Friday, 15 August 2014

The Scottish Independence Referendum

I've just received my Poll Card in the post for the Scottish Independence Referendum. As someone who has spent a decade living in England, over a decade in Northern Ireland (where I was born), and half of my life in Scotland (both as a child and as an adult since 1997), I have long been convinced that a Yes vote is the right vote for Scotland - the United Kingdom has for a long time not been an equal union, not just between its countries, but within its countries. Since the rise of UKIP in the recent European elections, which really put the fear of God into me, I have been actively helping out with my local Yes group to canvass and to leaflet. But I have to admit, that even with all this personal conviction instilled within me, when I picked up the poll card from the post, a huge shiver went down my spine. This is genuine history in the making. 

The future of this country is in my hands, and the hands of everyone resident in Scotland who is entitled to vote - whether they are Scots born, a wayward paddy like me, English, Welsh, French, Polish, other European, South African, black, white, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, gay, straight, able bodied, disabled, or from any other nation, culture, colour or creed who is resident here. This is not a referendum written as a sequel to Braveheart (no matter how much an ignorant Londoncentric media chooses to view it), this is not about the past, it is first and foremost about democracy. As a genealogist I work every day in the past, I respect so much about our shared history with the other nations of the UK in the past, but I do not live in the past. I live in the present with an eye always to the future, and most specifically, my kids' future.

As a democratic nation - and Scotland IS a nation - we have a responsibility towards each other, but as a parent my first responsibility is to my kids. Our kids need a better deal than that being offered now within the United Kingdom, within which Scotland is and will continue to be the second violin in Westminster's eyes. It is not alone in that regard - Northern Ireland is treated as badly, as are parts of England and Wales, even within parts of London - but we have a chance here in Scotland to stand up and do something about it. I know that many No voters feel the complete opposite of that for their own kids, and I truly respect that - I just happen to think they are wrong. If we vote Yes we won't change Scotland overnight. But despite many ups and downs in the future, we will change Scotland for the better - because we have to. We can certainly do no worse than what is being offered by Westminster in the present.

No matter which side of the fence people are on, the greatest thing about this whole process is that it has been democratic. I feel very privileged to live here, to participate in the debate, and above all, to be able to vote. Thank you Scotland. 

In the Yes Largs shop

Meeting actor Peter Mullan (Sunshine on Leith)

With the team on Largs' Main Street

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