I won’t actually vote in the referendum and it’s Robinson Crusoe’s fault

eps006I need to take you back to Letham, a housing scheme in Perth and to the 1960’s where my political consciousness was first stirred. At the heart of it was when a great unfairness became apparent to me. Of course great unfairness’s are all around us and we are conscious of them – some we can do something about and in others we feel helpless, some we contribute to. This particular unfairness was a big one at an early age.

There had been a noteworthy unfairness before the big politicizing unfairness, three or four years previously. Crying to the teacher at Letham Primary because of an intense pain in my ears, I sniveled that “ I’ve got sare lugs, Miss”… six of the belt later ( one for every year of my age ) it was explained to me in a clipped voice that I had earache. The news of the pain in my ears was an affront to those of the teacher when expressed to her in my native Scots. That was an unfair thing and a political unfairness at that – but I was too wee tae ken.

No the big unfairness that politicized me was worse than getting the belt from Miss Mason. It was to do with deprivation.

There was a television programme, in black and white, a French /German production that screened in the summer holidays, an episode a day. It was a fantastic adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s  ‘The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’. Readers in their mid-fifties may remember it and many will still be able to recall the haunting, signature tune. It opened with waves lapping on a sandy shore [just for you Donald here it is].

Now this programme got me at just the right stage of boyhood and I loved it.

I didn’t just watch this programme I stared it out. In my mind I whittled every stick, hunted every goat and caught every fish along with Robinson. Nothing, but nothing would make me miss it. My parents even tolerated me not using cutlery at the table when I was in ‘Robinson’ mode.

But the people that control the TV had made a terrible mistake. The first few weeks of the holidays had no kids programmes so were spent in anticipation of Robinson Crusoe. Then, a few weeks later, just when he’d seen off the cannibals, it was time to go back to school. For younger readers – this was before digital, video, on demand, playback… it was be in front of the TV or miss it.

I sought higher council … “ Dad, why does it not start at the start of the holidays and finish at the end of the holidays?”

“Because English schoolchildren have different holidays than us and it’s on for them”, came his reply.

“But that’s not fair….

Why don’t they put it on in England when they have their holidays and put it on in Scotland when we have ours?”

“They’d never dae that, son they dinnae really care aboot us up here”

Now, many years later I realize that in a world of poverty, corporate greed, racism, sexism, homophobia, war, famine etc., etc., deprivation of the last few episodes of a TV programme is hardly up there, on Amnesty’s or Greenpeace’s long list of things to tackle. But to me, at that time it was the mother of unfairness’s. Seeing those last few episodes meant everything to me and what made it so bad was the fact that I was being deprived unnecessarily. It was simply because … “they dinnae really care aboot us up here”.

From that day on I became a supporter of Independence for Scotland. As I’ve grown up I’ve done the rallies, mourned Willie MacRae, booed the Wombles at Hampden, cheered Margo, campaigned in 1979, Scotland Utd etc. etc. – all the usual stuff.

Ironic then that Crusoe’s creator, Defoe, was sent to Edinburgh in 1706 to spy on those campaigning against the Treaty of Union.

And finally we have it in our hands, as citizens of Scotland, to end this unfairness in it’s many facetted manifestations. I never thought I’d see the day. I can hardly bear to contemplate where we’re heading. On September 19th my heart will be broken with, either overwhelming pride or with the deepest of despairs.

We are in historic times. The 18th of September, 2014 will be etched in this county’s history forever, whatever. Just as the 17th of May, 2014 will forever be in the hearts and minds of we supporters of St Johnstone FC. I stood with my son on that historic day at Celtic Park , having counted down the ‘sleep nights’ and woke up on the day, daring to hope. One day, two sides, one outcome, history made.

And that’s why I won’t actually vote in the referendum, it’s too historic.

I hope, I pray my son has more of Scotland’s future to see than I do. He is thirteen and a half and I’m fifty, four and a half. He’s older now than I was when confronted by the mother of all unfairness’s. I’ve heard the word ‘indoctrination’ bandied around my parenting style more than once. I, however, know it is through his own intelligence that my beloved son is a St Johnstone supporting, Scottish Republican. At worst it is coincidence. It is his own wisdom that tells him .. “they dinnae really care aboot us up here” as I echo my own father all these years later.

