Scotland's referendum: Catching up with the class of '79

A class of primary school pupils talked politics to the BBC in 1979

In 1979 eight school pupils were interviewed by the BBC as part of a special programme on that year's Scottish devolution referendum.

We set out to track down the group, with your help. After seeing the footage, you told us the school was Mount Florida Primary on the southside of Glasgow and you named all eight children.

Six have spoken to the BBC again and a number were interviewed for a 1997 programme called "The Ghost of '79". Peter is the only one we know very little about, (we'd still love to hear from you Peter, so do get in touch).

Here is the class of '79.........

line break
Russell Speed

"I can't recall much of the day but the footage has cropped up a couple of times over the years. Grigor Milne was a good friend and John Milne, the BBC Scotland presenter who did the interview, is his dad. I'm sure it helped that I knew him before he interviewed us.

Russell Speed Russell Speed, how he was then and how he is today, said: "I am the one who is pouty and rolls his eyes."

"Seems like one or two of us had figured out that humour would get us screen time.

What did Russell say in 1979?

Interviewer: "When you're big, what do you want to be?"

Russell: "A tennis player."

Interviewer: "What do you know about Teddy Taylor?"

Russell: "That he's got a bald patch on the top of his head."

Interviewer: "Do you know what party he belongs to?"

Russell: *Very long pause*

Interviewer: "No?"

Russell: "...Labour?"

"Family and friends are envious of my childhood stardom. I'm told many of my expressions and mannerisms haven't changed.

"I was clearly ahead of my time, being Scottish and wanting to be a tennis champion. Growing up I was much better at table tennis.

"The Conservative offices were near our house in Mount Florida, so I should have known what party he [Teddy Taylor] was in. As others indicated on the film, he's the only Glasgow MP you would have recognised in the street.

"Devolution always felt like a stepping stone to independence.

"However, it's interesting that Donald Dewar was totally opposed to the idea. Living and working in London, I've mixed views.

"I'm sure the country can sustain itself economically and it would remove suspicion of Westminster's priorities.

"However, separatism doesn't feel like a particularly multi-cultural idea and Great Britain has its advantages, even if 'Dave Snooty' isn't one of them."

line break
  • How did the story unfold? Have a look at this Twitter timeline showing where we started and how you helped us in the writing of this piece.
line break
Grigor Milne
Grigor Milne Grigor in 1979 and as he appears today, working for CMS Cameron McKenna LLP

"It was my dad who ran it [the interview], so that was slightly bizarre, I have to say.

"I do remember a bit of coaching from my mum either the morning of the interview or the day before. It was an interesting day.

"And a bit embarrassing as well with my dad [John Milne] coming in to see all my class mates.

What did Grigor say in 1979?

Grigor: "We've been with the English too long."

Interviewer: "Why's that?"

Grigor: "Because I think we can manage fine ourselves."

"About a year after that interview, my family moved through to Edinburgh. So I was at secondary school at Edinburgh and then university at Edinburgh as well - I did law.

"I've basically worked for a law firm for 10 years in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, which was where I was interviewed by the BBC for 'The Ghost of '79' in 1997.

"It's quite funny looking at that because you forget you were just talking about devolution in '79, so it was never the full real separation going on. It was just a case of having a bit more influence over what goes on up here.

"Personally and professionally you need to keep on top of these things [the referendum]. My views have probably mellowed a bit since '79 I guess.

"It's nice seeing what the rest of the class look like now and seeing what they're all up to. As I said, I left the school about a year after the interview, and apart from Russell who I saw a couple of times in Edinburgh because he was a student here as well, I've not really been able to keep up with any of them at all.

"So it's interesting to see where they've all ended up."

line break
Linda Paterson
Linda Paterson Linda, as a child and pictured again in 1997, said: "I was the one with the gap between her teeth you could drive a train through."

"My husband thinks it's hysterical. He does like to remind me that it was 1979 and he wasn't even born the year I was doing that, so that's quite embarrassing. I think everyone finds it quite funny that my hair looked as if my mother had been using tongs on it for about 20 years and that I was so politely spoken.

"I think someone said I was angelic.

What did Linda say in 1979?

Interviewer: "Do you not want to be a politician?"

Linda: "No."

Interviewer: "What would you like to be instead?"

Linda: "Hmm...a nurse."

Interviewer: "If we had a prime minister in Scotland, who would you like it to be?"

Linda: "Eh...Teddy Taylor.

"Marion was one of my best pals at school. And I used to chase Graeme [Atkins] about, I fancied him. He was my crush at primary school, I totally loved him, I was like 'oh my God!'.

