Forget The Spice Girls, meet The Shortbread Wumen!

IMG_5630[1]Karen, Norma and Rachel and of course Indy Panda at the Women for Independence event in Perth on the 4th of October!

 

 

 

After preparations including the baking of shortbread and sandwich-making at dawn we were on our way to Perth! After two weeks of reflecting, and yes, grieving, we were ready for what we hoped would be an inspiring day with 1000 women beginning to take the next steps of our journey…..

Shortbread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what a day it was- powerful keynote speeches by Carolyn Leckie, Elaine C Smith and Jeanne Freeman and some interesting thoughts on economics by Margaret Cuthbert! It was wonderful to listen to the thoughts of women from aged 16 to 83!

Elaine C SmithElaine on Mic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the two Elaine’s we loved listening to- Elaine C Smith and Elaine Gunn who shared her Journey to Yes back in July!

It helped us to think about what we might want to do in the coming weeks and months, both with A Woman’s View page and individually in our own local communities. The meeting reminded us that we have time to think, to plan and to get involved as the picture develops  but perhaps at a less frantic pace than they did in the last few weeks of the referendum campaign!

The biggest thing we got from the day was the inspiration to keep going! We are women with as valid a place and opinions as the 48% of men in Scotland and that we are part of a strong movement of women demanding to be heard!

Right now we are carrying on with our daily Panda post as Tian Tian appears to be enjoyed by a wide ranging audience.

In terms of our page we would love to hear what you would like to see on it!

We are thinking that it is a good place to share content about women’s issues- but really about any issues for Scotland and to talk about them from A Woman’s View?

All thoughts and ideas are very welcome!

Three Women’s View!

3 Women's ViewKaren, Rachel and Norma are the admins behind A Woman’s View and decided it was time to reflect on the last few weeks and months…..

 

 

 

 

So it’s been more than a week since the result of the Referendum and we feel it’s now time to write our first blog since we finished the wonderful series of 22, sorry 22 plus panda journeys to Yes.

The support for the weekly blogs and the daily panda updates was amazing and we were quite overwhelmed to have over 100, 000 views over both in just 5 months. Thanks to all the fabulous women who shared their journeys and to all who read them each week!

Our panda over the last week has gone through the 5 stages of grief, and at a pace faster than at least one of us was ready for!

5 stages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We thought we would take this opportunity to take a few lines to reflect on the journey to the 18th of September before we start thinking about the way forward.

Okay, the negatives first!

Better Together’s campaign was based centrally around fear. Fear was promoted throughout the mainstream media and particularly by the BBC. The only newspaper throughout to come out strongly in favour of independence was Sunday Herald. While those of us involved in the campaign could laugh at and comprehensively refute all of the MSM claims, many of us missed the fact that a significant number of older people do not have access to social media so relied solely on information they were getting from the media backed up by some very suspect information given on doorsteps by Better Together representatives. We have heard that on more than one occasion, people were told that their pension would stop the very next week if they voted yes. Just 19% of people liking our Facebook page are over 55, and just 6% over 65 so we missed it too.

The three amigos must have been significantly spooked by the polls as they rushed to Scotland after postal votes had been lodged to offer further devo mystery powers. They signed up to a ‘vow’ that said they would deliver devo something within a very specific timescale. Whether that materialises remains to be seen.

Some people were already committed to voting no at this stage but a reported 6% of the population were swayed back to voting no on this basis. Let’s not forget that had they voted yes, independence would have had a 51% majority. Let’s also not forget that offering a third devo max option on the ballot paper was the red line issue for David Cameron in the pre Edinburgh Agreement negotiations. Had he wanted it there, it would have been there from day one.

The final big negative for us is the significant number of unanswered questions about the vote itself. Anything that evokes the passion that the independence referendum did was always going to be open to post result scrutiny. Whilst many of the video evidence produced after has now been explained, there do seem to be some very significant questions to be asked about the postal voting process as it is not fit for purpose!

And now the positives!

You’ll be pleased to know that they outweigh the negatives.

From day one, we fought a positive campaign based on hope and opportunity to create a fairer society. The message got out loud and clear to under 55’s, the majority of whom voted yes. People from all walks of life got involved in the campaign and yes was embraced in communities where people had previously been completely disenfranchised from politics. This was started by politicians but it very quickly became a campaign of the people for the people.