That is why he will come to the polling booth with me on September the 18th and I’ll put the cross where he instructs me on my voting slip.

I predict a YES. I also predicted St Johnstone would win the cup.

Comments (57)

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  1. Graham Harris Graham says:

    What a pointless post!

    1. But thanks so much for sharing it with us, Graham.

  2. Blarney says:

    So are you voting or not????

  3. Blarney says:

    And if you are not because “it’s too historic” then you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror. If we lost by one vote, it would then be your fault, now that would really be “too historic”.

  4. Frank Kerr says:

    Funny. My dad did the same with me when we voted to go into Europe.

  5. Robert Graham says:

    oh dear dear dear just because you can doesn’t mean you have to graham

  6. lastchancetoshine says:

    Thanks for that, I think I’ll take my 14 year old daughter with me as well.

    And Graham Harris Graham, look up “inspired” and contemplate which post yours referred to.

  7. MBC says:

    You won’t vote but can vote? And you want a Yes? In case you’re disappointed? Get over it man and get out there and vote Yes. If it’s a No we just fight on. And on. And on. And on. And on. We will never, ever, ever, ever, give up. Don’t you remember Bruce and the spider? Twice he tried and failed. But the third time he succeeded. And we’ll fight on to recover Scotland’s sovereignty regardless of the result.

    Arabs have the view that they do not accept defeat. There is either victory… or a truce. The truce is just a temporary pause until the next opportunity for victory. That’s my outlook too. Nations rise because they are able to muster in defeat.

    1. He’s getting his son involved – didn’t you read to the end?

      1. MBC says:

        Yes. His vote will automatiically disqualifyied if he brings his son into the voting booth with him to be guided by him. It’s called ‘interfering with a voter’ and it’s against the law. I was a polling clerk once and those are the rules.

  8. yesvote2014 says:

    Yin o the best posts A’ve ever read. A’m wi ye, aw the wey. Fishin an byggin a wee housie out o sticks an leaves an makkin a goat-hide umbarella . .. A still mind the tune tae. Great tae hear it again. Dae ye mind Hawkeye an the Last o the Mohicans an aw? They canoes an deer-skin breeks. We aye wantit tae be the Indians, we had wir ain bows an arras an tomahawks. Whit some o us cried a “tammie-howk” – wir ain attempt at translation. Beltit fir sayin ‘Aye’ nou wir forced tae say ‘Yes’. A final act of deference tae the system. A’m votin Yes so we’ll never hae tae say ‘yes’ again. It’s Aye aw the wey eftir that . . .

    1. tuathanameilan says:

      Aye, whit he said!

    2. Colin says:

      and Daniel Boone, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Fearless Fly, Joe 90 and even Watch With Mother. Ah those were the days.

      1. yesvote2014 says:

        Rag, Tag and Bobtail an aw! They wee craiturs pokin thir heids out o holes and joukin back doun again. Braw. They dinnae mak programmes like that nou. Full episodes here:-


  9. lastchancetoshine says:

    proof I see that people don’t read to the end before jumping in 😉

  10. I enjoyed the article – thank you. Some of us down south do care about Scots – my parents were Scottish – but that’s not to say I am promoting the union. Here’s hoping for a Yes on 18th Sep. Best wishes

    1. Steve Bowers says:

      How kind, thank you very much, hopefully your common sense approach will come to the fore after the YES vote. My wife is English from English parents and a family that can trace its self back hundreds of years, she’s a YES too. We ( England and Scotland ) have to share this island together ( oops , sorry Wales) so we might as well do it in peace and harmony.

  11. Ann Mac says:

    For those who didnae bother to read it all – the author of the piece will be going to the polling booth but will be casting his vote according to the wishes of his son as it will be the boy who lives with the consequences of the vote for longer. So technically no he is not voting – his son is and he is merely marking the box according to his instructions. Not exactly rocket science to work out – of course you DO have to read more than the first wee bit before putting on your “pants of indignation”

  12. Did the people commenting above actually read the final words of this and understand it? Read it again! Many thanks Donald, a lovely article, it’s a great idea for you to vote with your boy’s wishes :).

