lectures have been delivered by Alex Salmond, 2015 (video here), Lesley Riddoch, 2016 (video here) and Tommy Sheppard, 2017.



Thomas Muir has often been cited as the father of Scottish democracy. Born in Glasgow in 1765, he became a radical lawyer whose passionate campaigning for freedom of speech and democracy saw him convicted of sedition and sentenced to 14 years transportation to a penal colony in Australia. With his advocacy of political reform and the people’s freedoms, Muir was celebrated in post-revolutionary France and in 1796, he escaped from Botany Bay and made a daring – and gruelling – journey to France, where he died in 1799 at the age of just 33 from wounds sustained during his journey.

The lecture series was initiated by Elaine Henry and Tarlochan Gata Aura of Word Power books (now Lighthouse Bookshop) and is now continued by the Thomas Muir Memorial Committee.

The journalist and writer Murray Armstrong has studied the life and work of Thomas Muir  extensively.

“Politics can be about hope, about the desire to have a better future, the desire to make things better for future generations”. Murray’s full talk at Word Power is available hereor you can immerse yourself in his book The Liberty Tree, which you can purchase HERE!

Image credit:  Thomas Muir bust by Alexander Stoddart