SCOTTISH independence is a cause close to the heart of many – and not only among those born here.

English Scots for Yes (ESfY) offer an important reminder of the breadth of this movement, and the group have shared their stories with The National.

John Schofield, regional organiser for Dumfries & Galloway, said: “In response to criticism on social media that English Scots are residents of England and only travel up to Scotland to campaign for independence, a number of English Scots who live in Southern Scotland have decided to tell their own personal stories as to why they now support Independence for our nation.”

ESfY national convenor Math Campbell-Sturgess added: “We have over 1500 members across Scotland as a whole and I am sure there are many more Scots of English descent who support us.

"Our existence as an organisation proves that the Yes movement does not, in any way, have an anti-English bias. It is purely about making the choice of who runs Scotland, Holyrood or Westminster”.

Below, 11 ESfY members explain why they back Scottish independence.


The National:

(Pictured centre, wearing red)

Sheelagh Nash, Dumfries

I am (or was!) completely English, without any Scottish connections, but have been in Scotland for 30 years. We arrived in 1988, after having come up to Loch Awe on holiday, and just loved the people, loved the pace of life and then worked towards moving up as soon as was practically possible.

I voted no in the last independence referendum because I felt it was all too rushed and I wasn't convinced on the economic argument. However, after much reflection, I have switched to being a Yes voter. I'm tired of being a second-class citizen in the eyes of Westminster and I want to stay in the EU.

As for any anti-English sentiments all my children and three of my grandchildren are English and I am most definitely not anti them!


The National:

Alan Scott, Ecclefechan

Born and raised in England, I have made my home and family in life in Scotland for the past 30 years. I am a businessman who is totally opposed to Trident and believe the only way to get rid of this is through independence.

The Poll Tax, and its testing on Scotland, made me very angry. I also think that the promises made in 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was founded haven’t been fulfilled. Scotland should have full control over corporation tax, immigration and VAT.

I also believe that Scottish athletes are not treated fairly in the media – Andy Murray is British when he wins and Scottish when he loses!


The National:

Councillor Ros Surtees, Stranraer

When I moved to Scotland in 2004, I was afraid of the Nationalists. It was because I thought they wouldn’t want me here. I moved here from Nottingham but I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived all over the world and I’ve now been here longer than anywhere else.

As a lifelong Labour supporter (old Labour) I was happy to continue supporting the Labour Party and follow my professional and private life with my socialist values at the core. I can remember driving past a well-known councillor’s house in Dumfries who had an SNP flag in his garden thinking that I just could not understand the nationalist stance! A person to be avoided at all costs, I thought to myself. Little did I know that 14 years later he would be one of my closest and beloved colleagues, working together as SNP councillors in the administration of Dumfries and Galloway Council.

How did this happen?

Gradually and naturally I made friends with people in my new home of Stranraer. I was a social worker and I worked with like-minded people who wanted to improve the lives of the people who needed it most. I also joined social groups and activities with people who shared my values. I was astonished to see that one of my most valued colleagues had an SNP poster in her window. I was confused! How could she be a Nationalist!

She was warm and friendly and welcoming ... basically everything I expected the Nationalists not to be. We worked exceptionally well together fighting the system and fighting for justice for our clients.

At the same time I made friends with people who were interested in working hard for their community. The fact was that nearly all of my friends, my favourite colleagues and those I admired were either SNP and/or supporters of Scottish independence. By the time the referendum came along in 2014 I realised that I needed to find out what this anomaly was in my life and why my closest friends and colleagues were so supportive of something I feared so much.

It seemed to be that there was a strange correlation between my own values and those of Scottish Nationalists. So I went to the meetings, the focus groups, and I made it my business to become educated about Scottish politics and especially independence.

In 2017 I was elected as an SNP councillor for Stranraer and The Rhins – a testimony to the fact that my community have welcomed me as someone who can make a difference. My heritage and background has never been brought into question and I have never felt so welcome and accepted anywhere in the world as I have been in Scotland.


