A month from today the people of Scotland will finally be given the chance to declare whether or not they should become independent. It will be a monumentally important day in the history of the country, building upon centuries’ worth of struggle to give us the opportunity to make our democratic wishes heard. Polls suggest that it’s going to be close, and it’s still there for both Yes Scotland and Better Together to win (or lose). After years of thinking about the issue though, I’ve made up my mind.
I’m going to vote Yes, and I think you should too.
We’ve heard all the arguments there is to hear either way about independence at this point. There’s been nothing new in the debate for months. But all I can say is the more that I’ve heard from both campaigns, the more that I’ve sided with the Yes arguments. You may read nothing new here in this article, but these are the reasons I find independence a far more compelling option for Scotland than staying in the UK.
I’m Scottish. I may have a British passport, but never would I class myself as British ahead of being Scottish. Democracy is based around being part of a political community with which you identify. With the current UK government, MEPs and the prospective governments ahead – it’s not hard to see why I don’t identify with British politics as a whole. The way in which Scottish people vote and respond to political issues shows that my feelings of disaffection are common and that we are indeed different communities. Westminster parties (and UKIP, of course) are opposed to immigration, when Scots support it and opposed to the EU, when Scots support it. And they are just the most recent and topical examples. I want political decisions about my country and I to be taken by people from my country, and that’s the democratic argument for independence. Of course in a democracy we risk being drowned out by larger majorities at the ballot box, but in an independent Scotland those majorities will be much more likely to hold similar values to my own. This is all true regardless of your political affiliation and will continue to be true for decades to come as it is the nature of democracy.
62% of Scots in the 2011 census considered themselves Scottish only too, while only 18% said they were equally Scottish and British and only 8% considered themselves only British. When so many people feel the same way about that, it’s strange that we believe in our country patriotically but don’t believe that that country should rule itself. We call this our country and feel we belong to it, but that it should belong to someone else. This isn’t right. It might sound all “Cap In Hand”, but we Scots are more a part of a Scottish nation than a British one and as such are better placed to decide what we want for ourselves. That’s what independence lets us do.
A lot of people wonder whether Scotland will work as a political democracy after independence. For me I doubt it could be any worse than the current situation in the UK. We’ve been thrust under austerity measures since 2010 that have left a lot of Scots feeling worse off, even though there has been some economic growth. There is still a lot of poverty in this country, and despite that fact welfare is being cut. There has been a 400% increase in the use of food banks in Scotland in the last year alone. Scots are suffering from these problems whilst we’re ruled by a government in which Scotland is represented by just 12 MPs, one Tory and eleven Lib Dems, out of 364. Scotland is being forgotten in Westminster, and because we are only a small proportion of the UK population we always will be.
The political system in Westminster is as far removed from the issues of the people of Scotland as it could be. Next year we’re faced with the unappetising choice of David Cameron, Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg as our Prime Minister – with these politicians and their parties not offering the sort of policies that Scots voters want. They have to appeal to the majority of voters, and with Scotland being only a small part of the country, and one that is easily predictable in General Elections, they don’t focus on us. Scottish people have very little impact in how the country we’re part of is run. Only in two elections (1964 and 1974) since World War II has the Scottish vote influenced the outcome of a General Election. But in 2016 we could have a wide choice for our new government and Prime Minister, and you can vote out Alex Salmond if that’s what you want to do. Voting Yes is not a vote for the SNP or for Salmond, but it is a vote to separate Scotland from the out-of-touch establishment of Westminster. We can decide the rest for ourselves.
The Scottish economy has grown 4% between the start of 2011 and the start of this year, while the UK economy has grown 4.8%. We’ve lagged behind because of Westminster’s one-size-fits-all approach to the economic recovery. The Scottish Government hasn’t got the powers it needs to affect any change in the economy, only to make sure we get the best out of the block grant we’re handed down from Westminster. Independence would see us being able to tailor our economy to Scotland’s strengths rather than the UK’s.