Social media proved to be a fantastic way of counteracting the lies and misinformation provided by Better Together and providing people with factual information. Yes was the clear winner on social media and so much can be learnt from this in how we engage people in politics in the future. Another significant stand out of the yes campaign was the fantastic creativity that emerged. From Lady Alba to the amazingly quick response to the Patronising BT Lady advert, it was breath taking just how creative people got in spreading the yes message.

The final significant positive was the post result reaction. Most of us truly believed we would win so were completely devastated when word came through that no had won. We suspect that Westminster thought we would all accept the result and jump back into our boxes. It didn’t take long to get a sense that we, the people, were not going away. In saying that, we are all at sixes and sevens just now but with a bit of clear direction we are ready to go again!

We have been taking some time to think about what we want to do in future as 3 individual women and for A Woman’s View.

We are agreed, though that the way forward must be positive! Ours is a message of hope and opportunity, not one of negativity. and we need to keep it that way no matter how unjust it feels.

Thousands have already joined pro-independence parties and are starting to attend meetings. Others have shown their support by continuing to attend rallies up and down the country. The food parcel collections all across Scotland are such a wonderful example of the Scottish spirit in the face of defeat.

How fantastic were our new 16 – 17 year old voters? Many showed a level of understanding that left most of us standing. What a future we have! We need to keep them engaged and lobby for all 16 plus year olds having a vote in all future elections.

Social media is a fantastic way of reaching people with an alternative message to the one given by the mainstream media and we need to capitalise on this but we also need to find creative ways of reaching out to those who don’t have access to social media. Lunch club anyone?

Seriously though, our own followers on Facebook reflect this with over 80% of the people liking our page being under 55.

Let’s keep the creativity going. One of the big issues was having a shared currency union and keeping the Bank of England as the lender of last resort. We have already seen many discussions about setting up a Scottish bank capable of taking on this roll. With the power of the people and creative thinkers, anything is possible!

The biggest lesson for us though is this. For too long the political establishment have held the power. Ordinary people are now engaged. Let’s keep it that way and use the momentum we have to change the face of politics forever.

So, reflecting over, its time to start thinking about how we move forward. We have not reached a decision yet on our page. The three of us are heading to Perth on Saturday to be a part of 1000 women planning for the future with Women for Independence.

We would also love to hear for our followers about what they would like to see on our page.

Panda for Yes! Tian Tian

Panda for YesA final blog from our very own Tian Tian!

 

 

 

Okay this might just be the weirdest blog you will read on A Woman’s View but I felt compelled to tell you why I will be voting YES today!. First a little bit about me.

My name is Tian Tian and I am 10 years old. Trust me in panda years that puts me in my prime. My partner Yang Guang is the same age and we were born ten days apart in China. Yang Guang’s birthday was on 14th August and mine on 24th. I should point out that this is a second relationship for both of us. To be honest, that hasn’t really shocked anyone in Scotland and we have been welcomed with open arms.

It was a big decision to come to Scotland but there were many factors that swayed us. Scotland has a similar climate to the area of China we originate from so weather was a big talking point for us. Weather seems to be a big topic of conversation here in Scotland too so we knew we’d fit in!

When we arrived in Scotland, we were apprehensive to say the least. We are foreigners and we were worried that we wouldn’t be accepted. Our fears were misplaced and we couldn’t believe the warmth of the welcome we received. We have had some high profile visitors like HRH Princess Anne and Nicole Kidman which is lovely but, to be honest, we are just two ordinary pandas trying to get on in life.

To that end, we found somewhere to live, two modest semis which are next door to each other. We are told that our relationship is not untypical in Scotland in that we do our own thing and only get together when the mood takes us. Having seen sit coms like Rab C Nesbitt we kind of get what people mean.

One of the big things we have noticed is the wonderful, free health care you enjoy in Scotland. Yang Guang had a calcium deficiency last year and the care and treatment he received was second to none.

