As we face the most challenging moment in time for a generation, Nicola Sturgeon has chosen to play politics with our future. She is frightening Scots into a second independence referendum vote - and there’s a real risk that the First Minister will get her way.
But we must stand strong against the threats and remember that there is strength in numbers.
As a British Sikh woman born in Glasgow, nothing makes me prouder than my Scottish roots. My homeland offered me the opportunity to dream big and feel inspired to achieve the impossible. Leaving school without any qualifications, to run my father’s business after his death was not only frightening but also an exciting opportunity for me to learn real life skills and gain more experience. Then later, I went back as an adult learner to gain my academic learning by completing my Consumer Law degree at the Caledonian University which was a very proud moment for me and my family. My exciting new career at Glasgow City Council was stopped in its tracks when I was made redundant and struggled to find work with limited job opportunities in Scotland. That was when I looked to make the move to England where I was embraced and able to work in my chosen economic development field. It was there I grew my skills to MBA level and gained more experience, which ultimately led to my interest in politics.
I look back on this pivotal moment in my life and feel incredibly grateful to the union for allowing me the opportunity to freely move between England and Scotland. It is why when faced with the prospect of Scottish Independence, I feel so passionately about the strength of the union and how it can enhance people’s economic prospects.
Some of those backing Sturgeon’s attempt to split the UK do so because they believe it to be out of loyalty to their home country - but I argue it is a vote to catastrophically hinder and harm Scots’ livelihoods. Instead of causing unthinkable harm to our economy led by power-hungry Sturgeon, let’s encourage everyone to seize the opportunities to freely travel across the union and ensure Scotland remains a powerhouse within the United Kingdom.
Since travelling to live permanently back home and use the skills I was fortunate enough to acquire down south, including currently finishing my last year of my PhD, I vow to fight on behalf of my fellow Scots - and encourage more women of colour to get into positions of power. My determination was further fuelled while fighting my first seat in the General Election 2019 in my hometown of East Dunbartonshire.
I feel immense pride in having run against key players in politics last year - proving it’s not about where you come from, but where you want to go.
Now I want to inspire others to dare to dream big and have the courage to try despite the obstacles they face. In the General Election I struggled to see people who looked like me fighting to represent their constituencies. I knew then I wanted to be part of the change.
In July 2020, I co-founded Scottish Conservatives friends of BAME (SCBAME) (www.scbame.com) - affiliated with the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party - to inspire those who previously thought there’s no place for them in Scottish politics.
It would be wrong to suggest there is a lack of hunger from the BAME community. But there is a lack of education and we need more people of colour in political seats to create more awareness and encourage the next generation to step forward. We need the BAME community to break glass ceilings.
The front benches of the UK parliament prove the talent and drive the BAME community has to offer. We need to learn from that in Scotland - to create more diversity, instil confidence and secure people in positions of power who represent all points on the spectrum of society. Therefore education on diversity and inclusion needs to start in school if future generations are to benefit from a world where all lives matter. Instead, its six years on since the Scottish referendum and the SNP have proved their priorities are all wrong. Rather than focusing on trying to win a vote the population clearly voted against, it’s time to act on their failures in education, health and the economy. Scots are running out of time to make the change we so desperately need - thirteen years of failure is far too long. With unemployment expected to be on the rise and Scotland's economy unlikely to return to its pre-pandemic levels for more than three years, we need change to happen in Scotland in the next 2021 Scottish Election.
Stability and certainty in today’s climate is what is needed to come back fighting from the global pandemic that threatens jobs and livelihoods. We need to make sure people are the number one priority, not a vote on Scottish Independence.
Pam Gosal-Bains MBA, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for East Dumbartonshire in 2019 General Election and Chair of Scottish Conservatives - Friends of BAME