The National:

Peter Rowberry, Duns 

My wife and I moved to Scotland from East Anglia in February 2017. We had no family ties north of the Border and I had spent very little time here; just a few visits to Edinburgh and a teenage adventure looking for the Loch Ness Monster, so we were stepping into the almost unknown. We rented a property which gave us the opportunity to look around the Borders area and be sure we had made the right decision before selling up in Suffolk and “burning our bridges”. We soon decided to stay, and as the Romans would say, “the die was cast”.

There were several factors in our decision to come to Scotland. We were very unhappy at the increased greed and selfishness, as we saw it, down south. Rising property prices and the desire to leave the EU which was so strong in our local area made no sense to us. We were outsiders in the land of our birth.

But as much as our unhappiness at the situation we faced in England, we had a belief that, with the right degree of confidence and willingness to adapt, things would be different in Scotland. Scots were trying to keep a strong link with Europe, despite the pressure from Westminster to accept the results of the Brexit referendum. The Scottish cultural identity was strong, logical and well-grounded and we wished to be part of it.

The doom-merchants in England were sure that we would not spend long in our new home. The weather would be too cold, the Scots hate the English and would not accept us, the Scottish economy is too dependent on the rest of the UK. These were the so called “facts” which would drive us back into the bosom of our motherland. How deluded they were. With the benefit of experience, and the real evidence from living here, we can say that these were just more examples of false news.

Our welcome in Scotland has been amazing. The neighbours we have already met will be lifelong friends. Our first Rievers week has helped us link into the Scottish culture, and we are loving it – although we can assure all of you that the game of handball in Duns no longer depends on the availability of the head of an Englishman to play. As time goes on we will learn more about Scottish history and how it has resulted in a unique sense of community north of the Border. It is a community which is precious and deserves to be in full control of its own destiny.


Susan Rowberry, Duns

I decided that I wanted to leave the country of my birth for several reasons.

I felt that over the last few years England was beginning to lose its way in the UK and in the world generally. The country was becoming more and more insular and greedy. This fact was borne out in the Brexit vote when large parts of England voted to leave the EU with the slogan "We want our country back", whatever that is supposed to mean – and immigration and their fear of it was instrumental in the outcome.

The obsession with constantly rising house prices has resulted in companies building inferior quality housing stock in large swathes of the countryside. For instance, where I lived in a small East Anglian market town it became a London/Essex overspill with no infrastructure and a GP surgery which catered for 9000 people. Most of the house prices were not affordable and many Londoners bought them as second homes. They were empty for six months of the year, and England wonders why it has a housing crisis.

England was becoming an increasingly harsh and unfair place to live and as I approach old age I decided to move north of the Border to a fair, inclusive and lovely country with tolerant people and helpful communities. I have only lived in Scotland for 17 months but it is the best decision I have ever made in my life and I am perfectly happy and content. Well done Scotland, and may we soon be celebrating our independence.


The National:

(Pictured right)

John Schofield, teacher, Dumfries

I joined the SNP on the day after the first independence vote, when David Cameron started talking on the steps of Downing Street, three hours after the result, about English Votes for English Laws, something that had never been mentioned during the campaign. I felt really angry and also worried that British Nationalists might start to punish Scotland for having the temerity to try to break away from the UK. I have always been interested in politics, having previously been a Liberal party member (before the LibDems!) and stood for the Scottish Greens in the 2005 General Election.

I have lived and worked in Scotland continuously since 1968, and have always had a dilemma on whether I am English or Scottish. The title of "English Scot" seems to be a perfect fit for me. I used to support the concept of a federal UK, but realise this will never happen. Even before the latest Brexit power grab, I realised Westminster will never give up control easily. Somehow the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey have reached self-government and are still part of the UK, but Scotland is too much the "jewel in the crown" economically to be given this status.

