We are chuffed to say that lots of people are migrating here to Orkney – our new friend Skuirrel Nutqin has come to North Ronaldsay and is very keen to tell us why.
Growing up in Edinburgh in fairly impoverished circumstances, it might seem strange that my folks and the majority of our neighbours who were in similar financial straits as ourselves, voted Conservative. That’s the way it was. At age twelve I somehow managed to get a bursary to enable me to go to an independent school in deepest Surrey. During one school political debate there the Conservative candidate won hands down. Not too surprising.
I joined the Metropolitan Police and when I was eventually able to vote I too voted Conservative. Previously I had been unable to vote because I was under twenty-one, even though I had been on duty at polling stations to maintain law and order at the tender age of nineteen.
I converted politically around the time of Harold Wilson – when he became Prime Minister – and voted Labour for the first time. I was soon to be disillusioned when I witnessed the antics of the so-called loony Labour left wing London Boroughs, when we had to house homeless people in police properties because social workers were on strike or too busy attending meetings relating to ‘issues’ in Nicaragua to see to their own affairs on their doorstep.
Then I returned to Scotland and whilst catching up on Scottish History for a degree – we hadn’t had much of that at my school in Surrey (‘All doom and gloom, dear boy,’ one master informed me when I enquired as to the noticeable absence of all things Scottish) – I began to think seriously about Scotland as an independent nation.
The SNP beckoned and I joined the Party in Edinburgh North and Leith. To be honest I am not sure why I stuck around. Meetings were only attended by six or seven members and most of the time was spent discussing social events and who was going to go to conference. Council elections were coming up and I stood. I didn’t expect to win – well I had been told by members I wouldn’t – but it would look good to have an SNP member on the ballot paper. Well I did win along with twelve others and we were invited by the Liberal Democrats to form an Administration. I gave up my job at the airport.
After five hectic years I stood down and came back to Orkney where I lived previously. I had started my YES campaigning in the tenements of Leith. Incidentally Leith came out 61% YES whilst Edinburgh overall was a miserly 38% YES. Here I concentrated on the North Isles and it was a pleasure to leave the Leith stairs behind and instead canvass the wee croft houses and farms on the isles. The YES campaign has brought together many people from all walks of life. In particular it was great to see so many young people bringing with them fresh ideas. The journey is not over and as I enter my 70th year I look forward to the battles ahead – it will keep me young!