People take me for Scottish because of my Borders accent, my cultural norms, and my peely-wally skin. But as with most folk, my nationality is more complex than meets the eye. My family are all from England and I was born in the north west of England, but I was raised in Scotland and don’t remember living anywhere else.
Growing up a Borders lass, I was used to going back and forth from Berwickshire (in Scotland) to Berwick (in England), and I feel really strongly that emphasising the line between two countries does more to divide than unite them.
I’m a cooperative type of person, and so putting up walls or looking for difference between people goes against my nature. As a principle, I want people to be able to move freely and be welcomed wherever they go. Internationally, I see examples of the damage borders can do to relations between communities.
But the main reason I voted ‘no’ in 2014 was because I couldn’t see the sense in giving up our democratic control (as far as that goes) in UK matters. I have many complaints with Westminster and our current system, but I wanted to stay in to reform it from the inside (sound familiar?).
Fast forward to 23 June 2016. It’s 6am and my alarm is getting me up in time to talk to EU referendum voters commuting to and from Waverley station. Almost everyone I talk to says they’re voting to remain in the EU and I come away feel like we’ve got this.
The following day I was devastated to wake up to the news that the UK had voted to leave but Scotland had voted to remain. It couldn’t be clearer to me – suddenly it was essential to support Scottish independence in order for Scotland to remain in the EU. If that was the way we could remain part of the EU, then that was the price.
I felt daft, and angry, and confused, and sad, and bewildered, and ready to act.
I joined Women For Independence and got a warm welcome.
I went to the rally outside the parliament and felt hopeful listening to Annie Pues and Patrick Harvie talk about the welcome we needed to extend to all the EU citizens in the country.
I organised a meeting for my local team of Scottish Green members here in Edinburgh city centre. We comforted ourselves with cake and talked about what we could do.
Things have calmed down since that strange post-referendum fortnight when UK politics seemed to have had too many sambucas and needed to go home for a quiet lie down. Now the dust has settled, my considered opinion is we need to prepare our country for a transition to independence and EU membership. There were gaps in the SNP white paper in 2014, and the world has changed since then too, so we need an updated plan and roadmap.
Personally, I’m playing my part by working within the Scottish Greens looking at a new currency for an independent Scotland. I’m glad that more people are coming to understand we absolutely need our own currency, and they are rightly asking us to provide more detail about how that would work.
As a major pro-independence party, the Scottish Greens have an important role in providing detailed policy analysis on Scottish independence, shaping the vision along with other parties, communities and campaign groups. This’ll mean when the time comes, with cooperation and our collective effort, we will make a smooth transition from the UK to independence.