Oh look, there’s a unicorn

A guest post by Maggie Craig

I’ve known since the date of the referendum was announced that I’m going to vote yes. Faced with the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” there is no other possible answer as far as I’m concerned. The Union of 1707 was a forced marriage and while some individual Scots over the centuries since then may have benefited from it, I believe it has done huge damage to our collective self-belief and self-esteem. We’ve always been the junior partner.

One of the great joys of living in early 21st century Scotland is seeing how much that self-belief and self-esteem has and is being reclaimed. One of the great heartbreaks is seeing how many families in this much-vaunted most successful union of all time are dependent on food banks. Then there’s the wasteland or maybe the new shopping malls where our industrial base used to be. One aircraft carrier with no aeroplanes doesn’t make up for that. Not much use against suicide bombers, either.

I’m not supposed to fit the demographic of a yes voter. I’m a woman who has her bus pass. From these two pieces of information the pollsters tell me that I’m risk-averse, more cautious and more practical than, I assume, men and younger women. I take enormous exception to being pigeon-holed in this way. As Dr Johnson replied when asked who was more intelligent, man or woman: “Which man? Which woman?”

I know lots of older women who are planning on voting yes. Friends tell me they’ve never been interested in politics before but they are now. They want a better future for their children and grandchildren and they see that it’s within reach. We ladies of a certain age have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. We think about life, the universe and everything. We remember.

I grew up in Glasgow in the 1960s. A favourite treat was a sail doon the watter from Craigendoran, drinking in the fresh air and the beauty of the Firth of Clyde. And all the time we knew that what we now call WMD and then called nuclear submarines were lurking there at Faslane and the US base on the Holy Loch. That was pretty bloody risky.

We used to joke nervously about the West of Scotland going up in a wee blue light. Or maybe a mushroom cloud. At school we had the Protect and Survive talk. One of the instructions was to whitewash your windows to protect against the radiation of a nuclear blast. When I think now about the stupidity of that, it beggars belief.

Filling in a form at school which asked for our nationality, we all put Scottish. The teacher told us we had to put British because Scottish wasn’t a nationality. When we filed into the TV room to watch the launch of the QE2, we turned away in disgust when the name was revealed. Everyone knew she was the last of the great liners and we’d been hoping for Queen of Scots or Queen of the Clyde. The skills of the Clyde’s shipbuilders couldn’t even be given that recognition. Junior partners, again.

I come from a long line of women who had to be practical, make ten shillings do the work of a pound, send the weans off to school fed and clean and ready to learn. My mother helped out, as grandmas do. She also taught my son some of his earliest words: “Mrs Thatcher, bad lady.” At the same time, she and I taught my children to believe in unicorns. Unicorns matter.

The practicalities are hugely important, of course they are. I’ve read the statements, listened to the experts, found my way to the truth with the help of blogs like WGD, WoS and Bella Caledonia and I’m convinced that the economic arguments against independence Project Fear keeps throwing at us don’t stack up. Scotland can be a viable independent country, a prosperous place where the prosperity can be shared.

And it’s about so much more than money. It’s about fairness and grace and unleashing Scotland’s creative potential in all sorts of areas. That’s what Project Fear continually fails to grasp.

Of course there is some risk. Life’s a risk. None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Whether people vote yes or no, change will come. That’s the way of the world. I’d rather have change we’ve voted for than change imposed on us from a government we didn’t vote for.

Believe in unicorns. Believe in Scotland. Vote yes on 18th September.

Maggie Craig is a published author and has her own blog at http://www.maggiecraig.co.uk/


29 comments on “Oh look, there’s a unicorn

  1. diabloandco says:

    Good heavens Mrs Craig – I think you are me!
    Except that I grew up in Aberdeen and I well remember solemnly shaking hands and saying goodbye to everyone in the class at 3 o’clock on the day of the Cuban crisis . It took me many years to question, that if we really believed the world was on the brink of nuclear extinction why the hell did we all go to school that day? I travelled 3 miles daily to school ,what on earth was I thinking!?

    • Maggie Craig says:

      Meant to say that I remember the Cuban crisis too, although I think I was still in primary school. I guess the tension of those days has stayed with all of us who remember them. The times we’ve lived through.

  2. ‘ It’s about fairness….’ Aye Maggie, that’ll dae fir me.

  3. […] Oh look, there’s a unicorn […]

  4. James Boyd Alexander says:

    Excellent stuff, Maggie, but what does WGD stand for? Read DRB twice!!!

  5. Free at 63! says:

    Maggie, I’m your generation and if we’re pigeon-holed as risk averse’ then we should be voting ‘Yes’ as staying in the union is a huge risk for me.

    These pollsters clearly haven’t taken into account that this generation were bringing up families during the turbulent 70s and 80s when it was often difficult to make ends meet. We have long memories and remember what happened after 1979.

  6. […] A guest post by Maggie Craig I’ve known since the date of the referendum was announced that I’m going to vote yes. Faced with the question, "Should Scotland be an independent country?" there is no …  […]

  7. mary vasey says:

    I too am elderly, tho a bit decrepit now my brain still functions adequately. I too have a long memory and have watched labour disintegrate due to omnipresent greed of its politicians and hate of the SNP who have now taken over their mantle. They cannot see what the rest of us do that is what they get for deserting core principles. I too will be voting YES. Thanks Maggie

    • grumpydubai says:

      We are experienced and mature – never elderly – as those who know no better are eager to dismiss our points of view after they hear that description.