"I haven't seen any of them since probably 1997 when we did the follow-up. I think we all kind of dispersed.

"All I knew was Teddy Taylor, I didn't even know what party he was in. His [Russell's] answer was classic, it's the eyes rolling back! I think I kind of went along with the flow, because we were on telly and this guy Teddy Taylor's name's been mentioned a few times, I think I'll just say him as well. I think I just liked the fact that his name was Teddy.

"No, I didn't become a nurse. I've got a complete phobia of anything medical. I've been in financial services since 1997, although I've recently been made redundant so I'm now training to be a driving instructor.

"I'm definitely a 'Yes' person, was in 1997 so I've not changed my views on that. Whether that's the right thing or not, I don't know."

line break
Graeme Atkins
Graeme Atkins Graeme, in 1979 and as he is today, says: "I'm the one with the two front teeth that Buggs Bunny would be proud of."

"Prior to the day itself we had all been given the choice as to whether we wanted to participate or not. I had been happy to opt in but then got quite worked up about it the night before and wanted to pull out.

"My parents talked me round and, in the end, I absolutely loved it. It was all very exciting and lots of fun.

What did Graeme say in 1979?

Interviewer: "Who would you like to be Scotland's prime minister?"

Graeme: "Teddy Taylor."

Interviewer: "Why?"

Graeme: "Because he's the only one I know."

"Immediate family and a few friends have seen it so far. It prompted some nice reminiscing.

"I particularly remember Peter's comment about wanting more sweet shops to open, and Russell's description of Teddy Taylor. He was the local MP at the time and was pretty well known, even to nine-year-olds, although that was probably largely due to him being called Teddy.

"That's my excuse anyway for saying I wanted him as prime minister.

"I have actually seen the clip since it was originally broadcast. It was the days before video recorders were common so my Dad cine-filmed the TV as the programme went out. It was exciting to watch afterwards, although it did lack something without sound.

"After Mount Florida Primary it was off to King's Park Secondary then onto Strathclyde University. I moved to England in 1992, worked in industry for a couple for years, then went into teaching, becoming a head teacher in 2009. I've been living in London since 1997 but will be relocating to Northumberland in the summer.

"I'm married now with one son of 22 months and number two is on the way.

"Regarding the referendum, I am watching proceedings with interest despite being unable to vote. I'm not unduly concerned about this as I don't have a particularly strong view either way. What will be will be."

line break
Norma Hutton
Norma Norma, as she was in 1979 and as she is today, says: "I am the one with the big eyes looking for the escape route"

"I found the experience of the interview very daunting, I had opinions but always believed I had nothing constructive to say and maybe had a little stage fright.

What did Norma say in 1979?

Interviewer: "What do you know about devolution?"

Norma: "Nothing really."

Interviewer: "Have you heard about it at all?"

Norma: *Long pause* "Yes? I think."

"I went onto Kings Park Secondary School but moved away from Glasgow approximately 23 years ago and I now live in Christchurch, Dorset. I am currently working for Bournemouth Borough Council.

"I like bestowing my culinary skills on others and would have preferred to have had the opportunity of running a restaurant or bed and breakfast, cooking and just simply making a small difference to people's outlook.

"I got married to Quintin, whom I met in 1996. We don't have any children, only our cat - Tinkerbell.

"Scotland has grown since 1979 and although not independent has devolved power and control over some of its affairs through an elected parliament which I believe is gradually increasing.

"There are so many changes to be made if the majority vote 'Yes'. What will they be saying 'Yes' to? Without even considering the bigger picture the day-to-day aspect could have a devastating consequence on Scotland's economy.

"I do wish that I had the option of voting, in order to make the right decision, one should have all the facts for and against. I would prefer Scotland to have more devolved power, standing on its own but still part of Britain."

line break
Marion Carpenter
Marion Wickes Marion Carpenter, as a school girl in 1979 and in 1997, says she was: "The goody two-shoes with the pigtails."

"Do you know what, it's absolutely dreadful I cannot remember the day itself at all. I looked at it last night online and that's the first time I've ever seen it.

What did Marion say in 1979?

Marion: "They want to do things by themselves."

Interviewer: "Do you think that's a good thing?"

Marion: "Yes."

Interviewer: "Would you like to be in the assembly when you grow up?"

Marion: "No."

Interviewer: "Why not?"

Marion: "I don't know."

Interviewer: "What would you like to be instead?"

Marion: "A nurse."

Interviewer: "If we had a Prime Minister in Scotland, who would you like it to be?"

Marion: *Long pause* "My Dad?"