    1. Frank Kerr says:

      I hope you are not including me in you comment!!

  13. Clootie says:

    I hate the idea of a wasted vote. Why not toss a coin.

    We have a duty to generations unborn, as well as the young, to ensure a better future.

    I prefer the NO voter with conviction to your madness.
    If your son said NO and you knew your vote was the tipping point would you still vote With hi advice?

  14. JBS says:

    Good idea. I may take my six-year-old neice along to the voting booth with me. I reckon she’ll plump for Yes, like the sensible girl she is. Who am I to argue with her? It’s her future.

  15. arthur thomson says:

    I really enjoyed your piece Donald. I have to thank the Record and Sunday Post for my lifetime belief in Scottish self government. As a child, sixty years ago, I saw right through their lies and utter contempt for people like you and me. I honestly have felt that Scotland was close to dying. It fills me with such joy to know that it is coming alive again. Too late for me sadly but not for my grandchldren. Yes on the 18th.

    1. I like that – “close to dying” – because you’re sensing the soul of the nation, of community writ large, and seeing that resurgent life is cause for joy. Yes!

  16. Penfold says:

    Goodness sake people, will you read the article all the way through! Donald is not wasting his vote but placing his faith in his 14yr old son who I’m sure, given he has had such an educated upbringing will vote according to the betterment of Scotland. I certainly know which way my 9yr old would vote! Funny that some of the kids ‘get’ the whole idea of independence whilst grown men and woman cannot see the wood for the trees and insist that we are ‘better together’ C’mon the bairns!

  17. Cassandra Lee says:

    Brilliant post! I too remember being scunnered at the way we never got to see the end of Robinson Crusoe, or any of the other shows that were put on purely for the English holidays. The Flashing Blade was best though!

    1. Angela M says:

      “You’ve got to fight for what you want, for all that you believe….” loved it!

  18. I loved reading your article Donald. Thanks for the clip to the theme tune. It brought back many fond memories.

    I also remember “Casey Jones and “The Flashing Blade” which had good theme tunes.

  19. Great article Donald, thanks! I was born in a house up the top of Letham and, like you, can remember thinking how unfair it was that bairns in England got to watch the last episodes of Robinson Crusoe.

  20. MBC says:

    Please folks, enough of this nonsense, your vote will be disqualified if you are seen to consult with somebody whilst in the voting booth. It’s called ‘interfering with a voter’ and against the rules.

    1. Ann Mac says:

      MBC – i very much doubt that any consultation will take place at the booth – i mean it isnae a hard question and there are only two choices – Should Scotland be an independent country? (or words similar) Choices YES or NO – I am pretty sure that any consultation between Donald and his son will have taken place in detail long before they arrive and that he wants his son present with him to make him part of such a historic moment. Having read the article I am sure that they have discussed it in depth and is not just a “Well what do you think son?” moment without any discussion of thoughts and ideas before it!

  21. bellacaledonia says:

    To all above who didnt read or understand – Donald – who I know well will not be breaking any rules but is merely taking guidance from his son about the future. Lesson: Don’t take things so literally and read the article till the end…

    1. Clootie says:

      I did read the article to the end, I did understand the gesture and I stand by my comment.

    2. MBC says:

      Nobody can see the future. You do what you can see at the time. Donald could live for another 50 years. In robust health. It happens. Why does he think he does not have a future? Any less so than his son? Are we ageist here?

      1. rabthecab says:

        “I hope, I pray my son has more of Scotland’s future to see than I do.”

        That doesn’t say “I have no future”, merely that Donald’s son is likely to outlast him, therefore the outcome of the indyref will affect the son for a lot longer.

        Can’t see any problem with that myself.

    3. Graham Harris Graham says:

      Read all of it. Twice. It remains a convoluted announcement.

  22. Seems likely that MBC’s advice is the most pertinent. Having read to the end – any disqualified vote is a wasted vote. So don’t indulge yourself.

