Author Archives: Fiona Milne

“Press print”: Reflections on the heartbreak of losing a unique job

I’m rubbish at predicting elections. Always have been. Too many variables for my simple brain. What I do know is that working in politics puts you at the mercy of electoral ups and downs that can be weighted heavily against you at the drop of a box count. Beyond that, I leave the number crunching to those with better minds than this tragic idealist. For me, my 17 years in politics has been about believing in liberal values, sharing in those values with oddballs just like me and making firm friendships.

Stunt sheep; overnight bulk buy balloons; a giant toothbrush; and driving many weary miles to meet in the market square to start good mornings at 5am sharp “so don’t be late, Fee!” are just a few of the daft memories that will forever warm my heart. “Your job’s weird”, my friends outside  politics would say as I tried to explain GOTV and the need for the stunt sheep.

But this year’s Scottish Parliament elections handed me my saddest, and currently all too raw, memory with the loss of the brilliant Jim Hume.

When I first started working for Jim I had no idea that the nine years to follow would be jam packed with so many fantastic grassroots campaigns. It was the start of a teamwork of three bonded through a common work ethic and love for the cause, first with Charlotte, then Craig and now the talented Eleana. There was no room for half heartedness. From the chief’s messy office would come the clarion call, “press print”, which still now is a source of much comic value as we would set about bulk buying a volume of envelopes that would make even the parliament posties wince at the franking prospect. When facilities management tell you the volume is a safety hazard, you know you’re doing something right. Mailmerge was on. Jim has been an insightful and tenacious local campaigner, and an outspoken champion for mental health. He’s also a really good bloke and the South of Scotland is easily much the poorer for his absence. If politics isn’t a meritocracy, as a wise fellow staffer and friend once sagely observed, then it’s certainly reflected in losing Jim and the  fearless Alison McInnes. Even after umpteen years I still can’t fathom elections or the psychology at the ballot box. Sometimes it’s just painfully bloody unfair. But that’s life, I guess. It’s just politics.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Politics, everyday sexism and why I won’t be smiling politely anymore

I’ve always been a feminist. I just never realised it ’til I started working in politics.

I was brought up with an older brother and sister, by gender/label blind parents. I’m proud of our working class roots (Fife, Bannockburn, mining). It gave us our unfaltering work ethic. A work ethic that keeps my brother in full time employment despite a rare condition that will eventually mean a liver transplant. A work ethic that keeps my sister in full time employment as a single mother of three. A work ethic that stops my parents surrendering to electric armchairs in retirement. Point being, I come from a family of strong willed, free thinking men and women. So the notion that I was a feminist never actually occurred to me because the equality I saw growing up was just a reflection of wider society, right? Wrong! Something I realised 16 years ago when I first became an MSP researcher. “Young filly” was how Middle Aged Male described me as he blithely enquired of my employer, “how do I get one?”.

I was 23. And appalled. But had to smile politely.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments
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