Cailyn McMahon Farewell Speech
Days like today, when we all have the opportunity to come together and discuss the policies we care about and meet other likeminded young people as we join together in our fight for independence, are the days that inspire me most. Days like today prove that the greatest asset the YSI has is its membership.
This last year did nothing to halt the activism of young people in the independence movement. Our movement is strengthening with positivity and determination galvanising more and more young people. We are proud to be empowering young people across the country to be well versed in the arguments for independence, prepared to chap doors and take us over the finishing line.
I couldn’t be prouder of every YSI member and the part you all played in securing a historic victory for the SNP in this year’s Scottish Parliament elections. With almost 100 elected office bearers within our organisation, before we even get to ordinary members - there are more young people than ever raring to go for next year’s council elections to prove that our party and our movement will continue to grow in our success and that independence is inevitable.
We all know that young people are unwavering in our support for independence. But it is our responsibility to ensure that our whole movement continues to be a beacon of hope and ensure that our message is heard far and wide, in every group in our society: that an independent Scotland will be a fairer, more equal Scotland, that everyone who wants to, can call home.
I, like many of you, was too young to vote in 2014 but it is our generation who are now at the forefront of the YSI and the wider youth movement. But the campaign we know and love represents everything optimistic and holds positive values with an aim to make a success of our future – and young Scots are that future. From such a wide range of backgrounds, we represent the diversity and inclusion that should be championed within our cause. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Make sure you are involved in your branch, your local yes group, your community council… Stand for election. Stand up and make yourself heard. Stay involved – and give everything you have to our party and our movement.
It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve as the YSI’s convener for the past two years. I am so proud of all we have achieved – particularly in continually pushing our party forward, and most importantly, to the left. We have stood strong in our principles; we have been both radical and constructive – and I have every faith that all of you will continue in all of this. More than that being convener, just to be involved in this organisation over the past number of years– almost as long as I have been in this country, has been the biggest influence on my life thus far.
The YSI has come such a long way – even just within the time I have been involved. We have made Scotland the first country in the world to have LGBT inclusive sex education, we have made consent education mandatory in Scottish schools, we have changed party policy on the age of military recruitment, on our approach to mental health in schools, we have stood up for the rights of Care Experienced young people, addressed the Gaelic crisis in the vernacular community – just to name a few. We have guarded polling stations in Catalonia, toured the European Parliament in Brussels, met with our Plaid friends in Wales. We have more young people involved than ever before.
On a personal note, I would like to take the time to thank each and every one of you who have been a part of my journey through the YSI. I truly love this organisation with my whole heart, and I have no doubt that it has made me who I am today. From every opportunity I have had to educate myself, to experience new things, visit new countries, to push myself to do things I never thought I would be capable of (and for me that started with being able to open my mouth at an ordinary regional meeting!). I would not be here particularly without the strength of all of the strong young women around me – most of which have become my closest friends.
And of course, where would I be without my predecessor. When we say the YSI is like a family, I maybe took that part a little too literally… Each and every one of you are and will continue to be my inspiration every single day. Please continue to use the YSI as a way to empower one another and find your own wee political families.
The last two years have been nothing like anything we ever thought it would be, but I am in no doubt that our movement and its young people are in the best position we have ever been in and that we are more than ready to play our part in winning our country’s independence- and leading our nation from that point on. Best of luck to everyone who is standing to take this organisation forward, I look forward to seeing all that you achieve and I look forward to working with you all as we continue in the fight for independence.