  23. Jim Cruickshank says:

    Thank you for your story, Donald. The unfairness he experienced, and I am of the same age, reminds me of when I was a bit of an anorak and trainspotted. This was in the days of BR. When I noticed some “new” trains, I was told that they were from the south of England, and that when they got new rollingstock we got their old. I thought then, how unfair. I didn’t look for confirmation back then. Does anyone know if it is true?

    1. wwilmawatts says:

      Hi Jim,
      My Southern English husband always said to me that Scotland got a raw deal and used the BR example that you quoted. He is a serious train aficionado and has urged me to answer your question.
      He moved to Scotland in the middle 60s and noticed the dated rolling stock. The A4s were at the end of their life when they did the Aberdeen run. It seems to have been common knowledge at the time. The Southern English mainlines were getting the new Deltics and were shunting the old stock up to Scotland. He saw this as totally unfair. Please note, this is being dictated to me! Then when the Deltics were too old for the South, Scotland got those.
      Because of this and many other injustices he was a convinced Yes voter. It took me a bit longer to catch up with him— and I am the
      “proud scot”.

  24. liz walker says:

    What if you have two children one for Yes and one for No?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Follow the smart one?

      1. Jim says:

        Have the other one exorcised. 🙂

  25. barakabe says:

    All you can ever do in life is follow your own lead- yeah take advice, guidance & wisdom from others on most matters, but ultimately all decisions have to be your own.

    A modern day psychedelic Robinson Crusoe: WE ARE ALL JIM TALBOT

  26. Graeme D says:


    The man is voting Yes ! … for his son

  27. This is a wonderful post. I also had the ‘unfairness of Robinson Crusoe experience’, and it was a pivotal moment in making me a nationalist, too. There is no doubt in my mind that it has the finest soundtrack of any television programme, ever – and I was annually outraged that i never got to see the end of the thing. About five years ago I bought it on DVD; it remains just wonderful. I despair for those who can’t see what a clever and engaging piece of writing this is – to use another trope from just a few years later – it turns into a Tale of the Unexpected. Bravo Donald Urquhart – I’m pretty content for my future to be in the hands of Master Urquhart.

  28. tern says:

    No need to despair on Sep 19: at least if things stay the way they are now. If in Britain’s racist mood both sides continue to choose not to focus on the issue of inherited citizenship, then you can support my European parliament petition 1448 crying foul against the whole ref process’s legitimacy – voters don’t know what they are voting for if they are unaware, because the media they trust has not made them aware, how sickly and shockingly Yes is betraying the diaspora by refusing to make inheritance of citizenship from a parent unrefusable.

    The despair that Yes voters expect to feel when they lose, I have felt already! from discovering how Yes has blown it by perpetrating this new clearances on the side of the worst anti-outsider strain of nats, and being morally forced by it to convert to No. And I have done something about feeling it, by said petition, and accompanying noptice to the Commission’s Scottish office too, and it does not naively depend on being upheld. Regardless of what formal reaction it gets at first, it is a successful action of putting the challenge into place and onto posterity, including the challenge that not taking it up would be a bad precedent conflicting with the EU’s nature and purpose as a union. Remember – if the ref process was corrupted and messed up by both sides and the media, it means you still have a campaigning argument that the outcome is not settled, you are not after all stuck with accepting it for 20 years! :))

  29. lastchancetoshine says:

    “how sickly and shockingly Yes is betraying the diaspora by refusing to make inheritance of citizenship from a parent unrefusable. ”

    White paper: “Child born outside Scotland with at least one parent who has Scottish Citizenship : Yes, Automatically a Scottish citizen (The birth must be registered in Scotland to take effect)”

    Good luck with trusting the UK to keeping the situation the way it is.

  30. tern says:

    That White Paper quote is only about future-born children, and even look at its confinement of it to only the ones whose parent already holds citizenship at time of birth and chooses to register their birth.

    My point is about (1) the future-born kids who fall outside those limits, (2) all the exile-born Scots who are already alive now and can’t arrange to be resident here on indy day. They are not getting unrefusable inherited citizenship.

  31. lastchancetoshine says:

    Is it really? That’s not what its says.

    “outside these Limits” Those limits being having a parent who is a citizen, hardly a higher bar than you would have to leap to be a UK citizen now.

