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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Oh absolutely, yes.

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me, but next September I'll be voting yes to Scottish independence. I think it's about time I laid out my reasoning. I'd hope, although I don't expect that every single person eligible to vote would take some time to examine their motives for voting whichever way they choose. I'm sorry, but if you are against independence simply because you're afraid of change, or because of some nostalgic idea of how great we are together, think about this. We fought in two world wars together, but we also fought alongside many other nations, none of whom we govern or govern us. It doesn't make any less impressive the feats we carried out together. While on the nostalgia trip, it's worth bearing in mind that we jointly carried out some pretty appalling acts too.

The biggest problem I'm having with the impending referendum is the absolute dearth of real debate, and I'm looking at the no campaigners when I say this. We've had every kind of red herring from them, and an avalanche of personal attacks on Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. For God's sake, this vote is about us, not them. The SNP exists to fight for Scottish independence. It's their raison d'etre. They achieved an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament and are perfectly entitled to present a choice to the people of Scotland. Now, it's up to us. We either take our opportunity or we don't. The SNP naturally will take a lead, representing their constituency. What's the problem with that? I'm not sure I can understand the number of Scots who resent being given a choice.

However, should we vote yes, then all bets are off. The First Minister, as the elected leader of the Scottish parliament will then lead multi-party negotiations to establish what share of the pot Scotland will take with it. A widely representative constitutional convention will convene to decide exactly what form our democracy will take. From the other side will emerge a fledgling nation. I can't describe how exciting a prospect that is to me. It's a chance to give our children something new.

The most compelling argument of all for me is the idea of escaping from the incessant grind which is UK politics today. There are things we can know. Over my lifetime, and particularly since Margaret Thatcher came to power, the political landscape of the UK changed, very much for the worse. She dominated our lives for far too long. In her wake came a Tory party more dogmatic than ever. To replace them came another Tory, a self-confessed admirer of Thatcher and a war criminal. His name was Blair. Since then, the Labour Party has disappeared from view altogether and the Tories have reverted to type, a bunch of wealthy, public school educated Hooray Henries, with some very shady corporate connections. Look ahead. That's the prospect for you, your children and their children. A life with no welfare state, no NHS as we know it and with absolutely no feeling for those less fortunate than  us. Please think about that when you make your decision. Think too of the idea that we can change things, but only if we're making our own decisions. Scotland contributes more than its share of revenue to the UK pot while having virtually no political influence. Let's change that.

Finally, it's pretty obvious that I have an axe to grind here, but don't we all? All I'm asking is that you put some thought into the biggest decision you'll ever make. Are we too small, too poor and too stupid, as some would have us believe? Are we to be the first developed nation to turn down a chance of self-determination? Only you can make that call.