Sara Sheridan: New Year’s Resolutions? New Life Resolutions more like it

Poor wee blog withering away on the vine, lonely and forgotten. But still loved, at least by me.

And thanks to friends, about to get a wee burst of life at year end. The last time, Sara Sheridan posted on this blog, it created an unedifying storm of comment.  Women has views, shock horror.

It’s fair to say that since then, Sara has been – using the X factor parlance – on a bit of a journey.  From dubious to interested to full on Yes.  She was one of the stars of Edinburgh Women for Indy, going wherever asked to speak and engage with women voters.  Often at a moment’s notice, despite her busy schedule.

Because in between all the politicking, Sara is still a writer and cultural commentator. And very good at both. She is on twitter @sarasheridan and on FB: sarasheridanwriter

Enjoy her New Life Resolutions. 

It’s that time of year – the time when you can’t help reviewing what you’ve been up to and thinking about where you might be going next.

2014 was a seminal year for so many people in Scotland. For me, it was revolutionary! I’ve never been interested in politics before. When the Referendum came along it set me alight – suddenly I was up late reading statistics, trawling articles for information and engaging with friends in debate. Some people I know stayed in either a Yes or No bubble but my family and friends came from both sides and I really enjoyed talking to the people around me about the issues.

2014 changed my life. It’s as simple as that.

On 19th September I was gutted. I cried every day for nine days about the No. I still find myself tearing up sometimes. That’s the risk you take when you fall in love with a dream. So that first horrible day, around me, as everyone struggled to rally I was moved by the way we pulled together. A No campaigning friend arrived with a bottle of whisky and we Yessers laid into it! Quite apart from the dreadful disappointment (and let’s face it, one side was always going to be disappointed) I found myself floundering. My life had changed. I had changed. I couldn’t imagine a way forward and I certainly wasn’t going to go back. I have a lovely life, a job I enjoy and a fabulous family but that wasn’t enough any more. In a way politics had made me greedy!

During the referendum I had written articles, appeared on TV and radio and occasionally spoken to meetings. Afterwards, the calls kept coming but somehow, it felt odd, almost purposeless, to pitch up to a morning radio show and air my opinions, when the possibility of real change had been removed. Within the Yes movement people rallied at different paces (some with astonishing speed) but I found myself going slowly. I’m not a party political person, never have been – I am driven by issues. While my husband and several of our friends joined the SNP, I knew that wasn’t for me. They had my vote but not my membership.

In a way I think I was heartbroken. The Referendum had been for me, a love affair with my country and it had given me passion for possibility of changing it for the better. It had set me alight. Like a teenager at the end of her first affair, I struggled to come back down to earth, to align what I had felt so passionately with the day to day reality I came back to when the party was over.

Gradually, I realised I had to find things I could do. Maybe not huge things, but things that were worthwhile. I discussed it with my husband and we made a vow (one that didn’t appear on the front page of the Daily Record) to boycott the organisations and businesses that we felt had behaved dishonourably during the campaign. I’m not talking about people that came out for No. People were entitled to do that. But supermarkets that claimed prices would go up, shops that said they’d fire people and relocate. We made a list and we’ve stuck to it – our shopping habits have changed.

The biggest shock of the Referendum for me, though, was the role the mass market media played and particularly the BBC. I had always trusted the BBC and from time to time I’d worked there. The ongoing bias infuriated me (it still does). We considered cancelling our TV licence. At first I thought this was a big ask – after all, I was now fascinated by politics, how would I do without the News (twice a night) and the rest of UK broadcast political programming? We switched off the telly though and tried it for a week and lo and behold we found we LOVED it. It was strange and very unexpected but not having advertising in the background and being able to pick and choose what to watch (because like many people we had had a lazy, if it’s on we’ll give it a go attitude). We also found we could pick up news stories online easily and in the end, we felt more informed, not less informed by boycotting the television. If you’d like to try it, there is a guide to the ins and outs of cancelling your licence (scroll down) on Wings:

Boycotts are positive consumer action but I also wanted to find ways of boosting the causes I agreed with as well as moving away from businesses and organisations with whom I did not. When the National came out I had a policy of buying 2 copies and leaving one in a local coffee shop or restaurant with the rest of the papers. I made donations to a few crowdfunders and also to the Common Weal. I became a joiner (not political parties) but other organisations, including Women for Independence, which I find completely inspiring.

