LOTHIAN MSP Angela Constance was just eight years old at the time of the first devolution referendum back in 1979.
Her family was not politically active, but she traces her own Nationalist convictions back to that time.
Three-and-a-half decades later, the 44-year-old mother-of-one is bidding to be deputy leader of the SNP and arguing the case for independence remaining the prime goal of the party despite the setback of last month’s referendum.
“Yes, we lost,” the Almond Valley MSP said. “But we live in a democracy and in a democracy you accept the result, but you also have the right to continue to campaign for what you believe in.”
Ms Constance has been an MSP since 2007 – taking her seat when she was 17 weeks pregnant – and is currently Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment.
She describes how unemployment is an issue close to her heart.
She grew up in the mining village of Addiewell in West Lothian during the Thatcher era and her father was one of the many who found themselves out of work.
Ms Constance was president of the Students Representative Council at Glasgow University, then worked as a social worker and mental health officer and also served as a councillor in Livingston before being elected to the Scottish Parliament. Launching her deputy leadership bid yesterday – which puts her up against fellow MSP Keith Brown and Westminster-based Stewart Hosie – Ms Constance said the SNP had to continue to campaign for independence “head, heart and soul”.
She said it was those with the least who had voted Yes in the referendum.
“The disenfranchised became voters, voters became activists and activists became apostles for independence,” she said. “Those with least have seen the opportunity that independence has afforded them.
“They voted Yes out of hope, and if I’m elected as deputy leader of the SNP, I will do everything to ensure that hope of living in an independent Scotland and everything that it can deliver is never extinguished.
“I will always argue for independence – no ifs, no buts – and if elected as deputy leader of the SNP I will ensure that the voice of our members, both old and new, is at the very heart of the SNP.”