Our Parliament

Far from the Palace of Westminster or political happenings in Holyrood another ‘parliament' has been taking place… The word parliament derives from the Anglo-Norman parlement, from the verb parler…to talk. Over time the word has evolved from the idea of simple discussions and negotiation to the formal institutions we know today. While the islands of Sicily and Iceland boast two of the oldest parliaments in the world our own islands here can attest to a similar, if rather more humble history. The village parliament has long since faded into obscurity here in the Outer Hebrides but at one time, particularly in our outlying islands of St Kilda (Hiort) and Scarp, the men of these small communities would gather each morning to discuss the pressing matters of the day. While the women stoically got on with their tasks at hand, the menfolk would gather in the village street instead, usually outside the largest house, to raise issues and decide upon the day’s activities, what needed done and who was best served to do it. No-one led the meeting and all had the right to speak. Today, our distillery does something quite similar. Every Monday morning the men and women of our distillery gather around one of our Canteen’s heavy oak tables to talk, debate and come to, hopefully, mutual agreements. We call this our Distillery Parliament and like to think it echoes something of the spirit of island parliaments from times gone by. Obviously the gathering is a far more gender balanced affair these days as our distillers sit down with their fellow workers and management around the table, fortifying mugs of coffee to hand, to raise issues and report on progress from all aspects of each other’s work. If there are problems to tackle the people best placed to find solutions are given charge, regardless of position or regular role. Input and ideas are encouraged from every quarter and there is always plenty to be discussed, all in the same egalitarian spirit as our forefathers addressed the challenges of their own daily lives. It’s an enjoyable gathering, one which helps us grow as our own small community within our wider one, learning and trusting in each other’s many and varied skills and talents. Thankfully, there has been no heckling, jeering or tattling to the tabloid press so far, which in our estimations puts us head and shoulders above some other more famous parliaments we could mention! But, rest assured, if any scandals do happen to arise you’ll find them reported here first...

< Back to journal