This is the Day

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By Clare MacGillivray

To the future children of Scotland.

This is the day.

This is the day I have been waiting for all my life.

This is the day when we the people of Scotland decide on our future. Today we hold absolute sovereign power in our hands. This is the day of the Independence Referendum where we – and only we – have the power to choose whether Scotland should become an independent country or stay in the UK.

I say that I have been waiting for this day all my life – not because I am a nationalist, I am not – I am an internationalist – but because the prize of this referendum is the belief that we can create a positive future for you – the ones who will come after.
Whether we are individually voting yes or no today – know that we are all voting with you, our future loved ones in mind. We all want what is best for you. But we have very different ideas about the way to secure your future in a happy, just and thriving Scotland.

I am thrilled this day has come.

On this day, democracy wins.

On this day the people of Scotland silence the critics who say apathy has killed democracy. We will show our passion by turning out in the millions at polling stations. With full suffrage – for the first time certainly in my lifetime, we have seized the moment. We are doing this for you.
As I ponder my vote, I find myself thinking deeply not just about you – the ones who will come after, but also about those who have gone before.
I wonder about my grandfathers who worked in the Dundee shipyards, who died young before I could meet them; my grannies who worked in the jute mills and engulfed me in warmth and love and stories and songs of the working people of my home town. I think of their parents and grandparents, some who travelled far for work, just for survival. They who had no democratic rights – working men and women with no chance to vote at all. They, who have shaped every fibre of my being.

I wonder if they would have rejoiced in the depths of their struggle for enfranchisement and basic rights, knowing their future children would be given this golden chance of absolute sovereign power for one day.

I am proud they had the vision to struggle hard in their time and dream big dreams for me. I wonder how they would have voted today.
I am drawn too, to images of my Mum; how I held her hand skipping along as a child. How she wiped my brow when I was ill, encouraged me to always try my best, skelped my bum when I needed it, comforted me in my pain. The same hand I had held as a child with joy, I helplessly clung to as I watched my mother dying.

I wonder how she would have felt in the polling booth, pen in hand, making the decision for me and my future. I know that the momentous impact of her vote wouldn’t have been lost on her.

So, to say this decision has weighed heavy on my mind is a glorious understatement. I have read, debated, listened, prayed and breathed this question for many, many months.

I am convinced that I have done everything I could have to think and challenge myself, so the decision I am taking is the one that feels absolutely right in my head, and in my heart.

Only time will tell if this decision that I’ve struggled with is the right one for you, for the children of the future in Scotland, but I believe it is.
Now I am decided.

I am voting yes.

I am voting yes for many, many reasons.

I am voting yes because I want this country of mine to entrust decision-making to the people of Scotland. If there is a chance for increased accountability in the democratic process in an independent Scotland I want you to have it. I want you to have unfettered access to decision makers – hell; you might even want to become one of the key decision makers. Quite simply, I want decisions about Scotland to be made in Scotland. I trust you. I believe in you. All you need is today, for the people in Scotland to also believe.

I can imagine the power of increased local decision-making, and as much devolved democracy and community influence as possible. I can see clearly how this will greatly benefit your future. Local services based on local needs with local people leading.

The reality of a country free of nuclear weapons, a nation devoid of self-serving warmongers is both achievable and exciting. You should not feel encumbered by the need for state sponsored violence. You should not have to fruitlessly march in the millions against a war that is immoral and illegal. Be free of such debilitating heartache and the devastating devaluation of humanity.

I imagine you living in a more equal, socially just country, where the disgusting inequality of poverty caused by a deeply flawed and elitist system of governance that degrades our fellow citizens is only a memory. There will be no food banks when you grow up, and the welfare system will be there to support those who need it. We will have to work hard to create that for you.

I want you to live in a country you are proud to say is leading the way in human rights globally, unafraid to stand up against injustice in every form you come across it. This should be the norm, not the exception for a nation-state. You can be the ones to lead the way in this. I promise you, we can start it – but the baton will be yours to carry forward.

I envisage a Scotland that embraces difference. Where you can be yourself, follow your passions and thrive – no matter your background – a place where there will be equality of opportunity for all. Maybe one day you’ll ask with genuine curiosity “Why was there a need for my grannie and granddad to be feminists?”, “What do you mean when you say immigrants were vilified?”, “You mean our LGBTI friends at one time couldn’t get married?”

