Referendum Debate – Yes Campaign

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Rebecca Grant
Glasgow Student

My name’s Rebecca, and I’m a third year politics student from Ayrshire. Since coming to Glasgow to do my degree, I’ve been thinking a lot about my future, my prospects, and the kind of society I want to live in. I’ve decided that the best way to form that society is to vote Yes to Scottish independence.

By the time I leave university, I want to be able to say that I live in a country which exists on the principle of mutual respect for its neighbours. While we share power between our own parliament and the one at Westminster, I feel there’s a lot of mutual resentment between nations. The power-sharing arrangement isn’t fair, and I believe it leads to anti-English and anti-Scottish sentiment on both sides of the border. If Scots felt more empowered to make decisions about our own society, and the Westminster parliament respected our right to make those decisions (about currently reserved issues like defence and taxation) I believe it would help us both to build respect for one another.

Furthermore, as a female politics student, I want our country to be run by an institution which is open, accessible, and equal. While there are regular sexism scandals coming out of the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament has a higher proportion of female members, with 35% of MSPs being female compared to 22% of MPs. I’m just not convinced that Westminster as an institution is dedicated to the cause of equality, for women or other minority groups.

Of course, my decision to vote Yes isn’t just based on factors pushing me away from the current set-up. It’s also based on factors pulling me towards self-determination. Scotland as a nation has so much to offer the world – from fossil fuels and renewable energy resources to tourism and culture, combined with the ingenuity and hard work of our people– and a lot of our potential hasn’t been tapped into yet.

People on both sides of the debate have agreed that most of the decisions about the future of Scotland are best taken by the people who live here. However, Better Together have drawn an arbitrary line, defining which powers we should have, and which are best placed in the hands of Westminster politicians. As a Yes voter, I take the view that if the Scottish people are the best people to make decisions about healthcare and education, then they are also the best people to make decisions about welfare, defence and tax. Nobody has yet to convince me why Westminster politicians are better-placed to do that, or how their decisions on these matters have benefitted us.

I believe that my country is just that: a country. It has a unique character, culture and people, and should be treated as such. On the 18th of September, we finally have the power to decide the fate of our nation, for the first time in over 300 years. Let’s not hand it back.

Michelle Thompson
Managing Director, Business for Scotland
Michelle Thompson PhotoWith 28 years experience in business I know that the figures add up for an independent Scotland. Through the process of starting my own business I know that long-term benefits are worth short term challenges. By understanding politics in Scotland and Westminster I also

know that we would be much better off taking decisions here about Scotland. Independence means governments elected by the people of Scotland will take decisions about Scotland’s future. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what political party you

support. Everyone can support that democratic principle.

Independence means Scotland will take responsibility for its finances, its public services and our future. Scotland is the most prepared country in history for independence following three years of detailed planning by government and the civil service. Now it is down to us – not the politicians – to decide.

Voters want to know whether Scotland can afford independence and what the benefits will be. First of all, it’s clear that Scotland can more than afford independence. Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with many strong business sectors in construction, tourism and engineering. Scotland has vast natural resources in oil and gas, agriculture, fishing and renewable energy.

Scotland also has a skilled workforce, universities with world-class research, and 40,000 students from across the world.

Because of this strong and diverse economy, Scotland would have been £8.3 billion better off as an independent country over the past five years. Scotland’s tax contribution per person was £800 higher than the United Kingdom average last year. The evidence proves that Scotland has what it takes to succeed as an independent country and support all our public services.

With this wealth we can create a better society for the people who live here. But we need control over decision making to make that happen.

Universities are a key example. Several Westminster governments lied to students. Tony Blair imposed tuition fees. Then Nick Clegg lied again and tripled tuition fees. The Government in Scotland maintained free Higher Education in Scotland with their limited powers for Scotland.

Scotland has what it takes to succeed

That achievement was with only 7% control of tax revenue. With independence Scotland will gain 100% financial control. This means that Scotland can protect education. Financial responsibility is a grown up way to operate a national budget.

There are many more advantages. National organisations will expand. This means there will be more jobs for young graduates in broadcasting, the civil service, diplomacy and foreign affairs. Scotland on the international stage will attract more business investment with a trade and investment strategy promoting Scotland. With global recognition Scotland will do more business globally. Whisky, oil and gas, financial services, property and electronic will be supported by a full embassy network.

So many young people leave Scotland for London after graduation. Isn’t it about time we created opportunities for young people so they can choose to stay? Independence is normal and provides countries across Europe with the practical powers to improve their economy.

That means controlling Scotland’s vast North Sea oil wealth to create an energy investment fund for future generations. It means supporting manufacturing to kick-start a renewables revolution. It means cancelling Trident nuclear weapons to reinvest in social care services for families. It means protecting our National Health Service at a time when Westminster is privatising care services.

This isn’t about the past, about identity, or about breaking the close and loving relationship between neighbouring countries. I will always love my family whatever country they live in.

A vote for independence is about Scotland standing on its own two feet, taking financial decisions to create more jobs, and joining the world community as an equal partner. Let’s do it.