On 9 August, a councillor at Edinburgh City Council tweeted a scathing statement attacking the Conservatives. She said she had left the Scottish Conservatives in July because of the “treatment of the disabled” by the DWP and other policies. Ashley Graczyk, formerly a Conservative councillor, says she now supports Scottish independence, and the Edinburgh Evening News reports that she may now join the SNP.
Graczyk posted her statement “My Journey from NO to YES” on Twitter:
My journey from NO to YES pic.twitter.com/feAyGUUCFk
— Cllr Ashley Graczyk (@ashleyannotate) August 9, 2018
The former Conservative, who is deaf, wrote in her statement:
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I saw with my own eyes the impact the Conservative policies, especially DWP and welfare, had on local people and communities. I have lost count the amount of times I have met various disabled people and those in difficulties who have been immensely impacted by DWP at local level. I, personally, have seen people reduced to tears because of Universal Credit, PIP, Access to Work and Access to Elected Office Fund (UK)
Graczyk also detailed how her experiences have changed her mind about backing Scottish independence; most noteworthy, highlighting that all nations of the UK should be on “an equal footing” and not simply have policies imposed on Scotland from Westminster.
She went on to say:
I became more convinced that Scotland needs political independence to build a different and better Scotland.
First minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon retweeted Graczyk’s statement, saying it was “well worth a read”:
This is well worth a read. @ashleyannotate was elected in 2017 as a @ScotTories councillor. However, her experiences as a councillor – especially seeing the impact of welfare cuts on her constituents – led her to leave the Tories and support independence. https://t.co/Q2TS97vtZq
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 9, 2018
And voters have been reacting to Graczyk’s revelations, with some welcoming her to the Scottish independence movement:
Wow Ashley…just Wow! I know how hard this whole process must have been for you but I am thrilled to welcome you to the YES movement. It takes real strength to do what you have, respect! x
— Mammyyes (@moragfulton) August 9, 2018
Fascinating and inspiring, Ashley. Welcome. Let’s do this together!
— Child of Alba 🏴 (@ChildOfAlba) August 9, 2018
Welcome ashley ignore the haters they are worried if folk like you can decide yes to an independent Scotland after being in a political party that is dead against it more will follow👏👏👏👏👏
— DaughtersOfMcneilClan (@IndiScoLady) August 9, 2018
Others shared their own experiences of turning from ‘No to Yes’:
Thank you for writing this. I too voted No in 2014, but now I'm actively campaigning for Scottish independence.
— Eric Branse-Instone (@EricBranse) August 9, 2018
I'm so thrilled, Ashley ❤️ my reasons for switching sides were very similar – the realisation that Scotland cares about disabled people in a way rUK doesn't and we have to be able to make policy which reflects that instead of endlessly patching up Westminster's cruelty.
— Fiona Robertson ♿ (@knittingquark) August 9, 2018
And one SNP councillor was happy to read the news of Graczyk turning against Tory policies:
What a wonderful tweet to read this morning 😊 as local government representatives, we see the devastating reality of Tory policy & it cannot be ignored as we continually realign budgets to protect our most vulnerable. There is indeed another way #YES to sovereignty 😊👍
— Cllr Elena Whitham (@ElenaWhitham) August 9, 2018
What happens now?
Graczyk’s move will be an embarrassment to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. The ex-Tory councillor’s ward sits within Davidson’s Holyrood constituency of Edinburgh Central.
So perhaps the Conservative Party will listen to its former colleague about the destructive impact DWP policies have on vulnerable people.
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