Scotland exports more than it imports, pays more per person in tax than anywhere else in the UK, and whisky generates £139 per second every single second of every single day for Westminster. Oil is not even counted as a Scottish export.

I cannot understand why more Scottish people don’t have the confidence to look at small countries like Denmark, Finland or Luxembourg, which basically have very few resources, yet because they are self-governing and can plan their own economies, do so much better than the UK. Denmark has just paid off all of its foreign national debt and has a much higher standard of living than we do. If we use Scotland’s resources for investing in Scotland and developing its economy in, for example, renewables, then of course we can continue to be a successful country.

We pay our way, but unfortunately Westminster can’t seem to respect us as a nation or respect our politicians. I still have lots of family in England and once Scotland is independent going down south will be no different from before.


The National:

Mark Frankland, First Base Agency, Dumfries

In 1977, a 17-year-old me set out to see the world: I was lucky enough to see a lot of it. The deserts and jungles of Africa, the teeming cities of Asia, the police states behind the Iron Curtain. It didn't take me so very long to learn a simple lesson. And it was a lesson which worked equally well in a factory worker's beer cellar in Leipzig or a midnight station in Gujerat or a village by the river Congo.

When you visit a place, people always ask you where you're from. If I said "England" or "Britain", faces would close down and hospitality was thin on the ground. So I stopped saying "England" or "Britain" and I told a lie instead. I said I was from Scotland – and all of a sudden people would be smiling and good times were there to be had.

Back then I had only been past the blue sign at Gretna a couple of times. But I felt a natural affinity. As a Lancastrian and Liverpool season ticket holder, I watched the Thatcher wrecking ball smash everything up in the eighties. I had a front row seat. I knew what it was to be at the sharp end of London rule. I got used to being called the "Enemy Within". 

In 1989 any residual faith I had in the British Establishment was destroyed and destroyed forever. I was in the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough. I survived that desperate afternoon by the skin of my teeth. And I fought the Westminster cover-up for 28 years. After Hillsborough, I was done with the United Kingdom. I was a citizen without a home.

By the mid-nineties, I was settled down with a Black British partner and two young boys. We were a mixed-race couple living in Blackburn. My boys were brown and the BNP was on the march. The Blackburn of my youth was dead and gone. The streets were turning toxic. The seeds of hate were being sown. It was time to go. To flee. To emigrate. To find a new home – a home where my two boys could walk the streets without having to look over their shoulders: without getting a kicking for the colour of their skin.

So we headed north. To Scotland. To Dumfries. And we became New Scots. For the past fifteen years, I have managed a charity called the First Base Agency. We help the people at the bottom of the ladder. Drug addicts, veterans with PTSD, the victims of the Tory welfare reforms. We are a tiny little charity and yet over the years, three party leaders have been to our place to listen to what we have to say. I have been to Holyrood on many occasions to give evidence to Parliamentary committees. Our local MSPs of all parties have always been there to help us.

I learned a big lesson. A country of five million is always going to be better governed than a country of 65 million. This view hardened over the years as I watched the schools, hospitals, roads and prisons back home in Lancashire slowly go to rack and ruin. Everything in Scotland wasn't just better – it was a country mile better. When Alex Salmond called the 2014 referendum, I wrote a blog about why I had decided to vote a resounding "Yes". The blog led to me talking at any number of Yes rallies and going toe-to-toe with Better Together politicians in several debates. I fought for Yes with the patriotic zeal of the new immigrant.

When we lost, I was distraught. Emptied out. But something had changed. For the first time in my life, I was a citizen of somewhere. For the first time in my life, I was proud of my country. For the first time in my life, I felt like I actually had a country. Scotland. Now when I travel and people ask me where I'm from, I don't have to lie. I say "I'm Scottish". And Scottish is exactly what I am.


Peter Jeal, Dalbeattie

I have been in Scotland for 23 years, around 20 of which I have moved towards independence from seeing things "from the other side of the fence" so to speak. I campaigned solidly from 2012 to 2014 for Yes and became a member of the SNP.