Another area where we have deeply appreciated the professionalism of your health care is in trying to help me conceive. We both really want to be parents but have struggled badly. I lost a cub last year and another one this year and that was traumatic. The support from everyone around us carried us through and we survived. The skills and expertise available in Scotland is amazing and I very much hope that one day I will be pregnant with cub. If not, I know that I am in the best place to keep trying. Yang Guang is a fairly typical man around the time for you know what and fits right in in Scotland. You know, handstands, puffing out chest and generally showing off. He tends to eat more too so I have to hide the takeaway menus!!!

Oh and talking about food, that’s another area where we try to follow good old Scottish health care advice as we try to eat our 5 a day. Although bamboo is our staple there are loads of varieties so we try to vary. It’s what is natural to us anyway but we also know it’s good for us. 85% of our bamboo is imported from Germany and you know what? There are no cross border currency issues with importing it! I also don’t think you will have any issues with exporting Whisky to China. We are very partial to a dram! The rest of our bamboo is grown in Scotland. It’s all organic and we feel fab. I like to eat local produce when I can, don’t you?

Most of you will know that our survival is under threat. This is due to many reasons not least of all our genetics and embryology. The expertise and research facilities in Scotland have played a massive part in our coming here. If anyone can figure it all out the Scots can!

In the UK we have heard lots of things about immigration and people coming to the UK only to claim benefits. That isn’t our experience at all. Like others, we came to contribute and do our bit for Scotland. We have high aspirations and hope to generate £47 million in tourist revenue while we are here. We want to give back to Scotland what it has given to us. Scotland has a very different attitude to towards immigration and understands the need to attract skilled professionals who can contribute to building a country to be proud of. We can honestly say that no-one does cute pandas quite like us!

Another thing that perplexes us is the UK ‘welfare reforms’. In China we have very deep respect for our elders and believe that the oldest person in a family has the most respect, honour, and dignity. We also believe that it is our duty to take care of your parents when they get older. We find it confusing that the ‘welfare reforms’ are driving older people into poverty. The UK Government have increased the age where you can claim State Pension.

By 2020 you will need to be 66 to claim a State Pension and by 2028 you will need to be 67. For older people under these ages the changes are radical and sweeping. You will be affected by the Bedroom Tax, the move from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment, you will lose your benefits if you can’t find work and many other changes too numerous to mention.

So what would be different in an independent Scotland? A report recently produced by the Scottish Government had lots of recommendations. They want a future Scottish welfare system that is “fair, personal and simple”. Things they want to do right away are scrapping the Bedroom Tax; Work Capability Assessment and increase Carers Allowance. It leads me to believe that Scotland’s sense of social justice is very different to the attitude of Westminster. If I ever get sick or disabled or when I get older, Scotland is the place I would want to be!

Change is scary I know!! Try flying half way around the world to an unknown country. But I promise you; all my fears were allayed the minute we touched down on Scottish soil. I want to do my bit for Scotland to make it the fair and prosperous country it can be!

I hope that you do too! Come see me at Edinburgh Zoo and say hi. I am the good looking one with the banter!

Love

Tian Tian
x

#YesBecause Kate Higgins

IMG_5521Kate is a seasoned blogger (A Burdz Eye View) and Yes campaigner who agreed to share her journey to Yes!

I’m three beers to the good. A lovely social night among the guid folk in the Yes campaign in my local patch to blame for that. So it’s probably the worst possible time to be writing this. But in these last few frantic days, it’s the only time I’ve got.

I didn’t quite get to the #yesbecause – I was busy all the day it took off and only caught on in the evening. When all the good reasons had gone. And also, I found it hard to do. I know, unimaginable to some, but true. Because when you have believed for so long in something, it can sometimes be hard to articulate why. Especially in 140 characters.

So anyone pitching up to this expecting a dispassionate analysis of the pros and cons of supporting independence, well, you might as well leave now. This ain’t a tortuously calibrated Scotsman editorial. It’s from the heart.

I’m #yesbecause of…
Margaret Ewing. Or actually Margaret McAdam as she was before she was married. And Maggie Bain as she was first known in the nationalist movement.

Maggie and my mum were best friends at university. They clicked immediately. She became my godmother and my mum was her matron of honour. She was a fairly constant presence in my early years. Oh my, she was glamorous. All that zipping about hither and thon in that beat up Hillman Imp with her huge black dog, Skean. I used to sneak down the stairs to ear wig on all the chat, when she and whoever was around blew into our house, which was fuelled by god knows what into the wee small hours. I adored her. And I learned so much about campaigning from her in later years.