    I don’t even understand point 2 as it’s quite clearly not a requirement to be resident on the day of independence: “Scottish born Citizens currently living outside of Scotland will also be considered Scottish Citizens” & “British citizens born in Scotland but living outside Scotland on day one of independence: Yes, automatically a Scottish citizen”

    1. tern says:

      But not a higher bar than you would have to leap if you live within the citizenship union of the UK now which is so much bigger than a country seceded from it. And they don’t just say have a parent who is a citizen – if the parent’s citizenship fails to come through until after the day you were born, yours becomes refusable and not automatic too, which is arbitrary and makes no sense. Or if the parent does not register the birth in Scotland at the time, which is not your fault, you lose your automatic status suffers for it. Hardly good-spirited rules.

      The wider and more decisive concern is point 2. What you have quoted refers to folks born in Scotland. My entire point about refusability and a new clearances is about the Scots born outside Scotland, mostly in the rest of Britain, to parents who moved.

  32. lastchancetoshine says:

    What’s the size of country got to do with it?

    “if the parent’s citizenship fails to come through until after the day you were born, yours becomes refusable and not automatic too”

    Not much point discussing it if you are just going to make stuff up.

    “What you have quoted refers to folks born in Scotland.” indeed it does they being the PARENTS in question not the children as you are trying to twist it.

    There is no requirement to register at time of birth are you suggesting there should be no check on identity at all?

    1. tern says:

      Size of country has to do with it how wide a population is all united in one citizenship without any barriers and having to qualify to cross them.
      The bits you say I’m making up are in the White Paper as “to at least one parent who has Scottish citizenship or indefinite leave to remain at the time of their birth” and “the birth must be registered in Scotland to take effect”.
      What was the point of quoting that birth qualification for the parents’ citizenship when it does not, and they have stuck to saying it does not, make into automatic citizens anyone who is already alive and not resident here at the time of indy?

  33. lastchancetoshine says:

    “What was the point of quoting that birth qualification for the parents’ citizenship…”

    Read first quote again “Child born outside Scotland with at least one PARENT who has Scottish Citizenship…” that really could not be any clearer.

    1. tern says:

      But that is about a child born after indy. It is not about an exile-born adult who is alive now and for any number of reasons can’t be resident here on indy day.

      Also, it is not even about a child born after indy neither of whose parents actually hold Scottish citizenship at the time even if they could have held it – like if they chose that they preferred British citizenship, a choice we are told will be allowed, then though it’s not the kid’s fault it will hurt the kid’s citizenship status in a way that they can’t undo if they realise it after the child is born and then hasten to change their own citizenship – so it’s a tangle and not clear at all.

      Anyway, about the folks alive now it is clear, and not good, I made enquiries through all possible routes to pin down that their citizenship would be unrefusable, this includes when decent Yes voters were shocked to hear of an issue they had not realised and took it up and their group in Helensburgh even troubled to check it with a lawyer. Could not deliver.

  34. Jim says:

    I’m not sure what you are trying to argue here. Are you saying, for example, a child born 10 years ago in Scotland whose parents emigrated would not be able to claim Scottish citizenship when they reach maturity unless their parents do.

    1. Jim says:

      Sorry the above comment was a reply to tern.

      As an aside if I can ask him what constitutes a ‘decent YES voter’. As opposed to what?

      1. tern says:

        Delay answering because the location where I can access Chrome from was down for a while – if I try to post from Explorer 8 it does an error message – and been busy with real world ref activity.

        Decent is one who instinctively does find this citizenship arrangement unacceptable and shocking but it had never occurred to them that it could be there until someone else told them of it. As opposed to: an aggressive shouting you down type, or one whose national pride is fixed rigid to reject any humanitarian objections, or one who only cares about the resident population and is actively pleased to consider the diaspora outsiders and reject them. I have encountered that last type in 2 big name speakers and a stallholder for Radical Indy.

        It seems from the White Paper that for future born children it will be as you describe, they may not be able to claim citizenship unless their parents already had done before they were born or chose to register their birth in the right way for it,. But re a child born 10 years ago the concern arises if they were born outside Scotland, because by arbitrary chance their parents were either resident or travelling outside at the time of their birth.

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