By Sue Lyons

I am a mum and a wife. In point of fact, I'm an English wife married to a Scottish husband with three English children from my first marriage and two Scottish children from my current marriage.

Why would I even bother to mention that at all you might wonder, surely it doesn't matter where my children were born, surely I love them just the same and you would be right.

What makes it worth mentioning is that my husband is a Scottish nationalist. He is such a Scottish nationalist that were the UK government to say: "You can have independence Scotland but you have to pay for it yourself", he would say, "Where do I sign?"

He describes himself as 'rabid', and he is absolutely right.  If you cut off his leg he would have a saltire running through it like a stick of rock – but not Blackpool rock because that's in England.  Not for him the sitting on the fence that others might do, not for him the idea that you can vote for the SNP and yet still be undecided on independence.  John is for an independent Scotland absolutely.

That sometimes causes fun and games in our own personal Union – our home.  The Scottish children are a wee bit young to know how they would vote, being 4 and 2. Despite this when the four-year old was asked to sing a song he liked at nursery he sang Flower of Scotland.  The two-year old has a favourite story which includes the words "a blue bunnet with a bricht reid toorie on the tap", although both are partial to "Albert and the Lion" or "The Battle of Hastings" related in my dulcet Lancashire tones.

The English children are older, and all of them will vote in the referendum. The younger one will be 18 by 2014, and at university he hopes.  The eldest boy is a welder and living in his own home with his girlfriend and wee girl.  The middle one is still humming and ahhing about what to do with his life, although he is working full-time.

I have often been heard to joke that our house is like a microcosm of Scottish society. My husband is champing at the bit for independence at any price.  Meanwhile Thomas, the 17 year old, gets more 'Engleesh' by the minute.  How much of that is to wind John up, I'm not sure, but it is highly entertaining.

Not having lived in England since he was two and having a mother whose accent is gently Lancastrian, I have no idea where he gets his deeply middle class English tones from, maybe the play he is studying for his Highers – The importance of being Earnest – has gone to his head, or perhaps his heid.

Graham is 21, full of the arrogance of youth and sure of his own self-importance. At 21 he is sure he knows pretty much everything, he has an opinion on everything regardless of whether he is right or not. Caution and deliberation are not for him. He decries all politicians as a waste of space and anarchy is his preferred option of choice. Hey ho!

Craig is 23, working hard, earning plenty and spending it all.  He and his girlfriend have their lives full with the wee one and his work and they have just moved into their own house. He has no interest in politics at the moment. He hasn't yet realised that it influences everything in his life he holds dear and so his eyes glaze over at the mere mention of independence and he has been rumoured to ask "Referendum? What referendum?"

And what about me? Well I moved here in 1997, I love living here in the Highlands.  It’s the most beautiful place in the world as far as I am concerned.  Scotland is my home, my life, the place where I live and love and where I am loved in return.  I am happy here.  I want what’s best for this place and I want the best place for my children to live happy, healthy, secure lives.  I'm still to be convinced to put my cross in the yes box but I am getting closer to that decision.

Being undecided and married to a Scottish Nationalist in this daft household is no mean feat.  The news, Newsnight and Question Time all have found themselves on our favourite list since the referendum was announced.  Scotland Tonight and This Week also feature highly.  They have replaced MTV, VH1 and Kerrang as the noise in the background, they are recorded and rewound and the source of incredulity as we watch politicians of various hues bluster and babble over the Yes's and No's of the independence debate.  Generally the No's as there is very little in the way of SNP politicians on these programmes.

The lack of quality in the Unionist debate is turning out to be a cross I have to bear. I despair almost every time I hear David Cameron open his mouth about Scotland. I find that no matter where you look there is no quality, intellectual point of view for continuing in the Union.  The main thrust seems to be:  "It’s worked for the last 300 years."   To be honest, politicians, that isn't enough.

I want to hear how in the future a United Kingdom will work to do its best for Scotland and I'm not hearing it.  I want to be able to trust and believe the politicians when they say they will consider more powers for Scotland within the Union.  I want to hear how they will support and help the poor, the weak, the disaffected, and work towards a better Scotland.  So far all these things have been missing.

