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I'm Voting Yes Because Scotland Is Capable Of Better

18/09/2014 11:25 BST | Updated 17/11/2014 10:59 GMT

We heard a lot of talk about Scottish people's reticent modesty over those eleven days Glasgow welcomed the Commonwealth: our discouraging encouragement and our distrust of people who have "ideas above their station." People from Scotland sometimes see success among their own kind as a triumph in itself, as though we're bound by some geographic handicap and simply living here is a disability to be overcome to the chimes of a well-edited BBC video package. As though we're not good enough to do things by ourselves.

The opportunity that befalls us on Thursday is one of an exceptional preciousness; one that has been campaigned for with positivity and creativity. It is an opportunity, at its simplest, to compare how Scotland is run to how Scotland could be run, and to find the faith in ourselves to make the decision that we can do better.

I'm tickled by many of the analogies by which people describe the potential break-up of the union. One is of just that: a messy break up, and for eighteen months after a Yes vote, Scotland and the rest of the UK will be tasked with splitting the record collection. David has a rare first pressing of 'Potential Obliteration of Humankind' by Trident.

"I'm going to pass this on when I go," he says, "you can't even get it on eBay or anything."

"I never liked any of that pish anyway," screams Nicola, "take it with you."

My favourite has to be Elaine C Smith's, who said that devolution was like moving out of your mum's house, but still going back at the weekends to get her to do your washing. "Independence," she said, "would mean that we could actually buy our own washing machine."

The opening line of our constitution will read: "In Scotland, the people are sovereign." I want to live in a country where power comes from the bottom up, and isn't rationed down to us like breadcrumbs to pigeons. Of course, many see this as a poisoned chalice of wacko-lefty fantasy, and claim that independence will only mean that the Eton elite will transition into the Fettes elite, and we'll end up putting a big clock on the Salisbury Crags and call the whole place Westminster 2 and have done with it. But Scotland has always been a left of centre country, whose citizens believe in equality and social justice. With full control over our own affairs, we can show our friends down south that there is an alternative to divisive Westminster politics. A working alternative. A country that can reap what it sows, starting with its people.

I want to live in a country where we don't need a big submarine fully capable of reducing millions of people to nothing more than a smouldering pool of flesh just to show how threatening or, laughably, "responsible" we are. And if we could stop going on about how many billions of barrels of oil we have, and allow a little more airtime to the possibility that an independent Scotland could use some of those billions to invest publicly in the transition to renewable energy, from which everyone would gain from the economic benefit, that wouldn't go a miss either.

Most important to me is the protection of our health service. My mum has dedicated her entire working life to the NHS, and I want to live in a country where our beloved public services remain in public hands, safe from the destruction of the wrecking ball of privatisation. Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to many doctors, nurses and health professionals from across Scotland who can see clearer than anyone else what is happening to the NHS in England, and what will happen to the NHS in Scotland if we stay within the union.

The Westminster agenda is to reduce the contribution of the state and push through the private sector, where NHS contracts have already been sold to their friends at Virgin, Atos and G4S. We have seen the endorsement of the chairman of Bupa, the UK's largest private health provider, welcomed by Better Together. In Scotland, the NHS has always been a national asset, free at the point of need. This will not remain the case for long unless Scotland is given full control over its economy.

To me, the smell of desperation is stale beer and smoke machine. I haven't stood close enough to anyone representing the No campaign to find out if they really do smell like spilled Fosters and perfumed dry ice, but they told us that we couldn't use the pound, and then they told us that we could; they offered us new devo-max alternatives, and then admitted that they weren't new at all, whatever those alternatives even were in the first place; and they tell us time and time again that "this isn't a general election," but "what about that Alex Salmond and the SNP, eh?"

George Carlin said that "pride should be reserved for something you achieve or obtain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth - being Irish isn't a skill; it's a genetic accident."

As we finally approach Referendum Day, I'm not sure how much that applies to us. First of all, being Scottish certainly feels like a skill most of the time. Scottish nationalism (with a small 'n', steady on) is built on a famously self-deprecating pessimism, and it takes a lot of bloody effort to be this cynical. But more than that, our independence will be achieved and obtained on our own, as a people, in the largest and most impressive grassroots political campaign in history - a campaign that has engaged, energised and invigorated an otherwise indifferent or simply absent portion of the electorate. That is something we can be proud of, whatever the outcome.

My fears aren't dictated to me by men who appear to dye their eyebrows. My fear is that the energy and enthusiasm of those people across Scotland, awakened by this campaign, will dissipate and die in the event of a No vote. My fear is that on Thursday, people will buy the hollow assurances made to them by the representatives of a political system that does not work for them or their country, and go back to sleep.

That is why, as this campaign comes to a close, we cannot lose focus and forget everything we have to gain. This is our campaign to win, and a fairer, more prosperous Scotland is within our grasp. Above our station? Hardly.