I have always been a supporter of political independence for Scotland. I don’t remember the referendum of 1979 (my only memories of 1979 are my New Zealand grandparents coming to visit us in Scotland) but I do vividly remember politics being a topic of discussion among my family from the early 80s. My father was very political; a working class Glaswegian with a deep concern for the rights of the poor who joined the Communist Party and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. His brother later said would have been the leader of the SNP had he lived long enough but I doubt that very much as my mother always said of him that he would have made a hopeless politician as he didn’t really do compromise. Anyway, he died in 1981 so I never really knew him therefore it was my New Zealand born teacher of a mother who gave me my interest in politics and provided my early education in that area of life. Political discussion on all sorts of issues – not just Scotland’s independence – have been a regular feature of her and my conversations for the past 30 years and I look forward to many more in the years to come.
I’ve always been aware that Scotland is not the subsidy junky that seems to be common currency with many from the rest of the UK but for me the reasons for Scotland’s independence were not so much about how much wealthier the country would be but how the greater democratic control the population could exert on an Edinburgh government compared to how little they can influence the one in Westminster. I had always viewed the economic arguments in favour of continuing the Union or going independent as being pretty much too close to call and had based my opinion on other values such as equality of income rather than wealth, accountability and the idea that Scots could do with growing up and not blaming everything bad that happens North of the Border on England and English.
When the 2014 referendum was announced it was a bit of a no-brainer for me so I have to say I didn’t really get involved until the start of this year. At that time I had conversations with several friends, some Yes, some No and others Undecided, and my position was that the argument was a head and heart issue for most of us but that the head issues (the main one being, will we be better or worse off in an independent Scotland) were really too close to call so anyone could safely let their hearts make the decision for or against remaining in the Union. This seemed fine with those whose hearts wanted independence but were unsure of the economics but the No voices were not so easily persuaded and they challenged me with various facts and figures. So my response was to go away and start looking at numbers; tax, expenditure, debt and deficit – all provided by the UK Government – and what I found surprised me. Scotland is far, far wealthier than I had realised and the UK has taken far, far more money from Scotland throughout the last century (at least) than I knew and oil, while important, is only a part of the story.
Through my investigations I came to realise how poor the information reaching the majority of the public really is; how biased the mainstream media is (especially the state broadcaster, the BBC) and how negative the pro-Union lobby groups are. This realisation made me want to get involved and take part in educating people in Scotland rather than just sit on the side-lines watching it all happen. Now that my head and my heart are both convinced that independence for Scotland is the way ahead for us all in Scotland I have no qualms about taking part in the campaign because I truly believe it is the better course for Scotland and its people.