All the stuff we have been fed about border controls, the potential bombing of Scottish Airports, the UK taking Orkney, Shetland and Rockall and the comparisons of Alex Salmond to Gaddafi or Hitler, make me roll my eyes in despair. It all seems to be the incoherent ramblings of an elderly Union which is unable or unwilling to look ahead. The recent 'Skintland' map on the cover of the Economist is a great example of that.

Many people – many friends – who are still undecided about independence dismissed that article because of the patronising and wholly inaccurate picture that the front cover painted.  Any salient points were lost because the Economist chose to take a cheap jibe instead of a measured point of view.  When you resort to that sort of cheap jibe then you risk losing the argument entirely.

I find that some people assume that because of my Englishness I am somehow required to support the Union with no questions asked. Either that, or they think that I am some sort of put upon English wifie. People mistake my support for John's passion for his tyranny in our relationship as if I have no way of making my mind up when subjected to the complete support for independence that John has.  They mistake his nationalism for anti-English racism. Nothing could be further from the truth. John is inclusive in his relationships and his political beliefs.

His fundamental belief is that Scotland has the right to govern itself, if the people of Scotland want that to happen.  That's it – no racism, no easily dismissed patriotic nonsense about Mel Gibson, no hard man antics, just plain and simple human rights.  The right to self-determination.  None of this is anti-English – it may well be anti-UK or anti-Westminster, but that is not the same.  I would expect any nationalist in Scotland to be anti-Westminster.

My nationalist husband gets angry when Scotland is denigrated as too small, too weak, too poor and too stupid to be independent. He dances with rage when Willie Rennie describes the SNP as the lowest of the low – measuring them against what?

He is incandescent when the Conservative party actively seeks out people to stand for council seats where they do not live or do not want to be councillors simply to manipulate a result with no care for the people of the ward and what they might want.

He is furious when Labour leadership fail to condemn the shenanigans of Glasgow city council which led to one councillor feeling like her disabled son's job security was being threatened if she didn't toe the party line.

John's nationalism is about making Scotland stronger and better for the people who live here – all the people – Black, White, Asian, Polish, Chinese, and yes – even English. Making Scotland better is the driving force behind all that John posts on his Facebook page or writes or debates with his friends and those he doesn't know so well.

I love my husband.  I love his passion and his sense of self which means that he knows where he stands on the important stuff.  I do not always agree with him but I know how much this means to him and I am proud and delighted that our tea time discussions are about politics and not Big Brother or the price of a tin of beans.  Although the rolling of 17-year-old eyes means that this isn't always appreciated across the board!

And so I live with the rants, the fury, the passion and the politics because John is a Scottish nationalist and whether I decide Yes or No, I know that he wants what I want. The best for our children – all our children, the Scottish ones and the English ones.


# Caadfael 2012-05-18 07:32
Excellent article Sue, saw it a few days ago elsewhere I'm sure it'll resonate within quite a few households!
And a big well done to NNS for publishing this!
# Dances With Haggis 1320 2012-05-19 13:15
Sue... I guarentee you will be interested in this video from a young English lad with an Oxbridge type accent living in Scotland. He makes some of the best comment on being English and supporting Scots Independence. Its title is " Scottish Nationalism vs Scottish Sovereigntism" and his linked comment includes this
"Some people hear my very English accent and wonder how I can be a Scottish Nationalist. I answer that, if nationalism is about race, ethnicity, blood and soil and all that stuff, then I am not a nationalist at all. I have overlapping identities, of which "Scottish" is just one - I'm a member of Western Civilisation, of the English-speaking family, of the European Union, of England and of Scotland. But Scottish Nationalism is not about those things and never has been. It is about the sovereignty of the Scottish people and the fact that so many of Scotland's present social, cultural and economic problems stem from an underlying constitutional problem - we have not been a free country for three (or four, depending how you measure it) hundred years. That's why I prefer the term "Sovereigntist" to "Nationalist.......Basically, I say that the reason I support Scottish independence is that Scotland can do so much better" ..Pls post and give some feedback, here is the link
# Dances With Haggis 1320 2012-05-19 13:19
Or even if the NNS team could pass the above post onto Sue, I think it would be helpful to her.. Cheers
# John Lyons 2012-05-25 13:11
Cheers Haggis. I'll show here this later.
# Macart 2012-05-18 07:50
Absolutely superb article.

