All those many of us who were deeply involved in the referendum campaign of 2014 will never forget the experience. It appeared a moment of new hope and new joy. Bliss it was on that dawn to be alive, but to be knocking on a bit was even better, because you had been waiting decades for something like this to happen, and realised just how rare it was to feel on the cusp of an egalitarian revolution.
I was dashing all over Scotland from one speech or campaigning venue to another, and helping out with stall, canvassing or leafleting wherever, I was before moving on to the next venue and the next hotel in the next town. I spent an awful lot of money on travel and accommodation, and made several donations to local campaigns, or just gave cash to get something that was needed for a stall or get more flyers printed up. Over 90 per cent of the time I did not ask or receive any expenses for turning up to speak.
I was however in odd moments pursuing my researches into Alexander Burnes and visited Forfar and Montrose to look at manuscripts. I am therefore trying at the moment to sort out my expenditure in the period for my income tax return, and identify what I spent on the campaign and the much smaller amount which is legitimately an expense against income from the book.
And it is very, very difficult. When you are dashing around campaigning like mad, living from hotel to hotel and firmly focused on the campaign, record keeping is not on the top of your mind. Receipts are stuffed into trousers, shirts, jackets, suitcases, laptop bags. A lot of hotels now don’t give you a physical receipt but promise to email one on. I am only able to piece together a very partial account of what I spent during the white hot period of campaigning.
It is of course my own money. This site does not accept donations and it was all simply my own cash. I am therefore under no obligation to account for it. The smaller sum that might be attributable to Burnes research, I shall not be claiming as a tax expense where I can’t find the receipt.
But I have enormous sympathy for the trouble in which Nathalie McGarry finds herself. Accounting is not the top of your list when you are attempting to alter the destination of your entire nation, and Women For Indy was everywhere, doing stuff all over Scotland. From my own experience I can sympathise with why it can, in all innocence, be very difficult to account for everything undertaken in that hectic, breathtaking time. People should remember that before rushing to judgement.