She was the one who insisted we go to school gates, supermarkets and the bingo during SNP by-elections. For even though she’d never have considered herself a feminist – god no – she knew how important it was for the SNP to court the women’s vote. Not in a cynical way, but from an instinctive belief that they had to be wooed and won over to what was quite a male construct. Not by insisting women came to the male-dominated world of politics, but by taking politics into spaces women felt comfortable in.

Margaret was a traditionalist, a loyal party supporter who always put the cause and the party first. Would she have welcomed Women for Independence? She was a party woman through and through but I like to think she would have been proud of all that we have achieved in engaging women in this debate, enabling and ensuring that women’s voices have been heard and indeed, listened to in this campaign. And she would have approved of our methods, our purpose and our aim.

But I’m also #yesbecause of other mentors, absent friends and colleagues. Allan Macartney whose inclusive approach and twinkle in his eye drew people in and who was loved dearly by all who encountered him. Allan was a generous sort, kind and gentle, in spirit and in material ways. He basked in watching others he had encouraged, succeed. It is his work on a constitution for Scotland which I think will give us the blueprint for the founding stones of our nation once independent.

And then there’s Danny Coffey, who discovered the cause of independence in his teens and promptly set about recruiting and converting all his teenage pals. Still, the memory of his funeral sits large in my mind. I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since. A man respected and revered by his community – and that community was legion. The story of how he became Provost of Kilmarnock is a lesson for all in the art of tactical politics. But it was also a good decision because no man, then or since, can claim the title of Mr Kilmarnock as he did. He loved his country but he loved his town and his community more. I miss him still.

Then there are the figures who blazed the trail, long before it was fashionable to do so. Who took a stand in support of Scotland’s independence and suffered social opprobrium as a result. People who helped to engineer the first surge in the 70s like Allan Ure, who supported the young guard to steer its second in the 90s and who has not lived to see these times, sadly.

In the resurgence in the 90s, it was instructive to hear his and his wife, Anne’s, tales from the old days. Of the campaign that saw George Thompson elected, of the high jinks and japes and the much more serious social ostracisation they suffered for the cause. The insidious attacks are much more subtle today, but no less wounding for some. Anne, on the 19th, when I raise a glass to toast the end of the beginning of our nation’s journey, there will be a toast to you both.

The old guard are still involved, present and correct, putting younger folk to shame with their commitment. It’s been a joy to spend time with James Lynch, who first joined the SNP in 1966, kens everybody in the movement, who has been there through good times and lean. Neither of us ever thought we’d see this time arrive. It is within touching distance – and I am proud and humbled to stand alongside such giants in this campaign.

And then I’m #yesbecause of the less well-known figures in the movement. People like my Granda who was a proud patriot and prouder still of his grand-daughter’s achievements and commitment. One of the main reasons I became an SNP councillor was because every afternoon, my Granda would get in a taxi and travel to my house to have his tea and watch his great-grandson to let me out campaigning.

Visits back home this summer have brought to mind many who helped in the election of Alasdair Morgan as Galloway and Upper Nithsdale’s MP in 1997. Some gone, others still there, part of this campaign too. People like George Swarbrick who took up leafleting after his first heart attack as a way of getting a regular walk every day. Who was a stalwart in that campaign, and the devolution referendum which quickly followed and whose attention to detail was a godsend on polling day itself.

But mainly I’m #yesbecause of my parents. They brought me up to believe in my country’s right to self-determination and my own inalienable right to be my own woman. Even if they still suffer the consequences of that from time to time. They raised me always to strive for better, for me, for my community and my country. They taught me to believe that no battle is a hopeless cause and that ultimately, hope will triumph over fear, to believe that Scotland can be and should be an independent nation, taking its own decisions, finding strength in responsibility, providing better and fairer for her people.

We’re here, all of us, in this campaign that we longed for but dared not wish for or expect. I might be #yesbecause largely as a result of my upbringing – you don’t get to climb stairs in maisonettes in Cumbernauld in 1974 for your godmother and shrug that experience off lightly – but in truth, I’m not #yesbecause for them.

