AT Voices for Scotland we want to help start conversations on issues that matter to you and give you a platform to have your voice heard.

This week I travelled to Blairgowrie in Perthshire to talk to Una and Allan Berry about independence, their generation and Scotland’s future. For Una, 79, a retired nurse, “independence has always been a dream”, a view that sets her apart from most of her peers.

The idea of Scotland becoming independent is not popular with the majority of those in the autumn of their life. A 2014 Ashcroft poll showed that 73% of over-65s voted against independence, yet across the country there are outposts of autumn rebels, like Una and Allan, passionate about Scotland’s right to self-determination.

Surrounded by furrowed fields blanketed by a winter fog and overlooking Loch Drumellie, the tranquillity of their cottage is only ever interrupted by the gentle rumbling of a tractor. In their couthy living room, surrounded by books and papers, Una tells me why she thinks most of her generation don’t support independence.

“A lot of people in my age group aren’t thinking about the future, they’re concerned about how they’ll be looked after when they can’t look after themselves. They are worried that if we become independent there won’t be the care provision required.

“This all goes back to the scaremongering we saw in 2014 when we were told that we can’t afford to be independent. When you look at the natural resources we have and other similar sized nations it’s obvious that Scotland can prosper as an independent country.”

Though independence has always been something Una has believed in, she saw the re-convening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a significant step towards achieving autonomy, mainly as it highlighted the “absurdity” of Westminster and the potential to do politics differently.

“Television has been so important in showing us what happens in parliament. We’ve never had such an insight into how politicians conduct themselves. Everything about the Scottish Parliament seems so much more civilised than Westminster, the way it’s set up, that people listen to each other and the public have contact with their MSPs. Westminster is a bear-pit set up by the ruling classes and a lot of the time it seems anti-Scottish.”

The idea that politics can be done differently in Scotland is something that became evident to many during the referendum campaign in 2014. With a turn-out of 85%, it’s clear that public engagement was exceptional and, for the vast majority, a hugely positive moment of national conversation.

The legacy of this time is a nation of politically engaged citizens, giving Una a sense of optimism, “when you watch programmes like Question Time and you see well educated young people making important points, it’s very encouraging and gives me a lot of hope for the future.”

Allan, 83, has spent his life campaigning. Whether on board the

Rainbow Warrior or disrupting meetings in Brussels he is a vociferous environmentalist exposing the impact of salmon farming. He too is a life-long independence supporter and sees hope in today’s youth, “I was brought up by my mum to be a free thinker, and it’s good to see so many young people like that now”.

According to Una and Allan, a big difference between the younger and older generations is a trust in institutions. In post-war Britain parents put an emphasis on a career, a pension and “you did what you were told”. Allan added: “Our generation have an old-fashioned way of thinking, they’re stuck with their ideological views and it’s difficult to change that mindset.”

Despite this, Una thinks that people are beginning to understand that Scotland needs to be allowed to make decisions for itself, “people are getting the message that we should decide our own fate. We didn’t vote for Brexit and now we’ve been taken out the EU. Myself and a lot of people I know are really angry”.

Outside, Una shows me around their beautiful garden where she is half way through collecting fallen leaves from the giant birch on the edge of their property. I ask her about how she’ll be campaigning when another referendum happens.

“I’ll be voting for independence. I’m not going to be going on marches or out in the streets waving flags, I’m too old for all that now. I think the best thing I can do is to keep talking to people I know and people I don’t know about why I’m voting for independence.”

Here Una picks up on a significant point about conversations and how we build support for independence. A key part of Voices for Scotland’s campaign are conversations which lead to influencing people in your peer group.

In the latter years of life the body can become a cage for fervent minds, and whilst we all have an idea of how we could or should campaign for independence, it’s worth bearing in mind that not everyone will wave a flag, nor pin their support to their chest.

Across Scotland, across age ranges and social classes there are people like Una and Allan who want to turn their dream of independence into a reality. How we get there and how we spread our message of support is as unique as each of us, but it almost always starts with a conversation.


Voices for Scotland is using this column to provide a platform for stories about your journey to supporting independence. If you’d like to be involved please email or visit