I was fortunate to get a ticket for BBC Scotland’s Big Debate. It was really interesting especially as BBC Scotland managed to get a Scottish Tory on the panel. As another audience member wryly put it, they are rarer than pandas in these parts. Especially now Annabel has got herself a cosy wee seat in the house of Lords… The questions were interesting about Iraq, Should Campbell Gunn be sacked and one on foodbanks. The politicians managed to waffle their way about how terrible they are etc. Mr Johnstone’s contribution was interesting though. He used Ian Duncan Smith’s arguments that no cuts were being made and then showed his true colours. He lived in Stonehaven he said where there was plenty of work, It had taken him two hours and twenty minutes to drive from Stonehaven to Paisley. I think he was going for the traditional Norman Tebbit approach,. Get on your bike and find work. Out of curiosity I decided to find out how much it would cost to travel by rail for a return from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Stonehaven and found out it would set you back £35. For a Monday to Friday commute that would cost £175. I know there would be a season ticket available but how much would you have to earn to afford to work? It actually reminded me of a documentary I watched about low paid workers in America who were bussed over 100 miles a day to their jobs as wage slaves and their commute meant they didn’t see their families.
Of course Alex Johnstone doesn’t have to worry about this. As a member of the Scottish parliament he is entitled to expenses and a second home to prevent a long commute. In 2012 the Glasgow Herald reported that he had received £60,000 for the now discredited Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance. As the old saying goes, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I accept that those who represent us should receive travelling expenses but please do not compare your employment to that of workers who may not have a car and would struggle to make a 140 mile commute each day for low wages. Would he welcome the bussing of the poor to service the needs of the better off and big business? For me another Scotland is possible with people working but having quality of time with their families and friends. Where jobs exist where people want to live and can afford too. Let’s make it so. Indy Ref!!
For me it has become personal now. Like Clare Lally I am a carer. I always talk about my boys who are on the autistic spectrum anywhere I speak. They inspire me and are my reason for fighting injustice. It is for them and all our bairns I want a kinder fairer society. If Clare is accused of using her children for political gains then so am I as I always mention them when I speak. That is why I campaign for the YES campaign because for me Independence has the potential to create the kind of society where we can all shine.I know Clare believes we are Better Together she has heard me speak. She presents a very emotional argument of wanting to defend the NHS for her daughter. That is my position too, I have been actively involved with campaigning to save the local children’s ward at my local service. For me the NHS in Scotland will not be safe if we lose the referendum. The cuts and privatisation of cuts down South will have an impact on the NHS up here. Expect to see healthcare provided by Richard Branson and his daughter who was trained in the NHS as a doctor. Of course it will only be the profitable services which will be carved up while services such as mental health will continue to face devastating cuts. That is me just not agreeing with Clare debating as Jim Sillars says if someone makes a statement it is my responsibility to debate back. This is to challenge their point of view, not personally attack them.
I condemn anyone who personally attacks people for political gain but I feel the Better Together Campaign and the Labour Party are using this opportunity to demonize those of us who campaign for Independence. We have been portrayed as bullies rabid followers who will do anything for Independence, when nothing is further from the truth. Most people I know are passionate but gentle in their approach. What worries me most is how Bitter Together portray women. It is at best stereotypical and at worst the same old misogyny that dominates politics. Clare described herself and others in the Bitter Together Campaign as having “wee voices” that are hard to be heard in the debate. Everyone who knows Clare must be aware that she has a feisty voice which is listened too. They prefer her to utter words which make people feel they are too small. Leave the politics to the big boys and girls. We are too wee to go it alone. This is not the first time I have heard a Better Together spokeswoman use this kind of language. A few months ago I heard her giving the argument that Scotland was “too wee” and we had to “coory in” to our neighbour England. This use of language is intentional to worry women and it is working. I had a phone call from an undecided person who was upset by all the media attention this issue was getting. So let’s remember not to attack an individual but the politicos that put the words into her mouth. Of course it was carefully thought out to prevent women from voting.
I like Clare first found my voice when getting involved in Carer’s politics. That is where Clare found her feet. Five years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of speaking but like many other women I have found my feet in the YES Campaign. Gender wise it still faces a few challenges but its strength has been in allowing so many womens’ voices to be heard. Our stories about our everyday lives and struggles are getting heard. History is becoming herstory. If Clare thinks our voices are louder, it is because we have to be louder to be heard by the media and we are proud of the positive message we deliver. The labour party and Bitter Together are using this as a political opportunity let’s remember that.They are portraying Clare as a victim when she is not. It is how they allowed her to be portrayed which has turned this incident into another circus and illuminated sideshow. It doesn’t matter. Let’s remember that all of this is just a tactic to frighten people into voting No or not voting at all. We all know how beautiful an Independent Scotland can be. It is the place of dreams where we can create a kinder fairer society. That’s why we are all campaigning together. I take courage from the wise women who are my friends and those women who have encouraged me. To all women please don’t be silenced or think your words are not important as they have as much power as anyone’s who is in the spotlight. Scotland is going to be transformed by the Referendum’s process. Let’s in the next few days campaign for prize. Indy Ref.