I am a 51 year old working mum of five – not all at home thank goodness. Im a member of the Women for Independence National Executive. This Blog is growing and changing as my hopes and aspirations change. I actually DO expect to change the world but I accept that might not even make sense sometimes. I hope you enjoy the read.

Archive for the month “February, 2017”

A parable? 

Something different today – a story. 

She found everything moving. Her eyes would fill with tears at the news, at stories in the papers and she had even been known to cry at adverts – you know, that one with the Billy Joel song “Always a woman to me” where it shows a baby girl growing into a woman – yep…. tears.

She was moved by sad stories, happy stories and stupid posts on the internet. She could be moved to tears, to outrage, to anger. She was never simply indifferent.

She was everyone’s mother, everyone’s nurse and everyone’s conscience. Real life relationships were a nightmare – she couldn’t hide her emotions. She would wake lovers at 4am to cry over something she had seen on CNN or Al Jazeera and, as their relationship moved along and they found these middle of the night discussions didn’t lead onto sex, they stopped pretending to find them either interesting or moving.

She didn’t understand. She would cry and they would become tired and irritated and very soon they found her exhausting to be around and drifted away to find less intense people to love. She began to find it difficult to engage with people who didn’t find things as moving as she did. She didn’t understand them. Why didn’t they find the attitude of politicians outrageous? Why didn’t they shout at the TV when question time was on? Why didn’t they see all the badness and neglect in the world? How could they not notice? She found this baffling.

People asked her why she cared so much – and she responded by saying there is nothing if we don’t care about each other. She explained how important it was to be aware of the state of the world, of the hardship people were suffering. She was so passionate that people raised their eyebrows and nodded knowingly at each other thinking she was a little….erm…odd. The tears came frequently – not huge wracking sobs – just silent crying – they would run down her face and she would wipe them away with the back of her hand like someone would brush their hair out of their face. She didn’t even notice them most of the time but others did.

When her tears interfered with her work as a journalist it became a nightmare – she would cry when interviewing the family of a murder victim but she would also cry over the story of a lost purse. She would weep at the laptop as she wrote about a missing child. She would shout, get angry and cry as she commented on debates in Parliament. She wept with anger, with impotence and with sadness. Her editor mentioned his concern for her. She went to see her doctor and he prescribed anti-depressants and told her not to care so much. She thought he might as well tell her not to breathe. She couldn’t understand why her colleagues didn’t feel like she did but eventually they put her on a performance improvement programme and then, when her performance didn’t improve – which meant when she didn’t stop crying – they paid her off due to inefficiency.

It was about this time she started to fade.

She stayed at home. Unrestricted by being with other people the tears were pretty much constant from the moment she got up in the morning to the moment she went to sleep at night. She didn’t notice them. She wrote long rants to politicians and business people asking them to pay more tax or to be more compassionate in the laws they were making – to care more. She rarely went out. Then one day her ring fell off. She bent down to pick it up and looked at her fingers and saw they were thinner. She was surprised. Slim all her life, her weight hardly varied at all. She didn’t look thinner when she went to the mirror. She seemed the same although – she peered at her reflection – she looked perhaps a bit less substantial. Wiping the tears from her cheeks she went back to her computer.

She stopped opening the curtains – she spent her days going from one dreadful story to another. She ordered food online which she ate at her keyboard , addicted to the 24 hour news. She only left to sleep and pee – going to the bathroom one day she caught a look at herself in the mirror. She really thought that the light was very strange in the bathroom, she looked almost transparent. She had a shower and washed her hair but it didn’t make much difference…. She looked almost not there. The postman delivering junk mail and letters which were addressed mainly to “the householder” thought he saw a shadow through the glass but he couldn’t be sure.

And then one day the keyboard was silent. The room was heavy with quiet. There was a pile of slightly damp clothes and there was a damp patch on the carpet where her tears had fallen and soaked into the floor but nothing else. Her tears hadn’t fed anyone, her sadness hadn’t saved anyone, her outrage hadn’t made any difference. Her emails had been ignored. She hadn’t really DONE anything. Her emotions had swallowed her up. She had literally cried her life away. No one missed her – no one noticed she wasn’t there anymore. No one called the police. There was no body, no sign of a smell, nothing to alarm anyone. She had no friends. Only the politicians and business people whose inboxes became suddenly lighter wondered in passing where she was. Then they got on with their day and never thought about her again.


Oh my goodness. Last night my lovely friend started a hashtag on Twitter. You might have seen it – its #OrdinaryScots4Indy. It was in response to recent articles in the Economist and their ridiculous pictures of roaring men in blue paint wearing “see you jimmy” hats. It was an attempt to highlight that there are many, many people supporting independence who are not blue, not wearing tartan bonnets and not roaring so loudly you can see their fillings. There were all types of people tweeting their stories and I tweeted mine. 

“I’m a 53 yr old English working mum of five, I was a member of WFI Nat exec for 4 years and I support Indy Scotland. #OrdinaryScots4Indy”

Immediately I was called “Traitor”. Not the worst thing I have been called on Twitter and the user was perfectly polite and not in the slightest bit abusive so I humoured myself with a silly conversation about identity. Then today, another conversation about how being English means that I shouldn’t meddle in Scottish affairs and that I can under no circumstances, ever call myself Scottish. Again, a perfectly polite exchange which I had a bit of fun with. They were circular conversations but lighthearted enough and I enjoyed wasting my time with them. 

However, both conversations hide a somewhat unpalatable truth which is largely ignored by the mainstream media. Despite the persistent suggestions of anti English sentiments within the SNP specifically, or the wider independence campaign the only time I have been told I am not welcome in the debate, told that I should go back to England and stop meddling in Scottish business, told that I won’t ever belong here in Scotland, it has been by people who support Scotland remaining part of the UK. This experience is common amongst those of us born outside Scotland who speak up for Independence. 