"We moved abroad within a year of that programme being made, to Saudi Arabia, as my father was a doctor, and that rather eclipsed my childhood memories of time at Mount Florida Primary School.

"I sort of remember not knowing very much about what was going on in the wider world, being quite naïve, so when I made that line when they asked who I wanted to be Prime Minister - and I said my dad - that was purely because all the other children had said exactly the same, and I was very thrown and didn't want to give the same answer as them. He was the only other man I could think of.

"The '97 programme was really nice actually. It would be nice to see them all again.

"Well, I hope I know a little more about politics than I did in 1979. In 1997, I was probably the lone voice that was anti-devolution. I was proved wrong on that one so what do I know?

"Now I'm a bit ambivalent about independence. Obviously I now live in Dorset, so I have a slightly different view. I can't see the need for it. It's often couched in a sort of anti-English ethos and if I felt like that I wouldn't be living in England and married to an Englishman, so I don't have that vociferous view, parochial view, where I feel it needs to be independent.

"And I'm slightly intrigued to see how the practicalities will pan out - in terms of passports, and borders, and that kind of thing.

"I would like a vote. I do find that really frustrating."

line break
David Ferguson
David Ferguson David Ferguson appeared in the 1997 programme 'The Ghost of '79'

When David was interviewed in 1979 he was asked if he wanted to be a politician, serving in a Scottish assembly. He gave a blunt "no", adding that he wanted to be a policeman instead.

The BBC caught up with the Glasgow school pupil in 1997, ahead of the Scottish devolution referendum of that year.

At the time David said: "I think we should give it [devolution] a try, see what happens. The only thing that worries me is if it doesn't work, what would happen then? We'd be stuck with an assembly that isn't working. That's my only real worry about it."

line break
Peter
Peter Vail The BBC spoke to Peter in 1979, and he hasn't been on camera since

In 1979, schoolboy Peter's contribution to the political debate was that Scotland needed more sweet shops. Did the politicians of the time make his wish come true? Get in touch Peter and let us know......

More on This Story

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    09:29: Fred Goodwin's office put to new use

    The grand office built for Fred Goodwin when he was chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland is being turned over to 80 entrepreneurs.

    Fred Goodwin

    RBS announced that the "executive wing" at its Gogarburn headquarters in west Edinburgh was to be occupied by those setting up in business.

    The centre will house staff from business organisations such as Entrepreneurial Spark.

    It will be home to its "business accelerator hub".

     
  2.  
    09:25: Blaze at historic mansion

    A blaze has damaged part of an historic mansion on the outskirts of Dumfries.

    Carnsalloch

    The flames engulfed an annex of the derelict Carnsalloch House at about 23:00 on Tuesday.

    Three fire appliances were deployed to the scene, with water drawn from the nearby River Nith used to douse the flames.

    There are no details at the moment on the cause of the incident at the 18th Century building.

     
  3.  
    Text using 80295 Super ID database - Your views

    Mike: Only people who have something to hide do not want to be on a UK data base. Such as the ex non payers of the council tax.

     
  4.  
    09:10: 'We've obviously got issues'

    Aberdeen City Council is expected to confirm that it is quitting the local government body Cosla to join a new rival group.

    Jenny Laing, leader of the city council, told BBC Scotland that Aberdeen's voice "wasn't being heard within Cosla".

    "We've obviously got issues around our funding settlement, having been the lowest funded council in Scotland for some time," she said.

    "It is important for us, and me as a council leader, that we are getting that message across to Scottish government.

    "We don't feel we can do that through Cosla and we are looking for other ways in which we can."

     
  5.  
    09:05: Flying the flag

    A Berwickshire councillor has asked whether flags other than the Saltire can be flown on the Scottish side of the border with England.

    Scottish and English flag

    Michael Cook has made the inquiry regarding provision at Lamberton on the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.

    He said three Saltires currently fly on the Scottish side.

    Mr Cook asked whether a county flag of Berwickshire or the union jack could also be flown north of the border.

     
  6.  
    @BBCRadioScot Coming up...

    Today on #MorningCall: Would you welcome more organisations having access to your personal data? Call 0500 92 95 00.

    Morning Call

    Listen live to the programme here.

     
  7.  
    08:48: What's on the back pages?

    The Rangers extraordinary general meeting will go ahead despite shareholder Dave King claiming a "landslide" victory in his bid to get rid of the current board, reports The Scotsman.

    Scott Allan

    Former Motherwell and Rangers defender Craig Paterson has urged Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to give Hibernian's Scott Allan a call-up.

    And Celtic will offer goalkeeper Craig Gordon a new long-term deal to fend off interest from English clubs.

