When all is said and done, what are we actually voting for?
Strip out the fluff from either side. Put aside the rhetoric.
Try to forget for a minute those politicians you hate with a passion, on either side of the debate… this is neither about them or for them – they’re movable, temporary figureheads. That’s what elections are for.
What’s actually there?
The referendum next week is not about Scotland vs UK, or Scotland vs England.
It’s not even really about Scotland – it’s incidental that that is where we happen to be.
It’s about taking our right to vote – a right earned by countless people in struggles all over the world, throughout history – and deciding whether or not we want to build on that right that we have at the moment: to give it greater meaning and depth, with a better quality of representation, and on a more direct and accountable basis.
If you vote Yes, that’s what you’ll be doing. You’ll be saying ‘Our votes – yours and mine – they are important’. You’ll be voting to help everyone who happens to live in Scotland – from all personal and political backgrounds – achieve that.
And you won’t be removing that from anyone else to enable that: it’s not a finite resource, democracy – unless you take it right down to the individual level.
In fact, you’ll actually be helping our friends and neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, by taking our MPs out of their equation, leaving theirs to focus on what’s deemed right for their constituents.
If you say ‘No Thanks’ next Thursday, you’re not saying it to the SNP.
You’re not saying it to Alex Salmond, or to Yes Scotland.
You’re saying it to everyone who lives here. And that includes yourself.
You’ll be saying ‘No thanks, I don’t think my vote – or that of anyone else here – is important enough to shake things up a bit’.
I value democracy very highly indeed, and I am voting Yes – not for flag, ‘FREEDOM!!’, or any sense of ill-will towards people elsewhere in the UK – but so that our voices, all of them, are heard that bit louder, and with more clarity.
And I’m voting Yes to modernise our system of democracy itself, ridding ourselves once and for all of the archaic Westminster system, where half of the parliament is run on a ‘jobs for the boys’ basis, and because those we elect to Holyrood are put there using a version of proportional representation, meaning that people have a much better chance of both being and feeling represented.
That, to me, is the key gain of independence: the bettering of both our democratic system and our democratic rights as individuals.
That’s why I could never bring myself to vote against independence. And that is why I urge you to think about what democracy really means, and to hopefully do the same.