I was 6 years old when I delivered my first SNP leaflet; I’m now 60. I could kick leaflets in a straight line up a long drive when I was 6; my right foot was a rocket launcher. A damn good goalie and dribbler in 1968, not so good now. These abilities arose from the fact that my Dad taught me how to play football, to tackle, dribble and score. Tough luck that Alva Academy had girls playing only hockey. What a loss to Scotland’s footballing prowess and leaflet deliveries. 

My Mum pushed one of my wee brothers in a pushchair and the other was in her arms as we delivered those 1960s pamphlets and Scots Independent newspapers. Dad was away at work in those years, sometimes in Algeria and others in Amulree, up the Sma’Glen. They always believed, Mum still does, and Dad did until his death in 2020, that Scotland will flourish only with our independence. Of course they were and remain right.

But when we weren’t focused on Independence as a family we enjoyed events like Scotland qualifying for the World Cup finals. We loved Denis Law, Joe Jordan, Ally MacLeod and Willie Ormond. We poked fun at Kenny Dalgleish until he scored and then we loved him too, almost as much as Jimmy Johnstone and Archie Gemmill. They gave us hope.

That hope in football replicated political hopes; people like me grew up believing that though Scots were the underdogs one day the dream would become reality. We had teachers who explained about the Clearances, the 1820 Martyrs, how our ancestors’ labours were low paid and they were disadvantaged. We began to believe that Scotland deserves and must do better.

We used to vote Labour because they promised and they delivered the NHS, Council houses, inside toilets and free education. But Labour sold out and sparked illegal wars; Scots found their feet and their confidence in a leader who took us to the brink of our Independence in 2014.

And tonight as my neighbours hunger and fear their fuel bills, can’t shop for food as prices are too high, think of cashing in pensions to go abroad or pay privately for hip and knee replacements I wonder who scored the own goal? Where did we go wrong and how do we retrieve all that is good about our nation?

I observe our MPs who a few years ago  played football in the House of Commons and this year joke about their five a side as they bank tens of thousands of pounds for settling up; their constituents aren’t playing for laughs. They voted for change, autonomy, prosperity, responsibility; not selfies of apparent sellouts kicking a ball about a park sweating and laughing as their country starves shivers and withers. 

Scotland deserves far better than a team of amateurs who have lost their way; step aside for those of us who are serious. We fight not for glory, honour or riches, but only and alone for freedom.