This Weekend at Wigtown Book Festival

4 October 2019

What a line up - Gavin Esler (Brexit Without the Bullshit), Jackie Morris (The Lost Words), Carol Drinkwater (The House on the Edge of the Cliff), Geoffrey Robertson QC (Rather His On Man) and Tony Laithwaite (Direct).

The festival has superb variety of guests over the weekend talking about everything from current affairs and celebrity court cases through to our relationship with nature, new fiction and the wine trade.

After welcoming FM Nicola Sturgeon in 2018 we have Ruth Davidson MSP, who was until recently the leader of the Scottish Tories, joining us this year and talking about her book Yes She Can.

Tickets have already sold out for her event – but we caught up with her for a quick Q&A covering some of the topics that could well come up.

Q) What were your favourite books and authors as a girl and young adult?

A) As a young child, I loved Enid Blyton and all the Hardy Boys and Black Stallion books. As I got a bit older I loved To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (and still love it) and the plays A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt and Shakespeare’s Henry V. I guess the thematic link between them (the last three – not the Famous Five/Secret Seven) is moral courage and doing what’s right, knowing that there will be a personal cost.

Q) If an aspiring Conservative politician asked your advice on books to read that would prepare them for the experience what would you recommend and why?

A) I don’t think there’s any set text for preparing someone for elected office. However, if I was advising people to read, it wouldn’t be a pile of political autobiographies – that’s akin to old generals fighting the last war. 

I’d suggest that people read widely on issues that they are interested in or know that they aren’t well versed on – so, for example, Paul Collier’s the Bottom Billion, discussing international development, or Darren McGarvey’s Poverty Safari on poverty and welfare. It’s not necessarily about finding voices you instinctively agree with, it’s allowing yourself to be challenged and being open to learning and adapting your thinking.

Q) Are you planning to write any more books yourself at any time - if so what, fiction or non-fiction? Or is there perhaps an authorised biography in the offing?

A) I loved interviewing the women in my book – loved it. As both a journalist and a politician, I’ve always enjoyed hearing people’s stories. The actual writing of the book, I found more of a struggle than perhaps I should have, as someone who regularly writes thousands of words in newspaper columns and political speeches. I really had to sweat over the words as books are more … permanent. So while I don’t have any immediate plans to relive the experience, perhaps, like childbirth, the memory of the pain fades and I’ll be ready for a baby brother or sister to Yes She Can in time.

  • Though the tickets have all been snapped up for this event, there are a multitude of other things to enjoy. See