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.