If any more evidence were needed that Scotland is anything but "a valued and equal partner in the UK" it is the EU Withdrawal Bill. Without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, it takes powers devolved to Scotland back to Westminster so that the Tory government can attempt to get much-needed trade deals by bargaining with the fishing industry and the Scottish NHS to get deals in favour of the City of London financial services sector.

Included in this is the opening up of the Scottish NHS to US private sector firms interested not in providing health care, but making as much profit as possible from cherry-picking the bits of the NHS in Scotland that it will now be involved with.

The Tories have always opposed the setting up of the Scottish Parliament and are actively working to diminish not only Scotland's voice, but Scotland's ability to govern in the devolved areas it is able to in a different way to England. If you are a Tory, you are no friend of Scotland. If you are a Unionist, you support England's right to control Scotland and for Scotland and the Scottish people to be silenced and exploited. Shame on you!


The National:

Roger Martin, Kirkpatrick-Durham

I had intended to move to Scotland from England upon my retirement in the mid-1990s. However, life gets in the way, as the saying goes, and in fact my family and I moved here in 1977.

The one thing that struck my wife and I was the difference in people’s attitudes in Scotland. There was a strong sense of community, a willingness to help each other and the honesty of folk, as witnessed by front doors left open all day and also the presence of Honesty Boxes!

As time went by I came across the SNP and regarded them as just a pressure group at this time. They apparently believed that Westminster had stolen Scotland’s oil. Not being particularly interested in politics I took little notice and in any case, when I could be bothered to vote it was for the Conservatives. Why? Because my parents did.

However, with the fall of the incumbent Labour Party and the election of the SNP to power, I began to take a little more notice of the politics of Scotland. I discovered, having read the McCrone Report, that incredibly Scotland’s oil had been taken by Westminster. I was appalled at the way Scotland had been treated in this manner.

I was beginning to listen now, and found that SNP policies were for the people of Scotland far more than the other parties. I liked what they were saying. They were elected into power again and again in subsequent elections – the people of Scotland also liked what they were saying.

By the time of indyref1 I was a firm believer that the SNP were then (and still are today) the best party to serve the people of Scotland. In June of 2014 I joined the SNP. The progress they had made since coming to power was staggering. The result of the referendum was a great disappointment to me (and many others), but I decided then to become active in support of the SNP and have been so ever since.

On June 2 2018, at almost 70 years of age, I took part in the AUOB march in Dumfries. t was the first time in my life I'd done something like it. It was a thrill and a joy to be a part of. Everyone was so friendly and happy and from many differing groups. Not all SNP by any means – but all with one voice for YES.

I would respectfully ask anyone who is unsure about supporting independence to examine what it is that they are voting for.

It’s not a choice, like last time, of the status quo versus independence. The status quo has gone because of Brexit.

The choice today is between a disastrous* Brexit or independence.

*Boris Johnson said of Brexit that the country will go into melt down. On this one occasion I believe him!


The National:

Eric Dodd, Annan

My family arrived in Annan from a mining town in north-east England in 1960.

I was 7-years-old.

Following service in the Royal Marines and L&B Police I returned to what was – and is – my home town 14 years ago.

Unlike many, I became a registered SNP supporter around 2006, joined the party in 2011/12, and I've been an activist and office bearer since attending my first branch meeting!

It was the SNP's policies of equality, inclusion and genuine social democracy that first had me looking closely, and it soon became very obvious that the only way those policies could be enacted was by Scotland becoming a forward-looking, aspirational, fair and welcoming independent country.

Sadly, the country of my birth is rapidly becoming the opposite.

I attended my first SNP conference in 2012 (Glasgow) and was delighted to meet members of all nationalities and ethnicities, all backgrounds, all faiths (and like me, none) … it was a genuine "melting pot", and although delegate numbers have increased tenfold, from around 400 to 4000, it still is!

In fact the membership is even more diverse now as more Euro-Scots have joined since 2014.

