I’m James, a Scot who has had a travel bug for the past 18 years. I’ve lived or worked temporarily in 13 countries during that time, most recently in Thailand where I work in financial services. For the first time in those 18 years though, I’ve reached a cross-road, with a strong wind blowing me back in the direction of Scotland – back to an Independent Scotland.
I think I’ve always believed in Scotland’s potential and right to self-determination. My earliest awakening to being actively supportive of independence though was when I was traveling in a friend’s car with his mum, dad and girlfriend – all active Labour Party members/campaigners in North Lanarkshire. I must’ve been about 15 at the time. Whatever the subject was, it got to talking politics as we were traveling along and I had said, without any real awareness of how entrenched in the Labour Party they all were, ‘I think the SNP is the best party for Scotland’. I was then ridiculed by them all in the car with comments such as ‘you’ll grow up soon’, ‘don’t be silly, the SNP are a joke’, ‘Scotland can’t be independent’, etc… The whole affair left me with a real bad taste in my mouth – why on earth did these people consider it childish that a party would focus on the betterment of our Nation? Why did they ridicule the notion of Scotland being independent? It seemed strangely defensive and bitter to me – and ultimately affected my friendship with that individual.
Fast forward a few years, I moved to Spain on a student exchange program, to Caceres in Extremadura, a picturesque historical city steeped in tradition and very few foreigners. I became good friends with a lad from Ireland, and we fostered a good friendship based on our celtic and Celtic appreciation, as well as our shared dislike of the British establishment. More than that though, as a Scot abroad, I got to experience first-hand the admiration and indeed adoration that many many people had for our country. The local Spaniards, the other foreign students, everyone I came across had so many compliments, experiences or perceptions of what a beautiful country Scotland is and what a profound culture we possess. It was also apparent that many people assumed that Scotland was a fully independent country already and did not associate it with the UK at all.
After a year in Spain, I returned to Scotland and moved up to Inverness on a spur of the moment decision. I went into the local SNP office at the train station, and so began to meet many interesting characters that would help cement my strong beliefs in Scottish nationalism. I joined the SNP that day, Fergus Ewing’s constituency, and began working for the local treasurer, Fred, doing a weekly Tote collection. Fred was a wonderful person, very committed to the Party and raised a lot of money with his Tote, a quiet friendly gentleman indeed. Fred introduced me to some great characters – Lachlan who became a very close friend during my next 2 years in Inverness, George MacDonald an old fighter who fought for our cause for all his life. Lachlan was a gaelic learner and an activist, who i learned a lot from – on both those fronts. We never did manage to activate our plan to bring down the Statue of Cumberland, but we did manage to remove the Union Jack from Inverness Castle and got the then Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth to cancel his visit to the Culloden Commemoration due to ‘local tensions’.
After a brief spell back in Spain, I moved to Stirling to do my MSc. Stirling is a wonderful city, and reinforces the Wallace spirit in any Scot. Beyond graduation and some working in Edinburgh and Glasgow, I then started my global journey. US, England, Japan, Switzerland, France, Australia, Spain, back to Scotland, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and now Japan. In this time, I’ve married a Thai lady and have 3 beautiful daughters. My girls are proud of their Scottish roots even if they don’t know a lot about it, still it pleases me that their teachers say they often talk about Scotland!
One thing that I am very clear on from living in many countries, is that our nation does have incredible potential that is unrealised. I meet Scots in senior positions abroad and recognised experts all the time. Global Alba is a strong presence, and most global Scots I’ve met share my view on the capability of Scotland to make a better future for itself if we were running our own affairs.
At the same time, I despair about the situation back home. When I see the difficulties my family have had to go through, its scandalous. A Labour Government that failed the working class in Scotland, a Tory/LibDem Government that Scotland did not vote for, the awful Bedroom Tax – constant attacks on working class. They do not deserve our support any longer – they didn’t deserve it then and they most certainly do not now. I hope Scotland is wakening up to the only true option, a Yes vote to Independence, the alternative does not bear thinking about.
So i am still standing at this cross-roads. The pull from home is very strong, I see living in a confident independent Scotland with many good job prospects, with great education offering for my daughters, to enjoy the clean air and beautiful landscape, reunite with family and friends, enjoy the Scottish humour once again, and to be there, be there to help build our new country as one which we are all proud of, one which can drive the World in a new direction, a new enlightenment that only the ingenuity of The Scots can do.