I still don’t know the way forward. Not really. But I know how I want to vote (which is something I haven’t always known 6 months before the polling date) and I feel good about where my money is going and how it is being used. I suppose the Referendum has given me a sense of responsibility that I never had before.

All of this is not enough. I’m looking at other ways of making a contribution, of shifting my day to day life to let me take part and express myself politically. But it is a start. A step in a different direction and into a different life. I might not have the governance I had hoped for coming into 2015 but I have prospects and I have hope – a hope that change will come, more slowly than we might have liked, but come nonetheless.

And I’m sticking with it – in for the long run.

10 thoughts on “Sara Sheridan: New Year’s Resolutions? New Life Resolutions more like it

  1. I will never go on holiday to Portugal because Jose Barroso said we would have to rejoin the EU.

  2. great article. Just out of interest what is the definitive list of companies that came out anti indy? for instance there was some discussion at the time about whether Asda really had said the world would end if we voted yes.

    • Happy New Year. That’s a good point about definative list. We got info on “wings over scotland”, and have heard more examples eg Bae Systems,The Record for false vow/panto. RBS and many financial institutions. My list is BBC,B&Q,Asda,JohnLewis,M&S,Sainsburys,Baxters,
      Mackies,Tunnocks,and Tesco.
      We question many more,including local farmers.Ironically Westminster coilition looks intent on withdrawal from EU. A Polish woman in our local community was threatened to vote “no” by “no thx” campaigner with visa threat. The no camp was so negative and had “project fear” at their headquarters. We joined SNP, and happy with the info and policies. It’s fab that Scottish Greens doing well too. The Common Weal has a great voice and aims.
      Will be interesting times ahead, and hoping for more equal Scotland. We have a food bank in Kintyre.
      “No thanks to Food Banks”.

  3. Very moving piece. I think a lot of us will relate to your expectations and more profoundly your grief. The most beautiful aspect for me is that no one truly knows the way forward, yet YES and NO alike, we are trying to find it.

    Have a brilliant New Year and keep on dreaming!

  4. Thank you Sara, for your beautiful expression of how so many of us feel. Not many of us have your talent with words. Thanks again and good luck in 2015 Nan Wallace.

  5. Now to communicate that passion across the whole UK, so that change does come about through the ballot box 🙂

  6. Great article. Agree on all counts. I’m 53 and my husband is 60. We feel awakened politically.Life can be busy, but joining social media has kept us informed. We too have boycotted the companies that stood on the toes of democracy. Wrote to 10 CEO’s and 5 replied. To threaten and have false promises was so sad. I passed a nursing home in Helensburgh with union flags and “no thanks” on the windows. Shameful to assume for an organisation. Ditto the BBC, and so called radio Scotland news. Bias and use of language to influence unacceptable. We haven’t missed TV either. We have not heard a single reason to doubt Scotland’s ability to be independent. No-one has given me cause to doubt my “yes” vote. Have been inspired by the voices and people that we’ve met this year. New friends and a new year ahead to keep pushing forward for a better Scotland. We have a fire in our hearts for the fight, for future generations.

  7. Oops – piece, not price!

  8. This price resonates with me and my post-referendum experience. Yes, governance is not as we hoped for but we have the power of our consumer choices and our time. We can make Scotland fairer and we will; it may take time but we’ll get there. If we all do our wee bit the effect is cumulative.

  9. Thank you for expressing so beautifully what I felt “the referendum was a love affair with my country”. I spoke to my South african wife, and she smiled and told me she had had two referendum, and that was how she felt each time. Next time ‘hen’.

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