Journey to Yes

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When I think about it, I could not have been more fortunate than to be starting Journalism and Politics at a better time.

Never in all my life would I have expected to enjoy education so much – and that really is saying something.

The Scottish independence referendum has done so much. Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about it; people are more engaged than ever, with ordinary folks going door-to-door with leaflets and messages, trying to attract people to vote “yes”, or “no”. Furthermore, it has provided me with endless content for blogging. Fantastic!

For me, independence has been coming for a long, long time. I remember – from as early as four or five – visiting castles, battlefields, museums, and reading books about Scottish history, and being blown away by the history of this small nation.

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of Scotland regaining its independence, and becoming a beautiful, prosperous, and exciting nation.

Now, I am not a nationalist, I am not Alex Salmond’s biggest fan, and am not a member of a political party. I am a Scottish person who sees independence as the best way forward for my country. It is that simple.

Therefore, throughout this campaign I have always been leaning towards the Yes camp, but not always.

Currency, the EU, trade, and further devolution have certainly tempted me in favour of voting against something I have thought about for a number of years.

Then I look at the bigger picture.

It has been very easy for people to be fearful, and to expect something close to the French revolution of Friday the 19th. The media has certainly painted an apocalyptic scene in many people’s minds.

Banks leaving, prices rising, oil and gas running out, no currency, no EU, no NATO, Alex Salmond becoming something like Supreme Dictator of Scotland. I totally empathise with people’s concerns, but is it seriously likely that this would happen?

Scotland is a vibrant, rich nation. We are clever, innovative, driven, confident, and talented as a people. We have the value of hospitality rooted in our culture, along with co-operation, negotiation, and commitment.

We are not fighting for a Planet Scotland; taking our people to another place, away from everyone, where no-one will ever speak to us again. Independence is perhaps too strong a word for some, just as separation may be. I call it empowerment, and free to make the decisions that matter to the Scottish people.

Because we are mature and co-operative, we will remain a key player on the international stage. In gaining independence, we will still communicate with other nations.

The UK has numerous allies across the world: the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan. Why would Scotland be excluded from this, when we are already a part of such alliances?

We will be the fourteenth richest country on the planet, with 60% of the EU’s oil and gas, 20% of its fish, and 25% of its renewable energy. And that is just the start. Food and drink, music, literature, tourism, manufacturing, ship building, invention, business, and potential growth in biotechnology – these are what make Scotland rich, before oil and gas are put into the equation.

The idea that Scotland is an immature, weak, reliant country is nonsense. With these sectors, the EU cannot reject our continued membership. Even if we did – in the potential circumstance – have to reapply, we would be greeted with open arms.

Businesses, too, are threatening us with price hikes and relocation. The reasoning behind this is unfathomable, as Scotland would be a wealthy country, filled with consumers.

Furthermore, why should we listen to the banks? The scare stories that Lloyds and RBS would leave has been blown out of proportion. Lloyds already has its HQ in London, and RBS would only move their offices. The latter has even stated that the move would have no impact on its customers.

Another factor people seem to forget is the 18 month transition to independence. Come this Friday, if we did vote to become independent, this would not just stop. The world will not crash around us. In fact, you will probably not know the difference.

We will enter negotiations with rUK, form a “Team Scotland” (comprised of a multitude of people from various backgrounds, parties, affiliations and beliefs), and begin the process of transferring powers to Scotland. In this time, EU membership, NATO, currency, and other factors will all be considered carefully and reasonably.

Your passport will not cease to exist, the pound in your pocket will still by you a paper, your TV will still turn on, and the sky will still be there.

However, there is still the matter of devolution I have not yet touched on.

What strikes me about this is the uncertainty. “Vote against independence, and we will give you this mystery box!” is what the Unionist parties are saying.

The fact they have drawn up a timetable for delivering more powers to Scotland is ridiculous. How can they do that when there are no powers agreed yet? That will take time, and disagreement. Furthermore, this makes me feel like an child, whose parents are deciding what he can and cannot do.

Independence is just that. That is it. No ifs, no buts, it is concrete. Devolution, whatever form it may become, can be watered down, and down, and down, until it is either a) not anything at all, or b) we may as well be independent.

The vote for independence is just the start, and will see Scotland flourish into a nation filled with opportunity.

With independence, we can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. This is the moment where we can stand up, be confident and say “yes, we can”. This will not be a “go it alone” quest. There will be co-operation, inter-dependance, and communication between us, rUK, and the global community.

We have a chance to make a democratic decision to truly make Scotland a most prosperous nation. With a “yes” vote, we can take full advantage of the resources we have at our finger tips, and have full control of our finances.

I am not a nationalist. I have English friends, Welsh friends, Irish family, and I want to keep those connections. These are ties that will never be broken, regardless of where power resides in our respective nation.

I do not hate Westminster, I do not love the SNP. I am a Scot, who wants the best for his country, and the decisions about his future to be made where I live.

This beautiful, rich nation; one which I have loved all my life; one that I have travelled across; one whose history has fascinated me for years, now has its chance to take a step forward, and handle the responsibility it is wise enough to take.

Scotland, this comes from the heart, but also from the head. I feel this is the best for my country, your country, our country, but I also know it, too.

For these reasons, I will be voting “Yes” this Thursday, and whatever the outcome, I know Scotland will act maturely, confidently, and responsibly.

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