Cumbernauld school pupil says ‘No Thanks’ to the No campaign

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 16:04 on 10 September 2014.
E-mail usFollow usJoin us on FacebookMeet the team.

Ryan Laird switched sides, in an embarrassment for the local campaign.                                                                                                            Picture: Yes Scotland.

Help Cumbernauld Media to grow and flourish; donate to help us stay online and cover the news that brings thousands to our web services each week.
A CUMBERNAULD school pupil, and first-time voter has said ‘No Thanks’ to the pro-union ‘Better Together’ campaign, by drastically switching his views on independence, from against to for.

Sixteen-year-old Ryan Laird appeared in the Daily Record last Friday (5th August), to make it clear –he supported independence, in a dramatic switch in views, when he previously campaigned for a ‘No’ vote.

A student of the newly opened Cumbernauld Academy – the name for the newly merged Abronhill and Cumbernauld high schools – Ryan said he switched his views after looking into the cases for and against independence more carefully.

The change of heart from young Ryan will be seen by some in the local ‘No’ campaign as embarrassing, after Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East Labour MP, Gregg McClymont, managed to recruit the passionate teenager to do battle on the doors against separation.

His change of opinion was first announced in the Daily Record last Friday (5th August), when Alex Salmond and the wider ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign were given editorial control over the first seven pages of the Scottish tabloid. 

In explaining his change of view from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’, Mr Laird said he ended up backing independence for the sake of his future – and for his gran’s generation, who he felt had been dealt a raw hand as part of the United Kingdom.

After being recruited by Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, Gregg McClymont, the school pupil began hitting the doors, and working in the town’s ‘No Thanks’ store, in Cumbernauld Town Centre, answering calls and handing out materials – in an effort to win a victory for the anti-independence campaign in this month’s referendum. 

However, according to Ryan, the more he studied existing research and facts being produced by Yes Scotland, the more he became convinced that he had backed the wrong side. And he reached the firm conclusion that a Yes vote made “perfect sense” for himself, his school friends and his family.

Commenting, young Ryan said: “Like many people, I suppose I was taken in by the No campaign’s scare stories about all the terrible things they said would happen if we voted Yes. But I made the effort to study what both campaigns were actually offering and I gradually woke up to the fact that Yes not only made perfect sense, but was really too good an opportunity to miss.”

Ryan, who lives with his pensioner gran Ann Laird in Cumbernauld, is a fifth year pupil at the town’s newest state secondary school – Cumbernauld Academy.  His mum, Isabel, arranged for both her and her son to have postal votes.

Commenting further, Ryan added: “When I sat down at the table to vote for the first time in my life I just knew I had to put my cross in the Yes box. It felt good. And it felt right. I had looked at both sides of the debate and I had no doubt I was doing the right thing.”

Ryan, who hopes to study politics at university, admitted he wished he had listened more closely to his gran before agreeing to work with the No campaign.

He said: “She has been a dedicated Yes supporter from the start. I was too young to have fully understood the impact of the recession and, unlike gran, I have no experience of Thatcher or why we were dragged into an illegal war in Iraq.

“But through my schoolwork and my own research - ironically spurred by working briefly for Better Together - I’ve come to know that what my gran was saying all along was right.

“Now I know that Scotland has been failed by Westminster for a very long time, by both Tory and Labour governments.  The fact that one in five children in Scotland are living in poverty, and that pensioners like my gran have to struggle to afford even the basics in life is a scandal in a hugely wealthy country like Scotland.”

After making up his mind to switch sides, Ryan got in touch with Yes Scotland HQ in Glasgow’s Hope Street.

In a powerful and emotional email, he wrote:

“I’m Ryan Laird, I’m 16, and last night I voted for the first time in my life, via a postal vote. I must admit this with some guilt, but I was a campaigner for “Better Together”. But this isn’t your typical general election, I wasn’t voting for Salmond or any other political party, I was voting for my country.

"So, I marked the “X” in the “Yes” box. I had a change of heart for all the right reasons. Scotland has been failed as a country as part of the Union. For too long, Westminster has taken advantage of Scotland’s wealth and has dished it out to the top 1% of the UK”s population.

"An increasing number of children and families are being dragged down into poverty. Scotland can become so much better as an independent country. I’m not voting for Salmond. I’m not voting for Cameron.

"I’m voting on behalf of my family and the Scottish people.  Let’s live within an economy which works for all. All you have to do is vote “YES”! Let’s win together.”

Ryan explained: “I haven’t joined any political party yet and I’m not totally won over by Alex Salmond, the SNP or even Labour. But as Mr Salmond has said himself this is not about any individual party, this is about what kind of country we want for ourselves, our families and future generations.

“So I voted Yes because I think that being able to take our own decisions we’ll make a better job of looking after people like my gran. We’ll be able to do a better job for the kids that are living in poverty. And I think we can do better for young people like me by keeping education free and helping to find good jobs when they finish school or college.”

Widow Ann, 67, said: “Ryan is a very independent young man who thinks for himself. It’s true I’ve been nagging him to vote Yes, but I admire him for weighing up everything before finally making up his mind and voting for an independent Scotland.

"It’s nice that he’s voting Yes for me as a pensioner I’m voting Yes for him as a youngster with his life and career ahead of him. It took him a while to back the right side - but he got there in the end.”
More political stories

PublishedHeadlineRead in full
11 September 2015 Cumbernauld Labour back Burnham 
11 September 2015 RISE party to launch Cumbernauld branch 
11 September 2015 In hot water; town’s politicians demand answers from Scottish Water 
Showing 3 items from page Politics news sorted by Published, Read in full. View more »