I’m #yesbecause this is about my sons and the grandchildren I’ve yet to enjoy. And the future generations I will never live to see. This is for them. Folk think I’m mad to have taken three months out of everyday life and work to do this – I only wish I could have done six.

I feel the ghosts of my formative past every moment of every day in this last hurtle towards Referendum Day. They are with me, at my shoulder, ever present. And it spurs me on.

But on mornings like today’s, when the soul is willing but the flesh craves just another hour in bed, the ones who drive me out from under the cosy duvet are my sons. For I want them to have better, to grow up and grow old in a country called Scotland with rights, responsibilities, choices and opportunities that I could only dream of and hope for.

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I hope the 19th September ushers in the dawning of a remarkable democratic achievement, for Scotland to have seized this one chance of different. To be a nation again. Not just for the sake of it. But for the need of it. For this generation and future ones too.

Because I don’t want to have to spend my middle age and beyond making the case to be allowed to do this all again. I don’t want to be in my 70s campaigning for independence – I, somewhat selfishly, want to be able to enjoy what others have helped deliver. I want these ghosts to lay to rest, knowing their life’s work is begun.

Not complete, because that would assume that independence was an end in itself and desirable though statehood is, it is only the start. The powers we assume, the decisions we take – those are just the start of things. To enable my sons to have different life chances and choices – to allow everyone’s sons to have better, especially the one I spoke with last week. Aged 17, with no job, no prospects and a bleak future, I asked him what he’d like to change. “the lot” was his world-weary reply. He’s a boy, still only a boy, and life’s already thrown his towel in.

So I’m #yesbecause not just for my sons, but all our sons and daughters. I’m #yesbcause I want them to have, in the words of the late Margo Macdonald, “a much bigger world” instead of “narrower horizons and lower aspirations”.

Ghosts of Industry…. Lorraine Smith

 

LorraineLorraine is looking forward to voting Yes in 10 days time- here she explains how looking back and learning from the past means there is only one way forward!

 

 

 

I defy anyone who grew up in the Lower Clyde in 1980s to question why Scottish Independence is the right and only decision to make in 10 days time.

We have 10 days to remember what living in UK means individually to us, I certainly will be looking back in anger.

I was born 42 years ago in Port Glasgow, a poster child for industrial Scotland. My dad worked in the shipyards, one of thousands employed right along the Clyde Coast. The town was booming, and many local businesses thrived off the trade from the yards’ folk. The air rang rhythmically with the sound of klaxons and hammers, cranes and riveters. A sea of hard working men poured out from large steel gates into the welcoming hot soups and swift halves made ready for them by local cafes and pubs.
Then it stopped. Stone Dead.

In 1979 Scott Lithgow dry dock closed, with a loss of 300 jobs. Cowal Engineering closed, with a loss of 81 jobs in the same year. In 1980 Paton and Baldwin closed, with a loss of 533 jobs. In 1981 the Kerr Group closed, with 477 job losses and in the same year VF Corporation closed, with 240 job losses. Charters Marine closed, with the same job loss in the same year. Kerr Electrical closed down with 294 job losses in 1983. Tate and Lyle reduced its work force by 84 in 1984. British Shipbuilders, a major employer in Lower Clyde, has dispensed with 4,111 jobs by 1983.

By the time I reached high school , over 30% of my home town were either unemployed , or had to leave the area to find work. For the lucky children, their family moved together but, in majority of cases , their dad had to move away to work and send money home. This tore families , and hearts apart , the Lower Clyde fell into a deep depression one of which it has never truly recovered from.

As of October 2012 Inverclyde has an unemployment rate of 5.3%, above the Scottish average of 3.9% . Historically, the area relied on shipbuilding, sugar refining and wool manufacturing for employment, but none of these industries are today part of Lower Clyde economy.

For this area alone, the chance to vote for an independent Scotland has been a long time coming, the chance to shake off ghosts of industry , take control of their future and work together to blow away the dark clouds of the past. The dark shadow of Westminster hangs heavy over the Clyde Valley and, though developed with housing and retail outlets, the coastline without the noise of industry is a stark reminder.

