My background is firmly working class, born & bred in Southern Scotland. My Dad left school at age 15 with no qualifications but a determination to do well for himself and went straight into a joinery apprenticeship. He eventually became a clerk of works and building maintenance manager for a local housing firm. My Mum was a miner's daughter who was a bit better educated than Dad and went on to work mostly in secretarial jobs. I was brought up in Irvine & Dreghorn, attending Dreghorn Primary at the same time as Nicola Sturgeon (she is two years older than I) and lived not too far from her family home. At the age of 11 my Dad started a new job in Dumfries and we moved down here, although both my parents were from the Dumfries area & we visited regularly to see family. My family (both sides) were staunch Labour supporters who abhorred the Tories. My dad told me very recently that he was, at one point, a card carrying member of the SNP in the late 60s but decided that he didn't like the idea of an independent Scotland. He felt that Scotland was an integral part of the Union but it was the action of the SNP voting against Labour and helping the Tories into power in the 70s that he led him to vow that he would never vote for them again. As a child/young adult I was always told about "Thatcher, Thatcher Milk Snatcher!" & how they shut down all the mines which affected my mother's family and that basically all Tories were nasty and evil. Naturally, when I became 18 I always voted Labour, no questions asked. To be honest I had no interest in politics when I was younger and really didn't know what I was voting for when I did vote. I quite often didn't see the point and abstained. Throughout my life I had heard the mutterings about Scotland being the Government's guinea pig, particularly with the poll tax. So there was a part of me that thought it was unfair & perhaps prejudiced. As I mentioned before, I had no interest in politics and this continued until 2013 when I was in my early 40s. Then the campaign for the independence referendum started appearing on social media etc. I was a Facebook addict & started to see friends & family post things up from both sides of the fence. I will, rather embarrassingly, admit that the fact that Nicola Sturgeon came from my childhood home held some sway in the direction that I went. She was a local girl done good and her and Salmond's rhetoric was persuasive particularly coming from the background I had as mentioned previously. Now, I did have questions about some of the policies they had, especially education, as I had a teenage daughter who was applying to universities that year. I was also concerned about the Named Person policy. I have a few teacher friends who put forward very convincing arguments as to how these policies weren't as insidious as they seemed. I have known some of these people for nearly 30 years and for the most part they love their job so I had no reason to distrust them. So I voted Yes. On the morning of the 19th September I was deflated when I heard the results but I accepted it. Then, unexpectedly, that acceptance turned into relief as the days went on. I was still sitting on the fence regarding independence & even voted SNP in the subsequent election when my daughter finished secondary school and was trying to get into University in Scotland. She had very good grades & definitely the requisite for the course that she wanted to do but try as she might she got rejected from them all. She contacted clearing and at one point was told, via automated message at Edinburgh University that they weren't admitting any students through clearing. She didn't get a University place. So my initial reservations about the SNP's educational policies in 2014 were confirmed. Then we had Brexit in which I voted Leave. I started to get very irritated, very quickly with Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP's stance that the whole of Scotland voted Remain. In 2014 I had created a Twitter account but didn't understand it or how to use the platform so really didn't interact. That changed in 2016 when it became clear that I was an anomaly amongst my friends who regarded Brexiteers as racist, lacking education and empathy. Facebook became a depressing, anger inducing place for me and I looked at Twitter again. I started to see accounts that were obviously for the Union posting facts and figures about what an independent Scotland would actually look like. I found so much information via Twitter! One by one the reservations that I had regarding the SNP were laid out in blog pieces, graphs, stats etc and they made so much sense! The more I read the more I realised that we had dodged a bullet by voting No and the further I read the more I realised that the SNP were nothing but liars, fraudsters & hypocrites. Even now, 6 years later their reasons for leaving the union haven't progressed even though they have been debunked thoroughly. I would like to clarify that I don't consider myself a traditional unionist, in the sense of belief in the Queen, country and the Union Jack (I actually hate flags and people's loyalty to them). I am not a huge Scottish patriot either but I recognise the massive contribution our little country has made to the world and acknowledge that most, if not all of it has been because of our union with England, Wales & Northern Ireland. I very much hope that a further referendum never happens and we can all work together to make a more United Kingdom.
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