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.........

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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."

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  • 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.
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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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......

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    Andy Murray admits he "could easily be on the plane home" after avoiding a shock first-round exit at the US Open.

    The Scot suffered cramp in his four set match against Dutchman Robin Haase at Flushing Meadows.

    Andy Murray

    Murray is not sure what caused the problem, but says he will do "all the right things" to avoid a repeat against German qualifier Matthias Bachinger in the second round on Thursday.

     
  48.  
    10:28: Celtic's European ills

    Celtic's defeat by Maribor in their Champions League play-off was "possibly one of the worst European performances at Celtic Park," according to Murdo MacLeod.

    BBC Sportsound pundit MacLeod, who played for the club as well as enjoying a stint as assistant boss, said the board should have spent more on the squad.

    Celtic's Kris Commons reacts to a missed chance in the Champions League play-off defeat by Maribor

    "There was no pace, no energy and I thought the shape was wrong," he said. "The tactics were wrong to start off with, the second half was better when Commons came on.

    "The whole team seemed very flat; we're talking about players who romped the Premier League last year."

    On the issue of the Celtic board bolstering Ronny Deila's squad, MacLeod added: "It would make it easier for the manager if you've got better quality players to deal with.

    "When you leave it so long and don't buy in good quality, then the heads go down."

     
  49.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 10:15: Your Pictures - Get Involved
    Mugdock reservoir

    Alan Barnett captured twilight over Mugdock reservoir on Tuesday night while walking with daughter Erin.

    You can email us your favourite pictures and we'll include the best ones.

     
  50.  
    10:00: Weather update Gillian Smart BBC Scotland Weather Presenter

    Dry and bright across the country with plenty of sunshine. Warmest in the West. Top temperatures 20 or 21C. East Coast cooler. Breezier as the day goes on.

     
  51.  
    09:43: Curtain Call

    The Picture House in Campbeltown, which opened in 1913 and was one of the first purpose-built cinemas in Scotland, closes its doors today.

    Campbeltown Picture House

    The local business behind it hopes to secure enough funding for a major restoration project and it could re-open in 2016.

    Have you seen a film there? Share your memories via email, text 80295 or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  52.  
    Text 80295 09:31: Morning Call - Get Involved

    Mags, Dunfermline: I stopped smoking 30 years ago. I did it cold turkey and sheer determination, never looked back. If you really want to stop you will do it.

     
  53.  
    09:23: Bank Fined

    Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £14.5m by the Financial Conduct Authority for "serious failings" in its mortgage sales business.

    The City watchdog said RBS did not ensure that it gave suitable mortgage advice to customers.

    RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said the failings were "unacceptable and should never have happened".

     
  54.  
    Text 80295 09:11: E-Cigarettes - Your Views

    H, Edinburgh: I understand smoking is harmful to health but why keep on about smokers? I hate the smell of alcohol and dislike drunk people but alcohol is advertised and allowed almost everywhere and is just as harmful to health. Let's ban that and cover it up in supermarkets.

    Mike, Carlisle: E-cigs are threatening and undoing everyone's progress in kicking the smoking habit. Stop them now.

     
  55.  
    09:05: Travel Update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Very slow traffic where one lane is closed by an accident on M74 Northbound between J6 (Hamilton) and J5. The Raith accident cleared on M9 Southbound between J5 A9/A905 (Cadgers Brae) and J4 A801/A803 (Lathallan).

     
  56.  
    Text 80295 09:01: E-Cigarettes - Your Views

    Des Swan, Isle of Bute: Stopped smoking about 7 yrs ago thru electrix therapy from a clinic in Manchester called Newways & never tempted to smoke again.

    Carol, Glasgow: While I am all for people having freedom to make lifestyle choices, imposing those choices on others is at best selfish. There is no 'greater good benefit' from smoking anything and, as such, all smoking should be done in private to avoid the inconsiderate imposition on others.

     
  57.  
    08:51: Morning Call Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    We want to know if it's time to take e-cigarettes seriously?

    Plus, would you volunteer to sit on the children's panel?

    The lines are open now. Call 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295.

    You can listen live to the programme here.

     
  58.  
    08:50: Scotland Live - Your Views

    Have you decided on how you will vote on the referendum? Is there an issue you feel hasn't been addressed properly?

    Where does Celtic's Champions League failure rate? Why are Scottish clubs struggling in Europe?

    Get in touch via email, text using 80295 or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  59.  
    08:42: What The Papers Say

    First Minister Alex Salmond's call for David Cameron to face him in a debate dominates this morning's front pages.

    The Herald's front page

    The Scotsman and The Scottish Sun go on the Prime Minister being urged to defend his support for the United Kingdom in a live broadcast.

    The Herald says Alistair Darling will stick to his "Plan B" argument on currency.

    Read our full papers review here.

     
  60.  
    08:31: Par for the course

    Expenses covering the cost of a young aristocrat's golf clubs in 1616 have provided the earliest evidence so far of the sport's popularity in Dornoch.

    Golf was played in Dornoch centuries before an offical course was laid out

    John, the 13th Earl of Sutherland, was sent to the town in Sutherland to be educated.

    His uncle Sir Robert Gordon sponsored his education and provided him with funds for clubs and balls, as well as bows and arrows.

    The reference was uncovered by PhD student Wade Cormack.

     
  61.  
    08:20: Firms raise independence concerns

    More than 130 businesses have signed a letter saying the business case for Scottish independence "has not been made".

    The signatories come from a variety of businesses including banking, mining, engineering, food, whisky, and technology.

    But lobby group Business for Scotland said economic "facts and figures" support Scottish independence.

    The letter has been published in The Scotsman newspaper.

     
  62.  
    08:16: Morning Call - Get Involved Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Coming up on Morning Call from 08:50, the World Health Organisation is calling for a ban of e-cigarettes in public, so is it time to take concerns about e-cigs seriously? Plus, would you volunteer to sit on the children's panel?

    The lines are open now. Call 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295.

     
  63.  
    08:09: Celtic suffer Champions League misery

    Celtic failed to secure a place in the Champions League following defeat by Maribor.

    The home side were favourites to progress, having come back from Slovenia with a 1-1 draw last week.

    Celtic's Adam Matthews following the defeat by Maribor

    But they struggled to test goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic throughout a frustrating evening for the Scottish Premiership champions.

    Ronny Deila, whose side drop into the Europa League, said afterwards: "At the end, there is only one thing to say, we haven't been good enough and we haven't deserved to go to the Champions League.

    "I thought we had a good enough team to go through but we didn't do it."

     
  64.  
    08:04: Currency Union

    Finance Secretary John Swinney has confirmed Scotland will not pay its share of the UK debt if it does not get a currency union after independence.

    The Scottish government minister told a BBC referendum debate if the UK seized all the assets of the currency it must also take all the liabilities.

    Scotland's share of UK debt would be in the region of £100bn.

    Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said defaulting would hurt an independent Scotland from day one.

     
  65.  
    08:01: Weather Update Gillian Smart BBC Scotland Weather Presenter

    Going to be a cracker, folks! Chilly start, but the sunshine will warm things up nicely. 21C at best in West. Cooler E Coast.

     
  66.  
    08:00: Here We Go... Thomas McGuigan BBC Sport

    Good morning and a warm welcome from the Scotland Live team and our rolling live text service of news, sport, weather and travel between now and 6pm.

     

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