I thought I’d write a wee bit about my personal decision to join Yes Scotland’s campaign for independence. I haven’t always been pro-independence – far from it in fact.
I’m not a celebrity or well-kent activist, and the vast majority of you wouldn’t know me from Adam. But I am a citizen of Scotland and a voter, and my journey is one that many others will take before next September.
I’ve had a bit of an interest in politics and current events since my teens, although it’s fair to say that I definitely started off on the wrong foot.
Now, don’t pelt me with eggs please, but for some reason, I actually thought that John Major was a good thing! I can now put that down to being a daft teenager: I was 13, had hormones careering around my body, I was perfecting being a general pain in the arse, etc. I was by no means spoiled as a kid, but I’d had a reasonably comfortable upbringing and life hadn’t thrown up any major challenges by then. I was naive and ill-informed – two major prerequisites of Tory membership. I’m pretty ashamed of my brief flirtation with the Tories, but I got back out pretty sharpish.
By the time of Labour’s election landslide in 1997, I’d matured (a little!) and realised that politics isn’t about cutting taxes and looking after your own wallet. I was happy that Labour had ousted the Tories, and I saw a brighter future for the country under the management of a ‘caring’ party. Things, as the song said, can only get better…
Oh, how I laugh (and cringe) about that now! Remember that naivety I mentioned earlier? It hadn’t gone anywhere.
I soon learned about ‘New’ Labour: the party of celebrity endorsement, big business and illegal war. The party that, unlike a leopard, has an uncanny and seemingly unquestioned ability to change its spots. “Follow us!” cried Blair and the Pied Piper of Mandelson, and follow they did. “Socialism? What’s that then?”.
They’re not ‘new’ anymore, allegedly. Oh no, they’re definitely socialists again, and it must me true because they said so.
I’m almost convinced that they actually have those memory erasing thingymabobs from the movie ‘Men in Black’.
I was left doubting everything to do with parliamentary politics for a good chunk of time, thanks to both the Tories and Labour. I had a sly glance at the Lib Dem’s, but trundling down the middle of the road will never achieve anything meaningful in my opinion, and anything to the right of that is just greed, ignorance and self-interest – at best.
I was by now disengaged and uninterested, sharing the same political mindset of vast swathes of the British public. A kind of enforced apathy. And is it any wonder:
Tories: money, self interest, money, immigration, money, Europe, don’t let them in, suffer you pathetic scroungers, money.
Labour: socialism, capitalism, socialism, universal welfare, no universal welfare jobs for the boys, capitalism, socialism, preserve Labour at all costs!
Lib Dem’s: more u-turns than a desperate cabbie.
Then the SNP won at Holyrood for a second successive term, but this time with the all important absolute majority, giving them the democratic mandate and ability to introduce a referendum bill.
I was still deeply sceptical at this point, having been subjected to decades of the mainstream media telling us how crap Scotland really was, how the wealth of London and south-eastern England keeps us afloat, how the ‘Nats’ have a whole plate of deep-fried potato chunks on their shoulders whilst wearing thistle-tinted spectacles, peering back through time to when we were ‘roamin in the gloamin’ and taking an axe to anything with an English accent.
What on earth was the point, I thought to myself. We’ll be poor, we’ll be cut off from the rest of the UK and we’ll have compulsory highland dancing and caber-tossing in our schools. No no no, that’s not what I want at all!
It was about a year and a half ago that I did something radical, something extraordinarily off-the-wall. I don’t know what prompted me to do it, but do it I did. I read some independently sourced and verifiable facts!
Now my memory is atrocious, so I can’t remember exactly what it was I read, but suffice it to say that it started me questioning my long held beliefs. Beliefs that had been drummed into me my entire life by a UK media.
I read more and more, choosing to source my information from international bodies and organisations, for fear that both the Yes and No camps would no doubt put a gloss on everything they said. I started considering the democratic advantages too of an independent Scotland: governments that the people of Scotland actually voted for; directly accountable representation in international bodies; no unelected narcoleptic ‘Lords’!
The financial figures added up too – Scotland is NOT a poor country, by any measure. We’re wealthier than the vast majority of the world’s countries – countries that would give their right arm to be in a similar position. Wealthier even, per head, than the mighty UK.
I’d educated myself, through curiosity and a dogged determination to know the facts, and I’m still learning more every single day. I’m not content with knowing what I do already – I want as much information as I can get, so that I can share that with others who haven’t even scratched at the surface. “More input!”, as the marvelous Johnny-5 said in ‘Short Circuit’.
There’s no going back to taking everything BBC News tells me as gospel – I’ve heard their ‘objective’ coverage of the topic too many times for that!
As for ‘Better Together’ and ‘United with Labour’… let’s just say I’ve encountered more honesty and respect for the electorate from… no, I don’t want to be crude!
What this referendum gives us is a unique chance: a chance to change our wee country for the better; to improve the lives of the less fortunate and need a hand, not kick them while they’re down like the UK government does; to interact with the world in the way that we want – not a bunch of Eton old boys; to look after and repair the environment us, and rid ourselves of nuclear weapons. These things and much more.
So I’m here, 100% behind Yes Scotland, and looking forward to a future that is brighter, greener and fairer, with a rejuvenated electorate and a political system of increased responsibility and an accountability to the people it represents: each and every one of us.