You sound as though you have a great life and a right rambunctious family.

If you have any more thoughts you'd like to share with us, please feel free.

Oh and vote AYE. :)
# John Lyons 2012-05-25 13:12
Macart, due to the success and overwhelmingly positive reception of this piece, sue has sterted her own blog.

Here's the address.
# snowthistle 2012-05-18 08:23
Really enjoyed your article Sue, I think you and my husband should start a support group. Curiously my eldest son has never lived in England yet has the received pronunciation of a BBC newsreader.
Like you I bristle every time someone equates a desire for independence with anti-Englishness, it shows laziness and an unwillingness to understand the complexities of the issues. The Independence movement can also be lazy and careless with their language. I'm sure you also cringe when you see comments complaining about the 'little englanders', going on about 'engerland' and refusing to use a capital letter to make some petty point. We should all remember that our grudge is with the UK and it's style of government and not with the people of England. I'm sure a lot of people would be surprised at the number of Anglo-Scots who would be willing to support independence with a little persuasion. We will not persuade these people by insulting the land of their birth and we do need to persuade people if we are going to win
# X_Sticks 2012-05-18 09:46
Great article, Sue. It is really good to get another view of things. Whilst my wife is not English, she, like yourself, is undecided about independence. It sounds like you husband and me would get on extremely well.

Like him, I am anything but anti-English. Without England Scotland would not be the country that it is. Whether we like to admit it or not we owe a lot to England. It is our relationship, both good and bad, with England that has forged the Scotland we now have.

It is the politics of westminster and the Londoncentricit y of "British" politics that I just can't stand and wish to be rid of. I want a Scotland that can stand on it's own feet and make it's own decisions free of the vested interests of the westminster mob. (I refuse to capitalise westminster as I don't think it deserves it, Snowthistle!)

I sympathise with your suffering, Sue, and I hope you and the rest of the family do decide to join us in our independence journey.
# snowthistle 2012-05-18 10:44
That's ok x_sticks westminster isn't a country and I agree, they probably don't deserve it ; )
# John Lyons 2012-05-18 13:53
I'm sure we'd get along too X-Sticks.

I thought our family was quite unusual, you don't normally get three people born in England living with three people born in Scotland as one family, but the way this has been recieved around the internet I guess we're not that unusual after all. Plenty of people, whilst perhaps not their spouse or children, will have family of one sort or another born south of the border. And it's interesting that Snow thistles son has developed a BBC accent. Our boy, to whose accent Sue refers can also sound quite american at times and refered to diapers a lot when the little ones were first born. I guess it's the influence of TV as much as anything. (And music. has anyone sung in a Scottish accent since Charlie and Craig?)

Anyway, that was a nice surprise to see on here. Sue know's I'm on most days, so she sent it in without telling me!
# X_Sticks 2012-05-18 14:30
Lol, Sue is obviously a woman of independent mind, which is hopefully a good sign for the forthcoming referendum.

Whilst you have an English/Scottish thing happening in your family, be assured that although ALL Scottish our family have their "debates" over independence! Good luck on that!

I think you'll find that Sandi Thom has been singing in a Scottish accent. She also performed on the main stage at T in the Park, but eschewed the VIP treatment to stay with her pals on the general campsite - now that IS Scottish!

All the best to the Lyons family.
# Holebender 2012-05-18 15:40
When I was growing up we were 3 Scottish and 2 English in our house. My father and elder brother were both English-born. My mother, my sister and I were Scottish-born. Now my parents are dead, my brother lives in England, and my sister lives in Ireland. I'm the only one left (breathing) in Scotland.

My brother was even foolish enough to have a bet with me about the outcome of the referendum!
# davemsc 2012-05-18 11:42
At the risk of veering into hyperbole, what a tremendously powerful and compelling piece. Thank you, Sue.
# John Lyons 2012-05-18 14:02
Dave, you are right, but it's not the voters who need to be compelled by this, it's the unionist MPs. They are failing us, and as long as they continue to do that, there'll be a steady flow of support to the SNP. Part of me hopes they never see it, but for the sakes of those independence leaves behind, I hope plenty of them do, particularly in the Labour party for whom Susan and I have both voted in the past. It'll be a long long time before that happens again, and I can't be the only voter who feels like that.