So, indulge me for a minute and imagine…

Fast forward 20 years into Lower Clyde under Scottish self rule…. Now an affluent commercial sea port, Greenock feeds trade in the region. Local yards spring back into life to support ships in transit. Local businesses export from their doorstep to all of the world. The clyde rings with the sound of ship horns and the towns are a buzz with workers. The child of Inverclyde 2024 has the chance of apprenticeships in booming industry…This is only a dream until we turn it into reality. One day the children of the future will look back not in anger but in deep gratitude for the men and women who made Scotland better for them…

In the days and weeks where the last remaining yard on the Clyde has been released from Westminster’s guillotine, I urge you all not just on the Lower Clyde, to consider the past and reflect on a brighter, better future.

A cross in the Yes box takes a second or two, but will change Scotland forever.

Independence: I’m voting YES! Jacqueline Balfour-Breach

JJBJacqueline is a teacher and mum to twin daughters Rebecca and Josephine who are voting for the first time. She considers herself to be an ordinary woman who is passionate about independence and the role women have to play in it. Here she explains her reasons for voting YES!

 

 

 

I’ve thought long and hard about writing this because I don’t perceive it to be a story just about me; it should be a story about Scotland and the women of Scotland in particular. I’m especially apprehensive because I have a genuine feeling that I am somehow not worthy of representing either. Does that sound familiar?

So, what do I have to say that will resonate with you? How on Earth can I possibly change your opinion on what is best for us all? It’s been well documented that women may hold the key votes and be the deciding factor. The weight of responsibility I feel bearing down on my shoulders for that is truly enormous. I am well aware of what is at stake here and I want to share with you my reasons for voting Yes in the hope that some of them may be yours, too.

When I was about ten, I genuinely thought that I’d invented communism. I asked my parents why we couldn’t all be the same, earn the same wage and live in the same kind of house. In my naivety, I thought that this would make the world a fairer place. Little did I know that ‘fair’ wasn’t in the vocabulary of those in charge of the United Kingdom, the country in which I was growing up.

In 1979, this was markedly obvious. I couldn’t understand the reasons for my own country being cheated out of independence by the 40% rule imposed by Westminster. As a child, I was incandescent with rage.

40%

 

 

 

 

The passion of that fury simmered away over the years. During my student years, I dabbled in various projects of a political nature, married into a highly politically active family, dabbled some more, had children … and dabbled less and less. In short, life took over.

Fast forward to today and here I am dabbling once more – except this time, I am doing so along with most of Scotland. And I feel rejuvenated. There’s a real buzz happening and it’s been gathering momentum. The peaks of recent years – binning the poll tax and voting out all the Tory MPs resulting in the Scottish Parliament– were true highs and acts of sheer rebellion. However, with peaks came troughs. My own personal apathy returned and the defiance of our nation seemed to dwindle. Until now.

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What excites me most is the fact that this awakening is happening all over Scotland in villages, towns and cities. It’s almost like an underground movement minus the cloak and dagger and it is being largely ignored by the media who naively think that a No vote will protect the status quo. It’s successful; it’s intelligent; it’s creative; it’s passionate and it’s persistent. It’s full of people, including women like you and me who want to make Scotland a different and better place both economically – and, more significantly, socially and morally.

For women, and I really do hope that this reaches those of you who are as yet undecided, it’s perhaps this that we should be concentrating on – the social and moral issues. It’s well known globally that Scotland is a great and rich nation. We are renowned for our world class education system, our vast potential for renewable energy and, of course, the oil.

Putting all of these aside for a minute, what is crucial is the quality of life – not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren – that an independent Scotland can offer. With independence, and only with independence, can we make choices which will improve lives. We can choose, if we so desire, to redistribute the finances to give more stability to those less fortunate. We can do so without punishing those who are more fortunate, if we pursue a fairer system which is not based on social class, but based on moral socialism. With this philosophy, WE can decide the fate of Trident, the NHS and have the choice of whether or not to stumble blindly into war.

These are the things I hear other women speak about. Yes, we have the perceived currency controversy and the legalities of all that it entails continually foisted on us by the media – which is, of course, owned and controlled by the Tory Establishment – but I am noticing that the major concerns of women that I speak to are the growing necessity for foodbanks, the health of our children and whether or not we want to live in a nuclear dumping ground.

