Airyolland Farm

Independence- Hope over Fear


Neale McQuistin

For Farmers Weekly August 2014



I had a brief foray into the world of broadcasting and politics two weeks ago.  I was interviewed by the BBC for the Today program prior to taking part in an independence debate in Castle Douglas market.    The experience has just confirmed what I’ve known all along.  I’m just not cut out for either of those two things.

The radio interview was five minutes of blind terror to produce about 30 seconds that finally made it onto the air.  Credit to the BBC they did make me sound quite calm but I think the editor had more to do with it than me.  In amongst other questions l was asked during the interview was, would independence change my relationship with the friends that I have in the rest of the UK?


It seemed like a harmless question and it was easy for me to answer.  Off course it won’t change anything, I said.  However, in that split second I honestly never thought of how the situation would change from my friends’ point of view.  Would my friends in the rUK react differently to me post-independence?  I’m hoping that most of them would not have gone to the George Osborne school of charm and life will go on as normal as far as personal relationships are concerned.

One of those friends lives in the North of Ireland and I rely on him heavily for pithy advice about life and such things.  He’s a bit like Buddha but with a passion for Scotch whisky.  He told me in advance of the debate in the market to remember ABC and XYZ.  Always Be Calm and eXamine Your Zip.  Boy, am I good at examining my zip. Keeping calm on the other hand is not so easy when you are in an auction ring with 300 of your peers looking in.

All my farming life I’ve spent my time trying to producing something from the soil that can eventually be put into your mouth and it will be good for you.   Politics, on the other hand seems to be largely about producing something out of your mouth that is designed to go in someone else’s ears but it may or may not be designed to do them any good.


If I never hear another Scottish agro-politician say that Scotland is too wee, too poor and falling off a cliff into an abyss then it will be too soon.  

Finally I’ve informed her outdoors that if she should fall pregnant during the next month and if she eventually produces a brother for our Gavin – twentieth birthday two weeks ago - then the name of the new baby will be recorded as Jean-Claude Juncker McQuistin.   Mr Juncker has made it quite clear that Scotland’s position in Europe will be treated as a special case in the event of a yes vote.  If getting your ducks in a row is important then having the former president of tiny Luxembourg in place as President-elect of the European Commission is another step in a very positive direction.


This will probably be my last column before the referendum on the 18th September.  If you’re a reader that doesn’t live in Scotland then it would be difficult to find the words to express the atmosphere here right now.  On one side there is fear and uncertainty.  On the other there is optimism and hope.  I personally think it would be better for everyone that lives on our British Isles if they didn’t live in, or next door to, a country where hope has been overcome by fear.