I also hope plenty of MSPs see it and promise themselves they'll not fall into the same lazy habits after independence!
# Juteman 2012-05-18 16:30
You mention the Chinese, Sue.
I'm always looking to recruit fellow travellers for the referendum.
Whilst i was in my local Chinese take-away last weekend, i asked the guy serving if he had given any thought to the referendum vote. I'm always looking for converts.
He said that the Chinese community doesn't vote. I don't know if this is a Scotland wide thing, but if it is, there a lot of potential voters there.
I tried to explain it was his duty to vote for independence, but after 10 pints, my debating skills were probably not at their best! :)
Maybe some of the heid-yins at the SNP could look into this?
# UpSpake 2012-05-18 16:51
I've no idea where this idea sprung from that if you support independence for Scotland that you have to be, automatically, anti English. Nothing could be further from the truth.
England and Scotland both will benifit from a break up of this tired and well past its sell by date Union.
Very shortly thereafter, there will be clear blue water between the two countries but we will all still speak the same language and share similar values.
Independence is simply a manifestation of the fact that Scotland never has been British but England passionately most certainly is.
# Edna Caine 2012-05-18 22:03
"I've no idea where this idea sprung from that if you support independence for Scotland that you have to be, automatically, anti English. Nothing could be further from the truth"

In my opinion the idea springs from the post-empire mindset of a sizeable minority of English people who have been brought up on the tales of derring-do of our great British heroes like Biggles, Hornblower and WingCo Landsdowne-Winde.

There really are people alive today who believe that "Britain" (England) still has an empire and must carry the white man's burden. Their unshakeable belief in the rightness of this means that when any group of subject people show a desire to shuffle off their beneficent guidance, they have chosen to become Johnny Foreigners and therefore must then hate them as as much as other "foreigners" do.

As you say, this is patently untrue but watch out for the vitriol which comes from the other direction.
# DavidH 2012-05-19 18:54
Whether we like it or not, Scotland has most definitely been British. Far more so than England - much more of its identity was invested in the colonial project than in England. You have to look hard to see that Glasgow existed before about 1850. Everything before that was cleared to make way for the new order and what we see today is almost entirely a result of the inhabitants exploiting the Union. The rest of the Central Belt is the same. Edinburgh less so but still hugely influenced. The fabric of rural hinterland, through forced or economic migration, is very sparse and "pre-Britishness" consequently a small part of overall identity. Compare with England. Northern industrial towns are a similar story but you could go through many provincial towns, cathedral cities and regions and they would probably have been the same with or without Britain. Places like London and Bristol which grew up with the origins of British Empire do not have the same "year zero" effect that we see on Glasgow or Dundee. The demise of Britain's top spot has hit Scotland's sense of identity harder and a greater sense of being let down. Independence may solve this; who knows?
# bigbuachaille 2012-05-18 16:59
Nice. Thanks. Good luck.
# maxstafford 2012-05-18 18:10
A really good article this. I'd probably class myself the same as John although I myself live in England (just). There's a lot of ignorance and lazy thinking to overcome but I take great pains to explain to my English friends (and I have several!) that this is not about a dislike of them (after all, I'll admit to even liking cricket!) but instead it's about taking us all forward. I emphasise to them that I wish a better future for them too and that ending the union would perhaps achieve a happier democratic settlement for the people of England too.
# brusque 2012-05-18 20:36
Excellent Susan, it sounds like you have taken a pragmatic approach to your husband's Nationalism...............I would like to think I am the female equivalent of his "rabid Nationalism".

It always pleases me to read/hear of someone's love of Scotland and life here. This is probably a good reminder to many of those who have fallento the trap of taking it all for granted.

Good on you girl.
# Bob Kingdom of Fife 2012-05-19 16:45
a very well written post on what life is like in this 21st century everyday Scotland, Sue you have an open mind,and are entitled to your opinion, the msn media on the other hand would like to portray ' us ' as ' separatists' and ' anti english ' which is absolute rubbish and that alone is the rock on which unionism will flounder, Alba Gu Brath

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