     
  8.  
    Text using 80295 Council shake-up - Your views

    Gordie, Glenrothes: With councils leaving Cosla, the councils no longer overseeing a local police service, social work moving from councils to integrate with health and financial challenges, the Scottish government will now have the confidence to reduce the number of councils in Scotland! We don't need 32, with 32 chief executives, directors of education, directors of housing etc.

     
  9.  
    08:31: Tourism centre closed

    A trend towards tourists accessing information online has been cited as a reason behind plans to shut a south of Scotland visitor centre.

    Tourism office

    Dumfries and Galloway councillors are being asked to agree to close a face-to-face service in Newton Stewart.

    It comes after usage figures showed a 66% drop in footfall over the past five years.

    A 12-month pilot of providing visitor information at another site in the town is being proposed.

     
  10.  
    08:20: Fan ownership Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland

    Fan representation in Scottish football has been in the news a lot recently, with the Rangers Supporters Trust and Rangers First building their shareholding at Ibrox.

    Ian Murray

    Often, fan ownership comes about from a crisis situation at a club, such as has happened with Rangers and Hearts.

     
  11.  
    08:12: Read all about it

    There are taxing issues on the front of a number of Scottish newspapers on Wednesday.

    The Scotsman says that Nicola Sturgeon has ditched the SNP government's flagship pledge to slash big business taxes in Scotland.

    Wednesday's front pages

    As the first minister unveiled her economic vision for Scotland, she revealed a change in stance on corporation tax, focusing on "targeted changes in tax allowances" rather than a "blanket approach".

    The Herald says that UK chancellor George Osborne has come under intense pressure from business chiefs to reverse in full his controversial tax grab on the embattled North Sea oil and gas industry.

    Read the rest of our newspaper round-up here.

     
  12.  
    08:04: Goulding to perform at Glasgow festival

    Ellie Goulding will perform at the Glasgow Summer Sessions festival later this year.

    Ellie Goulding

    Goulding, who is currently top of the charts with her song Love Me Like You Do, will support headliner Calvin Harris and will take to the stage in Bellahouston Park on Sunday, 30 August.

    John Newman, Disciples and Burns will also perform.

    Tickets go on sale this Friday.

     
  13.  
    08:02: Swinney defends database plans

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney, in response to concerns over plans for a super database, told Good Morning Scotland that the proposal is "not a new database".

    John Swinney

    He added: "The database that is proposed to be used under this system is the NHS National Register, which has existed since the 1950s.

    "What we are trying to do is make it possible and practical for members of the public to access public services online, and being able to do that safely and securely.

    "Public bodies will not be able to interrogate some database, they will not be able to look through peoples' records. It is a verification and matching system to make sure we are delivering public services online to individuals who require and are entitled to those services."

     
  14.  
    07:55: High note for Calvin Harris fans

    Calvin Harris has been announced as the first headline act for Glasgow's Summer Sessions.

    The Scots DJ will take to the stage at Bellhouston Park on 30 August.

    Calvin Harris

    Summer Sessions is Scotland's only annual outdoor city music festival.

    Last year, The Killers, and DJs David Guetta and Steve Angello performed to more than 100,000 people at Bellahouston across three dates. Tickets for the 2015 event go on sale on Friday.

     
  15.  
    07:50: 'Stick to talking to Cosla'

    With news that four councils are leaving the local government umbrella group Cosla, to join a rival body, Professor Richard Kerley, chair of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, predicts an "unpredictable future".

    "This has gone on for some considerable time," he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland.

    "It seems to me that some of their (the four councils) arguments for being very important are not really material to what the Scottish government is going to want to know, which is: which representative organisation do we discuss local government matters with?

    Council gritter

    "I assume, at the moment, they will stick to talking to Cosla, which will continue to represent 28 councils.

    "Aberdeen has for many years now argued that it receives a lesser amount of financial support from the Scottish government than it is due to than other councils do.

    "The objective criteria used to determine most of that distribution don't favour Aberdeen. It has pockets of poverty, that's undeniable, there are people living in Aberdeen who are struggling.

    "But, by and large, it's a very prosperous area; [it has] little in common with Glasgow, Renfrewshire and to a certain extent South Lanarkshire."

    Cosla insists the move is not the end for the umbrella group and that the four councils will be welcome back any time.

     
  16.  
    07:44: 'Creeping' towards identity cards

    Plans for a new identity database are to be debated by MSPs later amid civil liberty concerns.

    Willie Rennie

    Under the proposals more than 100 public bodies, including HMRC, would be able to access adults' private data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

    One of the politicians opposed to the scheme is the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

    The MSP told Good Morning Scotland: "The main concern is the creeping nature towards a single number - a universal database - right across the public sector. It is one small step away from creating an identity card.