These are the questions my 18 year old daughters have raised. And now that they have thought the issues through, they have each come to the only possible caring yet logical conclusion that voting Yes is the only way to affect change. I am delighted that they are actively participating in the Yes campaign. In fact, more than that … I am immensely proud. They have their whole lives ahead of them and I want them to live in a country that respects its citizens and provides them with a positive environment in which they can grow and flourish.

Who can honestly say that Westminster considers our needs and values?

Scotland has proved time and time again that our vision for our society is not the same as that of our neighbours. You only have to look at the way we vote in general elections to see that. We don’t vote Tory in any significant numbers and our views as a nation are broadly socialist. I find it frightening to think that the politics of England include Ukip and, without independence, no matter how we vote in Scotland, we will get the government that the majority of English voters elect. And, have no doubt about it: most of England is on a right-wing trajectory. In order to protect our values, we really do need to vote for Scotland to become an independent country.

There is plenty of information out there containing details of how this can be achieved. I know that it is possible, but I also know that it’s not possible without the support of each other. We need each other to vote Yes to make our voices heard.

We can make a wonderful decision on September 18th. We can say Yes to an amazing opportunity. Let’s stand together. Let’s not be shouted down by those who pander to Westminster and choose to peddle scare stories. Let our voices be heard.

I started off by saying that I was apprehensive and unsure about writing this, because I wasn’t convinced that I was qualified to do so. However, the Yes campaign has been a revelation for me because I see women – and hear and read about them, too – who are exactly like me, prepared to stand up for justice. Let’s do this for ourselves, for our children and for our nation of Scotland. We can make such a huge difference. As women, we are strong and independent; let’s ensure our country becomes the same.

Remember, that the responsibility for being able to create a fairer society – the one we want to see – lies with us, the women of Scotland.

On September 18th this year, I’m voting Yes and so are my girls. Please say you will join us.

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Carer for Yes! April Prior

 AprilApril is one of the 120 Unpaid Carers who signed the Carers for Yes Declaration this week. Here she shares her journey to YES!

 

 

 

 

In 1979 I was beaten out of voting in the Scottish referendum on Devolution by 6 months. The referendum was in March 1979 and I wasn’t 18 until the 19th September 1979. Yes you heard me right, the day we hear the results of the independence referendum is my birthday, hopefully a double celebration. That referendum in 1979 was a yes, the people of Scotland spoke and they voted for devolution but the Westminster powers that be decided they would pull a fast one and say that we had to have 40% of the population voting. However, they used the current (1979) voters roll as a guide to how many Scots were eligible to vote, but as the voters roll is only updated once a year it was obvious that some of the people who were on that voters roll were either already dead or too ill to vote.

After 1979 my life took a road that nobody could ever have predicted though and in 1989 I gave birth to a son with autism and all associated behavioural problems and many health problems. At that time all professionals in my life promised me “all the help you’ll need”.

Services have always been short and that is a combination of Westminster cutting budgets and also a Glasgow labour council who have systematically shut down services and given lower budgets to those who need them. The shortage of cash is felt in every aspect of caring and living with a disability. Due to lack of funding my son was assessed by social work as needing one to one ratio, him and one staff, though the reality is that all other professionals believe he needs two to one. My son is very difficult to care for and trying to get the local authority to listen to his needs is not an easy task, all they worry about is that they don’t have the budget for it; all I worry about is keeping my son alive. I could go deeper into that but feel that would be a different blog.

It hasn’t helped that the NHS are under the same financial pressure, of course we know that the NHS in Scotland is already devolved but if Westminster don’t give enough money to the Scottish government to run the NHS then cuts have to be made. This has made life even harder for us carers who also require NHS services.

I’ll take a one minute rant if that’s OK. If NHS and Social Work gave more respect to carers our lives wouldn’t be as hard, if we didn’t have to fight every step of the way then we wouldn’t be so stressed, it’s hard to be heard as a carer when both NHS and Social Work are short of cash for budgets, but is there any need to treat us with such disrespect when we are the people who work closest with our loved ones and naturally know them best?

If we weren’t so stressed then maybe, we wouldn’t need as much help. I’ve always said that my son gives me about 40% of my stress and the other 60% comes from the professionals who are supposedly there to help us.

