Michael Russell to deliver the 2023 Thomas Muir Lecture

Published: 25 October 2023

The lecture series celebrates the 18th century figure known as the “father of Scottish Democracy”.

Professor Michael Russell, the Scottish National Party President and a former Scottish Government minister, will deliver the 2023 Thomas Muir Lecture, which celebrates the 18th century figure known as the “father of Scottish Democracy”.

The lecture was established by the University of Glasgow in order to "highlight traditions of democratic thought in Scotland as they link with the wider world”.

Professor Russell’s lecture entitled “It shall ultimately prevail”, pursuing the "good cause” of democratic consent” will be held at the University of Glasgow on Thursday 2 November.

He will examine the link between democratic consent and campaigns for independence in a variety of places including Scotland. Professor Russell will then ask if Westminster's refusal to outline a clear route to constitutional change in Scotland is creating circumstances in which democratic consent may be put at risk.

Professor Russell said: “I am delighted to have been asked to deliver this lecture.   Thomas Muir was a courageous and determined advocate of democracy but the threats to democracy did not disappear with the establishment of a universal franchise.   They still exist and one of the most severe in terms of securing the democratic consent of the governed in Scotland is the refusal of the UK political system to agree the way in which public opinion on constitutional change can be tested and can prevail if it is in the majority. That refusal is of course not unique to the UK with the same phenomenon being found in other places and it needs a resolution.”

Professor Michael Russell is President of the SNP, Honorary President of the European Movement in Scotland, a writer, was formerly an MSP and Scottish Government Minister. He was part time Professor in Scottish Culture & Governance in the University from 2015 - 2023, and is now an Honorary Professor in the College of Arts & Humanities.

The lecture series is named after the 18th century radical martyr Thomas Muir of Huntershill who a champion of political reform was, freedom of speech and voting rights for all. The reform activities of the former University of Glasgow student led his trial for sedition and exile to Australia.

The lecture series is a collaboration with the Friends of Thomas Muir Society and the University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CRBS), who have a research interest in Scottish Radicalism. It is also supported by the Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies.

Dr Ronnie Young, one of the organisers of the lecture series, said: “We’re honoured to have Michael deliver this year’s Muir lecture. As a prominent political figure, his insights into issues surrounding democratic consent will be of great value, particularly as they come at a time when democracy itself often appears embattled.”

Thomas Muir Lecture: Professor Michael Russell

Date: Thursday, November 2

Time: 5:30 - 7:30pm GMT

Location: Room 255 - Humanity Lecture Theatre, Main Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ


The lecture is free but tickets are required. The event is in person and online. Click the Eventbrite link to book you free ticket





First published: 25 October 2023