      I wish my fellow travelllers well in your challenge to convert others before the 18th – as I am ineligible to vote

  8. […] Oh look, there’s a unicorn. […]

  9. WRH2 says:

    “Whitewash your windows”. I remember that and other silly things like get under the table and surround it with sandbags. How in the name of the WGD was any family to manage whitewashing windows, filling sandbags and surrounding the table with them once the four minute warning had sounded I’ll never know. I always just thought I’d go outside and watch the firework show.

  10. bringiton says:

    My bus pass is the only thing I ever received from the government for “nothing”,if you exclude education and medical care and I have no intention of allowing the British New Tory party or any other British political organisation to take these things away as they have promised.
    I probably wouldn’t pass muster either as a Yes voter with the pollsters but they don’t base predictions based on concern for your fellow Scots as being relevant and only look at material things such as socio economic classes.
    That is why the polls are undoubtably,as usual,well wide of the mark.
    We shall prevail.
    Thanks Maggie.

  11. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    I wish I had written this post. Just beautiful.

  12. macart763 says:

    A very enjoyable post and walk down memory lane Maggie.

    I’ve always believed in our potential and I’ve always held the hope that one day we’d be ready to exercise our right to self determination.

    Now after the car crash collapse of the BT lead in the past year, well I’m now beginning to believe in unicorns.🙂

  13. The women of Scotland have wonderful tales to tell. My vote was always destined for the yes box. My French teacher was Oliver Brown. He used to take us to the Cosmo to see French films and invite some of us to his home to meet wife and family, regaling us with stories of ‘the stone’. Winnie’s win in Hamilton crystallised my feelings. Devastation in 1979 was eventually replaced by euphoria in 1997 and 1999. Now I can’t believe we’re so close, and can’t believe we’ll fail.

    I have a dream, said one memorable American pastor, well like so many others in Scotland today, I too have dream, it’s been cherished and nurtured, cuddled and criticised, but on 18th September that dream is going to be forged into reality.

    • Elizabeth Buist says:

      Just wanted to say I agree with your post especially the last paragraph! Thought that was a lovely way to describe how all of this has taken shape! Thanks!

  14. Bamstick says:

    Well said Maggie
    I’m not that far behind you in age. I remember my dad working in the pits and the very little my family had during the strikes. 1979 really sticks out. There was a huge change, 3 day weeks, totally skint and high unemployment. I was a student on the minimum grant and survived as I had a wee babysitting job as well as weekend and holiday work. But I consider myself very lucky.
    I got a brilliant education. It was tough but I worked really hard. Nowadays I could never have gone to University. My daughters fiance has a huge student loan and is working for the minimum wage, and that’s with an honours degree.

    A couple of weeks ago I went back to the town where I grew up. It was so run down I could have cried. Even in the 60’s and 70’s when I lived there it was in better shape.

    I, like you, have never had to think about which way to vote.

  15. “Scottish wasn’t a nationality”
    Ah, the memories….

  16. anne says:

    I am also in your age group, Maggie. I grew up in Glasgow in the 50s – 70s, although I spent my very early years in Canada. I suppose my family was better of than many in those days, but things were still difficult. I wasn’t aware of poverty around me and now I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know then that friends at school didn’t even have an inside loo. I was blissfully unaware of what was going on around me as I worked & played through college in the 60s. I DID work hard. Every evening. Every weekend and all the holidays. Work was easy to find then, and it funded the only lifestyle I knew. As I grew up I realised there was another world out there. In the 70s I joined the SNP and worked hard campaigning for the party while bringing up a family. Then I moved away from Scotland and politics started to bore me. Like many others, I didn’t think I could make a difference. When I returned to Scotland and the referendum was announced I just assumed that EVERYONE would vote yes. I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams the lying and deceit that would follow! I became angry, very angry. I re-joined the SNP. Now I do what I can. I don’t have the physical energy I used to but I still deliver leaflets (albeit more slowly than others), spend time on street stalls and canvass. My late sister was an SNP councillor and her picture is my screen saver. So any time I feel I deserve a day off, I look at her picture and she reproaches me – “just a little bit more. One more person can make a difference!” I have cried at the injustice all around. I hate the food banks in a rich country. I wish with all my heart there was more I could do, both physically & financially. When we get Independence in September (as I KNOW we will) I can start to do all the things I had originally planned for my retirement. I can finally relax……

    • grumpydubai says:

      You will have done your sister’s memory proud.

      Well done.

      What’s this about relaxing?

      You have indeed done your bit but the work will only have just started and it is the hard work to come that will keep the mature, active and involved (not to say HEALTHY)

  17. bjsalba says:

    I wonder how many of the risk averse No voters are those teachers who told you there was no such nationality as Scottish or other pupils who took it all in..

  18. Maggie Craig says:

    Thanks everyone for all your comments. A lot of shared memories here and shared reasons for voting YES.

  19. Liza says:

    Thank you! I know so many mothers and grandmothers who think as you do, and are saddened to hear that they’re ‘the only ones’ because that’s not what the box they’re put in apparently ‘thinks’. Because of that, they’ll maybe not tell the pollster who phones what they really think either, and I don’t blame them.

    But, because they too remember, none of that will change their minds or their votes. And where would any of us be without our mothers and grandmothers having stood up for us, for our chances and choices?

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