This blog piece was partially inspired by another blog post written by Peter Mathews, a lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Stirling. For me, his words and insight, prompted me to summarise my journey towards my decision, and, to give folks a flavour of the aftermath I experience right now. Before reading my blog post, you must read Peter’s first. Hopefully you will see in his excellent article, why it compelled me to respond to him, and then to post my response onto my own site. Here is the link to Peter’s blog: http://drpetermatthews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/scotland-decides.html?showComment=1411214731638
And here is my journey: Thankyou for this. I was searching for this. I could not agree more with everything Peter has said. I found what he says and captures, echos my journey. Like Peter to an extent, I too have background in history (Scots) and degree in social policy. I started as an instinctive No, left it on the shelf for a while. I then knew I owed it to my fellow Scots and our UK, to research, to think, to keep my heid, to see through the jingoism and pundits of both camps, and then I gave myself a deadline of 1 week prior to the day. As I set myself the deadline, I found myself drifting to the YES. I then drifted, hard, to the YES, even going to a campaign rally in Glasgow to see Sturgeon. I wanted to see it and smell it. I felt lost. Because that is where the BT were. Anyway, I shook Sturgeon’s hand. She leant over and kissed my cheek. I went home and felt good I had seen it. But… As I moved from a passive bystander on Twitter, (I deliberately stayed off FB – not wanting to bother my ‘friends’ with my ramblings) to a Yes, I wanted it out there, I then got the bashing. The bashing that I could be YES and still extoil the wonders of what makes us Scottish and British. Of the many thousands that fought and died as Scots part of the Union. I could not believe it. I was hurt. I was so hurt. I then realised something very important about myself: that I should have stuck with my instincts. They were right all along. You see, I learned that I had already gave so much thought to who, we, Scotland are as a nation: where we had come from is as important as knowing where we are going. I switched before GB made that ‘finest hour’ speech. After watching it, I realised I was, and had been, a NO all along. I flirted with Yes, but I didn’t want a relationship with them. I had the choice of a one night stand and I enjoyed it – but only for a few hours. I realised if Scotland is so great (which she is – and so is the UK), then we ought to go bigger. Be more ambitious. More progressive. I cried when I switched. I cried because I know I had to deal with the Yes taunts – if – I was going to come out as a No on my FB. Armed with the knowledge of the ill informed Yes camp and their claim to represent all Scots, I decided to do my little research study. This is when a Scots history degree comes in well handy ;). I got ready. I looked out my Saltire flag, stringed a bootlace in the holes, and tied it around my neck like a Caledonian Fairy ready to cast her spell to the wind. I thought, hey, if there are millions voting today, I’d like to be noticed! So, I drove down, my flag getting caught in the shuffles of my steps as I warily entered the Govan polling station (a beautiful new school campus built under a Labour government). As I entered the civic space outside, a group of YES canvassers approached my steps and exclaimed, with delight and victory in their eyes, ‘Oh, well, we don’t need to worry about who you’re voting, well done’. I just looked, walked past them, but as I did, I saw the young policeman who was guarding the entrance, look at me, as if expecting me to respond. He and I just gave a nod to each other. It took me a while to actually put my cross down. The staff were there. We had a mini national conversation! They were only to keen to hear snippets of my journey, as I wanted to give them it, they had no choice! but I didn’t declare. I got emotional when I held the paper and they saw it. They said so many did the same. I exclaimed, ‘it is an honour and a privelege to vote’. They agreed. I took a deep breath and went into the booth. I looked at the paper in almost awe. A sense of overwhelm came over me. I had made my decision. Quick. Mark your cross I remember thinking. Don’t waste time or you’ll do the wrong thing. I marked it in the No box. On leaving the hall, and going outside, I remember wanting to mingle, to loom at the paraphanelia of an Independence vote polling station. My nerdyness was curious. But what I was really doing, was really hoping to delay what I knew all along was going to be confirmed, that I hoped I would be wrong about: that the YES would congratulate me. But what were they congratulating on, hopefully, just for voting. But no. As I nodded to the young policeman, I set about walking past them fast, praying they would not say, what I knew they would say, and what I really hoped they wouldn’t because I knew how I would respond: ‘Thanks, so many thanks, thank you, thank you’. I said as I walked past, ‘Thanks, but the Saltire does not belong to you, it belongs to me and Scotland, No Thanks’. I left, heavy in heart, as I looked back at their faces, staring at me, in disbelief. I didn’t want to say it. After all this was only a week after I sat outside drinking a coffee with my sister in a Shawlands cafe turned on by the Yes rally we had just been too: my 7 yr old son running up and down the street waving his Saltire flag. And so, I remained away from FB until the day dawned and the result was in. I knew the hearts were broken. I kept quiet. I conveyed a view of impartiality and of looking forward and being positive. Because what Scotland had achieved was bigger than independence. Peter Mathew’s article sums the Reluctant No voter up. I have found the whole process brilliant but like him, disappointed. It has been great. Scotland loves an audience. We thrive on being told, ‘keep it civil folks’, ‘do us proud’. Both camps, to an extent, complied – just. Finally, today, as the Shipyards voted No, and as I drink another coffee from my flat that overlooks them, the Orange Walk has just banged their bass drums, some playing Rule Britannia. Others, with the Saltire and Union Jack in equal first place at the front carried by the banner boy. It made me realise my choice was right. Scotland must sort its own house first, before we portend to the world we are where we want to be, that Scandinavian model that so many of us aspire and indeed, recognise. But my heart knows we are not there. I also know that Scotland has what it takes to deliver something much bigger and which addresses all that is wrong with the UK. I am glad of my contribution. What I cannot come to terms with is the astounding accusations I have faced from some people on FB, albeit none personally directed but you get the gist: ‘you abandoned us’, ‘you support our imperialist overlords’ ‘you traitor’ ‘you are not a patriot’. ‘thanks for leaving 1 in 4 children in poverty in Glasgow’. Twitter feeds from old colleagues who I know despise my views. What some may conveniently forget, or at least those who think they know me, is that my whole life has been about helping the disadvantaged and helping solve things that create disadvantage. But I know no known cure for poverty. Noone does and if I did, I would be a bulti-trillionaire the world over. Why do I stand accused of this? It is this ignorance that divides us, not the Nos in their selection. And they seem utterly oblivious to the Nos reasoning. Like they just want want want all the time and attack attack attack. They have been left wanting. And blame is the game. Funny. I learned about all this in my degree. What is amazing is that I now have first hand experience of living in the time to have actually been part of it. But I am steadfast. I feel more confident than ever that I know quite a lot about history, but only a little something about politics. But combined, I felt I made the right decision for Scotland, for now anyway. And it was the right decision as a woman, as a single parent who has just got on her feet in many areas of life. We all have our own reasons. Scotland will become independent. Just not now. 10-15 years? Who knows. By then I hope more Scots will take the time to understand the No voters, who in fact are, almost half of them I’d say, reluctant No voters for the time being.