Anne-marie works as an independent consultant. She has been working in the social care and community development sector for nearly thirty years. Outside of work Anne-Marie has a love of all things sporty and the outdoor life!
Voting YES in the Scottish Referendum was something I knew I would do from the outset. It’s not that I’m a Nationalist, but if wanting to be governed by a Government I voted for in Scotland makes me a Nationalist, then maybe I am. My politics are not about national pride or Scottish identity but about fairness and social justice. And for me that means the people of Scotland being governed much closer at home with a government elected by the Scottish people.
As the relationship with the UK continues in its current form, logistically, it will never be possible to have a government that Scotland votes for. That I find difficult to accept. What then is the point of voting if we can’t really influence who governs us? For me that’s not a true democracy! I am also greatly concerned that a UKIP/Tory Coalition is a real possibility which is a bigger risk than any ‘unknown’ that Independence will bring.
Devolution has improved the situation with powers devolved from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. Somehow it feels a bit paternalistic to have been ‘given’ those ‘responsibilities’, just some but not all. It comes as no surprise then that where there is a possibility of rocking the status quo, increased powers are offered on the horizon. More powers ‘given’ but the 18th of September in my view, creates an opportunity to ‘take control’ of Scotland’s future, our future and not just accept what is ‘given’ to us.
We have already had welfare policies for example, forced upon us, even when Scottish politicians voted against them.
Growing up in the 60’s in one of the poorest communities in Glasgow I had experience of living among people where worklessness and poverty were every day occurrences. Where as I kid I wondered why there were cars parked outside in the street during the day but not after school. As time passed I began to understand they belonged to the ‘professional people’ who drove into our communities every day. The teachers, the dentists, the doctors, and social workers. They also left at the end of the working day! All a bit confusing and a different world for a kid where people I knew worked on the Corporation buses, in the Goodyear Tyre Factory, in Beattie’s Biscuit Factory, in the Whiskey Bond or in the Shipyards. Those who didn’t work, couldn’t work and it was usually for reasons of ill health which were recognised and respected.
It was drilled into us as kids that having a job and working was crucial to surviving. My parents brought up 12 of us and we understood that if you wanted to eat you had to work if you could. We all have a very strong work ethic to this day but we also have a level of understanding and compassion to help each other and other people. Another core value instilled by our parents.
They helped us understand what was going on around us with the miners strike, the power cuts, the lack of fuel, the Thatcher years, damp housing and national strikes. The politics of our upbringing was less about party politics and more about fairness and social justice. It was about having what you needed, having enough and sharing what you had. More than anything though it was about thinking for yourself and working out what was going on in the community and the world around you. It was about encouraging us to question and to have an opinion, a view and to speak out. This is a strong trait I still have and I’m loved by some and loathed by others for it. Just blame my father!
I guess this helped open my eyes and I was a bit of a community activist from an early age. CND was where I cut my teeth and demonstrations when I was meant to be elsewhere a feature of my teenage years. Going on to be a community worker in the 80’s was the ideal job for me, one I loved as well as being a working mum. It was all about questioning, speaking out, enabling people and helping others. Raising issues, tackling inequality, discrimination and challenging decision makers. Working in youth work, followed by many years in social work was where I became one of those ‘professionals’ that worked in communities and left at the end of the working day. My early childhood memories never left me and I hope contributed to my respect for the people I was involved with.
It was a career that came to an abrupt end, sooner than it should have. I’d had a long term condition for many years and it began to significantly impact on my life. I retired early on health grounds. I had become one of those folk I remember from my childhood where their poor health impacted negatively on their working life.
No longer working brought about a significant loss of income. I had already gone job share to try and manage my health more effectively, so my ‘pension’ was drastically reduced but I have enough. If I had to claim state benefits I would no doubt fall into the category of a benefit scrounger, as portrayed by the media and driven by the political ideology of the Tory government. Most ‘benefit scroungers’ are in fact people like me who have worked for long periods of their life but had the misfortune of falling ill.
I have been ‘saved’ from the shame and embarrassment experienced by many as I have an occupational pension. I also do some consultancy work. I have been unaffected by the ‘bedroom tax’ as I own my home. It has 3 bedrooms and I would only be entitled to one bedroom so would have had to move out or had any housing benefit slashed. 80% of those affected by the bedroom tax were disabled people. I also do some consultancy work.
For me the questioning continues all adding to reasons for voting YES.
I am voting YES because I cannot accept that people who get sick and are unable to work should be punished for it. The benefit sanctions applied, often for no good reason, has led to food banks sprouting up all across the country. When people living in the 6th richest country in the world have to rely on food banks to survive, even those who have a job, there is something not working!
I am voting YES to protect our NHS and free prescription because I know that I and others like me would be unable to afford the drugs and catheters needed several times a day to keep well.
Ensuring tuition fees remain free for higher education means that young people who came from relatively poor families will still get the chance to go on to university like my friends and I did.
£8b from Scotland’s budget is being spent in the next decade to keep nuclear weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. I have been an avid CND supporter since my teens and will be glad to see them go with the money being put to better use.
I was a working mum who relied heavily on my parents for child care support and now help with my grand children when I can. The cost of child care is prohibitive for many parents going back to work and investing in this has my vote. The children are our future and I’d much rather spend money on child care and job opportunities for young people than on nuclear submarines. There is something wrong when 30k more children are now living in poverty as a result of the welfare reform imposed by Westminster.
I am concerned about the environment and the natural world. The practice of fracking horrifies me and Westminster has released licenses for this to take place in Scotland despite significant warnings about the potential dangers. This is another example of greed and profit overriding genuine concern. At least the Scottish Government are setting up a working party to explore it and if we vote YES they will have to listen to the voice of the Scottish People.
My reasons for voting YES are about hope and about a new kind of politics for Scotland.
Politics which is not driven by greed and personal gain. Politics which really is about a fair and just society, and where people in need are supported and not punished. Where people power matters and politicians are forced to listen and respond. Where Scotland’s resources, including the new oil well off the Hebridean Coast, which David Cameron has tried to hide until after the referendum, can be put to good use for the common wealth and where wealth is understood to be more than GDP and economics.