This is one of a series of articles in which representatives of the main parties make their pitch for the Catholic vote.
My life, like that of working parents the world over, is defined by constant juggling. It was my middle child’s 10th birthday last weekend, and on finding general election campaign dates on a calendar but no mention of her birthday, she declared that politics was more important to me than she was.
Of course this is not true. But her reaction did cause me to reconsider why I gave up teaching, a career I loved, to shift to politics, when it has such a great impact on those I love. I suppose that, when asked, many politicians would say similar things: to make a difference, serve constituents, improve lives, etc. In fact, throw in “world peace” and our answers could be those of a Miss World contestant.
My own political journey began with the referendum on Scottish independence. It’s hard to describe the run-up to the 2014 referendum to those who did not live through it. Decriers will say it was divisive. This was not my experience, nor indeed that of anyone I know on either side of the Scottish constitutional question.
At the time, I was a physics teacher in a Glasgow comprehensive school. The pupils would come in, some with their “Yes” badges, others sporting “No Thanks” stickers. And they debated: in the corridors, in the dining hall, and even (if they were feeling brave) in my classroom. Although many of these students were not old enough to vote in the 2014 referendum, they felt enfranchised because it was their own future that was at stake. There was an air of anticipation, and for many people, especially those from the most deprived areas of our communities, there was hope.
The breakthrough for the SNP on the UK political map came about partly as a result of the referendum, during which people in Scotland had seen Labour politicians standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories. But this was on the back of years of Scottish Labour MPs going to Westminster only to forget the views of their constituents and vote for austerity, illegal wars and the renewal of Trident.
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