    "I know the Scottish government say they are against identity cards, but these are identity cards in all but name."

     
  17.  
    07:38: Play to champion disabled acting

    A play featuring a number of disabled actors is set to take to the stage in Dundee.

    Thousands of pounds has been spent improving disabled access at the city's Rep Theatre for the new production of Blood Wedding.

    Dundee play rehearsal

    The cast includes deaf actors and wheelchair users, and is backed by the Graeae Theatre Company, which promotes the work of disabled thespians.

    Blood Wedding runs at the Dundee Rep until 14 March.

     
  18.  
    07:30: Man arrested over bus sex attacks

    A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged sexual assaults in the city centre of Glasgow.

    It comes after police released images of a man they were keen to trace in relation to a series of incidents on buses in the city.

    Three women were allegedly assaulted between 19 and 27 November last year.

     
  19.  
    07:28: SSE donation 'window dressing'

    An organisation campaigning for cheaper electricity charges for people living on the Western isles has criticised a £40,000 donation from SSE to a charity.

    light bulb

    The money will be used by Energy Action Scotland to raise awareness of the help available to people struggling to pay their household fuel bills.

    Describing the money as "window dressing", Western Isles Poverty Action Group said SSE could afford to do more.

    SSE said the donation was aimed at helping its most vulnerable customers.

     
  20.  
    @BBCScotWeather Ice risk BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Take care this morning, folks - widespread risk of ice.

    Ice warning
     
  21.  
    07:22: Forth Bridge birthday

    On its 125th birthday, we have published a selection of your best pictures of the Forth Bridge.

    Forth Bridge

    The cantilever railway bridge which spans the Firth of Forth from nine miles (14 km) west of Edinburgh city centre to North Queensferry in Fife, is one of Scotland's most famous landmarks.

    A fly-past by a Spitfire and an RAF Typhoon will mark the 125th anniversary at 13.25 GMT.

     
  22.  
    07:14: Transparency call over principals' pay

    The University and College Union (UCU) Scotland claims Scottish universities have broken promises made on transparency over principals' pay.

    university principal

    It says over two-thirds of universities refused to provide full minutes of the committee meetings where pay was set.

    The union is urging the Scottish government to intervene.

    Universities Scotland says remuneration committees' policies were set by the universities' governing bodies, which included staff and students.

     
  23.  
    @BBCTravelScot Rail delays BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    ScotRail:

    • speed restriction between High Street and Glasgow Queen Street - 10 min delays - all day
    • 07:23 Elgin/Inverness cancelled
    • 07:36 Carstairs/Dalmuir cancelled
    • replacement buses to Glasgow Central, one to stations, one direct.
     
  24.  
    07:08: Councils plan to leave Cosla

    Confirmation is expected later from Aberdeen Council that it is leaving Cosla, the local government umbrella group, to join a rival body.

    The Labour-led council is expected to form a new negotiating group with three other Labour councils: Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

    Successive administrations at Aberdeen have expressed dissatisfaction over their relations with Cosla.

    It says the four councils will be welcome back at any time.

     
  25.  
    07:06: Dungavel detentions Calum McKay BBC Scotland

    Dozens of asylum seekers have been held at Dungavel immigration removal centre (IRC) in South Lanarkshire for months, figures released to BBC Scotland reveal.

    Dungavel, near Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, opened in 2001

    In some cases detainees were held for more than a year.

    The figures come as MPs have called for a limit on the time someone can be detained under immigration powers.

    The Home Office said it only detains people for the shortest period necessary.

     
  26.  
    @BBCScotWeather Ice warning BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Good morning! Gillian, here. Watch out for ice this morning. Still a scattering of showers during am, mostly dry with sunshine by afternoon. 6-8C.

     
  27.  
    07:01: Super ID database

    Plans for a new identity database are to be debated by MSPs amid civil liberty concerns.

    identity database

    Under the proposals more than 100 public bodies, including HMRC, would be able to access adults' private data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

    Opposition parties argue the move amounts to identity cards by the "back door".

    A consultation on the issue closed last week and the Scottish government has promised to "listen to all concerns".

     
  28.  
    07:00: Here we go... Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome to Wednesday's Scotland Live.

    News, sport, travel and weather between now and 19:00, with a sprinkling of your views on the day's events...

     

Features

  • forth bridgeIn pictures

    Your reflections on the Forth bridge at 125


  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    The number of old people killing themselves has fallen. Why?


  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?


  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing


  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg


Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.