Your future needs to be in a sustainable country. Scotland has a disproportionately strong balance of natural resources and it is my generation’s responsibility to ensure that we exploit these resources in a positive and sustainable way; we have the ingenuity and creativity in our people to do this. What we need is the self-determination to govern how we use the revenue from these resources and the ability to control our own energy and sustainability policies.

We have a chance to guarantee you free health care and education when we vote today. If I have to pay more in tax because it will secure you a strong education and health system, free at the point of entry, I will do so gladly. It will cheer my heart to know my taxes are not funding £100Billion in Trident renewal. I will rejoice that my monetary civic contribution is not lining the pockets of the haves, at the expense of the have-nots, but enabling and encouraging a reduction in wealth inequality, lifting the 1 in 4 children in Scotland who are in poverty out of poverty.

You will need to live in a place where innovation thrives and is valued. I want that for you. For the whole society to challenge you to be absolutely the best you can be. To create that kind of society for you, we, the ones with the power at the ballot box today, will have to lay the foundations of a different way of thinking, of new political, economic and educational systems. We will have to struggle to create this for you, just as the shipbuilders and jute workers who have gone before us had to struggle to give our generation what we have.

Life after tomorrow will not be easy.

Half of our population will be hurt, disappointed, angry.

The mark of us as a nation will be how we deal with our colleagues, friends, neighbours and loved ones who have not voted in the way we have. Warmly and humbly extending the hand of friendship, of reconciliation will be the only way forward for us – whether yes or no.

And, if Scotland votes yes today, I think the way ahead for my generation will be extremely difficult. Tomorrow will just be the start of a long and arduous journey. Carving a new identity, creating systems and defining our relationships internally, regionally and globally will be a momentous challenge. Deconstructing a powerful and dominant hegemony that has thrived unfettered because it has been allowed to build the strength of a few on the shoulders of the many will take years. There will be phenomenal difficulties. So do not think I am choosing yes because it is an easy option. Do not dismiss my vote as one of a dreamer. This choice is mine and it is taken with gravity, intellect, sincerity, and is driven by many, many factors.

No – I believe independence will be the more difficult road to travel – by far. But I am convinced that we in Scotland have the vision, creativity, wisdom, skills, resources and talents to thrive. This is our time to create a better Scotland – for you.
And if Scotland votes no today – I will accept that as the will of the people. I will have to come to terms with my own disappointment, my fear of an opportunity lost. I will have to resist a temptation to slink away in a corner and allow the passion and energy created by this conversation to quickly dissipate.

I am waiting, with a sense of beautiful calm, and yet tremendous excitement for the result to come. I want this chance of a better future, envisioned and enacted in Scotland for you, for me, for all of us.



Categories: Commentary

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17 replies

  1. Yes, Clare, I too sit here in the Far North of Scotland too nervous even to think straight, or to do much work. I, like you, think back to my mothers people who were fish gutters and coopers in Wick and of my my fathers clan who worked the land of Caithness and this morning I see and hear the little ones running to school, their voices the music of our future, their happiness and well being our only real concern as we vote Yes all over this country. This time tomorrow let us all laugh like bairns. Thank you for your prose poem

    • I in Florence think of my father born in Dumbarton,of my niece solicitor in Edinburgh and of my
      border collie dog.They are all happy this morning 19 Sept 2014.Once more again Scotland
      was the brave.

  2. Fine stuff Clare, many thanks.

  3. If its no, i think people are going to start asking a lot more of the scottish parliament, and if they can’t deliver because they don’t have the power, it will be back to the independence issue again.

    even if a result under these circumstances could be seen as the will of the people, which i don’t think it can entirely be as it is tainted by duress, if that result does not benefit members of a society they have a right to continue to disagree with the position taken by fellow citizens. particularly if austerity measures worsen rather than improve that will be the case for the least wealthy. are you saying people can’t protest further cuts if the vote is no, because no one in the scottish parliament the power to do it differently?

    its more like ‘we must abide by the decisions taken by the media, banks, large corporations, the labour & conservative parties, former & current US presidents.’ The result’s public legitimacy will be weak if no, while its likely a narrow yes will be challenged by london on similar grounds.

  4. Good luck Scotland. Go throw a huge spanner in Westminsters works…

  5. A smiling woman with a ‘No’ poster outside a poll booth. It read: ‘The risk isn’t worth it.’
    Imagine going through life with that attitude. Imagine, (I cannot), what it must be like to turn down the opportunity to forge your community’s future and decline because of the ‘risk’. What of the risk of staying with the Tories, with a generation disenfranchised and dispossessed by privatisation over the past 25 years, by the greed, delusion and lies of the nuclear-armed, warmongering Westminster ‘elite’, by the real Poverty Campaign waged by Tories, Labour and LibDems alike, with the enthusiastic assistance of corporate media? It boggles the mind and I feel sorry for the unfortunates without the courage to think for themselves and breathe the air of freedom. I pity them.