That’s right, people who want Scotland to remain part of the UK, want us all to be one nation, who think we are all “better together” tell me that I have no right to be heard, no right to speak about Independence and no business sticking my nose in because, despite having lived here for 20 years, I am English, will always BE English and will never, ever, ever, be Scottish. 

Many people wanting to keep Scotland in this union – which is so clearly not a union of equals – seem to think that the “nationality” of those supporting an Independent Scotland is of paramount importance. “You’re English” they type. I can almost hear them shouting at their laptops. They demand that I should stand up for the union and tell me my Englishness trumps everything else. Many seem to truly believe that English people should absolutely NOT be allowed a say in the debate.  

And it’s not only English people. We are seeing unionists call for EU citizens to be denied a vote in a second referendum and again and again we are seeing Union supporters say that only Scots born citizens wherever they live should have a vote. These insular attitudes must be resisted at all costs. Their view of identity is so polarised, they believe that people born elsewhere – particularly those people from England who support Scotland leaving the UK – are “vile/traitors/deluded/attention-seeking” and should know their place.

Identity, is a strange thing. I am indeed English. I have said before that I’m proud of who I am – a Lancashire lass – a plain talking, no nonsense, ordinary northern lass. But I have lived in Scotland for 20 years and my identity has grown and changed as my life has grown and changed. The children I brought with me and those who were born here are truly Scots, educated here, working here, making their own way here. I am no longer homesick for the dark satanic mills of the place I was born because it is no longer my home. My home is here, in the glens and mountains of the Highlands, the beaches and harbours of the Moray Firth, the rugged coastline and flow country of Caithness. I have already written about how I no longer feel I belong in Lancashire. The current political debate has only underlined that. The chaotic, angry, insular Brexit voices, the anti immigrant Tory and UKIP rhetoric, the harsh, cruel policies enacted by a government that I did not vote for, that my country, Scotland did not vote for, leaves me sad and longing to come home.

The important thing to remember is, these often angry people demanding that I acknowledge the overriding nature of my Englishness , don’t get to decide who I am. 

I do. 

I will indeed, always be English, that’s where I was born, that’s where I went to school and its where fundamental parts of my character were formed. I like that. It is part of me always- but it is not all of me. I am also Scottish. My home, my life, my heart is here. Scotland is MY country, I belong to it, it belongs to me; like it belongs to the Polish, Lithuanian, German, French people who also call this place home; like it belongs to the refugee Doctors that are being supported to qualify to practice here by the inimitable Maggie Lennon and her wonderful team (with a little help from the Scottish Government); like it belongs to those from outside the EU who have found themselves here and who have all become #OrdinaryScots4Indy. 

So I do indeed “know my place”. It is here, right at the centre of the campaign for an Independent Scotland. Working hard to make Scotland a better, fairer place for everyone who lives here – wherever you are from. Standing against the divisive unionist voices who would shut me up and deny others the right to vote. My voice and hundreds of others who also belong here will drown out this nonsense and with a bit of luck, we will have that open inclusive Independent Scotland sooner rather than later. 

Gloomy Reflections on Brexit

Today, the Westminster parliament has voted to block unaccompanied child refugees from entering Britain and voted not to guarantee the status of EU Nationals currently living in Britain.

The Scottish Government has on the other hand, repeatedly spoken up for the rights of EU nationals and committed to supporting their rights to live and work here and continues to do so. Today the SG announced funding which will support 40 refugee doctors living here  to qualify to practice medicine here in Scotland.  If anyone is still wondering why I support an Independent Scotland then you have it there in those examples. The UK is a place where I no longer fit, with policies that I am ashamed of, politicians that care nothing for the most vulnerable people in our country and our world. The government is a disgrace. We even have a disappointment in the opposition leader – not one single concession or amendment passed but a three line whip issued to back the Brexit bill whilst ignoring the opportunity to do the same to prevent welfare reform which targets the vulnerable, the sick and the poor. We see hooray henrys woofing at scottish women MPs as they dare to speak and we see the voices of our elected officials silenced in a debate about our devolved administrations. All these things disappoint me. But they did not make me feel as ashamed as today’s votes have done.

And so I say, not in my name do you threaten the security of my friends from Poland, France, Spain; from Lithuania, Germany, Finland.

Not for me do you turn away children from our shores who have nowhere and no one. Not in my name.

There’s a song, it’s says “In yer hous aa the bairns o AidamWill fin breid, barley-bree an paintit room” It is of course, Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come All Ye. For those of us that espouse the values described in the song, for those of us looking outward, wanting an inclusive Scotland with a bright and hopeful future there is no choice. We cannot remain shackled to the UK as it is turned into a shadowland full of insular, racist, voices screaming their hate from the front pages of newspapers. The Newspapers who’s owners laugh over their champagne and slap the backs of their politician playmates, congratulating themselves on lining the pockets of their big business cronies as they flog off chunks of the NHS and open the door to Trump, rolling out the red carpet for a racist misogynist in anticipation of scraps off his trade deals table.

Any remnant of hope that Scotland’s elected representatives or that Scotland’s democratically elected Government will be heard has disappeared. Any possibility of Scotland softening the position of the U.K. Government is gone. Any suggestion that Brexit will create a greater better Britain is worthless. It’s all shit. Now is the time to stand up for the poor and the vulnerable, for the migrant workers, for the children who belong nowhere, and to no one and say not in your name either. We must take our own road and make our own choices and the only way to do that is by ensuring Scotland becomes Independent as soon as possible.
Anything else is nothing – useless, pointless nothing.

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