9 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I have tried to struggle on with caring for my son all these years and with MS it’s not the easiest task. There are many of us carers who have disabilities of our own and many of them debilitating and degenerative like mine. We are expected to continue to be unpaid carers for our loved ones until we are run into the ground or dead, it really is a simple as that. The local authorities offer to put our loved ones in care situations that do not reflect their level of need and that leaves us carers fighting for our loved ones lives daily, it’s tiring and it’s not a good way or nice way to live, full of anxieties and living on our nerves and the constant worry of what will happen to our loved ones when we die.

My son went into a residential situation which worked quite well for us for 4 years; this was back when he was 15 years old, almost 16. I went to college and qualified after 3 years as a make-up artist and my chosen field was special effects in film. While my son was in that residential placement I was happy enough, able to go take him out any time I wanted and to know he was safe and well looked after, but then he became 19 and had to move to adult services and that’s where it all went wrong.

However, after discovering I had MS I decided that my best course of action would be to retrain in a job I could do even from a wheelchair, so I went to college then university over at Paisley and studied multimedia. In the meantime my son was being assessed for adult services. He was put into a shared accommodation by social work and this service failed on a few levels, so I had to leave university 3 months before my finals and bring my son back home to live with me, returning me to the primary carer situation.

This was all due to lack of money and forcing people to live together that weren’t that compatible as well as going for the cheapest bidder on a care service to staff the house. It’s been a long road but now at 25 years old he lives in his own home, I have Self Directed Support and I hire staff to care for him, like I said though he was badly assessed due to financial constraint in Glasgow City Council and he doesn’t have enough support so most of my days are spent sitting waiting for a text to say that I have to go support staff. Oh, by the way I’m hiring, LOL.

So back to the Referendum and my journey to Yes….

Two years ago the Scottish Government announced that there would be a referendum on Scotland’s independence from the rest of the UK. I was immediately intrigued by this and hopeful that maybe, just maybe I could change my future. We can’t do a thing about the past but we can work for a better future.

I have given a lot of my spare time to the independence campaign over the last two years, for the first part on Facebook and latterly I’ve been even more involved by volunteering on stalls and looking particularly for other carers to talk to and tell of my hopes for a better future for us all. I became involved in many groups, I drove in the Freedom convoy and I intend to attend many more events in the next couple of weeks, how I juggle that with my life as a carer is crazy, it’s not always easy and everywhere I go I have to keep my phone beside me in case I’m needed by my son. I so wish I could do more, I would love to do the door to door canvassing but my legs just won’t carry me. The independence campaign has been uplifting and very positive for me. I have seen the negativities from the other side but I’m afraid a fear campaign is not going to make me change my mind about the future of my country.

Now I am filled with hope that we can get freedom from Westminster restraints and as Scotland becomes more functional as an independent country we can progress on to have a decent level of services for our disabled loved ones and carers can worry a bit less. Sometimes I even catch myself thinking that someday I might have a life of my own.

I am hopeful that an Independent Scotland would mean we could change things at a local level so that services truly change to put disabled people and their carer’s in control without having to do battle.

I plod on in the knowledge that I might not feel many direct benefits from independence in my lifetime, but my hope would be that the next generation of carers won’t have to live as hard a life as I have. I also have a daughter of 32 years old and I have a grand daughter who is 13 in a couple of weeks’ time. I do this for them, for my son and for all the people who will follow. My great grandchildren could grow up only knowing about the union from history classes and much of the struggles we have had could be a thing of the past.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not expecting a utopian society but what I do know comes from my logic and common sense. If we say no then we stay where we are, or even worse we could lose what little devolution we have. Nothing will get better within this union, but it really could be worse, we already have food banks and far too many homeless. An independent Scotland can’t be worse than this. Trident, well, there’s a cracker, we have Trident based on the Clyde, I was once told that there are more disabled people concentrated around areas of anything nuclear, like Faslane or Hunterston. On location of trident the MOD said “we can’t base it in Plymouth due to the higher population there”. Oh right, so us people around the central belt are expendable and we can have it here, as long as the higher population of Plymouth is ok?

So I will be voting yes for the future of Scotland, for my children, for their children and for future generations of carers.

Better Together? If we were better together why is it so bad now?