  6. Is there a way to say aye but not now or no not yet?
    There was, it was called Devo Max and
    I have read the Pledge, by leaders pushed to the edge
    by a public fervour, rarely seen,
    a dream for some -a nightmare for others,
    but it need not have been
    The answer was there all along and Cameron was wrong
    not to have seen that taking the centre ground
    a balance could be found to satisfy the many.
    And a pledge by the gang of three who next year
    May face their own fear if UKIP hold the balance
    And what then for the bribes and promises made
    will they be laid to rest with all the best
    Intentions wished and dreams which seemed so close.
    That for one fleeting, brilliant moment in time
    we spoke as a nation – both the ayes and the noes
    we engaged both friend and foe with tongues
    and brains alight with questions, alive as never before
    no matter what the outcomes be on Friday,
    let us make our own pledge
    to work together,
    for the Common Weal,
    for Scotland.

  7. Like you Clare I hope that Yes is the decision that Scotland makes. I have travelled 12,000 miles to be here to share it with my fellow Scots from all kinds of backgrounds and personal history. It’s for those I have known and now gone, the strangers I’ve met in the streets, and new friendships just beginning. I will leave this bonnie land in a couple of days energised, inspired and ready to face the politics of Australia which are the most toxic I’ve experienced in my fifty years of residence. Scotland has shown the world many things and this campaign is just another example of how well the Scots can do things.

    • Bravo Fay – I’m another Scot in Oz who agrees about our toxic mob. Places Tony Abbott and Bill Shortnen on notice…..
      If I didn’t have a son and granddaughter I might just tear up my citizenship and come home…

  8. Beautiful and powerful words Clare – I hope your dreams and all your fellow Yes wishers have the outcome you deserve.

    And John, I know from campaigning for the Green Party down in Brighton where I lived that most people vote to “stop something horrible happening”. They never vote for what they want, but only to stop the Tories / Labour / Lib Dems getting in. It continues to amaze me that people can continually give in to such fear, even when they never get what they want, election in, election out. As the Green Party have said for years, “If you don’t vote for what you want then you’re not going to get it”.

    But remember, in Brighton, after years of being told the Greens would never get elected, we did. Then we ended up with a majority share on the council! And then … the people of Pavilion Constituency ignored their fears and all the media rubbish and voted in Carolin Lucas to the House of Commons. Not only that, but the first Green Politician elected to a house of national representation anywhere in the world under a first past the post system!

    It’s amazing what can happen when people reject fear and vote for what they have always wanted. It can actually happen. I hope with all my heart, from way down here in Essex, that it happens today in Scotland.

    • It’s a shame Ms Lucas has been deafeningly silent on the British government’s relentless moves to sell off what little remains of England’s forests and green belt and turn England into one big mass of concrete, steel and glass. You’d think protesting about that would be right up her party’s alley.

  9. Great article. Indeed this is The Day.
    My mother used to quote: ‘Time is, thou hast, employ the portion small. Time was, is past, thou canst not it recall. Time future is not and may never be. Time present is the only time for thee.’
    Let’s take this present day and make it the day that counts for Scotland.

  10. Many thanks for your kind comments.

  11. i lived in Jamaica for years and found there the spirit to return home and struggle for this day this new day. Bob said

    We forward in this generation
    Triumphantly.
    Won’t you help to sing
    These songs of freedom? –
    ‘Cause all I ever have:
    Redemption songs;
    Redemption songs.

  12. Assuming YES – it begins. It will be up to us to carry things forward. I have chapped on doors, delivered leaflets, remonstrated with NOs – only for the vote.

    We must remember the Arab Spring, the “yes we can” of Obama, and what did we get. Obamacare is a shadow of what it should have been, and all those American voters of colour with their hopes must be wondering how a Congress can grind down the imaginations of a people.

    ……and the Arab Spring is worse. Hijacked by power crazed groups, reverting to military juntas.

    The majority of door-chapping colleagues have been new to such activity, but some are ” old guard ” – been in local ( or in one lady’s case, national ) politics for years and do not seem prepared to listen to the newcomers, preferring their own voices. How can this have been allowed ? If they populate the new order, then it will be business as usual.

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