I was in hospital when Yes South Annandale (YSA) was launched in the summer of 2013, but made it to the first official meeting. What still surprises many is that although YSA had a core of around 50, party membership/allegiances were never mentioned, and although I knew a handful were SNP members, the rest were a mystery.

It wasn't until after September 18 2014 that I learned many of that 50 had joined the SNP during the campaign, with the remainder signing up in the days and weeks that followed.

Since then, it's never really stopped for some of us!

We invited Math Campbell-Sturgess to join YSA members at the notorious "Gretna Cairn" (it's a broch!) in August 2014. I joined ESfY the day after, and have been a proud member ever since – as have others.

When our new SNP branch was formed in 2015, half the committee were either English, part-English or were married to an English person, and at the recent AUOB march in Dumfries I saw every single one of those members, and many formed up behind the ESfYD&G banner.

Branch-wise not much has changed, although we now have a Romanian Scot committee member too!

In Spring 2013 I was diagnosed with bladder and kidney cancer.

That fight continues – as does the one for an independent Scotland!


The National:

Steve Sloan, Stranraer

My route to supporting Scottish independence is a circuitous one via the North East of England and Yorkshire! It isn’t driven by negativity but by a very positive belief that Scotland and the regions of England will do better without the Union.

Although I am now retired, my work, before I moved to Scotland, required a local and national political interface, and even though that needed to be scrupulously non-party political,  it meant I could observe politics as an outsider.

What I saw increasingly was a political system where the key political parties put the politics of the South East and London at the center of their thinking. Perhaps that was inevitable – that is where the votes are and the key political battles. Working in the North East and Yorkshire I saw a sense of frustration at how their issues were myopically ignored in Westminster.

I have been coming to Scotland for more than 45 years but in 2006 work opportunities made it possible to relocate. In 2016 we retired to our favorite part of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway.

Here the democratic deficit that I had seen affecting English regions was far more starkly demonstrated, and in a sense why shouldn’t it be?

The statistics are really compelling: 8.2% of the population of the UK is in Scotland, 84% in England, the rest in Wales and Northern Ireland. Why wouldn’t a Westminster government want to serve the priorities of where the vast majority of their voters come from?

Then there is economics. Unionists talk about the Barnett formula as if it is a gift from Westminster to Scotland – they rarely talk about our financial contribution to the Union or what we might otherwise do with that. Would an independent Scotland need HS2, nuclear weapons or nuclear power stations? Presently we are paying for them. What might we otherwise invest in?

Our inward investment is second only to the South East. Our financial services and universities and the intellectual capital they create are world class. Our NHS outperforms every other part of the UK. Forget negativity – these are very positive reasons to think about independence.

I heard some of the scare stories in 2014, none stood the test of either reality or time.

Whatever you voted in 2016, Brexit shows us that Scotland can overwhelmingly want one thing but being just 8.2% of the population means that if the rest of the UK wants something else we will be overruled. Better minds than mine have suggested Brexit was probably more to do with the democratic deficit in England and the sense of political abandonment by Westminster than about Europe itself.

The UK needs to repair itself, but Scotland has better alternatives and Scotland works. Under devolution it has developed the governance capacity to make it so.

Prior to coming to Scotland my understanding of Scottish Nationalist politics was informed mainly by the English press, which shows it as quirky, unrealistic and fanatical. The government that has resolutely done the day job for the past 11 years they find harder to characterise!

Forgive me if this is no Saltire waving blast of passion here! Logic and experience of Westminster politics tells me that I would prefer to have a government of whatever hue (though as a nationalist I have my preference) that has to give 100% attention to Scotland than one that might attend to us but has its eye on votes in the other 92% of its interest.

The Union served a purpose and that purpose is ended, it now brings no added value to Scotland and we can invest in a better and more optimistic future, and I think this is crucial, a future that our young people overwhelmingly believe in.

As an English born Scot, I truly wish England well – but Scotland is my home.